The Federal Communications Commission held its first meeting of the Robocall Strike Force, with more than 33 companies and organizations represented for the concerted effort to strike out robocalls.
An industry-led Strike Force group committed “to developing comprehensive solutions to prevent, detect, and filter unwanted robocalls” answered the call of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to meet twice a week through October to tackle the issue. Participants include representatives from Apple, Comcast, and a group led by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, among others.
Specifically, the group will focus on authentication standards for VoIP calls including gateway verification, tools to allow third parties to develop call filtering solutions, and cross-carrier and multi-carrier efforts to detect and prevent unwanted and fraudulent calls.
Three of the Commissioners spoke at the first meeting, with Chairman Wheeler opening the gathering by reminding participants of the scope of their opponent. “Robocalls are a scourge,” he said. “It’s the number one complaint that we hear from consumers at the Commission. We receive more than 200,000 complaints a year.”
Urging the group to “get creative” and implement cross-carrier joint efforts, the Chairman suggested the possibility of a “Do Not Originate” list. Commissioner Ajit Pai also spoke at the meeting and offered some potential solutions. He wondered if the FCC should encourage Congress to pass the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2015, intended “to crack down on foreign callers that prey on Americans using spoofed Caller ID for their robocalls,” or if the Commission should take more enforcement actions against robocallers.
Commissioner Pai also asked the Strike Force to consider how to make it easier for consumers to tell the FCC about robocalls and for the Enforcement Bureau to track down and stop the operations of fraudulent robocallers. Other potential ideas: the creation of a reassigned numbers database to give callers the ability to avoid dialing wrong numbers by mistake as well as carving out a safe harbor for telephone companies seeking to provide call-blocking services to their customers in an attempt to encourage experimentation.
To read the statements of the Commissioners at the Robocall Strike Force meeting, click here.
Why it matters: By October 19, the Strike Force will report to the FCC on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” the group’s chair said, including answers to the Commissioners’ questions.