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Nobody enjoys receiving spammy robocalls. Now, the FCC is taking some steps to prevent those calls from blowing up your phone in the first place.
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a new set of regulations that allow phone companies to proactively block specific sets of phone numbers likely to belong to robocallers. That is, the FCC is allowing companies to block incoming calls from numbers that are known to be unable to make outgoing calls. This includes calls from invalid numbers, such as ones with area codes that aren’t in use. It also includes numbers that are known to not be employed and ones that haven’t been assigned for telecoms to use, CNET explains.
“These calls are very likely to be illegal or fraudulent,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “There’s no legitimate reason for anyone to spoof caller ID to make it seem as if he or she is calling from an unassigned or invalid phone number.”
The move sounds logical and simple enough. And robocalls are an extremely common problem. According to FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, more than 2.5 million robocalls were made in the U.S. last month alone. Spam calls are also the source of numerous scams. Preventing these calls from reaching consumers should increase privacy and safety.
However, in blocking unwanted calls, there is a chance that providers could accidentally block legitimate phone calls. To help prevent this issue, the FCC requests companies put methods in place for spotting and correcting errors.
There’s one more potential problem with the FCC’s new rule, as Rosenworcel points out in her statement. The FCC has now given telecoms the ability to limit calls from fraudulent sources but doesn’t prevent companies from charging subscribers for that service.
“If you ask me, that’s ridiculous,” Rosenworcel said. “It’s an insult to consumers who are fed up with these nuisance calls.” Preach.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.