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John Oliver robocalls FCC to protest inaction on robocalls

The HBO comedian is going after the FCC again.

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John Oliver joked Sunday that he'd call the FCC every 90 minutes.

Screenshot by Marrian Zhou/CNET

John Oliver is taking on his "old friends" at the FCC once again. 

On HBO's Last Week Tonight on Sunday, the comedian zoomed in on the robocalls problem, citing research that says half of mobile phone calls in the US will soon be scam calls.

The Federal Communications Commission has criticized robocalling and said it'd take action on the issue. In November, the agency said it planned to create a database that businesses can check to make sure the numbers they've been given permission to call haven't been reassigned to other people. The FCC is also undertaking "light touch" regulatory actions to give wireless carriers more flexibility to block spam text messages.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in February also called on carriers to implement robust caller ID authentication systems to combat illegal robocalls and spoofing. He said companies need to get their programs in place by the end of the year, or the FCC will consider "regulatory intervention."

However, Oliver said that's not enough. He argued that although Pai "urged" telecom companies to implement call authentication programs, if he'd "required" them to do it, the problem might have already been fixed.

This isn't Oliver's first time calling out the FCC. In May 2017, he aired a segment on net neutrality and asked the audience to flood the FCC with comments supporting net neutrality. Hours later, the agency's comment system crashed.

"Yes, FCC, we meet again, old friends," said Oliver toward the end of the segment. The comedian stood on stage next to a sculpture of a giant finger about to press a huge button, saying he'd robocall the FCC commissioners every 90 minutes. "This time, unlike our past encounters, I don't actually need to ask hordes of real people to bombard you with messages because, with the miracle of robocalling, I can now do it all by myself!"

The FCC didn't respond to a request for comment. Last Week Tonight declined to comment beyond the segment.