Since we last wrote about robocalls two years ago, the situation has only gotten worse. Both legitimate marketers and consumers are fed up. And they want more action to get rid of this mess. As a result, there are new FCC rules in the fight against robocalls.
Will This Help? New FCC Rules in the Fight Against Robocalls
First, consider the vast extent of robocalls. As reported by Chris Morton for Fortune:
As America slowly begins to inch back to business as usual, robodialers are already there. The number of robocalls last month [February 2021] ] hit pre-pandemic levels for the first time in a year. Averaging over 159 million calls per day — roughly 1,911 calls per second — according to robocall-prevention service YouMail. All total, Americans received 4.6 billion robocalls in February, a 15% increase over January. At the current pace, the group says, there will be more 51 billion robocalls by the end of 2021, a significant leap from the 45.9 billion received last year.
Furthermore, based on later YouMail data, Americans received just under 22 billion robocalls in the first five months of 2021, on pace to hit over 52 billion robocalls for the year [higher than the earlier estimate above].
The FTC Steps Up Regulation
Against this backdrop, the FCC has set out new rules for 2021. In April 2021, it noted that:
In this Public Notice, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) announces the immediate opening of the Robocall Mitigation Database. Provides detailed filing instructions. And establishes a June 30, 2021 deadline for voice service providers (VSPs) to submit required information. Thus, intermediate providers and terminating VSPs will be prohibited from accepting traffic from VSPs not listed in the Database. Beginning September 28, 2021.
In March 2020, the Commission adopted rules requiring VSPs to implement STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication technology in the Internet Protocol (IP) portions of their networks. Thereafter, in accordance with the TRACED Act, the Commission granted extensions for compliance with this deadline to certain classes of providers, As well as required those VSPs with an extension to implement robocall mitigation programs to combat the origination of illegal robocalls on their networks. The TRACED Act directs the Commission to require all VSPs with an extension to “implement an appropriate robocall mitigation program to prevent unlawful robocalls from originating on the network of the provider.”
On June 30, 2021, the FCC also announced the following:
The largest VSPs now use STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication standards. In accordance with the deadline. As a result, this helps protect consumers against malicious robocalls. And helps law enforcement track bad actors. The STIR/SHAKEN standards serve as a common digital language used by phone networks, Thus, allowing valid information to pass from provider to provider. Which, among other things, informs blocking tools of possible suspicious calls.
Implementation of caller ID authentication technology using STIR/SHAKEN standards will reduce the effectiveness of illegal spoofing. Allow law enforcement to identify bad actors more easily. And help VSPs identify calls with illegally spoofed caller ID information before those calls reach their subscribers.
Summary Video of FCC Actions
We conclude with this video from from CBS.