Robocall issue able to unite badly divided Washington

Monday, June 10, 2019

Remember the good old days? When that 20-pound, black, rotary-dial hard-wired telephone in the den rang, the family rushed to answer it.

Today, when you feel your smartphone vibrate, you’ll check out the caller ID before answering, if then. More and more of us are ignoring calls altogether, checking voicemail later at our leisure.

Robocalls and outright scam calls have the power to do something few other issues have done — unite the U.S. Congress.

“If 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, it is that they are sick and tired of being bombarded by unwanted robocalls,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai during the commission’s monthly meeting prior to the 5-0 vote to approve the rule. “My message to the American people today is simple: We hear you, and we are on your side.”

On Thursday, his FCC issued a ruling that lets phone companies block robocalls before they get to your phone.

The number of robocalls has dropped slightly since hitting a record 5.23 billion estimated calls in March, says blocking service YouMail, which estimated about 152.9 million robocalls were made each day in May.

The rest of the government is not doing nothing; the Federal Trade Commission recently shut down four telemarketers responsible for billions of calls.

Of course, there are apps individuals can use to identify junk calls in addition to steps the companies can take.

And Nebraska, home to many telemarketing firms, has an interest the survival of a legitimate industry.

Perhaps the FCC’s ruling that companies can block abusive robocalls is a step toward achieving an satisfactory balance.

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