FCC To Vote on Creation of Reassigned Number Database; Giving Carriers More Power to Block Robo, Spam Text Messages

The Federal Communications Commission is poised next month to adopt a proposal that would create a database for phone numbers that have been reassigned, in the hopes of keeping companies from attempting to contact individuals using numbers that no longer belong to them. As well, the FCC will vote on a Declaratory Order that would classify text messaging services as information services, not telecommunications services, which would allow phone carriers to deploy technology to block robotexts or spoofed text messages.

The FCC will consider both items at its next open meeting on Dec. 12, the agency announced yesterday.

“Combatting robocalls is our top consumer protection priority, and these proposals are a significant step forward in that effort. Today, I am calling on the FCC to take additional measures to combat these calls and also to prevent a flood of spam robotexts from clogging Americans’ phones,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, in a statement. “Americans rely on and trust text messaging. That’s why we need to act to prevent a deluge of spam texts and scam messages. I’m also proposing new rules to help reduce robocalls to reassigned numbers by creating a database that will help legitimate businesses stop calling those numbers. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting these proposals and continuing our fight against unwanted robocalls and robotexts.”

The FCC has been considering a reassigned numbers database for more than a year. ACA International, meanwhile, has told the FCC that a reassigned numbers database should not be the agency’s top TCPA priority; instead, the FCC should be working on helping protect companies from TCPA lawsuits by providing some safe harbors. A number of Senators, meanwhile, have been pushing for the database.

The information included in the reassigned number database would be provided by the phone carriers that obtain U.S. numbers from the North American Numbering Plan. “After careful, deliberate consideration of the problem, it would also conclude this database would be the most efficient and cost-effective solution,” the FCC said in its release.


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