Updated: Jul 3, 2019

On Friday, June 7, 2019, the Commission released the Declaratory Ruling and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Ruling and FNPRM”) in the Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls proceeding, as adopted in the June Open Meeting (CG Docket No. 17-59, WC Docket No. 17-97). As previously noted, the Ruling allows voice service providers to immediately offer call-blocking services by default, with consumer opt-out. The FNPRM proposes a safe harbor for call-blocking programs targeting unauthenticated calls and also proposes to require voice service providers to implement the SHAKEN/STIR Caller ID Authentication framework (“Framework”) by the end of 2019.

The Ruling is effective upon release of the item, and therefore was effective June 7, 2019.

The significant changes incorporated into the adopted item from the previously circulated draft item are as follows:

Declaratory Ruling

  • The adopted Ruling addressees how providers can block unwanted calls, as opposed to blocking calls “appearing to be illegal.” Additionally, the Commission changed the language used on call blocking from “illegal and unwanted calls” to “unwanted calls, including illegal calls.” ¶ 25.
  • Regarding requiring providers to use “reasonable analytics” to determine call blocking programs, the adopted item clarifies that “to be reasonable, such analytics must be applied in a non-discriminatory, competitively neutral manner.” ¶ 35.
  • The Commission clarifies that it cautions voice service providers against “using call blocking tolls by default to avoid blocking calls” from emergency or first responders, and emphasize that providers should “make all feasible efforts for those tools to avoid blocking emergency calls.” ¶ 36.
  • The Ruling adds a provision explaining that a reasonable call-blocking program instituted by default would include a point of contact for legitimate callers to report erroneously blocked calls and allow for a mechanism to resolve such complaints. Further, it allows callers who believes their calls have been unfairly blocked to seek review of a call-blocking program by filing a petition for declaratory ruling with the Commission. The Ruling also “encourages voice service providers that block calls to develop a mechanism for notifying callers that their calls have been blocked.” ¶ 38.
  • The Ruling adds a separate Legal Authority section, explaining the Commission’s authority to issue this Ruling on call-blocking programs under §§ 201 and 214. ¶ 47.

Third FNPRM

  • The adopted FNPRM proposes to require voice service providers to implement the SHAKEN/STIR Caller ID Authentication framework, in the event major voice service providers have failed to do so by the end of the 2019. ¶ 71.
    • The FNPRM seeks comment on how to best define “major voice service providers” in this context. The Commission asks what providers should be included in this category, or alternatively, whether it should base this definition on the size of the provider, number of subscribers, or any other method. The FNPRM also asks how to best evaluate whether major voice service providers have met the end of the year deadline, and how to measure this standard and determine compliance. FNPRM seeks comment on a number of other proposals, if the Commission does decide to mandate provider implementation of the Framework, including the following:
      • Whether to require implementation by all voice service providers, including wireline, wireless, and VoIP providers;
      • What the FCC should require providers to accomplish to meet the requirement and to ensure the Framework is implemented (i.e., whether it should require providers to adopt a display showing call authentication, require notifications to consumers, or other consumer notices);
      • How much time should be given to providers to implement the Framework, and whether it should adopt staggered timetables by provider size or other measures and how to distinguish those timetables;
      • What role the Commission should play in SHAKEN/STIR governance;
      • How to encourage Caller ID authentication for carriers maintaining legacy network technologies;
      • Any costs and benefits of implementing the Framework, as well as cost recovery; and
      • How to apply the Framework to illegal calls originating outside the United States.
  • The adopted FNPRM adds a section seeking comment on the use of SHAKEN/STIR-based analytics in call-blocking programs once the technology is implemented, asking how to promote the use of these analytics and what steps the Commission should take to encourage or require these analytics. ¶ 62.
  • The adopted FNPRM asks whether the FCC should create a mechanism to provide information to consumers about the effectiveness of various voice service providers’ robocall solutions, and if so, how “effectiveness” should be defined. ¶ 83.
  • The FNRPM lastly asks whether the Commission has authority under § 251(e) to adopt these rules to mandate SHAKEN/STIR. ¶ 86.

The adopted item also adds a section – “Reports on Deployment and Implementation of Call Blocking and Caller ID Authentication” – directing the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, along with the Wireline Competition Bureau and the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, to prepare two reports on the state of deployment and advanced methods and tools to eliminate such calls, including the impact of call blocking on 911 and public safety. These reports are to be submitted no later than 12 months, for the first report, and 24 months, for the second report, after this item is published in the Federal Register.

On June 24, 2019, the Commission published the Declaratory Ruling and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register therefore establishing the following comment dates:

Comments are due July 24, 2019.

Reply Comments are due August 23, 2019.

Please Contact Us if you have any questions.