FCC mulls over new rules demanding carriers block spam robot texts at network level

The proposal hones in on rising rates of robot texts.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is due to consider a new proposal to clamp down on robot texts.

On October 18, FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel unveiled a new set of proposed rules that would force wireless carriers to block illegal robot texts, potentially at the network level. 

According to the chairwoman, the US regulator received roughly 14,000 complaints from consumers concerning unwanted, robot texts in 2020. So far, the commission has received over 9,800 complaints, which suggests that this is a rising trend that needs to be tackled alongside robot calls. 

Research conducted by RoboKiller found that spam text message rates in the US are far higher than the rate of complaints received by the FCC, with an estimated 7.4 billion spam SMS messages sent in March alone.

Robocalls and robotexts are often pushed out to consumers for the same purpose: to lure them into scams -- such as insurance claims or, more recently, coronavirus-themed services -- as well as to share Personally identifiable information (PII), banking details, or to visit malicious and fraudulent websites in phishing campaigns. 

Rosenworcel said that if the proposal is accepted, mobile carriers in the United States would be required to protect customers from illegal text messages, and this could include initiatives such as blocking texts at the network level -- or "applying caller authentication standards to text messaging."

The proposals build upon rules discussed in September to protect 911 call centers from robocalls. As a critical service, call handlers certainly do not need to also have to deal with influxes of scam calls -- and the FCC's proposal would force service providers to stop robocalls from reaching numbers on do-not-call registries. 

In addition, the watchdog is attempting to stop telecoms firms from accepting calls on their networks from voice service providers that are not registered in the FCC's Robocall Mitigation Database.

"We've seen a rise in scammers trying to take advantage of our trust of text messages by sending bogus robotexts that try to trick consumers to share sensitive information or click on malicious links," Rosenworcel commented. "It's time we take steps to confront this latest wave of fraud and identify how mobile carriers can block these automated messages before they have the opportunity to cause any harm."

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