John Oliver is trolling the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by robocalling their offices to put an end to the epidemic of unsolicited robocalls in the United States. But will his plan work?
Undeniably, robocalls are spamming every household in America, from businesses offering a new product, to credit institutions selling credit cards, to politicians campaigning for office, John Oliver wants to put an end on it.
In Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver has set up a robocall system that would send unsolicited calls to the offices of FCC commissioners to show them how annoying and a waste of time and resources it is to receive robocalls every second.
Some experts suggest that robocalls are estimated to take half of Americans household phone calls, and the latter gets worse over time. Oliver said that this is a massive problem since people are using their phones most of the time and robocalls are taking so much of the hours’ people could have to use their devices.
When a robocall is calling a line, it prevents another friend, family, or business call from getting into the same line at the same time. “We can’t go back to a time when people would just shout their message into a jar, and then mail that jar across the country,” he joked. Because, of course, that was a terrible system and “only marginally more accurate than having AT&T now.”
According to Oliver, the FCC can do something about it and enforce regulations that would make it harder for robocallers to infect every household with unsolicited calls. The problem he said is that Ajit Pai heads the FCC.
At face value, Pai is against robocalls and has called it a problem and a ‘blight.’ However, Pai opposed to all regulations that would have been instrumental in curtailing robocallers’ freedom to terrorize American households and was very happy when the rules that are already in place against it was overturned, Oliver said citing CBS News.
He said that there are a lot of things that the FCC can do, but Pai has succumbed to the pressure of telemarketers and bankers to redefine and narrow down what constitutes an auto-dial. This means that a lot of robocalls may not be considered robocalls anymore regardless of how annoying they still are.
As Oliver noted, rather than requiring telecom companies to offer call-blocking services for those who do not wish to receive spammy robocalls—or having them implement call authentication—Pai has merely “urged” companies to do this. But as Oliver pointed out, “Telecom companies aren’t really gonna listen to you unless you force them to.”
“If only there were a way to get the FCC’s attention,” Oliver mused.
If someone had the phone numbers of, say, all FCC commissioners, including Ajit Pai, “because then you could hypothetically set up a program to robocall those numbers every 90 minutes,” Oliver dreamed, with a message saying:
“Hi FCC! This is John from Customer Service. Congratulations! You’ve just won a chance to lower robocalls in America today. Sorry, but I am a live person. Robocalls are incredibly annoying, and the person who can stop them is you! Talk to you again in 90 minutes. Here’s some bagpipe music:”
“Yes, FCC, we meet again old friend,” Oliver said as he addressed the commission he trolled before. He urged viewers and fans to call and protest to the plan of FCC to dump net neutrality. His call to action in 2014 has caused a massive crash in FCC’s comments system.
“This time, unlike our past encounters, I don’t actually need to ask hordes of real people to bombard you with messages,” Oliver announced happily. “Because, with the miracle of robocalling, I can now do it all by myself!”
According to Oliver, it is straightforward to set up the show’s robocalling system. It only took their technicians to set the whole things up in 15 minutes before he pressed the big red button to set the robocall trolling to the FCC in action.
“And by the way,” Oliver told the FCC, “if you want to tell us that you don’t consent to being robocalled, that’s absolutely no problem. Just write a certified letter to the address that we’ve buried somewhere within the first chapter of Moby Dick that’s currently scrolling up the screen. . . . And if you’re thinking that there should be a simpler way to opt out, well, no shit.”