AT&T, Apple, Alphabet, Other Tech Firms Join FCC to Stop Robocalls


Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG), the parent holding company of Google, AT&T (NYSE: T) and many other technology companies joined the effort of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) to crack down robocalls, the automated and prerecorded telephone calls that irritate consumers.

Robocall Strike Force--Stop robocalls

The technology companies are part of the Commission’s Robocall Strike Force, an industry-led group committed to developing comprehensive solutions to detect, filter, and prevent unwanted telemarketing and robocalls.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson serves as Chairman of the Robocall Strike Force. Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMSA) are also part of the group. They held their first meeting on Friday, August 19.

Robocalls are scourge

In a statement, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler described robocalls as “scourge.” According to him, the Commission receives more than 200,000 complaints about robocalls every year.

“Americans are right to be fed up with robocalls. They are an invasion of privacy, and this scourge is rife with fraud and identity theft. The problem is that the bad guys are beating the good guys with technology right now,” said Chairman Wheeler.

The FCC has been addressing consumers’ problem on robocalls in various ways such as implementing new rules, issuing tailored declaratory judgment, encouraging new pro-consumer innovation, and encouraging the private sector to step up and stop it.

Chairman Wheeler recently requested major wireless and wireline phone companies to provide their customers with free call-blocking services. He also asked the carriers and standards groups to accelerate the development and deployment of a technical standard that would stop spoofing of Caller ID and to improve blocking technologies.

Strike Force will take different approach against robocalls

Mr. Stephenson said the Strike Force would implement a different approach to addressing the problem on robocalls.

According to him, “This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps. Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop. Technology such as spoofing makes it easier for them to work around all of our various fixes and to cover their tracks.”

He added that the ground wants to deal with the problem with the entire ecosystem working together—carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers, regulators, and lawmakers.”

The group is committed to confirming the VOIP ID verification standards as soon as they are made available; adopt ss7 solutions associated with VOIP calls, evaluate the feasibility of a “Do not Originate List, further develop and implement solutions to detect, assess, and stop unwanted calls from reaching customers, and facilitate efforts by other carriers to adopt call blocking technologies on their networks.

The Robocall Strike Force will submit its “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions on October 19, according to Mr. Stephenson. He emphasized that their goal is plain and simple, “stop unwanted robocalls.”

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