FreedomWorks Foundation Submits Comments to FCC on Combatting Illegal Robocalls

FreedomWorks Foundation’s Regulatory Action Center (RAC) submitted formal comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on their proposed rule regarding illegal robocalls. The proposed rule would implement advanced methods to target and ultimately eliminate these illegal robocalls.

RAC offered comments supportive of the FCC’s efforts and that this rule empowers private companies to tackle these calls, rather than expanding governmental intervention. However, the RAC also urged the FCC to take caution and not blanket too many legitimate business calls in with these malicious robocalls. Adequate consumer safeguards must be taken into account and put into effect in order to avoid unintended consequences.

The text of the formal comment can be found here, in the attachment at the bottom of this page, and excerpted directly below:

Since 2017, the Commission has allowed service providers to block some calls that are blatantly problematic like those originating from unallocated or otherwise invalid numbers. This public-private partnership has been an essential component of efforts to combat malicious robocalls. Towards this end, it remains crucial that the FCC enable the private sector with the tools they need, as it did in the June 2019 Declaratory Ruling on blocking calls by default. Extending the legal safe harbor to include network-based blocking will better enable providers to use advanced analytical tools to block illegal robocalls. As both offensive and defensive methods continue to develop rapidly, a robust safe harbor is necessary to protect service providers that are acting in good faith. As such, the Commission should continue to provide service providers with regulatory flexibility.

However, as the Commission recognizes, voice service providers do not – and should not – hold carte blanche over call blocking on their networks. The Commission’s determination to extend the safe harbor to methods that lack a consumer opt out could present an issue for consumer transparency. For this reason, it is essential that the FCC include some affirmative requirements in its final decision to protect consumers. Primary among these is the requirement that voice service providers grant individual consumers access to a full accounting of calls to their number that were blocked. Such a list would be invaluable to consumers who wish to ensure that their legitimate calls are not being mistakenly blocked. Furthermore, as the Commission notes, consumers are entitled to “transparency and effective redress options” for all call blocking. Without an accurate accounting of blocked calls, consumers have no way of determining whether legitimate calls are being blocked, and therefore have no way to properly redress the issue with their provider.

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