The Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee recommends call blocking program changes that will provide consumers additional information that through their use, legitimate calls, such as those from health care providers and financial services, may be blocked, according to an article from Paul C. Besozzi, senior partner, Squire Patton Boggs, on TCPAworld.com.
The committee met Sept. 16 and without discussion unanimously recommended that the FCC and its Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau consider the following as part of its Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) on Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls, according to the article:
- “Telecommunications providers should clearly disclose to consumers what types of calls will be blocked and that there is a risk that legitimate calls will be blocked.”
- “Any blocking program should have clear opt out instructions and consumers should be able to manage their blocking preferences through an easy to use online portal, through customer service representatives on the phone and in-person at retail stores.”
- “Consumers should be notified when a call is blocked and have access to a log of all blocked calls.”
- “Consumers should be able to easily identify erroneously blocked calls.”
- “The FCC should work with the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general and consumer groups to educate the public about the opt out program.”
- “The Critical Calls list (calls that will not be blocked) should remain narrow and only involve government numbers and focus on emergency communications, government benefits and government services. The FCC should review the list periodically and keep in mind that the larger the list becomes, the higher likelihood of erroneous blocking or fraud.”
The FCC requested comments from the public and industry on these topics as it considers its ongoing rulemaking.
In the FNPRM on Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls, the FCC seeks to encourage implementation of a framework for authenticating calls (SHAKEN/STIR framework) by proposing a safe harbor from liability under the call completion rules for voice service providers that choose to block calls, or a subset of calls, that are not authenticated under that framework. The commission also proposes to mandate adoption of SHAKEN/STIR if major voice service providers do not do so voluntarily by December 2019, and to create a mechanism to provide information to consumers about the effectiveness of providers’ “robocall solutions.”
Dozens of comments filed on the FCC’s call authentication and blocking proposals in June and July show numerous industry concerns about widespread call blocking by carriers; the level of safe harbor protections for carriers; and implementation of the call authentication framework.
Comments from the caller side, including industry associations ACA partnered with to file comments on the proposed rulemaking, show the FCC needs to strike a balance between call blocking that protects consumers and a framework that allows legitimate businesses to reach those consumers and easily correct erroneously blocked calls.
Carrier comments, including from AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, include support of a strong, broad, safe harbor allowing blocking of illegal robocalls; implementation of the SHAKEN/STIR call authentication framework by all carriers; and further definition of “critical calls” by the FCC with input from all industry stakeholders, including carriers and public safety departments.