FCC Chairman Proposes Ruling to Block Unwanted Robocalls

Ruben Fields
May 18, 2019

FCC chairman Ajit Pai proposed a new rule that, if adopted, would encourage phone carriers to turn anti-robocall technology on by default. If it does, then voice service providers can start offering automatic call-blocking services immediately. Or for those in need of a nuclear option, the ruling could also allow consumers to prohibit calls from any number that isn't in their contact list.

Pai wants carriers to provide these blocking services for free, with strong protections so that emergency calls are not blocked.

"Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and exhausted of robocalls", said Chairman Pai in a news release on the matter.

The commission will consider Pai's proposal at its June 6 meeting.

In May 2018, Pai called on companies to adopt an industry-developed "call authentication system" aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers from the telephone system. Indeed, the number of such unwanted calls soared from 29 billion in 2016 to nearly 48 billion a year ago, according to an estimate by YouMail Inc. that's also been cited by the Federal Communications Commission. One proposal in the Senate would grant the government more power to pursue robocall fraudsters, while another set of proposals in the House would take additional aim at legitimate businesses, such as debt collectors, that ring smartphone owners excessively. Such a system, Pai said, could protect elderly individuals who are routinely targeted by scam calls. The number breaks down to an average of 10 monthly calls per person. If it's suspicious, the carrier can block the call from going through.

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According to a news release from the FCC released Wednesday, many providers had held off on developing and implementing call-blocking tools by default because they weren't sure if it was legal under the FCC's rules to implement them. We know robocallers are annoying to our customers.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said this week that the FCC should "require call authentication technology" and "make available free tools to consumers to block these calls".

People received about 60 incoming calls from 'unrecognized numbers or numbers not linked to a person in their contact list'.

"The number of #robocalls we get is INSANE".

New measures by USA regulators could help thwart some of the billions of robocalls received in the U.S. "I sincerely hope this is not too little, too late".

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