FCC Extends Deadline for Call-Blocking Technology Comments

On December 17, 2014, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (“CGB”) released an order extending the deadline to January 23, 2015 for interested parties to file comments in response to a request from the National Association of Attorneys General (“NAAG”) for a formal opinion regarding the legality of certain call-blocking technologies. The extension was granted pursuant to a request from the United States Telecom Association (“USTelecom”), a party that is keenly interested in the outcome of this proceeding because NAAG’s request for the opinion was based largely on statements made by USTelecom representatives regarding the FCC’s position on call-blocking technology. In its request, NAAG alluded to remarks made by USTelecom representatives during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance in July 2013. Those comments suggested that common carriers are resistant to using call-blocking technology because of legal and regulatory risks that would arise from implementing it. NAAG, however, has asked the Commission to clarify its stance on the legality of such technology and provide feedback on whether USTelecom’s description of the FCC’s position on the issue as being focused on strict oversight in ensuring unimpeded delivery of telecommunications traffic” is accurate.

The CGB initially set the comment and reply deadlines for December 24 and January 8, respectively. USTelecom requested an extension of these deadlines in light of the fact that they fall in the middle of the holiday season. In its request, USTelecom noted that an extension will ensure that all parties have the opportunity to allocate key resources to providing full input” on the host of legal and technological issues involving the relationship between emerging technologies, the communications marketplace, and voice provider obligations under the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.” No one opposed USTelecom’s request and one company supported it. Telephone Science Corporation – the company that developed NoMoRobo, a call-blocking technology specifically referenced in NAAG’s letter to the FCC – stated that the extension requested would allow the company enough time to analyze our data and provide better answers to the questions posed by the Commission.”

The Commission agreed that an extension was warranted in this instance. As such, comments are now due on January 23, 2015 and replies are due on February 9, 2015.