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General

FCC proposes tougher action against robocalls with blocking by default

Wednesday 15 May 2019 | 16:15 CET | News

The FCC has announced plans to take a tougher approach against robocalls in the US. At its next meeting in Jne, it will vote on a proposal to make nuisance call blocking the default option for phone lines, rather than the opt-in, voluntary arrangements used to date in the industry. 

The proposal is expected to lead to more widespread adoption of the Shaken/Stir authentication standard developed by the industry to stop the telemarketing calls. Customers would be able to draw up a 'white list' of contacts, so operators only allow through calls from these known numbers. 

The announcement from the FCC comes the same day as an oversight committee in the US Congress heard from FCC chairman Ajit Pai. Mike Doyle, the Congressman who chairs the subcommittee on communications and technology in the House, said that the robocalls "problem is out of control". Americans this year will receive 12 billion more robocalls then they received last year, and the monthly amount of calls has gone from 2 billion to 5 billion in just three years. "We are past the point of band-aids," he said. "We need real solutions to address this problem, and real protections for the American people."

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. Shaken/Stir stands for Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR). Under the framework, calls travelling through interconnected phone networks would be “signed” as legitimate by originating carriers and validated by other carriers before reaching consumers. 

Pai wants carriers to provide these blocking services for free, with strong protections so that emergency calls are not blocked. People would also be given the chance to opt out of any blocking services they might not want. 

The chairman added that he is seeking public comment on how the Shaken/Stir caller ID authentication standards can inform call blocking. The measures proposed will be considered by the full commission at its 6 June meeting.



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Categories: General
Companies: FCC
Countries: United States
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