FCC ready to let phone companies use tools to block robocalls

FCC's Ajit Pai wants to give phone companies more power to block robocalls

"This is a big and bold proposal by the FCC that can bolster our industry's cutting-edge call blocking and authentication efforts and do something important: stop unwanted calls from reaching consumers in the first place".

Today, many voice providers have held off developing and deploying call blocking tools by default because of uncertainty about whether these tools are legal under the FCCs rules.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission is seeking to give telecommunications firms the ability to automatically block potential robocalls without consumer consent.

The idea put forward by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai - and pending approval from the agency's commissioners - encourages carriers to enable their anti-robocall technology by default, as opposed to waiting for consumers to turn on those features themselves.

Pai and the other four FCC commissioners testified on Wednesday before a U.S. House panel amid frustration in Congress and among U.S. consumers over the flood of robocalls.

"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.

Pai's proposal, if adopted, would allow wireless carriers to block those robocalls for customers by default. It would also allow consumers to block calls not on their own contact list, according to the agency.

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Hardly anyone needs a reminder of how pervasive the problem of robocalls has become, or how ineffective the action against them has been up to this point.

The full commission will consider the measure on June 6.

In May 2018, Pai called on companies to adopt an industry-developed "call authentication system" for the cryptographic signing of telephone calls aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers from the telephone system. He raised the threat of regulatory action if the carriers don't take steps, saying that the agency will "stand ready to take action if the companies do not take the steps necessary to protect consumers".

In November, Pai wrote to the chief executive officers of major providers including AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, demanding they launch the system no later than 2019 to combat robocalls.

That marks a 46 percent increase from 2017, when users logged about 18 billion robocalls.

One study says Americans received more than 26 billion robocalls past year. The number breaks down to an average of 10 monthly calls per person. Americans this year will receive 12 billion more robocalls then they received last year, and the monthly amount of calls has gone from 2 billion to 5 billion in just three years.

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