Rosenworcel New Prison Proposal, Lawsuit Against Robocalls, FTC’s Office

The FCC will vote on call rates of incarcerated people at its next open meeting next month.

Rosenworcel New Prison Proposal, Lawsuit Against Robocalls, FTC’s Office
Photo of Sen. Josh Hawley taken 2022 by Gage Skidmore

February 23, 2023 – Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has started the process by which the regulator will address its new legal obligation under the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act, which requires that the commission look into prices charged for incarcerated people to call loved ones.

Rosenworcel is inviting comment on how the commission would approach the law, passed late last year. In particular, the chairwoman is asking about the expansion of the commission’s authority to deal with interstate calls, what the meaning of “just and reasonable” is in the context of the law, the appropriate rate-making approach, the safety and security costs, and the commission’s ability of ensure communication service for people with disabilities.

The commission will vote on the proposal at its next open meeting on March 16, 2023.

“Thanks to Congress and the President, this new law gives the FCC new authority to oversee state rates,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “I hope my colleagues will support me in taking the next steps to lowering the cost of prison phone bills so that incarcerated people can affordably stay connected with families and loved ones.”

FTC joined with DOJ to file against robocall scams

The Federal Trade Commission said Friday it has filed a lawsuit to stop an “interconnected web of operations” that are delivering tens of millions of unwanted phony debt service robocalls to consumers.

The consent order filed by the Department of Justice on the FTC’s behalf against the companies and individuals involved in the operation, if approved by the court, bar them from making further misrepresentations about debt relief services and ordering them to comply with the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

“This case targets the ecosystem of companies who perpetrate illegal telemarketing to cheat American consumers who are struggling financially,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection. “The FTC will continue to take aggressive action to protect consumers from the scourge of illegal robocalls.”

These actions of FTC run in parallel  with recent actions of the Federal Communications Commission, which has been regularly going after alleged robocall scammers.

FTC opens new technology office

The Federal Trade Commission announced Friday that it has launched a new technology office that it said will strengthen the FTC’s ability to keep pace with technological challenges in the digital marketplace by supporting the agency’s law enforcement and policy work.

The office will be headed by Chief Technology Officer Stephanie Nguyen and is intended to support law enforcement investigations and actions, advise and engage with staff and the commission on policy and research initiatives, and highlight market trends and emerging technologies that impact the FTC’s work, according to the press release by FTC.

The new office contains technologists across fields including security and software engineering, data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, human-computer interaction design, and social science research relating to technology.

“Our office of technology is a natural next step in ensuring we have the in-house skills needed to fully grasp evolving technologies and market trends as we continue to tackle unlawful business practices and protect Americans,” commission chair Lina Khan.

The FTC has been working to promote competition and protect and educate consumers.

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