On July 17, 2020, the Commission released the Call Blocking Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Report and Order” and “FNPRM”), which was adopted in the July Open Meeting (CG Docket No. 17-59).

 

The adopted Report and Order incorporates the following relevant changes from the circulated draft version:

  • In response to requests on the record, the Commission clarifies that while voice service providers must maintain a single point of contact for callers to reach regarding call blocking disputes, providers can also offer alternative methods of contact (i.e., a web portal, chatbot, etc.) in addition to this single point of contact. The Commission declines to adopt a registry for providers to use to resolve larger-scale call blocking disputes but notes that the industry is free to develop this type of registry (¶ 54).
  • The Commission clarifies that blocking providers must investigate and resolve blocking disputes in a reasonable amount of time and at no cost to the caller, so long as the complaint is made in good faith (¶ 55).

 

The adopted FNPRM incorporates the following relevant changes from the circulated draft version:

  • The Commission seeks comment on the potential benefits of a robocall mitigation program where voice service providers who are unable to meet the STIR/SHAKEN implementation deadline could implement “effective robocall mitigation programs” to help protect consumers (¶ 89).
  • The Commission adds in Section V.E which proposes to extend its safe harbor to cover network-based blocking, which providers would do on behalf of their customers without those customers having to opt-in or out, based on reasonable analytics that incorporates caller ID authentication information, so long as the blocking is specifically designed to block calls that are highly likely to be illegal and is managed with sufficient human oversight and network monitoring to ensure that blocking is working as intended (¶ 104-106). Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on:
    • How to ensure that network-based blocking based on reasonable analytics without any consumer consent option but with human oversight and network monitoring is used only to block calls that are highly likely to be illegal (¶105);
    • Whether reasonable analytics blocking allowing consumers the opportunity to consent provides sufficient benefit to consumers to balance the risks that lawful calls could be blocked without consumer consent (¶ 106);
  • The Commission adds in Section V.F which seeks comment on expanding redress requirements, including:
    • How to set a more concrete timeline for redress options when calls are blocked for blocking services provided on an opt-in or opt-out basis, including whether to set a 24-hour notification requirement or whether a caller should be required to request such notification (¶ 107);
    • Whether to require voice service providers to respond to disputes about erroneous call blocking within 24 hours, a week, or some other appropriate amount of time as well as what steps providers should take to communicate with the party that raised the dispute to ensure that these disputes are being handled as quickly as possible (108); and
    • Whether and how to address the mislabeled calls (¶ 109).

 

Comments on the FNPRM are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and reply comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

 

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