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FCC allows police to access caller IDs on anonymous phone threats

By
Allen Cone
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said Tuesday a new rule allowing law enforcement access to blocked caller IDs in anonymous phone threats could save lives and help apprehend those making such calls. FIle photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said Tuesday a new rule allowing law enforcement access to blocked caller IDs in anonymous phone threats "could save lives and help apprehend those making such calls." FIle photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved a new rule that grants law enforcement access to caller IDs of anonymous phone threats, and not require a temporary waiver.

The commission voted 5-0 to exempt rule prohibiting carriers from disclosing blocked caller ID information.

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"Threatening calls targeting schools, religious organizations, and other entities are on the rise, with the callers often blocking their Caller ID information," the FCC said in a fact sheet. "This can make it difficult for law enforcement to trace and investigate such calls.

"This Report and Order would enable law enforcement and security personnel to obtain quick access to blocked caller ID information needed to identify and thwart threatening callers without the regulatory delay inherent in obtaining a waiver of Commission rules that currently require carriers not to reveal."

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Under the new rule, on-public emergency services like ambulance companies, also can obtain blocked caller ID information associated with calls requesting assistance.

"This information could save lives and help apprehend those making such calls," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. "Moreover, this measure is justified because callers who make threats should have no legitimate expectation of privacy that their caller ID information will remain secret."

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The FCC order defines threatening calls as "any call that conveys an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requiring disclosure without delay of information relating to the emergency."

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Early this year, the FCC issued an emergency waiver to allow law enforcement to temporarily access information for callers making anonymous threats against Jewish Community Centers across the country.

Senate minority leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., sought an FCC waiver.

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