Congress Forces FCC To Go Beyond Its Tame, 'Voluntary' Anti-Robocalling Plan

from the ill-communication dept

Last June you might recall that the Trump FCC unveiled a new robocall plan that it claimed would finally put the annoying problem to bed. And while the tech press tripped over itself to suggest the plan was a dramatic departure from FCC robocall policies of the past, the reality is there was little to nothing in the plan that was actually new. As is often the case with this FCC, a coagulation of half-measures, already existing efforts, and empty nonsense were just kind of thrown together in a pile and deemed to be something new and revolutionary.

The biggest change was FCC rule adjustment that would let wireless carriers install robocalling blocking tools on consumer devices by default, in contrast to the current paradigm where consumers have to opt in (assuming the tools are offered at all). But while the plan urged wireless carriers deploy anti-spoofing technology like SHAKEN/STIR to help prevent robocallers from hiding their real numbers, there was absolutely nothing in the plan that actually requires they actually do so. Because hard, clear rules with genuine accountability make AT&T and Verizon mad, you see.

Not surprisingly, the voluntary measures weren’t likely to actually drive massive telecom companies to actually shore up their anti-robocall efforts. There were also justified concerns that as wireless carriers deployed anti-spoofing technologies, they’d use the opportunity to further price gouge US consumers. Realizing this, Congress passed the Traced Act, which would require wireless carriers provide anti-spoofing tech to consumers at no additional cost.

Amusingly, last week FCC boss Ajit Pai announced he was considering making deployment of SHAKEN/STIR anti-spoofing technology mandatory. In the FCC announcement, Pai tries to frame the effort as something he came up with on his own, despite the fact he was actually being mandated to do so by Congress:

“Pai framed it as his own decision, with his announcement saying the chairman “proposed a major step forward… to protect consumers against spoofed robocalls.” But in reality the FCC was ordered by Congress and President Trump to implement this new rule. The requirement on the FCC was part of the TRACED Act that was signed into law in December 2019. Pai previously hoped that all carriers would deploy the technology voluntarily.”

Pai didn’t actually release his plan, but when he does it’s likely to just mirror what was already established by new law. The problem remains that the Pai FCC will still need to be tough with giant companies that lag on deploying this technology, and, given the agency’s tendency to roll over and bare its tummy on feckless fealty to industry, actual follow through will likely prove hard to come by, especially if bigger, more politically potent companies are the ones lagging behind.

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Comments on “Congress Forces FCC To Go Beyond Its Tame, 'Voluntary' Anti-Robocalling Plan”

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8 Comments
ECA (profile) says:

Long ago, far away...

I asked a person incharge about the caller ID system, and if certain things could be done.
They said NOPE, cant be done.
Later found out there was a way to have computers READ all the data coming from the phone system, before you pick up the phone.
Would be REAL NICE, to have that tech in cellphones. The odds are against it, as it COULD be a privacy issue.
But with 99.99% of the WHOLE system(should be anyway) being Digital, there should be allot of things in this that would allow an easy trace.
Then there is the ‘*’ system WE USED to have, do we still have it. Where a Fake call can be sent to the Attorney general. Which can only be looked up if there is a Person taking it to court, or enough Physical Complaints.,..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertical_service_code

https://www.verizon.com/support/residential/homephone/calling-features/star-codes-other-features

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_dial_code

https://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/telecom/star-codes-guide.htm
(seems a few are missing from the first link)
(this one shows the charges for use)

tz1 (profile) says:

Or use Callcentric

I moved my cell phone to Callcentric VOIP. It can even do SMS and forward calls, receive faxes, or other things in the call treatments. My new phone has a number that has not gotten a robocall (obscure area code or something?).

Callcentric has a telemarketer block where the caller has to press a number, either fixed or random to be connected. Robots can’t do this. So, no robocalls.

The only problem is it apparently is now listed as VOIP (why can’t the carriers add this to caller ID?) so some “send the code” validation services refuse to call it.

But it is so much better. And cheaper – they have multiple different plans, and works fine as a main phone, or via a SIP app.

tz1 (profile) says:

Or use Callcentric

I moved my cell phone to Callcentric VOIP. It can even do SMS and forward calls, receive faxes, or other things in the call treatments. My new phone has a number that has not gotten a robocall (obscure area code or something?).
Callcentric has a telemarketer block where the caller has to press a number, either fixed or random to be connected. Robots can’t do this. So, no robocalls.
The only problem is it apparently is now listed as VOIP (why can’t the carriers add this to caller ID?) so some “send the code” validation services refuse to call it.
But it is so much better. And cheaper – they have multiple different plans, and works fine as a main phone, or via a SIP app.

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