A Look at the FCC’s Default Call-Blocking Ruling

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Thursday approved a declaratory ruling on default call-blocking. This ruling provides clarification voice service providers may use now to block illegal and unwanted calls before they reach consumers' phones, and proposes additional means providers may use in the future to block those calls.

Intended to provide relief for legitimate callers, the rule includes a mechanism for challenging erroneous call blocking. Under the ruling, voice service providers are allowed to block calls by default based on call analytics that target unwanted calls, as long as their customers are informed and have the opportunity to opt-out of the blocking. The ruling also clarifies that Telecom providers may also offer their customers the choice to opt-in to tools that block calls from any number that does not appear on a customer’s contact list or other “white lists.” This option would allow consumers to decide directly whose calls they’re willing to receive, based on the contact list in a person’s smart phone. The FCC is urging voice providers to implement the Secure Telephony Identity Revisited and Secure Handling of Asserted information using Tokens (STIR/SHAKEN) caller ID authentication framework by the end of 2019. STIR/SHAKEN is a protocol for authenticating phone calls with the aid of cryptographic certificates.

Failure to do so could result in further rulemaking to require implementation of the technology.

Resources to help you navigate the ruling: