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U.S. government is teaming up with 30 major tech companies to fight robocallers

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
If your phone is ringing off the hook, it shouldn’t be because of robocallers. It’s a sentiment most (if not all) consumers seem to hold, one that the government holds, and now, one that more than 30 major tech companies hold as well. According to a Reuters report, the heavy hitters from Silicon Valley are now joining the feds in cracking down on those pesky automated calls.

Companies including AT&T, Alphabet, Apple, Verizon, and Comcast have now signed on to be part of the “Robocall Strike Force,” which is set to work in conjunction with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to combat the “scourge” that is robocalling. The kickoff meeting for this new task force was held Friday. By October 19, these companies are slated to present the FCC with “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, the chair of the strike force.

The FCC has been on a warpath against robocalls as of late. Since last year, the federal agency has implemented a number of new rules meant to make it more difficult for these automated messages to reach our phone lines, but last month, it decided to call in the big guns. In July, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sent letters to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and others to help block robocalling.

“This scourge must stop,” Wheeler said on Friday, noting that consumers complain most frequently about these prerecorded nuisances. Blaming “industry inaction” for the continued occurrence of these calls, Wheeler added,  “The bad guys are beating the good guys with technology.”

And the strike force members know they have their work cut out for them. “This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps,” Stephenson said. “Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.” But with a team that includes mobile carriers, device makers, operating system developers, network designers, and the government, victory may finally be in sight. Said Stephenson: “We have to come out of this with a comprehensive playbook for all of us to go execute.”

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