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Stopping Illegal Robocalls Where They Start

Chairman Pai Complicit in Illegal Robocalling

Today, Wall Street Journal technology columnist Joanna Stern published another one of her “In the Elevator with…” videos, this time featuring Ajit Pai. And of course it kicks off with robocalls.

Pai says: “All you need is an internet connection and the desire to bombard American consumers and you’re off to the races.” No, that’s not all you need.

You also need a bit of cash, and you need a USA-based cooperating provider willing to take your cash and willing to put your garbage calls onto our telephone network. That provider is (notionally) regulated by the FCC.

As even the proponents have pointed out, the SHAKEN/STIR initiative will not mitigate these calls.

I find it disheartening that the FCC isn’t pulling out all the stops to discourage telecommunications entities it regulates from being complicit in the robocall scourge. To the extent that the agency doesn’t already know, it should learn the identities of those specific providers and be particularly harsh on those that continue facilitating the illegal callers despite having been informed that their platforms are the origin. Generally, these are not the major providers serving consumers, but are small providers that cater to problematic callers in the interest of garnering a few bucks.

In my mind, the FCC’s failure to act makes the agency complicit in the problem as well.


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