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Federal Regulators Move To Help Jewish Centers Deter Hoax Bomb Threats

Jewish Community Centers around the country will be allowed to see caller identification information even from callers who block it, as a way to help deter threatening phone calls and catch those who place them, federal regulators said on Friday.

Since the start of the year, at least 54 Jewish centers have received false bomb threats in 69 calls, leading to panic and evacuations. That prompted Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday to call for the Federal Communications Commission to issue a waiver so that Jewish centers could get around the caller ID blocking feature and better help police catch bomb threat suspects.

The agency on Friday issued a temporary emergency waiver covering all JCCs and their telecommunications carriers. The agency also said it would seek public comment on whether a permanent waiver would be appropriate.

“This agency must and will do whatever it can to combat the recent wave of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

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Normally, phone companies are not allowed to disclose a number that a caller wants to block, except in cases where law enforcement gets a warrant. But last year, in a case involving a school district assailed by a hoaxer who triggered multiple SWAT team visits, the FCC granted an exception that allowed the district to see the origin of the calls.

The FCC move comes after federal authorities on Friday arrested a man who they say is behind a rash of recent bomb threats to Jewish centers in New York City.

For a more on the arrest, watch:

Juan Thompson, 31, of Missouri, allegedly made more than a half-dozen threats in his ex-girlfriend’s name to frame her as part of a revenge scheme, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He was arrested early Friday in St. Louis and is being charged in New York with cyberstalking.