FCC Cracking Down On Robocalls

According to PBS, it’s been more than a decade since the federal government first came up with a do not call registry to block unwanted phone calls.

That move initially had a major impact.  In the years since, there’s been a big rise in the number of “robocalls” people get – automated and recorded phone calls and texts that repeatedly go to your phone.

According to newsfactor.com, the FCC approved what it calls “declaratory rulings” that affirm your rights to control incoming calls from political campaigns, survey-takers, charities and the like. They are also moving to protect people from spam texts.

The FCC made it clear that telephone companies can allow you to use robocall-blocking technology.

Tom Wheeler is the chairman of the FCC, and he spoke to Judy Woodruff at PBS. Below are some excerpts:

JUDY WOODRUFF: So how is this rule different than the previous one having to do with robocalls?

TOM WHEELER: Well, the original rule is a result of a 1991 act of Congress. And 24 years ago, the world was a little different in terms of technology.

The people who were making the calls that interrupted your dinner at that point in time literally were sitting down and dialing. And that technology, that approach got replaced by new technology that’s computerized, like everything else. So, they just feed a list of numbers in and all of a sudden a list of calls get made.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about the argument from some companies out there who say, well, this is preventing us from doing legitimate phone calling, that this is really reaching too far?

TOM WHEELER: Well, the key to legitimacy is that the consumer wants to be contacted. Now, we have got a couple of exceptions in the rule.

For instance, if your bank discovers a bank fraud, they can call you automatically. If your hospital or doctor says, oh, there’s a medical emergency, they can call you automatically. But, basically, it comes down to, do you consent that you want to be called? You ought to be in control.



Another Look At The Net Neutrality Critic Louie Gohmert

Majority Report

During the last in a two-week marathon of appearances by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler before lawmakers to defend his agency’s net neutrality rules, Louie Gohmert got a chance to voice his opinion.

“Gohmert (R-Tex.), an outspoken critic of the agency’s rules that prevent Internet providers from blocking Web sites or speeding some of them up over others, exploded during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday,” stated The Washington Post.

“His voice rising to a shout, Gohmert threw a stream of accusations at Wheeler, complaining that the FCC had cut off Internet providers’ ability to find new ways of making money,” states The Post.

“Before the FCC came in, everybody could explore new business models,” Gohmert said. “You’re playing God with the Internet … That’s not your job.”

Majority Report gives its take on it.

(Updated Post)

Obama Calls For Net Neutrality And To Classify The Internet As Public Utility

President Obama has called on the Federal Communications Commission to classify the Internet as a public utility. Obama said such protections would prevent Internet service providers like Comcast from blocking access to websites, slowing down content or providing paid fast lanes for Internet service. However, it is unclear whether his appointed FCC chair, Tom Wheeler, will agree to net neutrality.

Video by Democracy Now!