FCCs Wheeler Moves to Crack Down on Robocalls

In response to petitions seeking clarity on enforcement of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday released a proposal that is largely intended to crack down on unwanted calls and texts to mobile phones.

Wheeler’s plan, slated for a vote on June 18 by the entire five-member commission, represents an attempt to address American consumers’ hatred of telemarketing and automated phone calls — otherwise known as robocalls. Last year alone, the FCC received more than 215,000 complaints related to the TCPA.

Consumer groups said Wheeler’s proposal would reject requests made in two dozen petitions to permit robocalls and text messages without consumers’ consent.

“The proposal would both limit unwanted calls to cell phones and ensure that consumers can enforce the rules requiring consumer consent,” said Ellen Taverna of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. “We look forward to working with the FCC to make sure the declaratory ruling best protects consumers’ rights and privacy and prevents unwanted and intrusive robocalls.”

The proposal, if adopted, would grant consumers a number of protections, including the right to withdraw their consent to receive robocalls and robotexts to their wireless and landline home phones. Several existing protections would remain in place, including the 12-year-old National Do Not Call Registry, which includes a list of individuals who have opted not to receive telemarketing calls.

Verizon on Wednesday referenced a number of solutions in the marketplace to block robocalls.

“We are working with our industry to develop new technologies to stop robocalls, and consumers have a number of third-party applications and services to choose from to block such calls,” the company said in a blog.

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