The Federal Communications Commission is threatening to block calls from voice service providers that have yet to take meaningful action against illegal robocalls.
On Monday, the FCC announced that it was beginning the process to remove providers from the agency’s Robocall Mitigation Database for failing to fully implement STIR/SHAKEN anti-robocall protocols into their networks. If the companies fail to meet these requirements over the next two weeks, compliant providers will be forced to block their calls.
“Fines alone aren’t enough”
“This is a new era. If a provider doesn’t meet its obligations under the law, it now faces expulsion from America’s phone networks. Fines alone aren’t enough,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement on Monday. “Providers that don’t follow our rules and make it easy to scam consumers will now face swift consequences.”
The FCC’s orders target seven carriers, including Akabis, Cloud4, Global UC, Horizon Technology Group, Morse Communications, Sharon Telephone Company, and SW Arkansas Telecommunications and Technology.
“These providers have fallen woefully short and have now put at risk their continued participation in the U.S. communications system,” Loyaan A. Egal, FCC acting chief of the enforcement standards, said in a Monday statement. “While we’ll review their responses, we will not accept superficial gestures given the gravity of what is at stake.”
The FCC’s Monday announcement marks one of the most significant actions the agency has taken to combat illegal robocalls since the STIR/SHAKEN requirements went into effect. In 2020, the FCC approved the rules forcing all voice service providers to verify the authenticity of incoming calls. By the FCC’s June 2021 deadline, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, three major US carriers, had fully implemented the tech.
While the FCC has taken significant measures to combat illegal robocalls, it’s only starting to address the growing threat of spam texts, according to Axios. Last week, the agency approved a proposal to start working on a new rule to require carriers to block texts from numbers that have previously been used in illegal ways, like defrauding consumers. It could take months before the agency could draft an official rule, Axios reported.