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FCC Takes Action to Prevent Unwanted and Harassing Calls to Nation's 9-1-1 Centers

Date: 2012-10-18
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has unanimously approved an order creating a do-not-call list for America’s 9-1-1 centers. The action, approved on October 17th, prevents robocalls and unsolicited telemarketing from reaching 9-1-1 centers on administrative lines – a needless distraction that could prevent emergency calls from being answered in a timely manner.

According to the FCC, hundreds or even thousands of unwanted robocalls are made to 9-1-1 centers every day. The calls go to the full 10 digit phone number of the center, not 9-1-1, but can still tie up lines and divert resources.

The FCC's order creates a Do Not Call list of 9-1-1 call centers and bars robocallers from contacting numbers on the list. The order allows for a fine of between $10,000 and $100,000 for each call or text to numbers on the list.

Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.) led the push in Congress to adopt the 911 robocalling provision.  “Getting a busy signal when calling 9-1-1 is simply unacceptable, and some telemarketers make that happen. This order would stop that," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "In emergency situations, minutes – even seconds — matter. This order would prohibit automatic dialing to lines that are dedicated to emergency responders, such as 911 operators. I expect it will save lives."

Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA, the 9-1-1 Association, expressed gratitude and support for the order on behalf of 9-1-1 professionals across the nation: “In an emergency, seconds often mean the difference between life and death. Today’s action ensures that 9-1-1 call takers are not forced to take unnecessary time away from providing the lifesaving service of 9-1-1 to answer frivolous and unwanted calls. The FCC’s order to end robocalls to 9-1-1 undoubtedly benefits both citizens in need of assistance and the 9-1-1 call takers who enable effective and efficient emergency response.”

The action is the result of an FCC proceeding initiated as a requirement of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. In addition, the Tax Relief Act established a range of monetary penalties for entities that disclose the registered numbers or use automatic dialing equipment to contact a number on the 9-1-1 center do-not-call registry.

- People, Places & Things/9-1-1magazine.com (via NENA, 10/17/12)

 

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