Speed Reads

Goodbye

Robocalls may soon be gone for good

"Everyone believes that artificial or prerecorded calls — 'robocalls,' as they're known — are awful," writes Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai in a new piece at The Hill. "They're intrusive. They're unwanted." And they also may be on their way out.

As Pai notes, the FCC on Thursday will vote on a proposal to allow phone companies greater leeway to block calls from numbers they have reason to believe are spammy or scammy. The proposal is supported by 33 major carriers and phone manufacturers, including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Apple, and Microsoft. It is expected to be approved.

This is not the first federal measure against unwanted marketing calls. The "Do Not Call" list helps Americans avoid live caller telemarketing, and a 2009 Federal Trade Commission rule prohibits all uninvited telemarketing robocalls. However, marketing robocallers skirted that prohibition using workarounds that typically involved fooling caller ID technology. As a result, Pai notes, "American consumers received an estimated 29 billion [robocalls] in 2016. That's about 230 calls for every U.S. household."

Editor's note: This article originally mischaracterized the purpose of the "Do Not Call" list. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.