... while the extremist paranoid yahoos think there's no need for an FCC. Now,
if only Chairman Pai had included net neutrality in that list of consumer
protection initiatives, eh? Is it possible to miss the similarity? Just as a
very few special interests benefit from an FCC permitting non-neutral ISP
service, a similar few special interests clearly benefit from robocalls and
"slamming and cramming."
I suppose the yahoos see nothing wrong with any of those practices.
Consumer Protection Month at the FCC
June 22, 2017 - 2:20 pm
By Ajit Pai | FCC Chairman
Americans are reaping the benefits of rapid and exciting changes in the ways we
communicate. But many of the problems that consumers confront stubbornly
For too long, Americans have been plagued by unwanted and unlawful robocalls.
For too long, they've found unauthorized charges and changes to their phone
service on their bills-practices commonly known as "slamming" and "cramming."
And for too long, some phone calls that are placed to rural residents have been
Efforts to excommunicate this unholy triad of consumer scourges-unlawful
robocalls, slamming/cramming, and rural call completion-headline the FCC's
agenda in July. During Consumer Protection Month, we will take up several
public interest initiatives to address problems that too many Americans face.
Unlawful robocalls generate the most frequent source of consumer complaints to
the FCC. As agency-watchers know, we're not starting from scratch in attacking
the problem. This past March, the Commission proposed to give voice providers
greater leeway to block many "spoofed" calls-specifically, calls that purport
to be from unassigned or invalid phone numbers. This move will hopefully pave
the way for Do-Not-Originate lists that will help stifle the efforts of
illegitimate callers and scam artists. And we've made robocalls our top
enforcement priority. Just today, the FCC took a major step, proposing to fine
the alleged perpetrator of a vast spoofing operation $120 million for the 96
million robocalls he unleashed on American consumers in just three
months-robocalls that bilked many vulnerable consumers out of their hard-earned
In July, we're going to address two other issues that could help combat
robocalls. First, we'll explore setting up a reliable system for
authenticating phone calls. Among other things, this system would verify that
a phone call is really coming from the phone number that shows up on caller ID.
Right now, too many malicious robocallers hide their true originating phone
number. This lets them evade call-blocking or filtering tools and trick
consumers about a call's true source. An authentication system would help to
crack down on this behavior and strengthen call-blocking. I've shared a
proposal along these lines with my colleagues.
Next month, we'll also begin to address the problem of calls that are made to
reassigned phone numbers. Here's the scenario: a customer consents to receive
calls from a particular business. But later, he switches phone numbers.
Someone new is then assigned that customer's old phone number. She ends up
receiving calls that she doesn't want.
This might seem like a highly specific problem, but an estimated 100,000
numbers are reassigned by wireless carriers every day, with errant phone calls
following. So this issue confronts millions of Americans. To tackle this
problem, the FCC will vote on considering how reassigned telephone number data
could easily be made available to businesses, such as through a consolidated
database. Those businesses-restaurants, furniture stores, and the like-could
use such a database to ensure that their calls reach the intended recipients.
2. Slamming and Cramming
Too often, we learn about unscrupulous carriers that are targeting the
vulnerable. For example, the FCC recently heard from an elderly woman who
received a call about a postal service package that supposedly hadn't been
delivered. Her verbal responses were then used to unwittingly switch her phone
carrier. This case is a bread-and-butter case of deception to "slam" an older
To address cases like hers, I'm proposing a rule to that would expressly ban
misrepresentations on sales calls that typically precede a slam. I'm also
urging changes to our regulations that would make it harder for fraudsters to
"cram" consumers-that is, put unauthorized charges on consumers' phone bills.
3. Rural Call Completion
Protecting consumers goes beyond just fighting illicit schemes. It also
involves making sure that they get what they pay for. Unfortunately, rural
telephone customers aren't always assured of that. Calls to rural areas drop
or never go through too often. In fact, we know that call failure occurs at
higher rates for rural consumers than it does for urban ones.
This isn't right. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, a call
placed by a loved one, friend, or customer should go through.
In 2013, the FCC took action to address this problem. The number of rural call
completion complaints we receive has dropped since then. But we're still not
where we need to be. That's why I'm proposing new steps to make our rural call
completion rules more effective and less burdensome. In particular, I'm asking
the FCC to adopt new, strong rural call completion requirements for certain
telecommunications carriers. At the same time, we want calls to rural America
to remain affordable, so we're looking at ways to reduce the burden of existing
regulations, such as by eliminating some of the paperwork carriers must file
with the Commission that hasn't proven to be very useful.
4. Helping Consumers with Disabilities
Another way the FCC protects consumers is by making sure communications
services are accessible to Americans with disabilities. At our meeting, the
agency will consider rules to expand the availability of video-described
programming on top-rated broadcast and non-broadcast networks. Specifically,
we'll vote on increasing the number of hours of programming that covered
broadcasters and video programmers must provide by 75%. If we take this step,
blind and visually-impaired Americans will be able to better understand and
enjoy a wider range of popular programming.
5. Other Initiatives
Our consumer protection agenda for July won't stop there. Harnessing the power
of technology to promote innovation is another FCC priority that empowers
consumers. This is increasingly true when they're on the road. For instance,
radars in vehicles can enable a variety of safety features such as collision
avoidance. To encourage this kind of innovation, the FCC will consider rules
that would allocate a large block of high-band frequencies (76-81 GHz spectrum)
for use by vehicular radars-if you will, the advanced sensors that are being
placed in cars. This spectrum, among other things, would support new
short-range radar applications to enhance driver safety.
Rounding out the FCC's July agenda is a proposal to bring our equipment
authorization rules up to date, as well as a proposal to revise our rules
governing wireless microphones.
After yesterday's summer solstice, the days are getting shorter again. But the
list of items on the Commission's July agenda remains long. During Consumer
Protection Month, we'll extend our efforts to address the problems Americans
confront in the communications marketplace and to crack down on those who prey
upon the vulnerable for their own financial gain.
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