The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a decision requested by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and 38 other attorneys general who petitioned the Commission to make clear that phone companies can offer consumers the ability to block unwanted robocalls. This clarification reaffirms consumers’ ultimate right to control the calls they receive.
“This action empowers consumers to protect themselves against unwanted and, at times, harassing robocalls,” said Chairman Wheeler. “This important ruling would give the green light to phone companies to offer market-based solutions that allow today’s technologies to address today’s consumer problems.”
On September 9, 2014, the 39 state and territorial attorneys general, through the National Association of Attorneys General, asked the Commission for clarification of its rules relating to robocall-blocking technology’s potential impacts on phone company responsibilities to complete calls. While the Commission steadfastly stands by the importance of call completion and the need for improved completion rates, especially in rural areas, it also has consistently allowed consumer choice to stop unwanted calls.
In their letter, the Attorneys General wrote, “The undersigned Attorneys General, on behalf of the millions of Americans regularly receiving unwanted and harassing telemarketing calls, formally request an opinion from the Federal Communications Commission (the ‘FCC’) regarding telephone carriers’ legal ability to implement call-blocking technology.”
Today, at an Open Meeting of the five-member Commission, a majority of Commissioners, led by Chairman Wheeler, voted to approve this proposed ruling. This particular ruling was included in a package of more than 20 rulings related to consumer protections and robocalls.
The Federal Communications Commission is an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress. It regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The Commission is the United States’ primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation.