FCC Proposes New Rules to Target Unlawful Robocalls

On March 23rd, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Notice of Inquiry (NOI) to continue its fight against illegal and unwanted robocalls. The NPRM proposes rules that, if they become effective, would empower voice service providers to block illegal robocalls and calls that display false CallerID information. According to data cited by Commissioner Clyburn, 43 percent of the consumer complaints filed with the FCC in the second half of 2016 were related to robocalls, and 2.2 billion robocalls were placed nationwide in February 2017 alone.

In particular, the NPRM:

  • proposes to authorize providers to automatically block calls purporting to originate from unassigned or invalid numbers, since these calls are likely established to defraud and harm consumers;
  • proposes to adopt rules that allows providers to block calls when the subscriber requests that calls purporting to originate from a particular number be blocked; and
  • seeks comments on whether an internationally originated call, which is purportedly originated from a North American Numbering Plan number, should be subject to these new blocking rules or if it should require special treatment.

By formalizing this “Do Not Originate” provision, the FCC expects to give certainty to voice service providers, allowing them to block illegitimate calls and give the right to subscribers of spoofed numbers to protect themselves and their numbers.

Through the NOI, the FCC is seeking information and comments on objective standards to identify illegal robocalls. These standards should also help protect legitimate callers from being wrongfully blocked and ensure it does not implement standards that are overly broad.

The opening comments sought by the FCC on these proposed rules are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register, and reply comments are due 75 days after such publication. If you’d like to participate in this important docket, please do not hesitate to contact us.