Postings

The FCC should protect Americans from sneaky voicemails from telemarketers and debt collectors
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a request to allow the use of "ringless" voicemail technology by exempting it from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibits most unwanted calls and texts. The new technology enables telemarketers and debt collectors to send potentially unwanted, prerecorded messages directly to the subscriber’s cell phone voicemail without ever giving the consumer the opportunity to answer—or to block—the incoming call. Consumer Action joined consumer groups in urging the FCC to deny the request to omit ringless voicemails from the TCPA. Ringless direct-to-voicemail messages are just as invasive, expensive and annoying as calls and texts to cell phones.

Limit ways robocallers can evade TRACED Act
The TRACED Act was passed by Congress to protect consumers from robocalls and to give the Federal Communications Commission enforcement authority over illegal calls. Led by the National Consumer Law Center, groups pushed back at some industry requests for exemptions to its new rules giving consumers opt-out rights.

Utility pole access is barrier to widespread broadband deployment
Groups supportive of increased broadband deployment in underserved areas call on Congress to ensure a fast, fair process for privately owned utility pole access. Because poles are owned by private carriers, disputes often arise over their use by third parties and more equitable rights for access and dispute resolution could help deploy broadband more widely by using existing pole networks.

The pandemic’s impact on the digital divide: Low-income Americans need help now
The pandemic didn't create the digital divide, but it has certainly exacerbated it. Consumer Action and National Consumers League wrote to the Federal Communications Commission to applaud its efforts to bring broadband internet connection to low-income households during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, and its efforts to expand the Lifeline program to reach more low-income households. Today, Lifeline recipients can use a modest $9.25 monthly subsidy to connect to phone and/or internet services, yet only 1-in-4 eligible households enrolls in the program. As Americans continue to work, attend school, and conduct healthcare appointments online during the pandemic, it is critical that everyone has access to broadband internet.

California legislators urged to make significant investments in public broadband
Consumer Action joined advocates in urging California legislators to support the state bill "Broadband for All" (SB 4), which enables local governments to make a massive billion-dollar investment in public infrastructure by unlocking the bond market for local communities. The pandemic has highlighted the dire need to move quickly on providing broadband access, especially to underserved and underinvested communities. With one in eight families in California disconnected, and nearly one million school-aged children with no internet connection, the lack of access is creating additional hardships during a time when connectivity is more essential than ever.

Privacy advocates urge U.S. FCC to protect privacy during pandemic
Consumer Action joined in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to uphold privacy protections during the pandemic. The agency is attempting to remove the Customer Proprietary Network Information certification requirement, which is the easiest and most straightforward way to hold wireless and telephone companies accountable for violating their customers’ privacy. The COVID-19 crisis has made telecom privacy protections even more essential as people are more reliant than ever on their phones. It would be highly inappropriate for the FCC to eliminate or weaken these valuable protections during the pandemic.

The FCC prepares to regulate providers’ efforts to curb annoying robocalls
The Federal Trade Commission received 3.78 million consumer complaints about robocalls in 2019, compared with 3.79 million in 2018. Congress passed the TRACED Act late last year, which aims to crack down on robocalls by requiring voice service providers to implement caller ID authentication technology, and directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the providers’ efforts. In preparation for its upcoming report on robocalls, advocates call on the FCC to take further action to hold voice service providers accountable in their efforts to stop annoying scam calls.

The never-ending scourge of unwanted calls continues to plague Americans
As consumers continue to be overwhelmed with unwanted robocalls, advocates urge the Federal Communications Commission to go beyond its initial proposal and require phone companies to implement caller-ID authentication technology, opt-out tools for scam calls, and opt-in call-blocking tools for other unwanted calls.

It’s time for swift action on robocalls
In comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), advocates call for more effective robocall protections by default. Advocates urge the FCC to redouble its efforts against the scourge of unwanted calls by implementing stronger legal protections, holding phone companies accountable for their customers and using technology to intercept scam calls before they enter the phone system.

Robocall madness: It’s time to stop the scams and abuse
In a letter to the ranking members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and Committee on Energy and Commerce, advocates announced their support of the bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 3375). They urged legislators to support the bill without amendments in order to stop the abuse all Americans endure through robocall violations.

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