South San Francisco, CA September 16, 2021 H/T to Robert Riechel Reports
Attorney General Bonta Encourages Federal Communications Commission to Swiftly Curtail Robocalls that Use Fake Caller ID Numbers
Faster implementation of STIR/SHAKEN regulations will protect consumers from identity theft and financial losses
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a multistate coalition encouraging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to accelerate the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN, a caller ID framework that is critical to detecting and blocking “spoofed” robocalls. Spoofed calls occur when an illegal telemarketer or other phone scammer “spoofs” or hacks a caller ID to appear as a more welcome caller. Americans are on pace to receive 54 billion illegal robocalls this year, with many of those calls appearing on caller ID as a local number or a government agency. For Californians, the impact of illegal and unwanted robocalls may range from a momentary nuisance to a serious fraud involving identity theft or life-changing financial losses. In a comment letter, Attorney General Bonta joined 51 attorneys general in urging the FCC to speed up the STIR/SHAKEN implementation timeline for smaller phone carriers that are disproportionately responsible for spoofed robocall traffic.
“Robocalls aren’t only annoying, they can open the door to fraud — we need to do all we can to stop malicious robocallers from harming Californians,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We’re encouraging the FCC to speed up its regulation of those telecom firms that are the most responsible for robocall traffic. The STIR/SHAKEN standards will deter scam robocalls and help Californians feel more confident about the identity of the person on the other end of the line when answering a call.”
In response to the problem of spoofing, the FCC is requiring that all phone carriers implement STIR/SHAKEN, a collection of protocols that allows caller ID information to be transmitted more effectively as a call moves across carrier networks. STIR, which stands for Secure Telephone Identity Revisited, is a working group within an internet standards body. STIR created a digital certificate that allows phone service providers to authenticate calls. SHAKEN, which stands for Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENS, is the roadmap or set of protocols that help those phone providers use STIR. Under STIR/SHAKEN, phone carriers must authenticate the caller ID of all inbound and outbound calls with a certificate of authenticity. The end-to-end implementation of STIR/SHAKEN across all carriers in a call path should dramatically reduce illegal spoofing.
With strong support from the California Department of Justice, Congress in 2019 passed the TRACED Act (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act), which among other things directed the FCC to adopt timelines by which all voice service-providers must implement STIR/SHAKEN. The FCC initially established a deadline of June 30, 2021, before granting smaller telecommunications carriers a two-year extension. However, in the face of evidence that a subset of those smaller carriers are disproportionately responsible for robocall traffic, the FCC has proposed shortening the deadline by one year, to July 30, 2022.
In a comment letter responding to the FCC’s proposed rulemaking on the issue, the attorneys general commend the FCC for reconsidering its prior two-year extension for small voice-service providers and argue that faster implementation of STIR/SHAKEN will dramatically reduce caller ID uncertainty.
In submitting the comment letter, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of North Carolina, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the comment letter is available here.