FCC Extends Robocall Rules to Additional Carriers 

By: Andy Regitsky

At its upcoming May 18, 2023, meeting, the FCC is poised to extend its robocall rules to even more carriers.  The creation of the new rules highlights the Seventh Report and Order (Order), Eighth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) and Third Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in Dockets 17-59 and 17-97 that the Commission plans on adopting.   

In the Order the Commission extends several requirements previously adopted in May 2022 for gateway providers will now apply to other voice service providers to ensure even greater coverage for consumers: 

First, the agency extends the 24- hour traceback requirement to cover all voice service providers in the call path.  Thus, all voice service providers, regardless of their position in the call path, must fully respond to traceback requests from the Commission, civil and criminal law enforcement, and the industry traceback consortium within 24 hours of receipt of such a request.

Second, it enhances the existing requirement to effectively mitigate illegal traffic when notified by the Commission to require originating providers to block this traffic and makes it clear that, while terminating and non-gateway intermediate providers are not generally required to block, they are required to respond and provide accurate information regarding where they received the traffic.  

Third, the FCC requires voice service providers to immediately downstream from a provider that fails to comply with the Commission’s directive to block their traffic. 

Fourth, the agency expands its “know-your-upstream-provider” requirement to include all voice service providers.  This holds that all voice service providers in the call path responsible for the calls that transit their networks  

Additionally, the Commission updates the information that voice service providers must file in the Robocall Mitigation Database and commits to in their filings a mitigation plan to reflect the new traceback requirements. 

These expanded requirements will help identify bad actors more quickly and make clear that voice service providers are responsible for the calls they originate, carry, or transmit. 

In the FNPRM, the Commission, 

Proposes and seek industry comments on further action to combat illegal robocalls, including by requiring all terminating providers to offer analytics-based blocking, requiring all voice service providers to block calls based on a reasonable do-not-originate list, and requiring non-gateway intermediate and terminating providers to block in certain instances. 

This includes requiring a terminating or non-gateway intermediate provider to block if that provider, upon receipt of a Notice of Suspected Illegal Traffic, cannot identify the upstream provider from which it received any or all the calls, and allowing the Enforcement Bureau to direct a terminating or non-gateway intermediate provider that has received at least one prior Notice of Suspected Illegal Traffic to both block substantially similar traffic and identify the upstream provider from which it received the traffic. 

Proposes to set a base forfeiture for failure to comply with the rule requiring voice service providers to take affirmative, effective measures to prevent new and renewing customers from originating illegal calls and to allow that forfeiture to be increased up to the maximum for non-common carriers. 

Seeks comments on other call blocking issues, including on requiring a single Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Code for immediate notification to callers whose calls are blocked based on analytics and requiring terminating providers to display caller name information when they provide an indication to the call recipient that the call has received “full” or “A” attestation. 

In the NOI, the FCC, 

Seeks comments on the tools voice service providers use to combat illegal calls, including honeypots.  A honeypot is an unassigned phone number that is used by a voice service provider, researcher, or other third party to receive (and, where permissible, record) calls to those numbers.  It allows the voice service provider (or other holder) to “listen in” on such calls 

Seeks comment on the current state of call labeling, including the extent of it use and its accuracy. 

Industry comments for both the FNPRM and NOI will be due 30 days after they appear in the Federal Register.