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FCC vote will clarify if call-blocking rules let robocalls be blocked by default

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FCC vote will clarify if call-blocking rules let robocalls be blocked by default

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will kick off its June 6 open meeting by voting on an item that would clarify that its call-blocking rules allow U.S. carriers to block robocalls by default, the agency confirmed May 30.

Specifically, the commission will vote on a declaratory ruling asserting that voice service providers have the authority to block calls by default based on call analytics that target unwanted calls, as long as customers are informed of the practice and have the ability to opt out.

"This could mean a major reduction in robocalls, as call blocking would become the rule, not the exception," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in a blog post earlier this month.

Additionally, the ruling would clarify that voice providers can offer customers the option to block calls from any number that does not appear on a customer's contact list on an opt-in basis.

The commission will also vote on a proceeding aimed at creating a safe harbor for carriers blocking calls that fail caller authentication, among other provisions.

The U.S. Senate approved a bill on May 23 that would give the FCC expanded authority to levy fines and require voice service providers to develop call authentication technologies, among other provisions. The House has not yet taken up the bill for consideration.

At the June 6 meeting, the FCC will also vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking that contains a range of proposals aimed at improving aviation safety.

Pai wrote in his May blog post that the FCC's rules for managing the aviation radio service, an internationally-allocated radio service that uses dedicated spectrum to provide for "safety of life and property in air navigation," have not kept up with technological advances.

One element of the proposed rulemaking would allocate spectrum and establish service rules for an advanced radar technology to enhance pilots' ability to detect objects in "degraded visual environments."

Another part of the proposal would update the agency's rules for systems that alert pilots as they approach possible land-based obstructions.

Finally, the commission will vote on an order that Pai said would modernize the agency's regulations on leased access rules, which require cable operators to set aside channel capacity for commercial use by unaffiliated video programmers.

One element of the order would remove a requirement that cable operators make leased access available on a part-time basis.

"The glaring problem with our leased access rules is that they've been in legal limbo for over a decade and haven't been updated to account for the transformation of the video marketplace," wrote Pai in his May blog. "Programmers now have a wide range of options for distributing their content, including a plethora of online platforms, so the need for burdensome leased access rules has dramatically diminished."