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FCC Chairman Proposes Call Blocking by Default to Combat Robocalls:

from The ARRL Letter on May 16, 2019
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FCC Chairman Proposes Call Blocking by Default to Combat Robocalls:

FCC Chair Ajit Pai is proposing action to help consumers block unwanted robocalls. He has circulated a declaratory ruling that, if adopted, would allow phone companies to block unwanted calls to their customers by default. In addition, companies could allow consumers to block calls not on their own contacts lists. A draft Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would propose a safe harbor for providers that implement network-wide blocking of calls that fail caller authentication under the SHAKEN/STIR framework, once it is implemented.

"Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and tired of robocalls," Pai said. "By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset." Pai encouraged carriers to start providing these services free of charge and by default to current and future customers.

According to an FCC news release, many voice providers have held off developing and deploying call-blocking tools by default because of uncertainty about whether these tools are legal. "Allowing default call blocking by voice providers could significantly increase development and consumer adoption of such tools," the FCC said. "This blocking could be based on analytics and consumer 'white lists.' Similar analytics are currently used by third-party developers in call-blocking apps." The FCC said consumer white lists could be based on a customer's own contacts list.

Pai also proposed seeking public comment on how caller ID authentication standards, known as SHAKEN/STIR, can inform call blocking. He has demanded that carriers adopt these standards to combat malicious spoofing. This system of signing calls as legitimate as they pass through the phone networks may be useful for call-blocking tools, the FCC said.

The May 15 action would mark the first by the FCC to directly combat robocalls that spoof legitimate, in-service numbers. This follows adoption of new rules in 2017, which allowed blocking of calls before they reach consumers when they are highly likely to be illegitimate. "These calls might appear to come from nonexistent area codes or from numbers on the Do Not Originate list that do not make outbound calls -- like the FCC's own consumer help line, which was added to the list following scam calls that spoofed the agency's 888-CALL-FCC number," the Commission said.

The FCC will consider these measures at its June 6 open meeting.


The ARRL Letter

Member Comments:
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FCC Chairman Proposes Call Blocking by Default to Combat Rob  
by WA3KVN on May 17, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Nice feature - and useful as well. Not to state the obvious, but some messages sent through our amateur 3rd party trafficking system may not be deliverable if the recipient has certain of these call blocking features activated. I guess we'll need to adapt somewhat by warning message originators that we may not be able to deliver their message due to call blocking.
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