FCC proposes blocking robocalls by default

FCC proposes blocking robocalls by default

Voice service providers may offer opt-out call-blocking programs based on any reasonable analytics created to identify unwanted calls and will have flexibility on how to dispose of those calls, such as sending straight to voicemail, alerting the customer of a robocall, or blocking the call altogether.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai proposed a new rule that, if adopted, would encourage phone carriers to turn anti-robocall technology on by default.

Pai said many service providers have held off developing and deploying default call-blocking tools because of uncertainty about whether the tools are legal under the FCC rules.

Currently, consumers often must elect to use carriers' robocall-blocking tools, some of them costing a monthly fee, which means "fewer people are using these services", Pai said. If it's suspicious, the carrier can block the call from going through. The systems would include protections against blocking emergency calls, and consumers would be able to opt-out of call blocking if they wish.

This year, between 60 and 75 billion robocalls are expected to be made, up from almost 48 billion last year.

Consumers would be allowed to block any callers that are not included in their list of contacts.

Chairman Ajit Pai speaks ahead of the vote on the repeal of so called net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, U.S., December 14, 2017.

New measures by USA regulators could help thwart some of the billions of robocalls received in the U.S.

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The new action follows criticism that Pai isn't doing enough to stop robocalls.

Verizon Communications Inc praised the FCC for "taking aggressive action and exploring new tools to protect consumers".

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

Pai is also seeking to permit carriers to determine how so-called "shaken/stir" ID authentication standards, which rely upon a "digital fingerprint" to validate calls, can be used to cut-down 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.

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

There's little time for the phone companies to get up to speed on the proposal.

"Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and exhausted of robocalls", said Chairman Pai in a news release on the matter.

Robocalls have become so common that a 2018 report predicted nearly 50 percent of all mobile calls will be scam calls this year.