Senate Passes “Robocall Prevention Act” Legislation

 The New York State Senate passed the “Robocall Prevention Act” (S.3297-D) co-sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. which limits robocalls to state residents and requires telephone service providers to offer free call mitigation technology to telephone customers.

“I hear from my constituents all the time about how fed up they are with the relentless robocalls,” Addabbo said. “I think we all can agree that it is incredibly annoying to get unwanted calls from people you don’t know and don’t want to talk to. Not to mention the growing prevalence of scam artists who prey on the elderly or other vulnerable individuals,” added Addabbo.

According to YouMail, a company that tracks robocalls, 25 billion robocalls have been placed nationwide in the first five months of 2019. Unwanted robocalls have disproportionately targeted New Yorkers who have logged 1.5 billion robocalls so far in 2019. Weak oversight and the abundance of new technology have led to the sharp rise in robocalls. Land-lines have very limited protections which leads to a disproportionate impact on the elderly. Technologically, the arrival of Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) dialing has allowed companies to discharge millions of calls for pennies and spoofing, or the ability to fake a telephone number, makes consumers even more vulnerable to unwanted calls and scams. This technology has undermined the effectiveness of the federal government’s Do Not Call Registry, which previously protected New Yorkers from telemarketers.

This legislation requires telephone service providers to supply consumers with technology that can identify and block unwanted calls. Although some providers do offer call mitigation technology for free, others charge for its services, or haven’t made it widely available or easy to use, especially for VoIP landline phones. The bill would require this technology be made available free of charge, to any consumer who requests it.

“Robocalls are not only irritating but they undermine both privacy and safety, use up low-income consumer’s limited minutes and subject consumers to harassing telemarketing and debt collecting tactics,” Addabbo said. “This legislation will restore control to the consumer and eliminate the daily barrage of unwanted calls.”

After passing the Senate, S.3297-D was delivered to the Assembly where it was referred to the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee.