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A00675 Summary:

COSPNSRZebrowski, Colton, Richardson, Fitzpatrick, Eichenstein, Kim, Englebright, Frontus, Fahy, Rosenthal D, Solages, Buchwald, D'Urso, Gottfried, LiPetri, Morinello, Rosenthal L, Weprin, Peoples-Stokes, Seawright, Reyes, Norris, Walczyk, Blankenbush, Galef, Lupardo, Reilly, Wallace, Cruz, Lentol, Mosley, Woerner, Sayegh, McDonald, Thiele, DeStefano, Buttenschon, Arroyo, Simon, Jaffee, Dickens, Cook, Quart, Santabarbara, Montesano, Ashby, Smith, Lawrence, Finch, Darling, Fernandez
MLTSPNSRByrnes, Ramos
Amd §§399-p & 399-pp, Gen Bus L
Limits robocalls to state residents and requires telephone service providers to offer free call mitigation technology to telephone customers.
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A00675 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A675D               REVISED 06/12/19
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the general business law, in relation to limiting robocalls to state residents and to require telephone service providers to offer free call mitigation technology to telephone customers   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill establishes that the act shall be known and cited as the "Robocall Prevention Act." Section 2 of the bill amends Section 399-p of the General Business Law by renaming it "Use of automatic dialing devices and placement of robo- calls and consumer telephone calls", and makes the following changes to such section: Subdivision 1: changes the term "automatic dialing-announcing device" to "automatic dialing device" and amends its definition, and adds defi- nitions for the terms "robocall", "call mitigation technology", "prior express consent", "telephone service provider", "labor organization", and "department". Subdivision 2: prohibits making robocalls or placing consumer telephone calls except in accordance with the provisions of Section 399-P GBL. New Subdivision 2-a: provides that it is only lawful for a person to make a robocall when it is made for emergency purposes, made with the prior express consent of the called party, made by a labor organization to its own members or their households, or otherwise authorized by the Department of State in limited circumstances. A customer can revoke his or her "prior express consent" at any time in any reasonable manner. This subdivision also authorizes the Department of State, in consulta- tion with the Department of Public Service, to permit robocalls to be made to residential telephone lines without prior express consent if they are not made for a commercial purpose. Subdivisions 3: makes conforming changes to existing law. Subdivision 4: makes conforming changes to existing law. New Subdivision 4-a: prohibits any person making a robocall from know- ingly causing a caller ID service to transmit misleading, inaccurate, or false caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. New Subdivision 4-b: requires that a telephone service provider operat- ing in the state must make call mitigation technology available to any customer, upon request, at no additional charge. The Department of State, in consultation with the Department of Public Service, would be required to promulgate regulations to implement the requirements of this subdivision, and would be authorized to allow a reasonable delay for requiring implementation of call mitigation technology for good cause. The Department would also be authorized to allow for the requirements of this subdivision to be waived for network facilities where such technol- ogy cannot feasibly be implemented due to technological limitations. This subdivision is intended to require the implementation of call miti- gation technology where feasible, and is not intended to require the implementation of such technology where it cannot reasonably be imple- mented, such as for copper telephone lines. Subdivision 5: makes conforming changes to existing law. Subdivision 6: left unchanged. Subdivision 6-a: makes conforming changes to existing law. Subdivision 7: makes conforming changes to existing law. Subdivision 8: allows the NYS Attorney General to enforce subdivisions 2, 3, 4, 4-a, 5, 6, and 6-a of Section 399-p, and provides penalties for violations of those subdivisions. Subdivision 9: allows any person harmed by a violation of subdivision 2, 3, 4, 4-a, or 5 of Section 399-p to bring an action in court to enjoin such violation and recover damages, and increases the minimum amount of such damages available. Subdivision 10: requires the Department of State, in consultation with the Department of Public Service, to report on issues relating to robo- calls and the implementation of call mitigation technology. Section 3 of the bill amends paragraph b of subdivision 11 of Section 399-pp of the GBL to increase the penalties for violating the prohibi- tion in subdivision 7-a of that section on knowingly transmitting misleading, inaccurate, or false caller ID information. Section 4 of the bill is a severability clause. Section 5 of the bill establishes the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: According to YouMail, a company that tracks robocalls and offers a call blocking application, over 47.8 billion robocalls were placed nationwide in 2018. Continuing the trend, 25 billion robocalls have been placed in the first five months of 2019. Unwanted robocalls have also dispropor- tionately targeted New Yorkers, as New York City ranked 3 in the country in February 2019 with over 162 million robocalls received, and Buffalo ranked 19 with almost 50 million robocalls received. New Yorkers have received over 1.5 billion robocalls so far in 2019. Increasingly lax oversight and the proliferation of new technology have led to the rise in robocalls. Under the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, almost all non-emergency auto-dialed calls to mobile phones are illegal, but the exemptions are beginning to swallow the rules as businesses regularly successfully petition the Federal Communi- cations Commission for exemptions to any restrictions. Furthermore, land-lines have very limited protections, disproportionately impacting the elderly. Technologically, the advent 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 tech- nology has undermined the effectiveness of the federal government's Do Not Call Registry, which long protected Americans from telemarketers. This bill provides New Yorkers with strong protections against illegal robocalls by requiring their prior express consent to receive such calls (which can be revoked at any time), prohibiting fraudulent spoofing activity, and authorizing strong enforcement action against those making these illegal calls. The bill also requires telephone service providers to provide consumers with technology that can identify and block likely unwanted calls. This technology is currently offered by several providers. The FCC recently ruled that providers may block unwanted robocalls by default, and has repeatedly urged providers to implement call authentication technology to identify likely spoofed calls, and to offer call blocking technology to consumers. 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. This bill would require that this technology be made available free of charge, to any consumer who requests it. Robocalls are more than a nuisance. They undermine both privacy and safety, use up low-income consumer's limited minutes and subject consum- ers to harassing and intrusive telemarketing and debt collection tactics. With this bill, consumers will regain control and no longer have to suffer through a daily barrage of unwanted calls.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2018: A.10739 (Niou) - Referred to Corporations, Authorities and Commis- sions   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law. Effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date are authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.
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