FCC Adopts and Proposes New Stir/Shaken Rules to Improve Tracebacks and Blocking

In its March 16th open meeting, the FCC issued a Sixth Report and Order and Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which includes changes that have enormous, far-reaching consequences for the performance marketing/lead generation industry.  This article focuses on new and proposed rules intended to enhance the framework used to trace back, block, and/or identify originators of illegal spoofed robocalls.

The STIR/SHAKEN caller ID framework is a key component of the FCC’s approach to stopping illegal robocalls. Under the STIR/SHAKEN framework, voice service providers and gateway providers are required to verify that caller ID information transmitted with a call matches the caller’s phone number.

Before the newly announced rules, intermediate providers (those that neither originate nor terminate a call) were not required to authenticate calls, thereby creating a gap for illegal calls to proceed downstream when the call was not authenticated by the originating provider.

Under the new rules, intermediate providers that receive unauthenticated calls from originating providers must authenticate the calls using STIR/SHAKEN beginning on December 31, 2023.  The Sixth Report and Order would also do the following:

  • Require all providers, regardless of their STIR/SHAKEN implementation status, to take “reasonable steps” to mitigate illegal robocall traffic and submit a certification and mitigation plan to the Commission’s Robocall Mitigation Database.
  • Require all providers to submit additional information with their certifications to the FCC’s Robocall Mitigation Database, including details on their role in the call chain, STIR/SHAKEN implementation obligations, and any recent formal law enforcement or regulatory investigation into suspected unlawful robocalling.
  • Prohibit downstream providers from accepting traffic from intermediate providers not listed in the FCC’s Robocall Mitigation Database.
  • Establish new enforcement tools to hold illegal robocallers accountable for violations of the rules, including additional penalties for noncompliance and an expedited removal procedure for facially deficient Robocall Mitigation Database filings.
  • Grant an ongoing STIR/SHAKEN implementation extension for satellite providers that are small service providers using North American Numbering Plan numbers to originate calls.

Public Comments Requested

The Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks further comment on the use of third-party caller ID authentication solutions and whether any changes should be made to the FCC’s rules to permit, prohibit, or limit their use.  It also seeks comment on whether to eliminate the STIR/SHAKEN implementation extension for voice service providers that cannot obtain a Service Provider Code token.

Interested parties may file comments on the proposed rules within 30 days after the date they are published in the Federal Register.  Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/.

The final and proposed rules concerning scam texting can be accessed here.