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FCC Opens Robocall Inquiry

The FCC is looking into just what call-blocking options are available to consumers, FCC chair Ajit Pai announced Friday (Dec. 20).

The FCC issued a public notice Friday (Dec. 20) seeking comment, which formally launched a process mandated by the commission in June when it voted to make it clear carriers were authorized to offer default call blocking rather than make consumers opt in.

As part of the June declaratory ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC said the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau would study and report back on the current state of call blocking.

Related: AT&T Says Free Default Robocall Blocking Has Arrived

Among other things, the FCC wants to info on "the availability of call-blocking , its effectiveness--there are billions of robocalls a year and they are on the rise--and "any direct consumer costs associated with the tools. It will also include the impact of call blocking on 911 and public safety.

Pai has pressed carriers to adopt the SHAKEN/STIR default blocking regime, and make it free to consumers, promising to mandate it if that didn't happen by the end of this year.

Congress has just passed a bill that would mandate free default blocking, backstopping Pai's promise.

Related: Pai Warns of SHAKEN/STIR Mandate

“As the FCC continues to pull out all the stops to protect consumers against scam robocalls and spoofing, we expect phone companies and others to make effective tools available to consumers so they can block unwanted and fraudulent calls,” said Pai. “This report will help us better understand where we stand on call blocking and how the actions we’ve taken to date have worked.”