Friday, 18 October, 2019

FCC Chairman Pai proposes blocking robocalls by default

FCC's Ajit Pai wants to give phone companies more power to block robocalls FCC robocall rule would finally give you a nuclear option for blocking phone spam
Emmett Howard | 18 May, 2019, 04:38

It's not clear if carriers would automatically block those calls, too, said Margot Saunders, senior counsel for the National Consumer Law Center and an expert on robocalls.

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.

The Federal Communications Commission says it wants to help. Companies would also allow consumers to block calls from unknown numbers themselves.

"Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and exhausted of robocalls", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. At its next meeting in Jne, it will vote on a proposal to make nuisance call blocking the default option for phone lines, rather than the opt-in, voluntary arrangements used to date in the industry. "Allowing default call blocking by voice providers could significantly increase development and consumer adoption of such tools", Pai said in a statement.

Later Wednesday, Pai and four other FCC commissioners are set to testify before a US House of Representatives panel over the growing number of robocalls.

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On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, lawmakers have proposed a slew of bills that would upgrade federal anti-robocall rules. The industry is working on deploying this long-in-the-works system, called "STIR/SHAKEN", but it's been a slow process. 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 executives of major telephone service providers including AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, Sprint Corp and other companies, demanding they launch the system no later than 2019 to combat robocalls.

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

Robocall-tracking company YouMail estimates there were 48 billion unwanted calls in the U.S.in 2018, up 60% from 2017.

In its analysis, Hiya found that people received an average of about 10 spam calls per month. 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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