Removing Barriers Blog

Credit union concerns expressed to Senate Commerce Committee prior to hearing on oversight of the FCC
Posted June 12, 2019 by CUNA Advocacy

Prior to the Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), CUNA wrote to Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell.  In the letter, CUNA said it was imperative that the Committee devote some attention to the Commission’s recent efforts relating to call-blocking services of robocalls.

The Senate Commerce Committee should press the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on what actions and rulemakings, if any, the agency will undertake to ensure legally permissible calls aren’t impacted by last week’s call-blocking ruling.

“Specifically, approximately three weeks ago, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the Commission would consider a draft Declaratory Ruling (the Ruling) and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) (CG Docket No 17-59, WC Docket No. 17-97) at its June 6, 2019, open meeting that would, among other things:

(1) “clarify that voice providers may, as the default, block calls based on call analytics that target unwanted calls, as along as their customers are informed and have the opportunity to opt out of the blocking;” and also

(2) “clarify that voice service providers may offer customers the option to block calls from any number that does not appear on a customer’s ‘white list’ or contact list, on an opt-in basis.””

 “While the Commission’s last-minute decision to revise the Declaratory ruling to include [language allowing for challenges to erroneous call blocking] represents an important step in the right direction, we remained concerned that the discretion left to voice service providers under this revised language is too ambiguous to provide credit unions with the certainty needed to ensure that they can provide member-owners with the information that they need regarding their financial accounts,” the letter reads.

The FCC’s order would allow voice providers to block robocalls by default, leading to CUNA concerns that consumers would not receive communications about their credit union accounts, nor would they be aware the calls had even been blocked.

More than 1,000 credit unions voiced their concerns with the ruling after CUNA issued an action alert, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the day before the vote that the “safety valve” to allow legitimate callers to file complaints over erroneously blocked calls was due to comments received on the proposal.