FCC Affirms Robocall Blocking By Default to Protect Consumers [telecom]

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Media Contact: Will Wiquist, (202) 418-0509 snipped-for-privacy@fcc.gov

For Immediate Release


Commission Also Seeks Comment on Requiring Caller ID Authentication Implementation & Use of Authentication Standards for Blocking

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2019 - The Federal Communications Commission today voted to make clear that voice service providers may aggressively block unwanted robocalls before they reach consumers.

Specifically, the Commission approved a Declaratory Ruling to affirm that voice service providers may, as the default, block unwanted calls based on reasonable call analytics, as long as their customers are informed and have the opportunity to opt out of the blocking. This action empowers providers to protect their customers from unwanted robocalls before those calls even reach the customers' phones. While many phone companies now offer their customers call blocking tools on an opt-in basis, the Declaratory Ruling clarifies that they can provide them as the default, thus allowing them to protect more consumers from unwanted robocalls and making it more cost-effective to implement call blocking programs.

The ruling also clarifies that providers may offer their customers the choice to opt-in to tools that block calls from any number that does not appear on a customer's contact list or other "white lists." This option would allow consumers to decide directly whose calls they are willing to receive. Consumer white lists could be based on the customer's own contact list, updated automatically as consumers add and remove contacts from their smartphones.

The Commission also adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes requiring voice service providers to implement the 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 whether the Commission should create a 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."

With adoption of this item, the Commission continues its multi-pronged strategy to combat unwanted and illegal robocalls. The Declaratory Ruling will go into effect upon release of the item on FCC.gov. The deadline for submitting comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be established upon publication in the Federal Register.

Action by the Commission June 6, 2019 by Declaratory Ruling and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 19-51). Chairman Pai, Commissioners Carr and Starks approving. Commissioners O'Rielly and Rosenworcel approving in part and dissenting in part. Chairman Pai, Commissioners O'Rielly, Carr, Rosenworcel, and Starks issuing separate statements.

CG Docket No. 17-59; WC Docket 17-97


Media Relations: (202) 418-0500 / ASL: (844) 432-2275 / TTY: (888) 835-5322 / Twitter: @FCC /

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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).

Reply to
Monty Solomon
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Oh, I can't resist:

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But seriously: sadly, STIR won't work. Some years ago, I was interviewed by the FTC (along with other Digest readers) while they were trying to figure out how to stop caller ID spoofing. I told them that they can't stop it: that, like spam, spoofing is a problem caused by the design of the system. SS7 was designed when AT&T and the "Baby Bells" were still a monopoly, and the architechture of the phone network was based on the asumption that nobody would break the rules for commercial gain - in other words, that every CLEC or every PBX that connects through a CLEC would always obey the pronouncements brought down from the mountain and written in stone as interconnect specifications.

But, many of the CLEC's are one step away from bankruptcy, and they will take any traffic that they can get, even if it's delivered by an Ethernet cable strung across a ceiling between two separate companies that happen to be located in the same building. Like the Internet with spam or Ma Bell with Blue/Black/Red Box fraud, it's a system set up to fail, not through malice but due to an engineering world-view which could not anticipate bad actors.

Consider this explanation of STIR/SHAKEN: the "Partial Attestation" option has holes in it big enough to pass a stretch limousine.

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Predictions-for-the-future-department (you heard it here first) - CO-based answering machines will be replaced by customer-owned apps or hardware devices which demand a security key before allowing any caller to bother the called party. The phone network will then have end-to-end security against fraudulent caller ID which doesn't require that users trust third parties.

Reply to
Bill Horne

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