State Attorneys General Go to War Against Robocalls

State Attorneys General Go to War Against Robocalls

All fifty state attorneys general have announced what’s known as the Nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force.

The federal government has begun to crack down on robocalls. In early July, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that its Robocall Response Team was taking action against a specific robocall scam, which they believed to be responsible for more than 8 billion robocalls. In addition, FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that a formal case had been opened against that ring.

“Billions of auto warranty robocalls from a single calling campaign. Billions! Auto warranty scams are one of the top complaints we get from consumers and it’s time to hold those responsible for making these junk calls,” Rosenworcel said.

Later in July, the FCC announced that it was ordering phone companies to directly block the calls.

“Specifically, the Bureau notifies and directs all U.S.-based voice service providers to take immediate steps to effectively mitigate suspected illegal robocall traffic made by or on behalf of the following: (1) Roy Cox, Jr.; (2) Aaron Michael Jones; (3) their individual associates; and (4) associated entities (collectively, the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama Operation),” the FCC said in its late-July order, naming the individuals previously identified as responsible.  “A voice service provider may satisfy this obligation if it terminates a customer relationship with the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama Operation or blocks all traffic from the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama Operation and from the Originating Providers.”

Now, all fifty state attorneys general have announced what’s known as the Nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force. North Carolina attorney general Josh Stein announced that he, along with his colleagues in Indiana and Ohio, was leading the new task force.

“I’ve been leading the effort by state attorneys general to work with the federal government and phone companies to fight robocalls,” Attorney General Stein said in the announcement.

“But we’re also going to take action against phone companies that violate state and federal laws. I’m proud to create this nationwide task force to hold companies accountable when they turn a blind eye to the robocallers they’re letting on to their networks so they can make more money. I’ve already brought one pathbreaking lawsuit against an out-of-state gateway provider, and I won’t hesitate to take legal action against others who break our laws and bombard North Carolinians with these harmful, unlawful calls.”

The announcement added that it has already issued twenty civil investigative demands to twenty entities, including gateway providers.

“The task force will focus on the bad actors throughout the telecommunications industry to help reduce the number of robocalls that North Carolinians receive and benefit the companies that are following the rules,” the announcement from Stein’s office said.

Stein had earlier praised the earlier FCC actions on the issue.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.