Following a string of more nearly 70 anonymous bomb threats made to Jewish community centers in 27 states since the start of the year, the Federal Communications Commission issued an emergency order on Friday. The order, which takes effect immediately, waives the telecommunications restriction that prevents phone carriers from sharing the calling party number (CPN) with the call's recipient.
"In this Order," the rule change reads "we grant to Jewish Community Centers (JCCs)1 and any carriers that serve JCCs an emergency waiver of section 64.1601(b) of the Commission's rules, which prohibits terminating carriers from passing the calling party number (CPN) to the called party where a privacy request has been made by the caller." This change only affects Jewish community centers and will enable federal investigators to more easily track down whoever is making the calls. What's more, though the order is currently temporary, the FCC is seeking commentary as to whether it should make the rule permanent.
The privacy rules stem from a 1994 decision by the FCC to require that carriers using Signaling System 7 (SS7) transmit the caller's CPN to the connecting carrier on interstate calls. The FCC determined that "requiring CPN transmission would bring consumers more rapid and efficient service and encourage the introduction of new technologies and services to the public."
The FCC also recognized that unrestricted transmission of CPNs would infringe on American's privacy. As such, dialling *67 won't return the phone number of a user who has requested a private line from the carrier. There are exceptions, however. "To the extent that CPN-based services are used to deliver emergency services," the FCC determined, "we find that privacy requirements for CPN-based services should not apply to delivery of the CPN to a public agency's emergency line, a poison control line, or in conjunction with 911 emergency services."
This decision to waive the restrictions comes after Senate minority leader Charles Schumer of New York sent a letter to FCC chair Ajit Pai on Tuesday expressing concern about the threatening calls. The Senator also pointed out that the FCC has similarly waived that rule in the past.