Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wants phone companies to start voluntarily blocking robocalls to their customers by default, for free. Customers would be able to draw up a "white list" of contacts, so operators only allow through calls from these known numbers.
The FCC is seeking to broaden the uptick of call blocking services, which customers must now engage in voluntarily, as well as empower providers to further develop the technology. "We believe we need to make it easier for phone companies to block these robocalls".
The proposal would establish call blocking services as a default setting for consumers.
The full FCC still needs to vote on the proposal at a meeting scheduled for June 6.
Pai has also been urging phone carriers to adopt an authentication system, dubbed SHAKEN/STIR, which can differentiate between legit phone calls and spoofed ones. Indeed, the number of such unwanted calls soared from 29 billion in 2016 to nearly 48 billion a year ago, according to an estimate by YouMail Inc. that's also been cited by the Federal Communications Commission.
"The criminals that are scamming consumers with this flood of illegal robocalls must be confronted by industry and government head-on", the group's president and CEO Jonathan Spalter said in a statement. The number breaks down to an average of 10 monthly calls per person. We know robocallers are annoying to our customers. If the agency goes for it, this would be a major shift away from the longstanding understanding that phone networks basically connect every call that's made, with the agency essentially pressuring carriers to find a way to interrupt or block these specific kinds of calls. Carriers would also have flexibility in how they dispose of spam calls, such as sending the calls straight to voicemail, alerting the customer of the robocalls, or blocking the calls altogether.More news: Sudan's Bashir charged over killings of protesters
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People received about 60 incoming calls from 'unrecognized numbers or numbers not linked to a person in their contact list'.
The FCC claims wireless carriers have not pursued tools that allow calls to be blocked by default because of legal uncertainty about such tools under the FCC's rules.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel weighed in on the proposal on Wednesday morning.
"The number of #robocalls we get is INSANE. I sincerely hope this is not too little, too late", she wrote on Twitter.
"Today it finally proposes new policies to help block robocalls".