Archive for the ‘robocalls’ Category

Ajit Pai’s robocall plan lets carriers charge for new call-blocking tools

May 15th, 2019
Ajit Pai’s robocall plan lets carriers charge for new call-blocking tools

Enlarge (credit: ullstein bild | Getty Images)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is calling on carriers to block robocalls by default without waiting for consumers to opt in to call-blocking services. But he hasn't proposed making this a requirement and is leaving it up to carriers to decide whether to charge for such services.

To encourage carriers, Pai is proposing rule changes making it clear that carriers are allowed to block calls by default. Call blocking by default isn't explicitly outlawed by the FCC, but Pai's announcement today said that "many voice providers have held off developing and deploying call-blocking tools by default because of uncertainty about whether these tools are legal under the FCC's rules."

In a call with reporters this morning, Pai said the uncertainty stems from a 2015 FCC order in which "the FCC suggested that its rules and regulations would not prohibit call-blocking services to the extent that consumers opted into them. Many members of the industry perceived that interpretation to make illegal, potentially, the blocking of calls by default."

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, Biz & IT, FCC, Policy, robocalls | Comments (0)

The robocall crisis will never totally be fixed

April 8th, 2019
A headset sits on a keyboard at the Avise Techno Solutions LLP call center in Kolkata, India, on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017.

Enlarge / A headset sits on a keyboard at the Avise Techno Solutions LLP call center in Kolkata, India, on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Years into the robocalling frenzy, your phone probably still rings off the hook with "important information about your account," updates from the "Chinese embassy," and every bogus sweepstakes offer imaginable. That's despite promises from the telecom industry and the US government that solutions would be coming. Much like the firehose of spam that made email almost unusable in the late 1990s, robocalls have made people in the US wary of picking up their cell phones and landlines. In fact, email spam offers a useful analogy: a scourge that probably can't be eliminated but can be effectively managed.

Finding the right tools for that job remains a challenge. The Federal Trade Commission has had a strong track record in its 140 robocall-related suits, including a recent victory at the end of March that targeted four massive operations. Bipartisan anti-robocalling legislation is gaining traction in Congress. Apps that flag or block unwanted calls have matured and are solidly effective. And wireless carriers—in part facing pressure from the Federal Communications Commission—have increasingly offered their own anti-robocalling apps and tools for free.

Yet the number of robocalls continues to hit new highs. The anti-robocalling company YouMail estimates that March 2019 saw 5.23 billion robocalls, the highest volume ever. And other firms recorded similar highs. But those numbers don't take into account calls that were successfully blocked. A more useful measure might be the number of complaints filed per month to the FCC and FTC, which remained mostly static in 2018 and the beginning of 2019.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in FCC, Policy, robocalls | Comments (0)

John Oliver fights robocalls… by robocalling Ajit Pai and the FCC

March 11th, 2019
Screenshot from John Oliver's show on robocalls, with Oliver gesturing toward a picture of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Enlarge / John Oliver talking about FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. (credit: HBO)

Comedian John Oliver is taking aim at the Federal Communications Commission again, this time demanding action on robocalls while unleashing his own wave of robocalls against FCC commissioners.

In a 17-minute segment yesterday on HBO's Last Week Tonight, Oliver described the scourge of robocalls and blamed Pai for not doing more to stop them. Oliver ended the segment by announcing that he and his staff are sending robocalls every 90 minutes to all five FCC commissioners.

"Hi FCC, this is John from customer service," Oliver's recorded voice says on the call. "Congratulations, you've just won a chance to lower robocalls in America today... robocalls are incredibly annoying, and the person who can stop them is you! Talk to you again in 90 minutes—here's some bagpipe music."

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, Biz & IT, FCC, john oliver, Policy, robocalls | Comments (0)

Ajit Pai orders phone companies to adopt new anti-robocall tech in 2019

February 14th, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking and gesturing with his hands.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research on May 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla)

The Federal Communications Commission will consider "regulatory intervention" if major phone companies fail to adopt a new anti-robocall technology this year.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been pressuring phone companies to implement the "SHAKEN" and "STIR" robocall-blocking protocols, which perform Caller ID authentication. Most major providers have committed to doing so, but Pai issued a warning to laggards yesterday.

"I applaud those companies that have committed to deploy the SHAKEN/STIR framework in 2019," Pai said in his statement yesterday. "This goal should be achievable for every major wireless provider, interconnected VoIP operator, and telephone company—and I expect those lagging behind to make every effort to catch up. If it appears major carriers won't meet the deadline to get this done this year, the FCC will have to consider regulatory intervention."

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, Biz & IT, Policy, robocalls, Sprint, TDS Telecom | Comments (0)