State Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Wednesday called on five major phone companies to offer call-blocking technology to their customers.
In a joint letter sent with 44 other attorneys general to the chief executives of the carriers, Ferguson said a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule clarification confirms that telecommunications service providers can offer customers the ability to block unwanted calls.
“My office is committed to enforcing laws intended to prevent unwanted robocalls,” Ferguson said in a media release. “The FCC has now made clear that the technology is available to stop these calls before they happen. I call upon the industry to offer consumers the tools that will empower them to fight back.”
In their letter to AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and CenturyLink, the attorneys general stated, “Every year, our offices are flooded with consumer complaints pleading for a solution to stop intrusive robocalls. Your companies are now poised to offer your customers the help they need. We urge you to act without delay.”
Phone carriers had previously claimed they could not offer such services. At a July 2013 hearing before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, for instance, representatives from the U.S. Telecom Association and trade group CTIA testified that “legal barriers prevent carriers from implementing advanced call-blocking technology to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls.”
Ferguson noted that call-blocking options already exist for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service (NoMoRobo.com) and Android cell phones (Call Control) and called upon the phone carriers to move quickly to implement these options and inform consumers.
Last September, Ferguson and 38 other attorneys general called on the FCC to clarify whether phone companies could utilize call-blocking technologies. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler endorsed the request in late May, and the FCC passed the rule clarification on June 18.
The attorneys general offices that signed today’s letter are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.