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Date: May 15, 2019 04:39PM
U.S. Poised to Let Phone Companies Block Robocalls
FCC wants to give telecom carriers more leeway to manage unwanted calls
May 15, 2019 12:41 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—Responding to widespread consumer complaints, the Federal Communications Commission says it will take steps to give phone companies permission to block unwanted robocalls.
Americans get billions of unwanted phone calls annually, making it the No. 1 complaint received by the FCC. But carriers have long been wary of blocking robocalls for fear of breaking the regulator’s call-completion rules that require phone companies to make sure calls reach their intended recipient.
“The American people are fed up with illegal robocalls,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai told reporters Wednesday, saying the agency aims to make it easier for phone companies to block them.
Illegal robocalls, often containing recordings of scammers posing as a government agency, computer support technician or insurance salesperson, have exploded in recent years thanks to low-cost technology that allows for auto-dialing and obscuring a call’s origin. Stopping them has proved difficult in part because bad actors are hard to identify and punish and in part because some robocalls are legal, others are illegal and still others are simply unwanted.
Mr. Pai said the commission has scheduled a June 6 vote on a measure that would assure phone companies that block unwanted calls won’t run afoul of federal rules. The agency said it would enable phone companies to analyze their network traffic to spot and block robocalls. They could let customers create so-called white lists of approved callers and block all other incoming calls.