Tennesseans Might Get Fewer Robocalls Next Year

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If what Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery says is true, then this time next year Tennesseans should get far fewer robocalls on their cell phones.

In a press release, Slatery announced this week that 12 phone companies have agreed to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls. They are doing this alongside 51 attorneys general.

“This agreement should better protect Tennesseans from illegal robocalls and enable this Office and other attorneys general to investigate and prosecute offenders,” Slatery said in the press release.

Phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by:

Implementing call-blocking technology at the network level at no cost to customers.

  • Making available to customers additional, free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools.
  • • Implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source.
  • • Monitoring their networks for robocall traffic.

“The agreed upon principles should will implement much-needed prevention and enforcement mechanisms that should have a meaningful impact,” said Samantha Fisher, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office on Friday.

The coalition of companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream, according to the press release.

Phone companies will assist attorneys general anti-robocall enforcement by:

  • Knowing who their customers are so bad actors can be identified and investigated.
  • Investigating and taking action against suspicious callers – including notifying law enforcement and state attorneys general.
  • Working with law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to trace the origins of illegal robocalls.
  • Requiring telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in traceback identification.

Going forward, phone companies will stay in close communication with the coalition of attorneys general to continue to optimize robocall protections as technology and scammer techniques change, according to the press release.

“The principles offer a comprehensive set of best practices that recognizes that no single action or technology is sufficient to curb the scourge of illegal and unwanted robocalls,” said Levi Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Columbia University, Henning Schulzrinne, in a press release.

“I hope that all parts of the telecommunication industry, both large and small, will commit to rapidly implementing these principles and work with state and federal authorities to make people want to answer their phone again without fear of being defrauded or annoyed.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.

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