Will Phone Co’s and the FCC Get Robocallers? Don’t Hold Your Breath
The Federal Communications Commission doesn’t have a great reputation at getting it right. Originally created in 1934 for the sole purpose of monitoring the power output of AM radio stations (so that a local station’s signal didn’t overlap a neighboring station’s signal which held the same number on the AM dial), this government organization has morphed into something bigger, more dangerous, and more inept than ever.
As so many government agencies are wont to do.
The FCC soon got bored of just reading signal meters, and became obsessed with preventing broadcasters from saying “shit ” and other expletives on radio, and later TV. They heavily regulated such words as “cock” or “tit” if they weren’t used in the proper context. Your Farm Bureau award-winning cock was just fine, as was the invasion of titmice in your barn. But God forbid you used these words outside of the agricultural lexicon, such as referring to parts of the human body, and big fines were headed your way.
Eventually, the FCC became involved in person to person communications regulation (i.e. telephone, ham radio, CB, your microwave oven, even remote control toy airplanes and cars!), until this bunch was given authority to ride roughshod over the free capitalist market of media acquisitions and mergers, with the authority to say yes or no to private business transactions under the guise of “protecting” the American public.
Of course, don’t use their renowned Emergency Broadcasting System as an example of their efficacy at protecting us, which was mysteriously absent during 9/11. (Seems they were much better at testing this system than actually using it.) Nor their efficacy at lower cable, internet and telephone service fees, which now, for an average household, total the typical mortgage payment of not all that long ago at all.
So now it’s 2019, and as anyone with a phone can tell you, robocalls are making our lives miserable, some more miserable than others. Some folks receive half a dozen such calls a day; others are luckier, but no one escapes that unsolicited ringtone which comes at the worst possible moment, or most dangerous moment, while driving, for example, or making love to your significant other. (“Sorry, honey! I forgot to turn off the ringer.”)
These calls can come from your local area code, elsewhere in the state or country, or even from far-off places like Vilnius, Lithuania or Lagos, Nigeria, exotic destinations you’ve always dreamed about visiting. However, unless you met a girl on a Nigerian dating site and you’re going on The Learning Channel’s 90-Day Fiancé, chances are it’s just a robocall.
How come the phone companies and the FCC don’t realize that no one in Vilnius knows 10,000 Americans, let alone decides to call all of them in just one evening? How come this simple spam traffic can’t be identified and stopped? And if it’s more difficult to do this with calls emanating from Lithuania than those coming from Chicago, can’t they at least stop them from within our borders? Doesn’t this border (sorry for the poor metaphor) on a national security issue as well, or cross way beyond it?
In January 2018, the FCC instituted rules which authorized phone companies to block certain categories of calls. The problem is, why should phone companies have needed the FCC’s approval to do so in the first place? Another problem is, the FCC is focused on rip-off robocalls where a poor elderly woman is scammed out of a hundred grand (well, she’s poor now), and they’re not focused on robocalls in general, such as during political campaigns.
Here is what the FCC website says they’re doing about the robocall invasion :
*Unwanted calls, including illegal and spoofed robocalls are the FCC’s top consumer complaint and our top consumer protection priority. These include complaints from consumers whose numbers are being spoofed or whose calls are being mistakenly blocked or labeled as a possible scam call by a robocall blocking app or service. The FCC is committed to doing what we can to protect you from these unwelcome situations and is cracking down on illegal calls in a variety of ways:
*Issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in enforcement actions against illegal robocallers.
*Allowing phone companies to block certain types of calls that are likely to be unlawful before they reach consumers.
*Empowering consumers to use call blocking or labeling services for calls to their telephone number.
*Urging phone companies to implement caller ID authentication to help reduce illegal spoofing.
*Making consumer complaint data available to enable better call blocking and labeling solutions.
In the meantime, the calls keep coming, and the FCC has more excuses than someone being dragged to jail. The problem is getting worse, not better, and the FCC doesn’t seem to care.
Unless you curse about it on network TV, then you’re in big trouble and they jump into action.