Advocates urge broad safe harbor for robocall blocking

Representatives of the CTIA, NCTA, and USTelecom met with members of the FCC on October 8, 2019 to urge the adoption of a broad safe harbor for robocall blocking. Here’s why.

These representatives said that, without a broad safe harbor for robocall blocking, voice service providers risk liability for taking action to protect consumers from illegal and unwanted calls.

It’s helpful to review the background context for this industry feedback.


On June 7, 2019, The FCC issued proposed rulemaking, Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls; Call Authentication Trust Anchor, Declaratory Ruling and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The safe harbor proposal is described in paragraph 49 of this document:

We propose a safe harbor for voice service providers that offer call-blocking programs that take into account whether a call has been properly authenticated under the SHAKEN/STIR framework and may potentially be spoofed. Voice service providers have emphasized the value of SHAKEN/STIR in addressing the illegal call problem. Many have asked us to provide a safe harbor for the blocking of calls that are likely to be illegal. The Call Authentication Trust Anchor Working Group and The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) have specifically asked for a safe harbor for blocking based on SHAKEN/STIR. Here, we propose to provide a narrow safe harbor for blocking in specific instances based on SHAKEN/STIR.

In paragraph 62 of the document, the FCC asks for comment on the use of other analytics:

Use of SHAKEN/STIR-Based Analytics. In the accompanying Declaratory Ruling, we recognize the role that analytics plays in the fight to eliminate unwanted and illegal robocalls by permitting voice service providers to offer opt-out call-blocking programs based on any reasonable analytics designed to identify unwanted calls and illegal calls. SHAKEN/STIR’s ability to determine the source of robocalls will be a significant contribution to the quality of these analytics. We therefore seek comment on the use of SHAKEN/STIR-based analytics once this technology is implemented. How can we best promote the use of SHAKEN/STIR-based analytics to fight the scourge of illegal robocalls? What steps should we take to encourage or require the use of SHAKEN/STIR-based analytics?

Response from the CTIA, NCTA, and USTelecom

These representatives encouraged the FCC to extend safe harbor beyond a narrow set of SHAKEN/STIR data and allow the use of other data and sophisticated analytics.

Without this broader safe harbor, providers would lack certainty to take aggressive action against unwanted robocalls.

They also contend that covering robust analytics and unblocking processes within the safe harbor would further protect legitimate calls.

CTIA, NCTA, and USTelecom urge broad safe harbor for robocall blocking