Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) has introduced the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2018, legislation intended to help the Federal Communications Commission prosecute violations of its rules on automated telemarketing calls, also known as robocalls, by increasing the statute of limitations for FCC action from one year to three.

 “If there is one thing Americans can agree on, it’s that robocalls often cross the line,” Schatz said in a statement. “With this bill, the FCC will have the time and authority it needs to keep abusive robocalls in check.”

Complaints about unwanted robocalls have rapidly increased in recent years. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 4.5 million robocall complaints, an increase of over a million calls from the year before. The process of identifying and going after robocall violators often takes months, making it difficult to move forward with a case under the current one-year statute of limitations.

The Schatz legislation is aimed at helping regulators fight illegal robocalls by:

Lengthening the statute of limitations for the FCC pursuing violations of its robocall rules from one to three years;

lengthening the statute of limitations for the FCC pursuing violations of its rules against callers using fake caller identification information, also known as spoofing, from two years to three; and

allowing the FCC to pursue cases against robocall rule violations without first issuing a citation.

The bill is co-sponsored by senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash).

 “It's time we crack down on robocalls and violators once and for all,” Markey said in a statement. “?We need the FCC to have as much time and authority to investigate robocall and spoofing violations as needed to turn these unwanted and harassing telephonic transgressions into things of the past.”