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July 25, 2016

FCC Pushing Telecoms to Provide Robocall Blocking Technology

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The Federal Communications Commission is turning up the heat on telephone companies that have yet to get onboard with the implementation of robocall blocking technology.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has fired off admonishing letters to the CEOs of major wireless and wireline phone companies demanding they offer free call-blocking services.

Letters have also been sent to intermediary carriers that connect robocallers to the consumer’s phone company to urge them to get onboard by helping provide blocking technologies. Carriers and standards groups are also being asked to speed up the development and deployment of technical standards to hinder spoofing of caller ID to make blocking technologies more effective.

All of the parties contacted by the FCC must respond within 30 days with “concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues.”

“Congress directed the Commission to implement consumer protections empowering consumers to decide which robocalls and text messages they receive, and the Commission enforces those rules. We can and will investigate complaints; the Commission has brought 13 formal enforcement actions to combat unlawful robocalls since 2013,” Wheeler said in a statement. “Consumers would rather not receive unwanted calls in the first place, making pro-active intervention preferable to after-the-fact enforcement. The Commission has done its part, making clear that phone companies face no legal barriers to helping consumers block unwanted calls with the use of robocall blocking technology. Today, we urge carriers to step up to take that responsibility.”

The FCC also said it would continue to “pursue regulatory solutions to crack down on unwanted robocalls.”

The agency last year closed loopholes in its robocall restrictions, including placing limits on calls to reassigned numbers. Wheeler, at the time, said he planned to use the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act as the skeleton for new regulations which would close any loopholes on consumer protection from such unwanted contact.

Since Congress changed the law authorizing the FCC to limit the number and duration of robocalls to collect federal debts, the agency circulated rules to place limits on all robocalls. The proposal’s purpose is to limit the number of debt-collection calls allowed per month, ensure the right person is called, and allow consumers to stop the calls.

“Such limitations are particularly important following a January Supreme Court ruling that federal government entities conducting official business are not subject to robocall limits unless Congress says otherwise,” Wheeler added. Here’s the bottom line: Robocalls are currently the number one complaint the FCC receives from consumers. Whenever and wherever Congress and the courts give us the authority, the Commission will push hard for strong, pro-consumer limits to robocalls and other unwanted calls.”


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.