What the Tech? Phone companies to use existing technology to block robocalls
In terms of directly impacting consumers, it's one of the biggest decisions by the FCC in recent years. Later this year wireless carriers may begin using new but existing technology to block robocalls from getting to your phone.
The technology is called "STIR/SHAKEN" and it makes it possible for phone companies to block calls from unverified numbers. Experts believe it can stop a majority of robocalls that are made from computers and spoof phone numbers in whatever area they're calling.
AT&T and Comcast announced in March the companies had successfully used the technology to block calls from unverified numbers from reaching the other party. Other phone companies have access to the technology but have been slow to deploy it for one reason: it's been illegal for phone companies to block calls unless the customer requests it.
The FCC changed the rules recently and chairman Ajit Pai announced the agency ruled decisively to legally protect wireless carriers that use the technology to block calls from unverified numbers.
"Today we propose to give those companies that use the standards to block calls what is known as a safe-harbor. Essentially, if they block calls that don't have properly verified caller ID the phone companies won't be in legal trouble," Pai announced.
This decision could very well pave the way to greatly reduce the number of spam and robocalls that reach your phone and interrupt your day.
Pai encouraged wireless carriers to begin using the technology "STIR/SHAKEN" by the end of the year.
It is unknown how the wireless carriers might be able to block the unwanted robocalls but allow legitimate robocalls that customers would want to receive. These calls could include automated calls from school districts with announcements regarding school closings, pharmacies using automated calls to remind customers about refills, automated phone calls from credit card companies reminding customers about payments due.
Wireless customers will have the option to opt out of call blocking.