The US Federal Communications Commission has been ramping up its efforts to clamp down on illegal robocalls that have been harassing Americans. After sending several cease-and-desist letters to one offender in particular, the agency has ordered their calls be fully blocked by US phone operators.
In what the FCC claims is its first-ever “roboblocking order,” the agency has cut off calls coming into the country by One Eye, a so-called gateway provider that funnels international traffic to US operators.
An investigation revealed One Eye to be a successor to a company called PZ/Illum Telecommunication, which had shut down after the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau sent it a cease-and-desist order in October 2021 to stop illegal robocalls. One Eye was a “successor entity” that was served its own cease-and-desist order from the agency back in February, and has now been blocked from sending calls to people in the US.
“We can and will continue to shut off providers that help scammers,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a press release Thursday. “Because these junk calls are not just annoying, they are illegal, and facilitating them deserves serious consequences.”
The agency said it had given One Eye multiple opportunities to stop facilitating illegal robocalls, escalating from its cease-and-desist order to encouraging other gateway providers to stop carrying One Eye’s calls and issuing a final warning before ordering US phone operators block its traffic.
“The Enforcement Bureau team has built a fair, transparent, but tough process by which we can essentially shut down access to US communications networks by companies such as One Eye that are targeting consumers with illegal robocalls,” said the FCC Enforcement Bureau chief Loyaan Egal in a press release.
While the FCC had been combating robocalls for years, the agency issued a new directive in March 2022 to focus on those coming into US networks through gateway providers — making them responsible for harassments and scams targeting Americans. As a result, the FCC has put a stop to robocalls targeting homeowners for predatory mortgages, an 88% month-to-month drop in student loan scam robocalls, and a 99% drop in auto warranty scam calls. Perhaps the agency’s actions will lead to the death of certain memes, too.