There are few annoyances as constant in modern life as robo-calls. Despite a 1991 federal law meant to limit them, robo-calls to Americans set a new record last month with 4.1 billion, according to the company behind the YouMail call-blocking application.

Part of the reason the calls are surging is because of a federal court decision this year that struck down some Federal Communications Commission rules, The Washington Post reports. But instead of the FCC seeking to reimpose restrictions with rules that could stand up in court — or, more wisely, the FCC working with Congress to update a 1991 law that long predated smartphones — the agency may go the opposite direction and not seek new restrictions. That’s because of heavy lobbying by wealthy corporations that like to use auto-dial calling to remind people to pay bills or to consider their products.

“We are at serious risk of seeing the existing robo-call problem, which is already serious, get far, far worse,” Margot Saunders, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, told the Post. “If the industry is permitted to send unlimited texts and make unlimited (robo-calls), without the ability of the consumer to say stop, who knows what horrible things will happen?”

In March, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wrote that he agreed with former Democratic South Carolina Sen. Fritz Hollings that robocalls are “the scourge of civilization.” That is no less true today. The FCC should rein in this practice — not encourage it.

Editorial by the San Diego Union-Tribune

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