U.S. FCC Issues New Robocall Blocking Rules

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New rules recently issued by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) now provide phone companies with additional leverage in their efforts to block illegal and unwanted robocalls.

Detailed in a Third Report and Order issued in mid-July, the FCC’s new rules provide phone companies with two types of liability protection in cases where their legitimate efforts to block robocalls results in the unintended or inadvertent blocking of wanted calls. The FCC says that the provisions of the federal Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act did not provide sufficient safe harbor protections against such liability for phone companies, which has kept some companies from adopting robust call blocking efforts in their systems.

The first safe harbor provision under the FCC’s rules protects phone companies that use what it calls “reasonable analytics,” such as caller ID authentication information, to identify and block illegal calls. The second provision protects providers that block call traffic from “bad actor” upstream voice service providers that pass illegal or unwanted calls along to other providers.

In a separate Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission seeks public comment about additional steps that can be taken to protect consumers from robocalls and to educated them about provider blocking efforts.

 

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