It’s not a done deal – the ruling must go through a public comment period – but still… what took so long?
The FCC voted unanimously to allow phone companies to block what their algorithms determine to be spoofed calls, those that display a number different from the one actually used to place the call. There were 4.8 billion such calls in May, up from 4.1 billion in June of 2018.
The companies can also offer a service to customers that will block all calls that are not on a pre-approved list, in an effort to guard seniors and other vulnerable people against fraud.
A coalition of trade groups representing businesses like pharmacies, debt collectors and bankers said the proposal could be harmful. In a filing with the FCC last week, the group wrote:
Public safety alerts, fraud alerts, data security breach notifications, product recall notices, healthcare and prescription reminders, and power outage updates all could be inadvertently blocked under the draft Declaratory Order, among other time-sensitive calls.
That’s a risk that most Americans are willing to take: anything to stop those incessant robocalls!
Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, objected to the idea that the carriers might charge consumers to block the robocalls and said at a hearing:
“I do not think that this agency should pat itself on the back for its efforts to reduce robocalls and then tell consumers to pay up.”
As long as the charge is reasonable, it would be a small price to pay for getting rid of what has become a huge annoyance.