With election season rolling around, it sometimes seems difficult to unite Americans around a single cause. But if hatred for telemarketers doesn’t cross party lines, I don’t know what does. And now, tapping into our collective disdain, annoyance, and all-around frustration with telemarketers, the Federal Communications Commission announced that after months of hemming and hawing, it is finally releasing “robocall and telemarketing consumer complaint data weekly to help developers build and improve “do-not-disturb” technologies that allow consumers to block or filter unwanted calls and texts.” Happy Friday, friends.
The decision comes as at least a symbolic reinforcement of the FCC’s goal to protect consumer privacy — for years, the federal government has been just as annoyed as you by unwanted callers whose incessant messages seem to always come at the least opportune times. Twelve years ago, in fact, the FCC created the Do Not Call Registry, which “is nationwide in scope, applies to all telemarketers (with the exception of certain nonprofit organizations), and covers both interstate and intrastate telemarketing calls.” But now, more than a decade and many technological innovations later, they’re going a step further.
Given the gradual extinction of the landline and the rise in popularity of iPhones and Androids, both of which have number blocking capabilities, the FCC hopes that its decision to release the numbers of these pesky telemarketers will allow you, the recipient of these calls, to block the numbers and prevent your phone from ever ringing. “Consumers want and deserve effective tools to empower them to choose the calls and texts they receive. This data will help improve do-not-disturb technologies so they can provide the best service for consumers,” said Alison Kutler, chief of the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, which manages consumer complaints. “As we encourage providers to offer these services, and as the commission recently made clear that there are no legal barriers to doing so, we continue to look for ways to help facilitate important consumer tools.”
While the onus will remain on you to actually block these numbers, you now have the wherewithal to do so efficiently and effectively.
If you’d like access to this data, which will include both telemarketers’ originating phone numbers and automated robocalls, visit the FCC’s Consumer Help Center website.