Schumer calls for FCC crackdown on ringless robocalls

Schumer calls for FCC crackdown on ringless robocalls
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Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president Impeachment has been a dud for Democrats Trump insults Democrats, calls on followers to watch Fox News ahead of impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.) called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block telemarketers from leaving ringless voicemails, a new technology for sales calls.

"With billions of robocalls made to cellphones each year, the feds should be doing more to rein in annoying telemarketers, not throw gas on the problem and add fuel to cellphone spam," said Schumer.

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Robocalls, or automated calls to consumers soliciting their information or business, have increased in recent years. Lawmakers and the federal government have taken note and ramped up efforts to curb them. In 2016, Schumer railed against the practice, noting that in two New York ZIP codes alone consumers had received 50 million robocalls in a single month.

Ringless voicemails, unlike traditional calls, go straight to a recipient's voice mailbox.

“Even though these voicemails may be quieter than what we traditionally think of as cellphone spam, they are no less intrusive or annoying to consumers,” Schumer wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Sunday.

“Ringless voicemail would be yet another way for consumers to feel that their phones are not their own. Unsolicited, spam robocall voicemails could flood mailboxes, clogging out legitimate messages.”

The FCC recently handed out its largest fine ever to a robocaller, however its specific position on ringless voicemails is less clear.

“We’ll take a look,” said Pai when asked during last week’s open FCC meeting about how the commission would handle ringless voicemails. “We’ll follow the appropriate course in consultation with FCC staff handling that issue.” 

A ringless message company, All About The Message, LLC, had previously petitioned the FCC for the ability to leave voicemails in users’ inboxes without their phones ever ringing.

The Republican National Committee had also sent a letter to the FCC backing All About The Message’s petition.

The company has since withdrawn their petition after scrutiny from politicians.

A group of Democratic senators and another group of state attorneys general separately urged the FCC to not allow ringless voicemail robocalls earlier in the month.