Telemarketers have been a real annoyance to everyone over the last few decades. Although the FCC is not the source of these calls, it is not uncommon for the Commission to receive consumer complaints over unwanted robocalls and telemarketers. Although there have been some attempts in the past to resolve these issues, it persists as a growing problem. Now the FCC plans to help develop technologies to block these unwanted calls going to both landline and mobile phone users.
The FCC's Role
The FCC's plan to encourage the development of these "do-not-disturb" technologies is fairly simple. Each week, the FCC receives numerous user complaints about telemarketers. The commission collects data from these complaints, including the phone number used by the telemarketer or robocaller. The FCC will then release this information to developers, who will create software to prevent calls from these numbers.
"Consumers want and deserve effective tools to empower them to choose the calls and texts they receive. This data will help improve do-not-disturb technologies so they can provide the best service for consumers," said Alison Kutler, chief of the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, which manages consumer complaints. "As we encourage providers to offer these services, and as the Commission recently made clear that there are no legal barriers to doing so, we continue to look for ways to help facilitate important consumer tools."
The FCC has made attempts to prevent telemarketers in the past, such as its "Do Not Call" lists, but this only prevents calls from companies that abide by the FCC regulations. Today, as the world continues to develop, calls from other nations not subject to the FCC are becoming a growing problem, however, and there is nothing currently in effect to stop these calls.
Although software capable of blocking calls from telemarketers already exists in the form of smartphone apps and VoIP phone systems, most service providers don't directly offer these services to consumers, and landline users don't have tools capable of providing this service.
Will Carriers Develop "Do-Not-Disturb" Technologies?
Although the option to have unwanted calls from telemarketers blocked automatically may seem like an obvious service that carriers should provide, it is still questionable if they will do so.
On the one hand, the FCC is doing a considerable amount of the work by collecting a list of numbers that should be blocked, and it should be relatively easy for carriers to develop the software. Further, it's an extra service that companies could potentially charge for to increase revenue.
All of this sounds great, but it is likely to spark a negative reaction from companies that rely on telemarketing services. If these telemarketing companies feel that these programs are causing a significant cut into their profits, they may pay phone carriers to unblock their phone numbers or to not use these "do-not-disturb" technologies.
Either way, phone carriers will likely benefit from this change in FCC policy, either by charging users for a new service or by being paid by telemarketers not to block their calls, but it is hard to say how much it will help customers avoid unwanted calls.
Michael Justin Allen Sexton (or MJ) is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. As a tech enthusiast, MJ enjoys studying and writing about all areas of tech, but specializes in the study of chipsets and microprocessors. In his personal life, MJ spends most of his time gaming, practicing martial arts, studying history, and tinkering with electronics.