Tag: FCC

Today, Chairman Pai resided over his first FCC March Open meeting. Top of the agenda? Robocalls and how to stop them. Hear! Hear!

The proposed rule-making and inquiries were broken down into two parts:

Rules that remove regulatory uncertainties so voice service providers can block certain robocalls without fear.

With this proposal, providers may block spoofed calls when the actual subscriber to the spoofed number makes a “do not originate” request. Additionally, this would give the green light for legislation to allow additional call blocking of the following numbers:

  • Invalid Numbers: this includes numbers with unassigned area codes, numbers that use N11 codes (such as “911” or “411”) in place of an area code, and numbers not allocated by the North American or International numbering plan administrators
  • Valid numbers that are not allocated to a provider
  • Valid numbers that are allocated to a provider but not assigned to a subscriber  

The team also asked for comment on how to treat calls that originate internationally.

Notice of Inquiry that expressly permits providers to block calls that don’t follow one of the above criteria but do appear to be illegal.

Here, the team stated they were looking for objective criteria that a provider might use to identify illegal robocalls and the accuracy of these methods. They also asked what protections could be established to ensure that legitimate calls, that share similarities to illegal robocalls, won’t be blocked.

The first proposal of the FCC March Open passed.

Now, let’s put an end to those robocalls!

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When Ajit Pai was appointed the new FCC Chairman, there were a lot of questions about what changes he would make following former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s time in office. One of those questions revolved around robocalls and how to stop them. While some may have been nervous that Chairman Pai would let this fight go by the wayside, Hiya never was.

Back in September, after the recent launch of an industry-led Robocall Strike Force, Hiya hosted the FCC at our Seattle headquarters. Visitors included then-Chairman Tom Wheeler, then-Commissioner Ajit Pai, and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.

What did then-Commissioner Pai have to say about his visit?

“I had the pleasure, a few weeks ago, of meeting with an innovative company called Hiya, up in Seattle, and one of the things they showed me was that Americans have received 984 million robocalls on their cell phones, in September alone. That’s 4.5 robocalls for each mobile phone in the United States. That’s why I think it’s so important for this industry, including those participating in the Robocalls Strike Force, to do this job.” -Former Commissioner Pai, now Chairman Pai

It wasn’t just lip service. Since his appointment at the end of January, Chairman Pai has continued to highlight the robocall epidemic and his plans to put these annoying calls to an end. Earlier this month, Chairman Pai circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to his fellow Commissioners proposing service providers the ability to block illegal and fraudulent robocalls.

“Under my proposal, the FCC would give providers greater leeway to block spoofed robocalls,” Pai announced. “Specifically, they could block calls that purport to be from unassigned or invalid phone numbers (there’s a database that keeps track of all phone numbers, and many of them aren’t assigned to a voice service provider or aren’t otherwise in use). There is no reason why any legitimate caller should be spoofing an unassigned or invalid phone number. It’s just a way for scammers to evade the law.”

This Thursday, March 23, exactly two months after Pai accepted the role as Chairman, the FCC is holding their March Open meeting and robocalls are at the very top of the agenda. We look forward to hearing Chairman Pai’s plans to continue the fight against unwanted calls.

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On Wednesday, October 26, the FCC held its second Robocall Strike Force meeting. Just two months ago, industry leaders came together for the first time to address the robocall epidemic. It all began when Chairman Wheeler called for a 60-day action plan to provide consumers with the tools they need to stop unwanted robocalls. This meeting’s purpose was for the Robocall Strike Force to report on the status of that plan.

AT&T’s President of Technology Development, Melissa Arnoldi, presented an overview of Chairman Wheeler’s points of focus and the recommendations to achieve those goals. These areas included “filtering and blocking technology for consumers, accelerating development and the climate of caller ID authentication to increase the accuracy in the identification of incoming calls and solutions to mitigate, such as the Do Not Originate lists.”

One deliverable that is available to consumers now is the FCC’s new website: FCC.gov/unwanted calls. This site provides consumers with information on how they can protect themselves from unwanted robocalls. It makes no mention of third party apps, but it’s a start.

Commissioners Clyburn and Pai, who have been active in speaking out against robocalls (and visited Hiya in September, along with Chairman Wheeler), had the opportunity to speak and we were thrilled with what they had to say:

“Thankfully, there are companies like Hiya, a startup I visited in Seattle, that are implementing and empowering consumers with the tools needed to block unwanted calls. Today, we are applauding those who have stepped up to the plate, with solutions.” -Commissioner Clyburn

“I had the pleasure, a few weeks ago, of meeting with an innovative company called Hiya, up in Seattle, and one of the things they showed me was that Americans have received 984 million robocalls on their cell phones, in September alone. That’s 4.5 robocalls for each mobile phone in the United States. That’s why I think it’s so important for this industry, including those participating in the Robocalls Strike Force, to do this job.” -Commissioner Pai

Chairman Wheeler closed the meeting with appreciation, but also a firm stance that there was more work left on the table. “You have delivered on some of those goals, but there is significantly more work to be done. We are not yet where we want to be. […] We will be asking you all in six months to give us an accounting of exactly what has happened to bring your hard work to reality so that consumers have something that is actually happening, not something that is being talked about.”

Mic drop.

Your move, Robocall Strike Force.

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When the Chairman of the FCC comes to visit your headquarters, you know you’re doing something right. We at Hiya were thrilled to learn that, in addition to Chairman Wheeler’s visits to big names like Boeing, Microsoft and T-Mobile, he would be visiting our offices as well. He met with our leadership team and members of our Reputation Data team to learn all about our fight against robocalls. Sounds like he liked what he saw!

Hiya is on the forefront of robocall blocking technology, using sophisticated algorithms and a large database to identify and block unwanted calls at the network of end-user level.

Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman

To learn more about the Chairman’s trip to Seattle and see what he has to say about Hiya, click on the image below.

wheeler visited hiya

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This week, Hiya hosted key leadership from the Federal Communications Commission in our Seattle headquarter offices. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Commissioner Ajit Pai all came to visit for a tour and Q&A session.

As the global leader in phone spam protection, it was a nice opportunity for us to introduce our talented team and showcase our work. This included a tour of our newly built network operations center, which provided an insider’s view into how we monitor, analyze and leverage our comprehensive data set to power the products we build.

Recently, the FCC has been recognized for bringing the incessant robocall problem to light and its important role in mobilizing the industry to take action. Robocalls have become a huge consumer problem with more than 10 billion robocalls made to U.S. phone numbers since the beginning of 2016. On July 22, Chairman Wheeler sent letters to all major carriers, demanding actionable plans to address the robocall issue. Soon after, a Robocall Strike Force was created to fight the robocall epidemic, with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson personally at the helm.

I applaud both the FCC and the Strike Force for their efforts. A good portion of the industry is consequently moving at light speed to solve the problem for consumers. Hiya’s most recent contribution was our launch of Hiya Cloud, which helps carriers prevent robo and other unwanted calls. By integrating at the carrier network level, Hiya Cloud blocks unwanted calls before they reach a user’s phone, regardless of the device type or operating system.

It is our hope that the current momentum continues and that free market forces will motivate businesses to do the right thing. In the long run, what is good for consumers is good for business. Furthermore, I hope that the currently proposed anti-robocall legislation will not be the final answer. The best solution for both carriers and consumers will not be prescribed via inflexible regulation. What’s smart today could have unintended consequences further down the road. Robocallers and fraudsters are remarkably nimble in their tactics, and we need to counter them with agile innovation and flexible business models for years to come.

I believe our meetings this week were insightful for both parties. The FCC is remarkably informed and up-to-speed on the robocall problem, and Chairman Wheeler personally demonstrates great interest in the subject and knowledge of underlying technology. With the FCC’s ongoing support and interest, I feel even more confident that the phone spam and robocaller problem will be eliminated.

fcc hiya
Left to right: Jan Volzke, Alex Algard, Chairman Wheeler, Javier Ocana, Jonathan Nelson
FCC Visits Hiya
Javier Ocana, Commissioner Pai and Mayur Kamat watching the latest spam reports roll in – some commenters sure are spirited!
fcc hiya
Commissioner Clyburn and Daudeline Meme with members of Hiya’s Reputation Data team
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The FCC is taking a strong stance in the fight against robocalls by pushing major wireless and wireline phone companies to take immediate action in providing technology that will block unwanted robocalls to all consumers at no charge. While Hiya is in full support of the fight against robocalls, we also believe it is critical that the industry retains the flexibility to fight the evolving robocall problem with innovation. We do not think this is the right time for the FCC to prescribe solutions via rigid regulation. Hiya is working with industry partners to present better ways to move forward.

As FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler states on the FCC Website, “Robocalls and telemarketing calls are currently the number one source of consumer complaints at the FCC. The Commission is committed to protecting consumers from unwanted calls and giving them more control over the calls and texts they receive.  We will tackle robocalls on as many fronts as possible, whether by implementing new rules, issuing tailored declaratory judgments, encouraging new pro-consumer innovation or urging the private sector to step up and stop this scourge.”

As more and more consumers are affected by the growing number of robocalls, this issue is getting hotter by the minute. Check out how the FCC is getting down to business by clicking the image below:



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Go Data, it’s your birthday.

Bust out your party hats because Hiya is giving out a party favor for all ages. Did someone say pop-rocks???!! No. BETTER.

In order to keep our spam protection at its finest, Hiya has integrated the FCC and FTC’s phone complaint lists into our existing database of spammers. Having these two power houses, both highly trusted in the phone spam industry, is incredible. Plus, it solidifies what we already knew: our coverage is solid. How? Great question. Glad you asked. More than 70% of the numbers reported to the FCC and FTC were already flagged by our own detection service. [Self high five].

However, that doesn’t mean that our improvement train has reached the end of the line. The FCC and FTC issue weekly and biweekly updates to their lists. Therefore, their reports will be continuously integrated into our service (Hiya) and into your lovely hands. On average, the combination of the two lists provides Hiya an additional 7,000 U.S. numbers every two weeks to add to our already solid spam database. Simply put, that means more coverage for our users.

This is just one of the steps that Hiya has taken to directly vet and use third party phone spam information to improve the user experience. Don’t worry, we’re not taking away the power from the people; you can help too! If any of those spammers comes a callin’ (rude), we encourage you to report it through the FTC Complaint Assistant, FCC Complaint Board or Hiya. Either way, we’ll get it, we’ll mark it, and we’ll take it down like pop rocks at a 2nd grade birthday party.

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Update: Earlier in June, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently introduced the ROBOCOP Act into the Senate. The ROBOCOP Act would direct the FCC to require that telephone service providers offer their customers free, optional robocall-blocking technology.

If you’ve been caught at home sick with the flu and are just hoping to get a full day of rest, you aren’t the only one. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties) thought she could too.

Unfortunately, what she planned as a day to rehabilitate after a bout with the flu, became a day that drove her up the wall as she was abruptly interrupted not once, but a number of times by phone calls not from well-wishing friends, but from persistent robocalls.

“Every time I dozed off, the phone would ring,” Speier told the LA Times. “And it wasn’t’ a friend calling. It was a robocall.”

Speier was so annoyed of the unwanted calls that it led her to cancel her AT&T landline. But it also hit her that, it shouldn’t have been up to her to have to take such drastic measures to stop the aggravating robocalls. To keep customers happy, she felt it was up to telephone companies to protect their customers from such problematic callers.

Despite individuals registering to the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC), robocalls have figured out how to fly under the radar and weasel their way around the DNC’s regulations and $16,000 fine.

We’ve all experienced Speier’s pain, whether it be during dinner, a tv show, or just when we’re trying to get some peace and quiet, and unfortunately, these calls aren’t just costing us our patience. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) who received over 3 million complaints about these types of calls last year, phone users are losing more than $350 million a year to phone scams, which include robocalls.

In response to her restless afternoon, Speier is putting her foot down and attempting to give us all a break. She’s decided to use her governmental leverage to provide people across the nation with uninterrupted moments to themselves.

This past April, Speier introduced the Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phones Act, shortened as the ROBOCOP Act. The piece of legislation will “require telecom companies to offer consumers free optional robocall-blocking technology. The legislation is supported by Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America” states a press release from Speier’s office.

“This bill will ensure that phone companies take action and provide consumers with the tools they need to stop being harassed by unwanted calls that ring day and night,” said Tim Marvin, head of the End Robocalls campaign for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.

But while we’re crossing our fingers for the ROBOCOP Act to come into full effect, it would still be wise to register your landline and mobile phone number on the DNC list along with downloading the Hiya app for double protection, if you haven’t already. Hiya has automated spam alerts warning you of unfamiliar numbers and if they have a high potential for fraud. This will allow you to screen your calls and prevent unwanted robocalls to ring through and ruin what should be a relaxing day.

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