TR Daily FCC Slates Spoofing Order Covering Texts, International Calls
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Monday, July 8, 2019

FCC Slates Spoofing Order Covering Texts, International Calls

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today proposed that the Commission adopt an order banning malicious caller ID spoofing of text messages and international calls, including voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) calls.

“Scammers often robocall us from overseas, and when they do, they typically spoof their numbers to try and trick consumers,” Mr. Pai said in a press release. “Call center fraudsters often pretend to be calling from trusted organizations and use pressure tactics to steal from Americans. We must attack this problem with every tool we have. With these new rules, we’ll close the loopholes that hamstring law enforcement when they try to pursue international scammers and scammers using text messaging.”

The proposal comes on the heels of more than 40 state attorneys general asking the FCC to adopt such rules, the FCC said in the release.

The FCC said a vote on the proposed rules would occur at the Commission’s Aug. 1 meeting. The Commission on Thursday to release its tentative agenda for the Aug. 1 meeting and the text of draft items to be considered at that session.

The order would implement provisions in the RAY BAUM’S Act enacted last year that extended to texts and international calls the provisions in the Truth in Caller ID Act that prohibit anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information (spoofing) with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value (TR Daily, March 23, 2018), senior FCC officials said during a phone briefing with reporters this afternoon.

Among other things, the proposed report and order, if adopted, would provide enforcement mechanisms to enable the FCC and other federal agencies to work with foreign governments to crack down on spoofing, the FCC officials said.

The proposed order is part of a multi-faceted approach the FCC thinks is necessary to combat spoofing, they said.

The FCC’s anti-spoofing efforts have so far resulted in more than $200 million in forfeitures and another $37 million in proposed penalties, the officials said.

The Commission said it received more than 35,000 complaints about spoofing in the first six months of this year. But, officials said, the FCC does not have firm data regarding how many of those complaints pertain to spoofing calls originated outside the U.S.

The FCC also has several ongoing spoofing investigations, officials said.

The Commission is examining whether it will need additional resources to investigate cases of alleged foreign-based spoofing cases, the officials said. But, they added, under the current rules the FCC often conducts investigations into alleged spoofing cases that ultimately have to be stopped when it becomes apparent the alleged spoofing originates overseas.

The FCC last month clarified in a declaratory ruling in CG docket 17-59 and WC docket 17-97 that voice service providers may use analytics to identify robocalls that are likely to be unwanted and to block them on a default basis, provided they inform consumers and offer them the ability to opt out (TR Daily, June 6).

The FCC also said that providers could offer to block all calls that do not originate from a subscriber’s “white list” or contact list, and it sought input on a proposal to mandate the adoption of a call authentication system if carriers do not implement an industry solution by the end of the year.

The FCC also adopted a third further notice of proposed rulemaking that would mandate implementation of the industry’s SHAKEN/STIR caller ID authentication framework “if major voice service providers fail to do so by the end of this year.” It also seeks comment on a possible “safe harbor for providers that block calls that are maliciously spoofed so that caller ID cannot be authenticated and that block calls that are ‘unsigned.’”

The Commission is slated to hold a “summit” Thursday regarding the SHAKEN/STIR caller ID authentication framework, the FCC officials said.--Jeff Williams

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