Feinstein bill would limit political robocalls, allow legal action against robocallers

Under the Robocall Privacy Act, S. 1355, automated political calls would be banned between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. In addition, only two robocalls could be made to the same number per day.

To better ensure that people can identify robocallers, the bill would prevent companies from blocking or altering their caller ID. It would also require the caller to identify itself, along with the fact that the call is a pre-recorded message.

Violations of these rules could be attacked through legal actions against robocallers to require the calls to stop, backed by an order from a judge. While civil fines would be allowed, monetary damages could not be received by call recipients.

Feinstein cited several signs of robocall abuse from past elections as examples of why her bill is needed. In the last election, she said Maryland voters received calls saying they could stay home because Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley had already won.

She also cited examples in Kansas and California instructing voters to show up Wednesday for the Tuesday election. And in Missouri, calls were made to look like they were coming from a hospital to encourage people to pick up the phone.