The Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed Tuesday measures to reduce unwanted robocalls and prevent spam text messaging.
Pai is first calling on his fellow Commissioners to approve a reassigned number database. This database would help legitimate callers know whether telephone numbers have been reassigned to somebody else before calling those numbers so they can direct their calls to parties who asked for them rather than individuals who have subsequently obtained those reassigned numbers. Second, he is proposing to make clear that wireless providers are authorized to take measures to stop unwanted text messaging through robotext-blocking, anti-spoofing measures, and other anti-spam features.
“Combatting robocalls is our top consumer protection priority, and these proposals are a significant step forward in that effort. Today, I am calling on the FCC to take additional measures to combat these calls and also to prevent a flood of spam robotexts from clogging Americans’ phones,” said Chairman Pai. “Americans rely on and trust text messaging. That’s why we need to act to prevent a deluge of spam texts and scam messages. I’m also proposing new rules to help reduce robocalls to reassigned numbers by creating a database that will help legitimate businesses stop calling those numbers. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting these proposals and continuing our fight against unwanted robocalls and robotexts.”
The FCC will consider these items at its next Open Commission Meeting on December 12, 2018. The draft Declaratory Ruling on text messaging would formally rule that text-messaging services are information services, not telecommunications services, thus allowing carriers to continue using robotext-blocking and anti-spoofing measures to protect consumers from unwanted text messages. This Declaratory Ruling would rule on a 2015 petition from mass-texting provider Twilio and a 2007 petition from Public Knowledge. The reassigned numbers proposal would establish new rules in order to launch a database of reassigned numbers. This would help prevent accidental robocalls to numbers that are no longer assigned to consumers who signed up to receive those calls.
Robotexts appear to be a growing concern for American consumers, and the FCC is working to address them. State officials also have voiced concerns about scams and spam texts, with a bipartisan group of 20 state attorneys general asking the FCC not to disturb wireless carriers’ ability to combat unwanted spam messages.