TR Daily FCC Urges Providers to Participate in Traceback Efforts
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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

FCC Urges Providers to Participate in Traceback Efforts

The FCC today asked eight voice service providers that aren’t yet doing so to participate in “traceback” efforts aimed at illegal robocalls and illegal caller ID spoofing by tracking such calls to their originating point.

In letters dated today, FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Harold and FCC Chief Technology Officer Eric Burger urged the eight service providers to “cooperate with the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group's program aimed at identifying the source of illegal robo calls and harmful spoofed calls.”

They explained, “Approximately two years ago, USTelecom formed the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group to facilitate information flow among carriers and providers to ‘traceback’ the traffic of illegal calls to the originating carrier. Provider participation in this call traceback effort has proved useful in the Commission's enforcement efforts to combat illegal robocalling and spoofing.”

The FCC officials told the providers that their “full cooperation with the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group’s requests for call information is critical in the efforts to find the perpetrators of illegal call traffic and scammers that use the phone system to prey upon unsuspecting consumers.”

They also asked the providers to respond by Nov. 20 with information about the safeguards they currently take “to identify the sources of illegal traffic” and “to stem the flow of unlawful calls to your customers and to other carriers and voice providers.”

The letters were sent to 382 Communications Corp., Global Voicecom, Inc., IP Link Telecom, Inc., R Squared Telecom LLC, Sonic Systems d/b/a Talkie Communications, Inc., Thinq, Inc., TouchTone Communications, Inc., and XCast Labs, Inc.

Ms. Harold and Mr. Burger also wrote to the U.S. Telecom Association thanking it for its work and the work of the Industry Traceback Group.

“Over the course of the two years that the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group has been in operation, the amount of time necessary to conduct a traceback investigation from start to finish has shrunk from months to weeks. In fact, in the most recent traceback referrals we have received from your organization, the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group has been able to provide a traceback chain reaching only one ‘hop’ back from the originating carrier responsible for the harmful traffic — a significant improvement over the Bureau's initial traceback attempts, which might have required 10 or more individual subpoenas to complete. In addition, the information from USTelecom or its member organizations about illegal spoofing and robocall surges has resulted in dozens of active investigations. Even when those investigations have not culminated in formal enforcement actions, the information has been invaluable in helping Enforcement Bureau staff identify patterns and common sources of harmful call traffic,” the FCC officials told USTelecom in the letter dated today.

In a statement, USTelecom President and Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Spalter said, “Robocalls are the number one source of consumer complaints to the FCC. Our member companies and the members of the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group are working together to track down the source and root out these illegal robocalls that scam consumers. This is one of the most effective ways to enhance the critical enforcement efforts of the FCC, FTC and other law enforcement agencies. We agree with the FCC that the more stakeholders who join these efforts, the more successful industry and government will be in reducing the scourge of illegal robocalls plaguing consumers.”

Yesterday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asked voice service providers to adopt by next year the SHAKEN/STIR (the Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited) standards for call authentication, in order to reduce illegal caller ID spoofing, which is another tactic in the battle against illegal caller ID spoofing (TR Daily, Nov. 5). —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]

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