FCC votes to give police power to track phone threats

FCC votes to give police power to track phone threats
© Greg Nash

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday voted to allow law enforcement access to blocked caller IDs in cases of anonymous phone threats.

With the new rule, law enforcement will no longer have to apply for temporary waivers when probing threats from anonymous callers.

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"This information could save lives and help apprehend those making such calls," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. "Moreover, this measure is justified because callers who make threats should have no legitimate expectation of privacy that their caller ID information will remain secret." 

The proposal stems from a temporary waiver that the agency granted to authorities investigating a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers earlier this year.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE (D-N.Y.) had written to the FCC requesting the waiver in March.

The FCC order defines threatening calls as “any call that conveys an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requiring disclosure without delay of information relating to the emergency.” It only grants the caller ID exemptions to law enforcement and security personnel.