FCC cracks down on robocalls originating from small carriers

Large telecoms have already implemented tools to identify spam calls.

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Starting today, small phone carriers must implement a special caller ID authentication tool that will help identify robocallers, the Federal Communication Commission announced. Known as STIR/SHAKEN, major carriers such as AT&T and Verizon — due to an FCC rule adopted in 2020 — have had the same tool in place since last year. The agency initially gave small carriers a more generous deadline of June 2023 to adopt STIR/SHAKEN, but opted to fast-track adoption because it discovered "a subset of these small voice service providers were originating an increasing quantity of illegal robocalls."

But as a new report from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) notes, merely flagging suspected robocalls is not enough to tackle the robocall industry. "The problem is that applying the STIR/SHAKEN methodology requires only that originating providers apply a certification indicating how confident they are that the caller ID displayed in the calls is correct," the report states. Presumably, this means calls can still be routed through gateway carriers from abroad where the FCC's rules don't apply. But as EPIC also mentions, implementing STIR/SHAKEN may help identify spam callers, but there aren't any real metrics in place by which to measure how effective carriers are at stopping the calls. "The FCC’s pending regulatory efforts would continue to require only that providers have procedures in place to mitigate illegal robocalls," the report points out, "with no meaningful and enforceable requirement that these procedures actually be effective."