Robocallers, and spam operations in general, are a big issue that seems to plague almost everyone in the US these days one way or another. They can be a nuisance, or they can be downright dangerous. Luckily, it's a problem that government agencies are aware of, but the FCC is in a surprisingly limited capacity to take action. The agency has, for a long time, been after robocallers, and right now it wants to fine a big robocalling operation. It also wishes to be able to take stronger actions by itself, though.

The FCC has announced that it would be proposing a $116 million fine to a robocalling operation for acts that violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act as well as the FCC's rules (via TechCrunch). The only problem? Note how we used the word "proposing." Like other government agencies, the FCC can't issue or collect fines itself. Instead, it can propose fines to the Department of Justice, which would then go forward with things. Meanwhile, the FCC just... waits around and hopes the DOJ will do something.

In a statement, the FCC's chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, said that "we need new rules of the game," adding that she "would like the certainty of this agency being able to go to court directly and collect fines against these bad actors." Congress has the power to give the agency more capacity to do things itself, but given how lawmakers are already pretty busy fighting between themselves, it's unlikely this will happen anytime soon.

All legal action that the agency wants to undertake needs to go through the DOJ, so its scope for actually taking action on something is pretty limited. For robocalling operations, it's issuing cease and desist letters, but other than that, there's not a lot the agency can do itself. Even worse, while the FCC might be able to propose a fine, the folks getting fined might actually get away with paying a minimal fraction of the actual fine's amount. The FTC proposed a similar robocalling fine a few years ago, and the scammer actually got away with paying $18,332 out of the $5 million proposed in the fine, plus the proceeds for selling their car.

For now, we hope the fines will actually come together, because robocallers are the worst.