After FCC vote, AT&T is the first US carrier to automatically block robocalls
As technology has progressed, some rules and regulations have lingered behind and have been unable to catch up with the times. Telemarketing itself has a big enough stigma about it, but adding in computers to automate much of the workload takes things to an entirely different level. The FCC has been pressured into forcing telecommunication companies to implement protections for its consumers, but Ajit Pai believes the companies are the ones who should make the decision. This past weekend the FCC did make a vote to “allow” voice service providers the ability to automatically block robocalls and AT&T is the first US wireless carrier to announce its plans.
Robocalls have become a major nuisance in today’s modern society with many people receiving dozens of automated calls each day. Until recently, the majority of them have been targetting landlines, but the massive smartphone market has given these companies even more people to call. Some phone apps for Android have a feature that will block calls from well-known spam numbers, but it’s very easy to spoof your phone number and malicious scammers are more than willing to do that.
So, with the recent FCC vote, they are allowing communication providers the ability to block unwanted calls (by default) based on reasonable call analytics, as long as their customers are informed and have the opportunity to opt out of the blocking. While this made some headlines there isn’t much in the way of news here as they are simply clarifying that these companies “can provide [the call blocking feature] as the default.”
However, an interesting piece of information was also disclosed in the FCC’s press release (PDF) about a proposal which would require these companies “to implement the SHAKEN/STIR caller ID authentication framework.” This proposal will only be considered if major communication providers fail to set this up on their own by the end of this year. Commissioner Pai tends to side with the companies though so this sounds like nothing more than a suggestion to me.
AT&T is one of the major U.S. wireless service providers and they have issued a press release to announce the impending launch of its call block feature. The company confirms this service will be available to millions of customers, free of charge, in the coming months. It will be included in what AT&T calls its Call Protect service and customers will receive an SMS message to alert them when the feature has been enabled on their account.