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The FCC Votes To Push Up Deadline For Small Carriers To Comply With STIR/SHAKEN

The FCC voted to cut the time small providers had to become STIR/SHAKEN compliant by one year.



FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

May 20, 2021—The Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted Thursday to shorten the deadline by which small voice service providers must become STIR/SHAKEN compliant.

The FCC voted Thursday to bring sooner the deadline for smaller providers with 100,000 or fewer subscribers to comply with the phone call security protocol by a year, from June 30, 2023 to June 30, 2022.

STIR/SHAKEN is an acronym for Secure Telephone Identity Revisited and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs. It is a caller identification technology that allows carriers to digitally validate the authenticity of a phone number, allowing a consumer to be sure that the number matches the supposed caller.

The impetus for this change followed a sharp increase in spoof calls targeting smaller carriers that were not yet compliant with STIR/SHAKEN. FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks pointed out that in March of 2021, more than 6.3 billion spoof calls had been made. This number broke the previous record which had just been set in October of 2020 with 6.1 billion spoof calls.

“Clearly, we cannot afford to let up on our efforts to identify the culprits of these annoying and frequently fraudulent calls,” Starks said.

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel pointed out that while it makes sense to provide honest providers with additional time to become compliant with the new technology, it was time for a change.

“We recently discovered that some of these smaller companies are pumping large volumes of traffic onto our networks, and a lot of it looks suspiciously like robocalls. It is time to change course,” she said.

Rosenworcel said STIR/SHAKEN compliance is only one plank in the platform of addressing spoof calls. She pointed to the record-setting $255-billion fine the FCC recently handed down to Texas telemarketers using robocalls to sell fraudulent health insurance plans. She also stated that the FCC had issued ten cease and desist letters to providers that appeared to be complicit with spoof calling.

She indicated that it would take all these strategies working in tandem to stamp out robocalling and spoofing.

Reporter Ben Kahn is a graduate of University of Baltimore and the National Journalism Center. His work has appeared in Washington Jewish Week and The Center Square, among other publications. He he covered almost every beat at Broadband Breakfast.

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Federal Agencies Need to do More on Robocalls, Senate Hears

Lax DOJ enforcement lets fines go uncollected, witnesses said.



Screenshot of Sen. Ben Ray Luján at the hearing.

WASHINGTON, October 24, 2023 – Federal agencies need to do more to tackle robocalls, experts told lawmakers on Tuesday.

For its part, the Federal Communications Commission has been taking more aggressive action on fraudulent calls and texts in recent months. The commission moved last week to block call traffic from 20 companies for lax robocall policies, and the agency has issued more than $500 million in fines for scam calls in the last year.

But that has not been enough to curb the longstanding issue, said Senator Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., said at a Senate subcommittee hearing.

“Scammers used our telecom networks to defraud Amwericans out of an estimated $39 billion in 2022 alone,” he said. “That’s enough money to provide affordable broadband to the 21 million households enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program for eight years.”

Very few of the fines issued by the FCC have been collected. For Megan Brown, a lawyer representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that comes down to lax DOJ enforcement. 

Josh Becu, the head of USTelecom’s Industry Traceback Group, agreed, telling the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband that Congress should push the DOJ to prioritize robocall enforcement.

“The FCC’s efforts really run out of steam if the [Justice] Department is not there to get them across the finish line and actually collect on some of those forfeitures,” Brown said.

She said Congress could push the Department to prioritize money for robocall investigations and enforcement, or set up a dedicated robocall office. 

Margot Saunders, a senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said the FCC should move faster to block call traffic from offending voice providers in the future. 

“If the FCC were to adopt a system under which it quickly suspends the ability of a voice service provider to participate in the network once that provider is determined to be a repeat offender,” Saunders said, “we think that would be a magic bullet.”

The commission announced yesterday a proposed notice of inquiry seeking comment on using artificial intelligence to root out robocall fraud. Commissioners will vote on the proposal at the FCC’s November 15 open meeting.

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FCC Chair Pitches Proposal for Combatting Robocalls Using Artificial Intelligence

The latest step in the agency’s efforts to curb scam calls will kick off this week, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said.



Screenshot of the AARP fireside chat.

WASHINGTON, October 23, 2023 – The head of the Federal Communications Commission is set to introduce a proposal this week about using artificial intelligence to combat robocalls and robotexts, she said.

Jessica Rosenworcel will be circulating a proposal to get comments on using AI and machine learning to detect fraud, she said on Monday at a fireside chat with AARP policy heads.

AI could be used to detect patterns that indicate potential fraud and “cut those bad actors responsible for robocalls and robotexts off before they ever reach you,” she said.

The proposed inquiry would also seek comment on ways of combating AI-assisted fraud.

Older Americans are especially at risk of losing money to scam phone calls because they are more likely to be isolated, said AARP Texas State Director Tina Tran.

“They want to answer the phone because they want to talk to someone,” she said. “Scammers know this and they really take advantage of it.”

The proposal will be voted on at the commission’s November 15 open meeting. If approved, it will be part of a broader commission effort to combat scam calls and texts.

“This year alone, we’ve issued more than $500 million in fines” for scam calls and texts, Rosenworcel said. 

Most recently, the FCC moved last week to block calls from 20 companies that did not submit adequate robocall policies, in some cases filing blank pages and miscellaneous images instead of fraud prevention plans. If those voice providers do not submit updated plans, they will be removed from the FCC’s Robocall Mitigation Database, meaning other providers must deny their traffic.

The commission also extended in August its STIR/SHAKEN requirements – measures to confirm the identity of callers – to all providers who handle voice traffic.

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FCC’s Proposed Rules on Robotexts Will Limit Wireless Providers’ Effectiveness: Industry

The ruling would prevent providers from accessing emergency and government services, they say.



Photo of Gregory Romano of AT&T

WASHINGTON, August 18, 2023 – Commenters argue that proposed Federal Communications Commission rules that seek to provide voice consumers more control over robocalls and robotexts would have harmful consequences by limiting their ability to communicate with service providers. 

The FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking in June that would strengthen the consumers’ ability to revoke consent to receive robocalls and robotexts. It would ensure consumers can easily revoke consent to receive robocalls, require that callers honor do-not –call requests within 24 hours and allow wireless consumers the option to stop robocalls and robotexts from their own wireless provider.  

ACA International, a trade group for the debt collection industry, in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association recommended that the FCC codify reasonable limits on the methods of revocation of consent for robocalls and texts.  

The law, as currently written, would “ensure that revocation of consent does not require the use of specific words or burdensome methods” and codify a 2015 ruling that consumers who have provided consent may revoke it through any reasonable means. ACA International and CUNA asked the FCC to acknowledge the realities of revocation processes. 

“Automated processes cannot be programmed to recognize a virtually infinite combination of words and phrases that could reasonably be interpreted as a clear expression of consumers desire to stop further communications,” it said. The FCC should specify “reasonable means that callers can prescribe, such as a limited set of keyworks that are common synonyms of STOP, which is the universally recognized method to prevent further text messages.” 

Cable industry wants guidance on ‘reasonable methods’

Steven Morris, vice president at NCTA, the Internet and Television Association, added his support that the FCC should provide additional guidance on what it defines as “reasonable methods” of revoking consent and allow callers 72 hours to process opt-out requests. It also suggested that the FCC adopt its proposal to permit one-time texts seeking clarification on the scope of an opt-out request. 

“The FCC’s proposal that consumers be able to revoke consent using ‘any telephone number or email address at which the consumer can reasonably expect to reach the caller’ would also be incredibly complex and likely impossible to effectively administer,” NCTA said. 

Wireless trade association CTIA’s manager of regulatory Affairs Courtney Tolerico said in comments that the proposal severely limits providers ability to send important, service-related communications to subscribers and incentives providers to apply opt-outs unnecessarily broadly, further limiting these beneficial communications and “downgrading the wireless customer experience.” 

It claimed that “even if the FCC had such authority, doing so in the absence of demonstrated consumer harm would be arbitrary and capricious,” saying that the agency does not have reason to enforce laws that would hamper wireless carrier’s ability to serve customers. 

Verizon’s general counsel, Christopher Oatway, expressed the same sentiment, claiming that the FCC “provides no basis to conclude that wireless carriers are abusing their subscribers with unwanted calls or texts.” 

The proposal would “undermine the unique relationship between providers and their customer for wireless service, which today is crucial to Americans’ ability both to conduct their everyday lives as well as to access emergency services and government benefits,” said Verizon. It referred to federal programs like lifeline and ACP that promote connectivity, claiming that its communications with its own customers educates on federal benefit programs. 

‘No incentive’ for abuse by wireless providers, says AT&T

Gregory Romano, vice president and deputy general counsel at AT&T added that “there is no incentive for wireless providers to abuse the current wireless carrier exception,” referring to wireless carriers’ ability to contact their own customers. “The marketplace for consumer wireless service is highly competitive. Wireless providers do not want to annoy their customers with too many messages, or the provider is at risk of losing the customer to a competitor, which is clearly not in the provider’s interest.” 

In June, commenters pushed back against FCC proposed rules that would require mobile wireless providers to ban marketers from contacting a consumer multiple times based on one consent, claiming it will harm legitimate communications. 

Proposed rules are in response to the rising number of telemarketing and robocalls, sated the notice of proposed rulemaking.  

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