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Stopping Illegal Robocalls Where They Start

The Robocall Scourge is a Choice

  • November 23, 2019

Telephone service in our country is implemented via a few thousand different voice service providers, from giants like AT&T and Verizon (each serving over a hundred million subscribers) to small rural providers serving a thousand or fewer, to voice broadcasters and others that specialize in robocalls. While still subject to some government regulations, the providers exchange telephone traffic primarily via…

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Chairman Pai Complicit in Illegal Robocalling

  • November 8, 2019

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…

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The How and Why Of Illegal Robocalling

  • September 29, 2019

Last week (25-September), Hiya held their first "State of the Call" conference in New York City. They invited me to speak, labeling my session as follows: To set the tone for the first half of the day, you will get a crash course into the illegal robocalling industry. You will learn how these bad actors get their numbers, how they…

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The Robocall Pledge

  • August 7, 2019

Last week, in conjunction with another FCC Order tweaking robocall rules, Commissioner Rosenworcel released a statement where she said, “There is no public process for holding carriers who put this junk on the line accountable.” I agree. I think the first step is for ALL carriers to adopt a Pledge whereby they hold themselves accountable for doing what they can…

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Before the Senate Special Committee on Aging

  • July 28, 2019

I was invited to testify at a Senate Special Committee on Aging. This 17-July event was their 23rd hearing on robocalls, if you can believe it. This Committee has long had an interest in illegal robocalls, because so many of these scammers target the elderly. It was a great experience for me, not just for the interactions with the Senators…

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LA Sen Kennedy Spot On w/ Q’s to FTC and FCC Chairmen

  • June 21, 2019

I’m usually underwhelmed with what I see in congressional hearings targeting illegal robocalls. But a May 7 session of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, chaired by Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, came to my attention and I was impressed. This excerpt from the hearing captures the back-and-forth between the Senator, FTC Chairman Simons and FCC Chairman Pai. I…

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My Suggestion for a Declaratory Ruling

  • May 22, 2019

Most FCC regulations come about through a rigorous, multistep Rulemaking process, wherein the agency opens a docket, solicits input, drafts a proposed rule, endures a public comment period, and then issues an Order. But there’s a quicker path, as the FCC reminded me in their just-issued draft Declaratory Ruling regarding robocall blocking. At footnote 56, they say: See 47 CFR…

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Stopping the Phone Hijackers

  • May 19, 2019

I’m a pilot and I often find myself mapping things into the world of aviation. In the late 1960’s, there were a rash of airplane hijackings. That’s when passenger screening for weapons was born. The airlines did it originally. The checks were done with a hand-held wand; then they came up with the walk-through metal detectors. Over time, the process…

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Is the FCC Declaratory Ruling Off Target?

  • May 19, 2019

I’ve been studying a draft the FCC published a few days ago of a Declaratory Ruling (DR) they’re planning to adopt at their June 6 meeting. Honestly, I’m flabbergasted at the FCC’s action. You might know that generally I am not a fan of most robocalls – even the legal ones. The DR gives phone providers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Vonage, etc.)…

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Broken Laws

  • April 29, 2019

Last week I asked, “How many laws does it take to stop a robocall” and since then, several people have asked for my specific critique of pending robocall legislation. The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which is part of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, is holding a hearing on April 30. Their backgrounder lists SIX bills (re)introduced already…

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