FCC Declares War vs Robocalls Again: Ajit Pai Outlines Agenda For March

The war against robocalls resumes.

The Federal Communications Communication Chairman Ajit Pai is putting robocalls on top of his agency's agenda this month. He outlined six issues that the agency will tackle and vote on March 23.

Other issues he wanted to deal on his first quarter as FCC chair are: prison phones, phone regulations, channel sharing, video relay service, and elimination of outdated requirements for providers.

All-Out Offensive Against Robocalls

Writing on a blog, Pai once more declared the pressing need to combat this "growing problem." Robocalls are phone calls with prerecorded messages. These have become a problem because they have become more frequent and persistent, annoying receivers with spam calls. And worse than being a nuisance, they are "often scams." For example, according to Pai, these errant callers can pose as fake IRS agents who threaten people in exchange for money.

While there are existing rules prohibiting these calls, Pai said that "we need to do more." By that he meant collaboration between FCC and the private sector. It should be noted that a Robocall Task Force was launched in 2016 by ex-chair Tom Wheeler.

The Task Force has focused on the caller ID spoofing. Spoofing means a caller can pretend to be another number by changing his caller ID information, a tactic often used by scammers and spammers to hide their true identities. The FCC's current rule of preventing call-blocking is not enough, according to Pai.

"This must change. Under my proposal, the FCC would give providers greater leeway to block spoofed robocalls. Specifically, they could block calls that purport to be from unassigned or invalid phone numbers," he wrote. He emphasized that there is a "database that keeps track" of phone numbers, many of which are either unused or unassigned.

Other Agenda In The Crosshairs

Pai also tackled the other issues that his agency will deal head on this month. These are:

Prison phones: Pai wants to end cellphone calls in prisons, which he regards as a contraband. Cellphones have been used by criminals to continue their deeds even while behind bars: running drug ops, doing phone scam, or even ordering hits on targets. The FCC will vote on reforms to use radio-based technologies in prisons to detect and block these contraband phones.

Video Relay Service: Pai wants to improve Video Relay Service, the FCC's communications tool for the hearing-challenged via signs and voice-translation using American Sign Language. Pai wants to introduce specialized interpreters.

Phone regulations: Pai also wants to give telecoms more flexibility on providing broadband to customers. He wants to pave the way for the use of more modern spectrums.

Cutting regulations. Pai touched on this during his speech in Mobile World Congress. He wants to get rid of requirements for international telecom providers.

Channel sharing: The final item on FCC's agenda is a vote on channel sharing. Pai aims to expand the rules on which stations can share the same channel. He wanted to give low-power TV "to stay in business."

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