It's been awhile since a U.S. regulator actually sided with everyday Americans. The SEC continues to keep the big banks out of jail despite running criminal rackets, the EPA is toothless thanks to tight ties to industry and the FTC permits big telecom monopolies to get even bigger, despite the harm to consumers.
Yet the FCC is on a roll, with its excellent network neutrality regulations, strongly opposed by cable monopolies, showing it truly cares about consumers and the country as a whole. But it doesn't stop there - the top U.S. telecommunications regulator wants to make it harder for telemarketers to place unwanted robocalls and text messages.
The agency plans to vote on June 18 on a proposal which would give legal cover to telephone companies to offer consumers technologies to block harassing robocalls, regardless of where they originate.
"The FCC wants to make it clear: Telephone companies can – and in fact should – offer consumers robocall-blocking tools," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a blog post.
The wireless carriers, keen to liken such acts to their right to throttle internet traffic, have claimed that blocking automated calls could be construed as violations of the law that requires them to ensure that all calls placed over their networks reach their intended recipients.
The new law would clearly and unequivocally make the distinction between network neutrality and consumers having the right to block unwanted spam crystal clear.
The new laws would reassert that consumers have to agree to receive automated calls and texts and clarify that they can revoke their consent in any "reasonable" way, including a simple request for calls to stop. There would be no need to file paperwork, fill out forms or take any other measure that would make it hard to opt-out.
Robocalls and robotexts are the most common consumer complaints to the FCC, with 215,000 reports in the last year alone. Consumer advocates and U.S. states' attorneys general have all wanted the FCC to clarify the robocall rules.