FCC will require phone carriers to authenticate calls by June 2021

The agency says the move will help combat the scourge of robocalls.

Rafael Abdrakhmanov via Getty Images

The FCC announced today all carriers and phone companies must adopt the STIR/SHAKEN protocol by June 30th, 2021. The regulatory requirement is designed to combat robocalls, specifically those that try to hide their phone numbers by allowing carriers to authenticate caller IDs.

The agency says the widespread adoption of STIR/SHAKEN will reduce the effectiveness of illegal spoofing, help law enforcement agencies identify bad actors and, most importantly, allow carriers to identify spammers before they ever call your phone. The FCC estimates fraudulent call schemes cost Americans approximately $10 billion every year. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai started pushing carriers to adopt the protocol in 2018. Congress also mandated the technology when it passed the TRACED Act last year.

While the regulatory requirement to support STIR/SHAKEN is a step in the right direction, it won't magically solve the scourage of robocalls overnight. It's not enough for carriers to merely implement the protocol on their own. They must also test that their implementation works with other networks. In other words, it's not something your wireless provider can just turn on. Moreover, as a consumer, you also need a device that can display the "Caller Verified" notification when someone calls you. While most modern smartphones support the feature out of the box, other handsets will need to be updated.