WASHINGTON DC —The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to make clear that voice service providers may aggressively block unwanted robocalls before they reach consumers.
The commission specifically approved a declaratory ruling to affirm that voice service providers may, as the default, block unwanted calls based on reasonable call analytics, as long as their customers are informed and have the opportunity to opt out of the blocking. This action empowers providers to protect their customers from unwanted robocalls before those calls even reach the customers’ phones. While many phone companies now offer their customers call blocking tools on an opt-in basis, the declaratory ruling clarifies that they can provide them as the default, thus allowing them to protect more consumers from unwanted robocalls and making it more cost-effective to implement call blocking programs.
The ruling also clarifies that providers may offer their customers the choice to opt-in to tools that block calls from any number that does not appear on a customer’s contact list or other “white lists.” This option would allow consumers to decide directly whose calls they are willing to receive. Consumer white lists could be based on the customer’s own contact list, updated automatically as consumers add and remove contacts from their smartphones.
The Commission also adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking that proposes requiring voice service providers to implement the SHAKEN/STIR caller ID authentication framework, if major voice service providers fail to do so by the end of this year. It also seeks comment on whether the commission should create a safe harbor for providers that block calls that are maliciously spoofed so that caller ID cannot be authenticated and that block calls that are “unsigned.”
With adoption of this item, the commission continues its multi-pronged strategy to combat unwanted and illegal robocalls. The declaratory ruling will go into effect upon release of the item on FCC.gov. The deadline for submitting comments in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking will be established upon publication in the Federal Register.