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FCC chairman Pai lays out this month’s agenda, with fighting robocalls at the top

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FCC chairman Ajit Pai has laid out the commission’s agenda for the coming month, and the big item on the list is a proposal to combat robocalls.

The FCC made a major update to its robocall rules back in 2015 that allowed phone service providers to start offering blocking tools to stop subscribers from receiving spammy calls. This month’s measure would explore ways to expand what companies can do, particularly by allowing them to block certain spoofed calls and calls from numbers that don’t actually exist.

Pai says robocalls are “the top source of consumer complaints to the FCC” and points out that they’re often scams. “This month, we’ll hopefully take an important step toward combating this scourge,” he writes in a blog post.

Other proposals this month include updates to rules around video relay services, which assist calls for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and a proposal to let prisons and jails block cellphone signals, to prevent the use of contraband phones.

On the other end of this month’s spectrum is a proposal that would ease reporting requirements for telecom providers, so that they no longer have to provide an annual report on their traffic and revenue from international services. The commission says these reports are “no longer necessary given the competitive nature of the international telecommunications sector.”

This is in line with the more controversial actions Pai has taken, which generally involve removing FCC oversight from telecom companies and trusting them to behave.

There are six items announced in total for this month’s commission meeting. And this month, Pai is publishing the text of all six items — expanding the transparency measures he began last month. (Orders typically aren’t published until close to a month after they’re voted on.)

Pai says “the initial stage of the pilot project was a success” and that the FCC “received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the public.” After this month, Pai says the commission will have enough feedback to “fully evaluate” options to set up permanent procedures for how and when to release new orders and proposals.

For the most part, Pai is right that his transparency measures have been well received. Though there have been some concerns, the general feeling is that providing more information to the public is a good thing. However Democrats have argued that Pai isn’t being totally open about his own actions and has done quite a bit already without consulting the rest of the commission — just last week, for instance, he said he would halt internet privacy rules on his own if the commission didn’t make an emergency vote (eventually, it did).

This month’s measures will be voted on during a meeting on March 23rd.