Our Ideas

The New Center’s Take — Robocalling and Telecom’s Big Problem


In December 2018, the average American received over 14 robocalls.

Many of these are unwanted intrusions, with callers hawking everything from low-interest loans and credit card debt forgiveness to discounted vacations.

The problem will only get worse. In 2019, half of all calls made to people in the U.S. are projected to be spam.

These calls are a form of digital pollution — costing us time and money, violating our privacy, and degrading trust in the communications and technology networks upon which we increasingly depend.

The New Center has investigated the scale and causes of America’s robocall epidemic and concluded the current system for regulating robocalls just doesn’t work.

The New Center’s Take — Robocalling and Telecom’s Big Problem

It’s a system that relies on understaffed agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to police an impossible number of illegal calls, creating an endless game of whack-a-mole that American consumers will lose every time.

It is time to fundamentally change the game. Telecom companies can and should step up to play a much greater role in solving the robocall problem, either voluntarily or with fines to drive their behavior.

Telecom companies already have the technology to do it. Now, they just need the will.

 (Read the full Robocalling paper here).