Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau to Consider Robocalls and Call-Blocking

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The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) is seeking comment on robocall and call-blocking issues raised in a letter from 39 state attorneys general. This letter was prompted by a 2013 U.S. Senate hearing on robocall scams in which industry representatives testified that legal barriers prevent carriers from implementing advanced call-blocking technology to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls. The Bureau is seeking comment on the following questions:

  • What legal and/or regulatory prohibitions, if any, prevent telephone carriers from implementing call-blocking technology? Does the answer change if the telephone companies’ customers affirmatively “opt into” the call-blocking technology?
  • At a customer’s request, can telephone carriers legally block certain types of calls (e.g., telemarketing calls) if technology is able to identify incoming calls as originating or probably originating from a telemarketer?
  • Parties involved in this proceeding have described the FCC’s position as “strict oversight in ensuring the unimpeded delivery of telecommunications traffic.” Is this characterization accurate? If so, upon what basis does the FCC claim that telephone carriers may not block, chock, reduce or restrict telecommunications traffic in any way?

Comments are due December 24, 2014, and replies are due January 8, 2014.

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