Skip to content

July 11, 2015


Pending Legislation Affecting Prank Callers

schumerRecent bills in both the US House and Senate look to clamp down on the recent increase in swatting calls – calls which utilize caller ID spoofing to target law enforcement against prank call victims. The implications of this legislation could impact  prank callers who do not partake in the involvement of police, SWAT teams and other first responders in non-existing emergencies.

Earlier this month, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gathered with SWAT officers and other law enforcement to announce he is introducing legislation targeting swatting calls. These police officers were all responders at a recent swatting incident in Syracuse, NY which led to the evacuation of 1,100 employees from a state government building.

Schumer is already a co-sponsor on S. 1681 – known as the QUIET Act (Quell Unnecessary, Intentional, and Encroaching Telephone Calls Act) of 2015. The full title of the bill explains it as a “bill to criminalize the knowing use of commercial robocalls without the prior express written consent of the recipient, and for other purposes.”

The “other purposes” portion above is likely what Senator Schumer is referring to in recent news reports. Although not yet fully fleshed out, the bill is expected to be amended soon to include restrictions on caller ID spoofing – specifically making it illegal to use online services to spoof outgoing caller ID. It is rumored to specifically name “Skype and internet phones” directly in the text of the bill.

It will also reportedly increase the penalty for convicted “swatters” to a maximum of 8 years in prison (from 5), as well as require restitution for the costs of swatting incidents.

The passing of this legislation would make it much more difficult to find options to spoof caller ID with, crippling a major tool used by many prank callers who refrain from swatting (including several hosts on this network).  It is likely that many companies will discontinue selling caller ID spoofing services or disable such features in their applications.

The bill is currently awaiting review by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Two other bills are also pending. One, known as the Anti-Spoofing Act (H.R.3670), would prohibit spoofed calls to the United States from overseas by making it “unlawful to cause a caller identification service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value”. Although likely difficult to enforce, the bill is currently being reviewed by the House Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

The third bill, introduced by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) in April, specifically targets enhancing “penalties for people who falsify their caller ID information to mislead law enforcement”.

Share This Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Read more from Newsfeed
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Rusty Shackleford
    Jul 11 2015

    So that means a couple of things if this gets passed:

    Either we start buying burner prepaid phones with visa gift cards or we keep prank calling people in other countries.

  2. Jul 11 2015

    Soon we’re going to have to make our own internet where fun is allowed! Fuck this “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about” rhetoric, hiding things is fun!

  3. linuxthefish
    Jul 14 2015


  4. Pol Pot
    Jul 25 2015

    Pol Pot approves! Fun leads to dissidence.

Share your thoughts, post a comment.


Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments