H.R. 582 requires all Multi-Line Telephone Systems (MLTS) to have a default configuration that allows users to directly dial 9-1-1, without the need for additional digits or prefix, from any phone with dialing facilities. In addition, the MLTS must be configured to notify a designated central point of contact when someone initiates a call to 9-1-1 using the system.
In December 2013, Kari Hunt was killed by her estranged husband in a motel room in Texas. Her daughter repeatedly attempted to dial 9-1-1 from the motel room, but was unable to reach emergency responders because the motel’s MLTS required users to dial “9” to reach an outside line.
Multi-Line Telephone Systems (MLTS) serve multiple telephone users at a single site, often an office building, hotel, university campus, or similar locations. A common feature of MLTS is the configuration requiring a user to dial a digit or prefix to reach a number outside of the system - for example, dialing “9” before reaching an outside line. When an emergency call is placed from a MLTS phone, the user may still have to dial the prefix to direct the call outside of the system.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 17, 2018.
(This measure has not been amended since it was passed by the Senate on February 5, 2018. The summary of that version is repeated here.)
Kari's Law Act of 2017
(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit businesses from manufacturing or importing for use in the United States, or selling or leasing in the United States, a multi-line telephone system unless it is pre-configured to allow users to directly initiate a call to 9-1-1 (without dialing any additional digit, code, prefix, or post-fix, including any trunk-access code such as the digit "9") from any station equipped with dialing facilities.
Businesses are prohibited from installing, managing, or operating multi-line telephone systems without such a direct 9-1-1 call configuration.
Businesses installing, managing, or operating such systems for use in the United States must configure the systems to provide a notification to a central location at the facility where the system is installed, or to another person or organization regardless of location, if the system is able to be so configured without an improvement to the hardware or software.