FCC proposes new rules to fight universally-loathed robocalls

“There is no silver bullet when it comes to eradicating robocalls, but this is a critical shot at the target.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai brought forth some new rules on Friday to help eliminate the scourge of robocalls. Previously, as part of the passed TRACED Act, phone companies could adopt STIR/SHAKEN in which they verify a number before it reaches the recipient. Now, Pai wants to make implementation mandatory during a March 31 vote. If successful, carriers would have until mid-2021 to comply, but small and rural networks could extend their deadlines an additional year.

Robocalls bring people together — In these fraught times, the hair-pulling effect of robocalls is a rare nuisance everyone can agree on. The TRACED Act passed with bipartisan support last year, giving the FCC 18 months to mandate STIR/SHAKEN protocols for voice service providers.

“All of us are fed up with robocalls—including me,” said Pai in a statement. “Last year, I demanded that major phone companies voluntarily deploy STIR/SHAKEN, and a number of them did. But it’s clear that FCC action is needed to spur across-the-board deployment of this important technology.”

Comcast, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon started verifying callers while Sprint gently added an app with a subscription element. By mandating STIR/SHAKEN, the FCC and other law enforcement authorities can hold both carriers and bad actors responsible for robocall scams which clog up emergency service lines and impact 350,000 Americans every three minutes.