The FCC is going to hold providers accountable for anti-robocall efforts

They'll have to detail what they're doing to stop spam calls in a new database.

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is introducing a new database all voice providers will have to use to allow the agency to track the work they're doing to stop robocalls. Starting September 28th, 2021, phone companies will be required to block any incoming traffic from providers not listed in the Robocall Mitigation Database. In particular, any companies that got an extension to implement STIR/SHAKEN, a protocol that allows a carrier to verify a caller ID before it reaches its intended recipient, will have to file detailed reports with the agency on their progress towards putting the technology in place.

"Protecting consumers from scammers that use robocall and spoofing tools is a top priority," said Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel. "To succeed, we not only need an all-hands-on-deck response from government, but we need industry commitment and focus. Our message to providers is clear: certify under penalty of perjury the steps you are taking to stop illegal robocalls, or we will block your calls."

It's not clear how the FCC will validate the reports that end up in the database, nor what consequences companies that avoid using it will face beyond getting their calls blocked. The majority of phone providers and carriers have until June 30th to implement STIR/SHAKEN. In September, the FCC gave some smaller companies, particularly those operating non-IP networks, limited extensions. Effectively, the database will allow the FCC to track compliance.

It can feel like the FCC and public is in a constant losing battle against spam callers, but positive changes could be on the horizon. Under Jessica Rosenworcel, the agency recently issued the biggest fine in its history. Two Texas telemarketers will have to pay the FCC $225 million for making approximately 1 billion robocalls across the US. Rosenworcel also recently formed a Robocall Response Team that will work on new policies initiatives to stop spam callers.