The FCC wants robocall-blocking technology, and it wants it yesterday

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The general population is sick of robocalls. U.S. senators are sick of robocalls. The Federal Communications Commission is so sick of robocalls that the government agency sent letters to the likes of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, among others, to do something about it.

In the letter, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler addressed companies’ concerns that enabling robocall-blocking technology might not only cause technical issues, but also block legitimate calls from passing through. More specifically, Wheeler refers to the agency’s comments in June 2015, during which the FCC acknowledged that U.S. carriers should not block calls without their customers’ permission.

“We agree and said as much last summer,” Wheeler writes. “Consumers should only opt into any blocking/filtering solution after the provider has given them an understanding of the solution’s capabilities.”

The FCC chairman also acknowledged that providers approached the government agency regarding the wait until new Caller ID authentication standards are in place, but “that is not a valid excuse for delay.” Alternatively, Wheeler asked the likes of Level 3 and Bandwidth.com — both are communications companies — create a “Do Not Originate” list, which will allow government agencies, healthcare providers, banks, and others to register their phone numbers. The list also allows providers to block calls from outside the U.S., since quite a few phone scams originate from outside the country.

“The Do-Not-Originate list would allow domestic entities that are regularly impersonated by caller ID spoofing, such as government agencies, financial institutions, or health care facilities, to register their outbound numbers in a database.”

Instead of sitting around and waiting for companies to implement robocall-blocking technology and a Do Not Originate list, the FCC wants responses within 30 days. The agency does not want PR responses, however, as it looks for more “concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues.”

Robocalling, or automated and prerecorded calls that border on excessive, is something the FCC has a vested interested in minimizing. According to the FCC, it receives hundreds of thousands of complaints each year, with the agency having brought 13 enforcement actions to fight robocalls since 2013.

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