Senators urge U.S. carriers to put an end to those annoying robocalls

senators end robocalls robotexts phone calling
Antonio Guillem/123RF
When even U.S. senators — specifically, Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) — are sick and tired of robocalls and texts, you know there is a problem. As such, both senators called upon the CTIA — The Wireless Association, a lobby group that represents AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint — to fight back against the annoying practice.

According to the letter, which was addressed to CTIA president and CEO Meredith Baker, the senators want the mobile phone industry to establish a reassigned numbers database — a collection of cell phone numbers that changed ownership. Thune and Markey demand that the industry explain how it might go about setting up the database, as well how companies can provide access to callers in order for them to determine if a number is still assigned to the original owner.

The senators also want to know if carriers can cover the costs of establishing and maintaining the database by charging calling parties fees for access.

Thune and Markey believe setting up such a database might help augment consumer protections established by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 by equipping businesses with the means to avoid making robocalls and texts to the wrong numbers. Generally speaking, the TCPA is meant to protect consumers from excessive phone solicitations and use of automated phone equipment.

“While the law has worked to successfully block countless unwanted calls, consumer complaints related to the TCPA remain among the most frequently received by the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission (FCC),” reads the letter. “Consumers have made it clear they do not want their lives disrupted by calls and texts they have not consented to receive.”

Weirdly enough, even though the FCC gave the all-clear for carriers to offer their customers the means to block robocalls, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson sat down with The Dallas Morning News back in May and said the carrier does not have the “authority” to integrate robocall-blocking technology into its network.

“We don’t go in and just start discriminately blocking calls going to people without their permission, without the appropriate authority,” the executive said at the time. “I don’t want to be on the front page because we blocked somebody’s call, if it was a life-saving call of some kind, right?”

In a statement sent to Ars Technica, CTIA vice-president Brad Gillen said, “Unwanted calls and texts are a consumer issue the wireless industry works hard to address and we look forward to working with Senators Thune and Markey to help address this challenge together.”


Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.

Free yourself! How to unlock a phone from the icy hands of your wireless carrier

Do you want to know how to unlock a phone through your carrier or a third-party service like DoctorSIM? Regardless of which way you want to go, we've compiled a list of requirements and methods for doing so.
Smart Home

Carbonite fridges, Vader toasters, and more crazy Star Wars home decor

Show your Star Wars pride with a room (or house) full of functional memorabilia. From toasters to pillows, there's more Star Wars home decor items than you'll know what to do with.

The best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't rely solely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with one of these weather apps, each of which brings something unique to the table.

The $200 TicWatch C2 smartwatch is now being sold in the U.S. and U.K.

Digital well-being and disconnecting from your phone is one of 2018's big trends. Mobvoi wants you to think about its TicWatch C2 smartwatch as a great way to help you use your phone less.

The Palm has been revived, and is now available in the U.S. and U.K.

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. The Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon for $350.

Yes, we really are getting a special McLaren edition of the OnePlus 6T

OnePlus has announced a partnership with McLaren F1, emphasizing a shared interest in speed. The phone company is known for producing special edition devices. Here's what we know about the OnePlus 6T Mclaren Edition.

Simplify your life with one of these wireless smartphone charger deals

Banish nightly cable fumbling with a wireless smartphone charger. If your smartphone is compatible with wireless charging, the simplicity of placing it on a pad is a beautiful thing. Wireless chargers are also excellent gifts for coworkers.

Microsoft Outlook for iOS gets big redesign, with Dark Mode coming soon

Microsoft has deployed a huge redesign for its Outlook for iOS app, which includes new blue branding and some quality-of-life improvements. Dark Mode isn't included, but it's coming soon.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

Vanquish lag for good with the best routers for gaming

Finding the best routers for gaming is no easy task. With so many out there, how do you know which to pick? We've looked at the many options available and put together a list of our lag-free favorites.