STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL AND CARRIERS ANNOUNCE COLLABORATION TO STEM ILLEGAL ROBOCALLS

Today, the State Attorneys General of North Carolina, New Hampshire and Arkansas announced a set of Anti-Robocall Principles that, to date, have been agreed upon by twelve carriers to combat illegal robocalls. All 50 State Attorneys General, plus the District of Columbia, have also signed on.

The agreement commits the signatories to combat illegal robocalls through prevention and enforcement reflected by the following eight principles:

Principle #1. Offer Free Call Blocking and Labeling. For smartphone mobile and VoIP residential customers, make available free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools and regularly engage in easily understandable outreach efforts to notify them about these tools. For all types of customers, implement network-level call blocking at no charge.  Use best efforts to ensure that all tools offered safeguard customers’ personal, proprietary, and location information.

Principle #2. Implement STIR/SHAKEN. Implement STIR/SHAKEN call authentication.

Principle #3. Analyze and Monitor Network Traffic. Analyze high-volume voice network traffic to identify and monitor patterns consistent with robocalls.

Principle #4. Investigate Suspicious Calls and Calling Patterns. If a provider detects a pattern consistent with illegal robocalls, or if a provider otherwise has reason to suspect illegal robocalling or spoofing is taking place over its network, seek to identify the party that is using its network to originate, route, or terminate these calls and take appropriate action. Taking appropriate action may include, but is not limited to, initiating a traceback investigation, verifying that the originating commercial customer owns or is authorized to use the Caller ID number, determining whether the Caller ID name sent to a receiving party matches the customer’s corporate name, trademark, or d/b/a name, terminating the party’s ability to originate, route, or terminate calls on its network, and notifying law enforcement authorities.

Principle #5. Confirm the Identity of Commercial Customers. Confirm the identity of new commercial VoIP customers by collecting information such as physical business location, contact person(s), state or country of incorporation, federal tax ID, and the nature of the customer’s business.

Principle #6. Require Traceback Cooperation in Contracts. For all new and renegotiated contracts governing the transport of voice calls, use best efforts to require cooperation in traceback investigations by identifying the upstream provider from which the suspected illegal robocall entered its network or by identifying its own customer if the call originated in its network.

Principle #7. Cooperate in Traceback Investigations. To allow for timely and comprehensive law enforcement efforts against illegal robocallers, dedicate sufficient resources to provide prompt and complete responses to traceback requests from law enforcement and from USTelecom’s Industry Traceback Group. Identify a single point of contact in charge of responding to these traceback requests, and respond to traceback requests as soon as possible.

Principle #8. Communicate with State Attorneys General. Communicate and cooperate with state Attorneys General about recognized scams and trends in illegal robocalling. Due to the ever-changing nature of technology, update the state Attorneys General about potential additional solutions for combatting illegal robocalls.

To date, the carrier coalition of companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon and Windstream.

At this point, there is no deadline imposed as to when these initiatives must be in place, but reportedly Josh Stein, the attorney general of North Carolina and one of the leaders in developing the document, told The Washington Post ahead of the announcement that the “expectation is they will all implement them as soon as practical.” When asked further about how companies would be held accountable if they permitted their networks to be used for illegal calls, Attorney General Stein referred to state consumer statutes against unfair and deceptive practices.

You can watch the full press conference, which took place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., here.

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