FCC Expands Transparency Program, Plans Crackdown on Robocalls

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday announced the expansion of a pilot program aimed at increasing transparency by releasing the full text of all six agenda items to be discussed and voted on at the FCC’s March 23 meeting.

The Republican chairman introduced the program last month in an effort to pave the way for the public release of the full text of each draft item when documents are circulated to commissioners. In a Thursday blog post, Pai said the program has been a success so far.

With the release of this month’s agenda items, Pai said the commission should be in a position after the meeting “to fully evaluate this pilot project and establish permanent procedures for the release of meeting items.”

The FCC also announced its intent to vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking that would crack down on unwanted robocalls by granting telecommunications providers more leeway to block fake caller ID numbers.

Building off of recommendations made by an industry-led Robocall Strike Force assembled by the FCC last year, the rule would allow providers to block spoofed robocalls when a subscriber requests that calls originating from that number be blocked.

The rule would allow providers to block invalid numbers, such as those yet to be assigned to any subscriber, and would seek comment on how to address spoofing from numbers originating outside the United States.

Among other items, the FCC will consider a final order to facilitate the use of radio technologies to block the use of contraband cell phones in jails and prisons.

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