FCC should ban forced arbitration clauses in telecommunications services contracts
Advocacy groups responded to the FCC’s call for comment on proposed rulemaking on data breach reporting requirements and urged the agency to consider banning forced arbitration clauses in telecommunications service contracts with consumers, which allow corporations to avoid consequences for their wrongdoing.

FCC should prioritize protecting consumers from widescale nuisance and fraud facilitated through unwanted and illegal text messages
Advocates filed comments with the FCC urging the agency to take steps to protect consumers from unwanted and illegal text messages, including illegal telemarketing texts; fundraising, political, survey and similar types of messages; scam robotexts; and non-SMS text messaging.

Telemarketing Sales Rule should be strengthened even further to protect consumers from misconduct
Consumer Action joined a dozen partner organizations in submitting comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding two proposed sets of changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), which protects consumers from telemarketing fraud. The signers encouraged additional changes that would, among other things, require advance notice to consumers when a free trial converts to a paid sale.

The FCC should protect Americans from sneaky voicemails from telemarketers and debt collectors
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a request to allow the use of "ringless" voicemail technology by exempting it from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibits most unwanted calls and texts. The new technology enables telemarketers and debt collectors to send potentially unwanted, prerecorded messages directly to the subscriber’s cell phone voicemail without ever giving the consumer the opportunity to answer—or to block—the incoming call. Consumer Action joined consumer groups in urging the FCC to deny the request to omit ringless voicemails from the TCPA. Ringless direct-to-voicemail messages are just as invasive, expensive and annoying as calls and texts to cell phones.

Limit ways robocallers can evade TRACED Act
The TRACED Act was passed by Congress to protect consumers from robocalls and to give the Federal Communications Commission enforcement authority over illegal calls. Led by the National Consumer Law Center, groups pushed back at some industry requests for exemptions to its new rules giving consumers opt-out rights.

Utility pole access is barrier to widespread broadband deployment
Groups supportive of increased broadband deployment in underserved areas call on Congress to ensure a fast, fair process for privately owned utility pole access. Because poles are owned by private carriers, disputes often arise over their use by third parties and more equitable rights for access and dispute resolution could help deploy broadband more widely by using existing pole networks.

The pandemic’s impact on the digital divide: Low-income Americans need help now
The pandemic didn't create the digital divide, but it has certainly exacerbated it. Consumer Action and National Consumers League wrote to the Federal Communications Commission to applaud its efforts to bring broadband internet connection to low-income households during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, and its efforts to expand the Lifeline program to reach more low-income households. Today, Lifeline recipients can use a modest $9.25 monthly subsidy to connect to phone and/or internet services, yet only 1-in-4 eligible households enrolls in the program. As Americans continue to work, attend school, and conduct healthcare appointments online during the pandemic, it is critical that everyone has access to broadband internet.

California legislators urged to make significant investments in public broadband
Consumer Action joined advocates in urging California legislators to support the state bill "Broadband for All" (SB 4), which enables local governments to make a massive billion-dollar investment in public infrastructure by unlocking the bond market for local communities. The pandemic has highlighted the dire need to move quickly on providing broadband access, especially to underserved and underinvested communities. With one in eight families in California disconnected, and nearly one million school-aged children with no internet connection, the lack of access is creating additional hardships during a time when connectivity is more essential than ever.

Privacy advocates urge U.S. FCC to protect privacy during pandemic
Consumer Action joined in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to uphold privacy protections during the pandemic. The agency is attempting to remove the Customer Proprietary Network Information certification requirement, which is the easiest and most straightforward way to hold wireless and telephone companies accountable for violating their customers’ privacy. The COVID-19 crisis has made telecom privacy protections even more essential as people are more reliant than ever on their phones. It would be highly inappropriate for the FCC to eliminate or weaken these valuable protections during the pandemic.

The FCC prepares to regulate providers’ efforts to curb annoying robocalls
The Federal Trade Commission received 3.78 million consumer complaints about robocalls in 2019, compared with 3.79 million in 2018. Congress passed the TRACED Act late last year, which aims to crack down on robocalls by requiring voice service providers to implement caller ID authentication technology, and directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the providers’ efforts. In preparation for its upcoming report on robocalls, advocates call on the FCC to take further action to hold voice service providers accountable in their efforts to stop annoying scam calls.

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