FCC to Prohibit Call Traffic from Providers That Failed to File Robocall Mitigation Plan
October 10, 2022
The Federal Communications Commission recently announced the imminent removal of seven voice providers from the FCC’s Robocall Mitigation Database (RMD) for failing to file key documentation with the Commission. The removal will be a notable step but ultimately falls far short of the systemic FCC action needed to stem the tide of illegal robocalls.
When a phone call is made, it often passes through several networks of voice service providers before reaching its destination: the called party. In order to combat robocalls, the FCC has required some providers to certify their robocall mitigation plans through documentation in the RMD. The seven providers targeted by the FCC were removed because their RMD certifications did not include an actual mitigation plan. These providers are effectively cut off from the U.S. telephone network, as being removed from the RMD means providers cannot accept call traffic from them.
Some of the seven providers “certified” a slide discussing the steps necessary to obtain a STIR/SHAKEN certificate, a document describing technical information about STIR/SHAKEN, a document requesting confidential treatment, or a screenshot of the company’s FRN number from the Commission’s website. But none of the voice service providers furnished an actual robocall mitigation plan in their RMD certification.
Although EPIC and others have called attention to similar certification problems (as in footnote 5 of EPIC and NCLC’s recent comments on scam robocalls), one-off enforcement actions against a small number of deficient providers will not meaningfully impact the billions of illegal robocalls sent to American phones every month. The FCC needs to use its unique regulatory authority to establish systemic protections for consumers from these illegal calls. And if the FCC is going to lead with enforcement, it should go after the providers who are actively transmitting the illegal calls, or who repeatedly fail to respond to traceback requests (which identify the entities originating the illegal calls).
EPIC routinely participates in regulatory and legislative processes concerning robocalls and files amicus briefs in robocall cases.
(Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly stated that the FCC had already removed the providers from the RMD.)