FCC: Call Blocking Tech Now ‘Substantially Available’

Will vote to give carriers a break over call-blocking mistakes

The FCC said that, thanks to efforts by the commission and voice service providers, including cable operators, robocall blocking tools are now “substantially available to consumers.” It also signaled it will give carriers a liability carveout from mistakenly blocking calls. 

The FCC has just released its initial call blocking status report. 

Trying to stem the tide of billions of unwanted robocalls is one of the FCC’s prime directives these days, with consumers and members of Congress definitely rooting for success. Commission Democrats are also rooting for more of the hefty fines the FCC has levied to actually make it into the Treasury. 

The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau created the staff report on “the deployment and implementation of call blocking and caller ID authentication.”  

“Tools are available today to help consumers block robocalls, spoofed calls, scam calls, telemarketers, and other unwanted calls,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai in a statement. “I am glad to see that this analysis shows that many call blocking tools are available today for free or at little cost to consumers. We will continue to prioritize the protection of consumers from scams and unwanted robocalls.” 

Cable industry efforts have included implementing the STIR/SHAKEN authentication framework, which was urged by the FCC, then mandated by Congress, as well as call-blocking options from Comcast, Cox, and Centurylink from the appropriately named third-party company, Nomorobo. 

STIR/SHAKEN (sometimes referred to by the more James Bond-like SHAKEN/STIR) was developed by industry to determine if a call was spoofed. 

Elsewhere on the robocall front, Pai said this week that the FCC would be voting on an order that would give voice providers a safe harbor from liability for inadvertent call blocking based on a reasonable assumption the call should have been blocked, something cable ops and others had been seeking, as well as the ability to block calls from robocall facilitators like the ones the FCC has been cracking down on. 

The order would also seek comment on “whether to obligate originating and intermediate providers to better police their networks against illegal calls, as well as to require terminating providers []like cable ops] to provide information about blocked calls to consumers at no charge.”