Apple, Google, AT&T join hands to crackdown on ‘Robocall’

NEW DELHI: Thirty-three technology and communication companies including AT&T, Alphabet, Apple, and Comcast are joining an effort with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to crack down on robocalls, automated, prerecorded phone calls that regulators have labeled a “scourge.”

These IT companies are among members of the “Robocall Strike Force” that held its first meeting on Friday with the US Federal Communications Commission.

The strike force will report to the commission by Oct. 19 on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, chairman of the group.

The strike force hopes to implement Caller ID verification standards to help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and consider a “Do Not Originate” list that would block spoofers from impersonating legitimate phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in July urged major companies to take new action to block robocalls, which often come from telemarketers or scam artists. Calling it a ‘scourge’, Wheeler said that robocalls are the No. 1 complaint from consumers.

Stephenson also emphasized, “the breadth and complexity” of the problem saying, “This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps. Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.”

The FCC does not require robocall blocking and filtering but has strongly encouraged phone service providers to offer those services at no charge.The strike force brings together carriers, device makers, operating system developers, network designers and the government.

Other companies taking part include Blackberry, British Telecommunications Plc, Charter Communications, Frontier Communications, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sirius XM Holdings, T-Mobile US and US Cellular Corp.

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