Proposed default robocall blocking rule is a hot topic

FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s proposed ruling to allow telecom service providers to block robocalls by default has been a hot topic. Here’s a summary of responses we’ve seen so far.

Pai announced his proposal on May 15. The fact sheet for this proposal includes the following provisions:

  • Voice service providers may offer call blocking by default on an opt-out basis.
  • Call blocking or diversion to voicemail may be done based upon any reasonable analytics.
  • Providers should clearly disclose to consumers what types of calls may be blocked.
  • Information should be provided so that consumers can remain in the blocking program or opt out.
  • Call blocking should not interfere with emergency communications.
  • More aggressive blocking measures may be offered on an opt-in basis using subscriber whitelists or contact lists.
  • The ruling would provide safe harbor for providers who block.
  • The proposal seeks comment on whether safe harbor should extend to blocking unsigned calls once STIR/SHAKEN has been implemented.
  • This proposed ruling is on the agenda for discussion at the FCC’s June 6, 2019 open meeting.

Feedback

There has been a flurry of ex parte filings in response to this proposed ruling. Here is a summary of concerns raised in opposition to the proposed ruling:

  • Erroneous blocking (a.k.a., “false positives”) could harm consumers.
  • The ruling seems contrary to the Communications Act of 1934 and other precedents that have call completion as a top priority.
    • In a similar vein, questions were raised about the lack of express statutory authority to make such a ruling.
  • Some filings urge that the ruling should focus on illegal calls (e.g., spam robocalls) rather than unwanted calls (e.g., debt collection calls to customers).
  • The ruling could be exploited by carriers who might block calls for anti-competitive reasons.

Some responses to the proposed rule were favorable, with a few caveats:

  • The ruling would merely confirm that service providers may offer call blocking on an opt-out basis, not mandate it.
  • The ruling should clarify that it applies to consumer-facing blocking, not network-level blocking.
  • There were some filings that advocated blocking for both illegal and unwanted calls.

TransNexus point of view

Our software products enable carriers to offer a wide range of policy options for blocking or diverting calls to voicemail or a CAPTCHA system. We leave it to the stakeholders to debate the pros and cons and settle on a sensible policy. We’ll make it easy for service providers to comply with the regulations and add value to their services.

TransNexus spam robocall prevention solutions

Default opt-out blocking is a hot topic

Our ClearIP and NexOSS software platforms offer a variety of methods to help you prevent spam robocalls, including:

  • Reputation service
  • Dynamic traffic analysis
  • Blacklisting by calling number, OCN/SPID, and others
  • Shield database of high-risk numbers
  • Neighbor spoofing prevention
  • STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication and verification
  • CNAM modifications to communicate the results of reputation and SHAKEN.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you protect your subscribers from spam robocalls.

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