FCC proposes new tool against robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote next month on a proposal to let phone carriers block certain calls by default in an effort to crack down on unwanted robocalls, the agency announced Wednesday.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said his proposal would clarify the commission’s rules to let carriers filter out robocalls or scam calls from fraudulent numbers.

“Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and tired of robocalls,” Pai said in a statement. “By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset so that consumers never have to get them.”

The FCC will also be voting on a rule to give safe harbor to carriers implementing call blocking informed by a new authentication standard that the industry is expected to adopt this year.

Some carriers provide automatic call blocking services to their customers for an extra charge.

Pai said that language in a 2015 FCC order created uncertainty about whether carriers had to let consumers opt in to call blocking.

Pai suggested that under the new rule, carriers could use analytics to decide which calls to filter out and consumers could even decide not to receive any calls from unknown numbers.

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