New measures could help thwart scam calls for robocall-plagued US

US FCC,FCC robocalls,robocalls US

Phone companies could be asked to install default call-blocking tools

Service providers have historically been reluctant to develop and deploy call block tools by default due to uncertainty regarding their legality under the FCC's rules.

The proposed declaratory ruling, which Pai hopes can be adopted by the commission in June, would make clear that call blocking by default would not violate FCC rules, Pai said during a conference call with reporters.

Quilici said it's safe to assume everyone would want to block scam calls. The systems would include protections against blocking emergency calls, and consumers would be able to opt-out of call blocking if they wish. The volume of calls has risen to roughly 5 billion per month, according to call-blocker YouMail, from 2.7 billion in November 2017. T-Mobile in January launched a caller verification feature based on the SHAKEN/STIR framework, and Verizon followed suit in March. In addition, companies could allow users to block calls not on their contact lists, Pai said.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said this week the FCC should require call authentication technology and make available free tools to consumers to block the calls.

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

This comes as the FCC recently has been targeting robocalls with new rules and systems to block them.

There are also bills in Congress addressing the robocall problem.

In May 2018, Pai called on companies to adopt an industry-developed "call authentication system" aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers from the telephone system. Carriers like Verizon have anti-robocall tools for subscribers, but they're usually optional and need to be turned on.

Pai said this week he expects major phone providers to implement those caller ID standards this year and will host a summit on July 11 to review the industry's progress.

The FCC's efforts come in response to a growing chorus of critics who feel the US government hasn't acted swiftly or aggressively enough to punish scammers who place unwanted calls or texts to consumers - or prod telecom carriers to improve their anti-robocall technology. "People who do robocalls are sophisticated and smart, they will figure out some ways to get around it", said Wired editor-in-chief and CBS News contributor Nick Thompson.

The FCC has not yet released the specific details of its proposal - in particular, what kinds of guidelines the agency will provide companies for determining whether a call is "wanted" or "unwanted".

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

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