If you, like me, carry around a cellular phone as a matter of personal necessity (mine is my business phone as well as my personal phone) then you’ve probably been on the receiving end of the recent plague of robocalls and scam calls. I know I have. Not surprisingly, the FCC is under a lot of heat to do something. Excerpt:
It was 3 a.m. when the phone rang.
But it wasn’t an emergency — it was a robocall, and it enraged one resident of Marietta, Pennsylvania, enough to fire off a profane complaint to the Federal Communications Commission.
“Someone should shoot these a**holes,” that robocall recipient wrote.
Both the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission receive a mind-boggling number of complaints monthly from Americans who can’t stand the growing scourge of scam calls. Last year, the FCC received 232,000 complaints regarding unwanted calls like robocalls and telemarketing offers, while the FTC received more than 3.7 million robocall complaints alone. For both agencies, these complaints are the most frequent ones they receive.
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request from NBC News, the FCC provided roughly 200 lightly redacted complaints — all from May 1 and with the names of the filers redacted — that highlight just how fed up Americans are with the scam calls and how badly they want the government to take action against the perpetrators.
Here’s what’s been done:
Both federal agencies and lawmakers are trying. On Thursday, the Senate passed the TRACED Act, 97 to 1. That bill would push major telecom companies to better authenticate calls while also increasing penalties and fines that the FCC can levy for violations. In the House, legislative efforts are underway to combat “spoofing,” in which scammers trick a caller ID into believing that a call is coming from the recipient’s area code.
Well, great. Now as a staunch minarchist, I’m not generally in favor of government solutions for every problem, but in this case, I’m in favor of this action, as what I am given to understand this bill does is to actually deregulate the telecom companies in one respect; prior, all service providers were required by law to pass on any attempted call. Now they will have more latitude to identify and block scammers and robocalls.
Anything to be done about this will have to be done here; let the FCC identify and block these calls, and I suspect the problem will dry up, and the scammers will have to go back to emailing people, claiming to be exiled Nigerian princes.