Twelve large telecom companies and the attorneys general of 50 states and the District of Columbia announced yesterday an agreement on eight voluntary principles that the companies will adopt to combat illegal and unwanted robocalls. The announcement comes as regulators, telecom companies, and legislators continue to grapple with a worsening robocall problem that has become a significant concern for consumers, generating more complaints at the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission than any other topic.
Both the Senate and House have passed robocall bills that have yet to be reconciled to produce a bill both houses of Congress can agree upon. In the meantime, the states are attempting to take the lead by working with telecom companies to establish what are effectively best practices. These include:
- Making available free call-blocking and labeling tools to customers, and implementing free call blocking at the network level (network-level call blocking does not require any action from the consumer).
- Implementing STIR/SHAKEN, a technology used to provide authentication that calls are coming from a valid source.
- Monitoring network traffic for patterns consistent with robocalls.
- Investigating suspicious calls and calling patterns by, for example, initiating a traceback investigation or verifying that the commercial customer owns or is authorized to use the Caller ID number.
- Confirming the identity of new commercial VoIP customers by collecting information such as physical location.
- Requiring other telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in identifying the source of suspected illegal robocalls.
- Working with law enforcement to trace robocalls by identifying a single point of contact for traceback requests, and responding to such requests as soon as possible.
- Communicating with state attorneys general to keep them apprised of trends in illegal robocalling and potential additional solutions to combat such robocalls.
For context and information on other recent actions taken to combat illegal and unwanted robocalls, read our post from June, where we discussed the FCC’s decision to permit voice service providers to implement call-blocking programs for subscribers on an opt-out basis. Robocalling finally appears to have achieved the status of Public Enemy Number One, with Congress, states, and federal agencies all working to block the flood of calls inundating the public.