On September 16, 2019, the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) unanimously adopted a set of recommendations for the Commission and service providers as they continue to address unlawful robocalls. The document, which was posted in CG Docket No. 17-59 on September 18, advocates for a consumer-centric design, a widespread public awareness campaign, and a carefully managed critical calls list.
CAC recommends that call blocking services from both wireline and wireless service providers should, among other things, notify consumers upon blocking a call (subject to the FCC’s accessibility requirements), have a dedicated online portal and/or mobile application that allows consumers to view their blocked call log and report false positives, and allow people to opt-out of the service entirely. Providers should make these features available to consumers at no extra cost, CAC says. Furthermore, CAC recommends that service providers invest in personnel training and explore other ways to educate their customers about the call blocking services offered and opt-out instructions. On this matter, however, service providers do not bear sole responsibility. The document includes several outreach recommendations for other stakeholders, including the FCC, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), state attorneys general, and consumer advocacy groups.
For the critical calls list, CAC recommends that a central authority oversee its development and ongoing maintenance. According to CAC, the list should: (1) be secure and protected against unauthorized access, (2) be narrow and only comprised of government numbers, (3) utilize self-reporting of relevant outbound numbers from emergency entities and ensure the proper vetting of such submissions. In addition, service providers should allow consumers to maintain their own critical calls lists so that important but non-critical-emergency calls are not blocked.