National Association of Attorneys General

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Attorneys General Urge Federal Government to Allow Phone Companies to Block Unwanted Sales Calls to Customers

Washington, D.C.---The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter today to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally requesting an opinion regarding phone companies’ legal ability to implement call-blocking technology. As millions of Americans regularly receive unwanted and harassing telemarketing calls, some phone companies aren’t using call-blocking technology because they believe that federal law prevents them from doing so on their customer’s behalf.

The NAAG letter references three specific issues. US Telecom claimed in October 2013 that there are legal prohibitions preventing telephone carriers from implementing call-blocking technology such as NoMoRobo, Call Control, and Telemarketing Guard. The attorneys general asked the FCC whether or not these prohibitions are subject to change if customers specifically request the use of the technologies.

“State law enforcement officials are doing everything possible to track down and prosecute those that engage in illegal telemarketing,” reads the Sept. 9 letter signed by 39 state and territorial attorneys general. “However, law enforcement cannot fight this battle alone. Call-blocking technology like NoMoRobo, Call Control, and Telemarketing Guard appears to be the first major advancement towards a solution.”

The attorneys general asked the FCC: At a customer’s request can carriers legally block telemarketing calls if technology is able to identify the call as coming from a telemarketer?

Lastly, US Telecom previously described the FCC’s position as a “strict oversight” in the delivery of telecommunications traffic and that call blocking is an “unjust and unreasonable practice under section 201 (b) of the Communications Act of 1934.” The attorneys general asked the FCC whether this is an accurate description of the Commission’s position.

The telephone companies’ resistance to embrace call-blocking technology “raises important questions. If a solution to the nation’s illegal telemarketing problem is possible, it will require the private sector—including telephone carriers—to get involved,” reads the NAAG letter, which can be found here:

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Tim Fox, Montana Attorney General

Tim Fox, the Montana attorney general, has worked in public service since 1990.