Technology

FCC Makes It Easier for Phone Companies to Block Robocalls

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Illustration of a robot wearing a phone headset

Hate those pesky spam calls?

The vote allows carriers to automatically switch on robocall-blocking technology, which is now available but requires a customer to turn it on themselves or ask their carrier to do it for them.

"If Americans can agree on anything these days, it's that they're fed up with robocalls", said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in an op-ed early Thursday morning ahead of the Declaratory Ruling affirming his proposal.

The FCC is asking for comments on whether it should create a safe harbour for providers that block calls that are maliciously spoofed so that caller ID can not be authenticated and that block calls that are "unsigned". Pai says there should be a process in place for companies and consumers to appeal call-blocking decisions in the event a communication is warranted.

Carriers that swap on such applied sciences will be required to let prospects opt out of the programs in the event that they wish and continue receiving all calls.

And while the FCC is urging wireless carriers to offer call blocking for free, the order would not mandate it.

However, there is no requirement to make telecoms companies provide the call-blocking service for free.

The FCC plans to monitor the adoption and implementation of the STIR/SHAKEN framework which was developed by industry groups ATIS and SIP Forum to tackle the issue of phone spamming and robocalls. Republican Commissioner Michael O'Reilly also partially dissented from the ruling due to concerns that the broad language of the plan could be unfairly interpreted against carriers.

It would be the best for USA consumers if the phone companies had the proper measures against robocalls in place. We've taken strong enforcement action against illegal robocallers, imposing or proposing nearly a quarter-billion dollars in forfeitures against callers for illegal, spoofed calls. In a statement, he said he doubts the technology can always differentiate between legitimate and scam calls. Another rule could protect phone numbers from being spoofed or used as a disguise by robocallers, so the victim thinks the call is from someone legitimate.

"By making clear that phone companies block these calls by default our expectation is that based on consumer preferences that don't want these robocalls, phone companies will start widely deploying them".

The FCC is working to, as Chairman Pai says, "stop the scourge of illegal robocalls". "But in case it isn't, the FCC will not hesitate to take regulatory action".

"I abominate robocalls as grand as you produce".

Not all robocalls are scam calls, said Margot Saunders, a senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, a consumer advocacy organization.

Additionally, TRACED allows the FCC to create a task force that would move carriers to press forward with call authentication systems.

"What I suspect is going to happen is carriers will focus on".

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