FFC Approves Declaratory Ruling to Combat Robocalls

Written by Daniel Woodruff, University of Florida

Anybody who has ever owned a phone has received a robocall. As technology increases, and society has become more dependent on our phones, these unwanted calls have persisted. Analysts estimate that consumers received 2.4 billion calls per month in 2016 – that’s 28.8 billion unwanted calls for the entire year. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has thus recently made combating robocalls a priority and taken several actions against them.

Most recently, on June 6, 2019 the FCC agreed to allow voice service providers the freedom to block unwanted robocalls. The FCC approved a Declaratory Ruling that allows the providers to block all unwanted calls. The Declaratory Ruling specifies that reasonable analytics must be used to determine an unwanted call, and customers must be given the opportunity to opt-out of the new initiative.

Previously, many providers had been operating with a system that allowed customers to opt-in to a service that essentially did everything the FCC approved in the Declaratory Ruling. The shift now is from having to opt-in to the program, to now having to opt-out of it. The goal of this is to both cut costs and protect more users from robocalls.

In addition to this ruling, the Commission also suggested a new initiative for voice service providers. Under the initiative, the providers would block all numbers not included on a specified list provided by the user, called a “white list.” This could simply be the user’s contact list in the phone, and the “white list” would update automatically as the user add or deleted names in their contacts. Because this is a much more intensive screening, the program must be implemented as an opt-in option to users.

For more information on robocalls, FCC initiatives, and helpful tips on how to handle these calls without getting scammed (spoiler alert: the biggest tip is to just hang up) visit FCC’s Push to Combat Robocalls and Spoofing.

 

The information from this article was provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Federal Communications Commission.