U.S. FCC set to let phone companies block more robocalls

U.S. FCC set to let phone companies block more robocalls

Carriers would also have flexibility in how they dispose of spam calls, such as sending the calls straight to voicemail, alerting the customer of the robocalls, or blocking the calls altogether.

If approved, the FCC rules would propose a safe harbour for providers that implement network-wide blocking for calls that fail caller authentication under the Shaken/Stir framework once it is implemented.

The FCC said the order still could help telecom carriers and their customers battle back against robocall fraudsters that use a tactic known as spoofing, which makes it appear as if they're calling from a legitimate number that's similar to the one they're trying to target.

"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.

"Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and exhausted of robocalls", Pai said in a statement. If passed, customers could opt in to a filter system that would only allow calls through from numbers in their contacts, dubbed a "white list".

Pai and the other four FCC commissioners are set to testify later on Wednesday before a US House panel amid frustration in Congress and among US consumers over the rising number of robocalls. Pai, however, wants the FCC to pave the way to allow for carriers to just go ahead and block these kinds of calls themselves, without waiting for or trying to get the consumer's permission.

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The bill would also make it easier for the FCC to impose financial penalties.

AT&T Inc said Pai's proposal "will increase the arsenal of tools available to combat calls that are not authenticated" but warned that "scammers continue to find new ways to reach unsuspecting consumers". The FCC said the proposal would be considered at the agency's next meeting on June 6. 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". "For too long the @FCC has wasted time holding workshops and summits instead of holding bad actors responsible", said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who is a Democrat.

The call-blocking company YouMail issues estimates of nationwide robocalls each month.

One study says Americans received more than 26 billion robocalls previous year.

Several existing applications also require a fee, but Pai says costs would be reduced under the new system because its more expensive to handle the ongoing flood of robocalls.

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