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A set of anti-robocall principles signed by 51 states attorneys general and 12 cell carriers—including Verizon, T-Mobile USA and AT&T—was released last week as part of a new and ongoing collaboration that, among other things, asks providers to locate the source of suspected illegal robocalls and terminate “the party’s ability to originate, route, or terminate calls on its network.”

But the effort may run into a few challenges given the fact that not all robocalls are created equal. A few, for instance, can be useful, something that anyone who has ever consented to a drug store placing an automated call once a prescription was ready to be picked up, might already know.

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“There are instances in which telemarketing calls are legal,” said Holly Melton, a partner at Crowell & Moring. “If [providers] make a mistake, then they are potentially blocking automatically dialed or pre-recorded message calls that consumers have actually asked for and want to receive.”

Examples of robocalls that typically fall under the “legal” category include calls made by charities, political calls and survey calls. Commercial entities can also deploy robocalls to mobile phones provided they have obtained prior expressed written consent from the consumer.

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Frank Ready

Frank Ready is a reporter on the tech desk at ALM Media. He can be reached at [email protected]

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