Tech Big Guns, Apple and Google, Team up to Stop Robocalls

Apple Google Robocalls

A group of tech companies have entered a coalition in a bid to combat the number of automated telephone calls. The group named the Robocall Strike Force has some heavyweight companies in it including the two most valuable companies in the world, Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Near end of July, Android users started getting alerts about robocalls.

The group is being led by the Federal Communications Commission and they held their first hearing on the subject on Wednesday. The group says Robocalls also include everything from prerecorded messages from unknown and misleading numbers and automated text messages.

The FCC has been turning to the heavyweight tech companies such as Apple, Google, Alphabet, AT&T and Verizon because they want to stop big corporations from harassing consumers with their pre-recorded messages they send. Mignon L Clyburn, the FCC Commissioners said that the organization understood how consumers disliked the automated calls. Since consumers registered for the ‘Do not Call’ list, they should not receive any automated messages but they get frustrated when they receive them. Since it has not stopped, the FCC has now decided to take some action.

The strike force will report to the FCC on the 19th of October with some plan on how best to tackle the problem. They have to show plans that are concrete to help speed up the process of development and adoption of new tools and solutions.

The chairman of the coalition, AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson said that some of the solutions could come by introducing Caller ID so as to help spoof out the numbers used. They could also bring out a list of phone numbers from the government agencies and banks that would not be disrupted by these messages.

The FCC Chairman said that robocalls was more of a scourge. He also noted that more than half of the complaints that were filed in the first six months of 2016 were all attributed to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The FCC actually took a step towards blocking robocalls last year when they gave phone makers the license to install robocall blocking software on their phones.

There are however some companies such as AT&T which have been dragging their feet. Wheeler then sent out a message to all the tech companies and carriers to come out and think of ways to stop the problem.

Commissioner Clyburn was also keen to point out the fact that the group was also conscious of the fact that they had a fine line to move between tackling robocalls and encouraging anticompetitive behavior. An example is that of FCC’s attempts to make AT&T block VoIP calls from Google because of their contractual agreement with Apple.

Clyburn said that the commission has had a long history combating anti competitive behavior and also the use of call blocking technology. She however said that the real technology that was being craved for by consumers was looking like a reality after the formation of the new coalition.

The TCPA has been used in many cases by disgruntled consumers to sue tech companies, therefore they will be willing to work with the FCC. The law has seen companies such as Facebook and Yahoo get sued over their notification texts, and sign in welcome messages.