House Energy & Commerce Committee Approves Engel's Anti-Swatting Act

House Energy & Commerce Committee Approves Engel’s Anti-Swatting Act

Washington D.C.-The House Committee on Energy and Commerce voted to approve Congressman Eliot Engel’s Anti-Swatting Act, unanimously agreeing to send the bill to the House floor.

“I am pleased my colleagues on both sides of the aisle voted to put an end to swatting and its dangerous consequences,” Engel said. “I introduced the Anti-Swatting Act last year, following a string of swattings in my district. Incidents have also occurred in Tennessee, Ohio, New Jersey – the list goes on. It is my hope that this bill will keep additional communities from falling victim to these despicable crimes.”

While it may sound like a prank, “swatting”— the act of provoking an emergency response team to respond to a phony crisis —is no laughing matter. Named for the SWAT teams that are frequently deployed in response to these fraudulent emergency calls, swatting puts Americans’ tax dollars and safety at risk. According to the FBI, a single SWAT team deployment can cost thousands of taxpayer dollars. Swatting also risks injury to the unassuming victims who are present when a response team arrives at an alleged crime scene, as well as to those who mount that response, anticipating danger.

Three swattings have taken place in New York’s 16th district, in Rye and Eastchester. An incident also occurred at LaGuardia Airport in August.

Congressman Engel’s Anti-Swatting Act, H.R. 2031, 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 inciting a response to a fake emergency. In addition, the bill would force swatters to reimburse the emergency services that squander finite resources while responding to the hoax.

“The goal of my bill is to dissuade potential swatters from wasting emergency response resources and – most importantly – from putting the public and our hard-working response teams in harm’s way,” Engel said. “I hope the House will move swiftly to approve this legislation, and bring us one step closer to ending these crimes for good.”