telephone_commonsWired and wireless telecom service providers would have the opportunity to offer robocall blocking technology if a proposal made by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is adopted, said senior FCC officials today. Wheeler is circulating within the commission a draft of his proposal, which also includes other measures aimed at protecting consumers from unwanted robocalls and strengthening provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) adopted in 1991, the officials said. The officials declined to speculate on whether network operators would likely charge a monthly fee for robocall-blocking capability.

Beyond Robocall Blocking
Other elements of Wheeler’s proposal, some of which would apply to both wireless and landline phones and others of which would only apply to wireless phones, include:

  • Enabling consumers to more easily get their names onto “do not call” lists by, for example, preventing telemarketers from requiring consumers to mail in a request
  • Preventing telemarketers or others from using sets of phone numbers as a loophole to get around prohibitions against random dialing
  • Requiring companies using telemarketing to purge their consumer lists of wrong numbers, including numbers that previously belonged to someone who consented to receiving telemarketing calls but which have been re-assigned – telemarketers would only be allowed to call a new subscriber once after a number was reassigned
  • Preventing all robotexts without consumer consent other than free and urgent personal financial and medical alerts – debt collection and telemarketing robotexts would be prohibited

The FCC officials on today’s call noted that TCPA-related complaints are the number one type of complaint received by the commission, numbering about 215,000 complaints annually. The commission also is often called upon to advise bankers, debt collectors and app developers about how they can comply with TCPA rules. Wheeler’s proposal, which will take the form of a declaratory ruling, aims to address 20 pending TCPA-related petitions, officials said.

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The full commission is expected to vote on Wheeler’s proposal in June.

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