FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced today that he plans to ask his fellow Commissioners to vote at their March 31 meeting on a mandate for service providers to use STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication.
His proposal would require originating and terminating voice service providers to implement the industry-developed Secure Telephony Identity Revisited/Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (STIR/SHAKEN) caller ID authentication solution in the IP (Internet protocol) portions of their networks by June 30, 2021, the FCC said in a press release today.
The Chairman also plans to seek a vote on a further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) that would propose giving small and rural providers a one-year extension of the STIR-SHAKEN implementation deadline, pursuant the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act enacted at the end of December. The FNPRM would also seek comment on implementing other provisions of the TRACED Act, such as requiring voice service providers to work toward deploying caller ID authentication in the non-IP parts of their networks, according to the FCC press release.
In an FNPRM adopted last year, the Commission proposed imposing a caller ID authentication mandate “if major voice service providers fail to do so by the end of this year,” at the same time that it clarified that 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, 2019).
In December, the Chairman said he had directed staff to draft options for mandating industry to implement the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication solution. “And if industry does not get the job done, I will not hesitate to call an FCC vote on new rules,” he said when the Commission proposed a nearly $10 million forfeiture for a spoofing robocaller (TR Daily, Dec. 12, 2019).
Subsequently, the Senate passed the TRACED Act (TR Daily, Dec. 19, 2019), which the House had passed earlier in the month (TR Daily, Dec. 4, 2019), and President Trump signed it into law (TR Daily, Jan. 6). Among other things, the TRACED Act requires carriers to implement call-authentication technology at no charge to consumers and small businesses and to provide opt-in or opt-out robocall-blocking at no charge to consumers.
Today Chairman Pai said, “All of us are fed up with robocalls—including me. We’ve taken many steps to stem the tide of spoofed robocalls. I’m excited about the proposal I’m advancing today: requiring phone companies to adopt a caller ID authentication framework called STIR/SHAKEN. Widespread implementation will give American consumers a lot more peace of mind when they pick up the phone. Last year, I demanded that major phone companies voluntarily deploy STIR/SHAKEN, and a number of them did. But it’s clear that FCC action is needed to spur across-the-board deployment of this important technology. There is no silver bullet when it comes to eradicating robocalls, but this is a critical shot at the target.”
In a press release, the FCC said that “the benefits of eliminating the wasted time and nuisance caused by illegal scam robocalls will exceed $3 billion annually, and STIR/SHAKEN is an important part of realizing those cost savings. Additionally, when paired with call analytics, STIR/SHAKEN will help protect American consumers from fraudulent robocall schemes that cost Americans approximately $10 billion annually. Improved caller ID authentication will also benefit public safety by reducing spoofed robocalls that disrupt healthcare and emergency communications systems. Further, implementation of STIR/SHAKEN will restore consumer trust in caller ID information and encourage consumers to answer the phone, thereby benefitting businesses, healthcare providers, and non-profit organizations.” —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
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