Americans have been bombarded with illegal robocalls for seemingly countless years. In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission found four companies were knowingly violating the privacy rights of Americans and the law with the illegal calls. Although the settlements with the companies helped restore some of the peace we all seek, they didn’t go far enough.
Every day brings about more robocalls and more headaches. Fortunately, we may enjoy some relief soon if a group of bipartisan lawmakers succeeds.
In early December, a nearly unanimous vote of 417-3 propelled a bill that will create new technology to recognize robocalls before they reach our phones, going forward. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence, or TRACED Act, will require phone services to protect consumers by forcing them to create a caller-ID program to target unauthenticated phone calls.
Currently, the bill is expected to become law. While it won’t completely eliminate robocalls, consumer advocates like Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at The Consumer Federation of America, expect the number of calls to be significantly reduced.
How They’re Getting Your Number
This is great news for the American people. Millions of us have been subjected to unwanted and harassing phone calls from robocallers. However, this shouldn’t have been as big of a problem as it is in the first place.
Robocallers often receive our phone numbers directly from our carriers who have even sold our location data to third-party data aggregators. The biggest mobile carriers in the country — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile — were all doing this. The companies sold the data to companies like LocationSmart, and that allowed random third-parties to track us.
Right to Privacy
Thankfully, the right to privacy has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Recently, in the case of Carpenter v. United States, the high court held that police departments have to obtain warrants in order to get the location data from a suspect’s cell records. But, as technology continues to invade every aspect of our lives, the court is going to need to go further than that — and soon — to protect our privacy.
While this bill isn’t going to protect against that, it will help ease the aggravation of being forced to ignore multiple robocalls each day. Now that the bill has passed the House, it’s expected to go to the Senate where an earlier version passed 97-1 in May. Once the Senate passes the new bill, it will go to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
Copyright 2019, TargetLiberty.org