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Rep. Engel Introduces Anti-Swatting Act

Rep. Engel Introduces Anti-Swatting Act 

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will introduce on Monday the Anti-Swatting Act, a bill that would enhance penalties for people who falsify their caller ID information to mislead law enforcement.

While it may sound like a prank, “swatting”—the act of deceiving law enforcement by using falsified caller ID information to incite them to respond to a nonexistent emergency—is no laughing matter. Named for the SWAT teams that are frequently deployed in response to these phony emergency calls, swatting can cost taxpayers thousands of dollars every time a SWAT team is deployed, according to the FBI.  

Swatting also risks injury to the unassuming victims who are present when law enforcement arrives at the supposed crime scene, as well as to the hardworking officials who rush to the scene anticipating danger. The act also illegitimately occupies law enforcement’s time, creating the risk that they will be unable to respond to an actual, life-threatening emergency in a timely fashion.

The Anti-Swatting Act seeks to curtail these hoaxes by enhancing penalties for people who falsify their caller ID information, a technological trick known as “spoofing,”  with the intent of misleading law enforcement. In addition, the bill would force swatters to reimburse the emergency services that squander finite resources while responding to the false emergency.

“There have been two incidents in my district, one in Rye and another just a few weeks ago in Eastchester, during which swatting required our brave first-responders to waste their time and our tax dollars. In response to those incidents, I have authored the Anti-Swatting Act to make clear that this type of behavior is dangerous and criminal,” Congressman Engel said. “Swatting is a big problem – it diverts precious resources and could one day lead to an inadequate response to a serious emergency. I am introducing this legislation in hopes that day will never come.

“My bill will increase penalties for this despicable act, and hold the perpetrators financially and criminally responsible for their actions.  We need to do everything we can to combat swatting, and I encourage my colleagues to support this important measure.”