The FCC voted on Thursday to allow telephone carriers to block unwanted calls and illegal robocalls before those calls make it to consumers’ phones.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai first proposed the measure last month, and he championed the cause in a USA Today op-ed published Thursday morning, in which he suggested that the main parties opposing the measure are businesses that use robocalls, like debt collectors and credit unions.
Before the commission voted on the measure Thursday morning, Pai reiterated his points in the op-ed, suggesting that opposition from businesses don’t carry much weight when robocalls hatred is the one thing that unifies virtually every American. “There is one thing in our country today that unites republicans and democrats, liberals and conservatives, socialists and libertarians, vegetarians and carnivores, Ohio State and Michigan fans,” Pai said. “It is that they are sick and tired of being bombarded by unwanted robocalls.”
The commission voted unanimously, with some partial dissent, to pass the measure. Under the new proposal, carriers have to allow consumers to opt out of robocall-blocking.
According to YouMail, a scam-blocking service that monitors robocalls, 4.7 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. in May. The company reported that last year an estimated 48 billion robocalls made in the country.
“At the start of this administration, Americans received roughly 2 billion robocalls a month. That number is now about 5 million,” Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, before the vote. “That is 2,000 robocalls every second of every day. That’s insane.”
Rosenworcel said the measure did not go far enough as it doesn’t enforce that carriers provide such a service for free
“I do not think this agency should pat itself on the back for its efforts to reduce robocalls, and then tell consumers to pay up,” Rosenworcel said. “They’re already paying the price in scams flooding our phone lines, wasted time responding to false and fraudulent calls, offering us what we did not ask for, do not want, and do not need.”