Comments filed on FCC robocalling fourth FNPRM
Comments were filed on the FCC’s fourth further notice of proposed rulemaking on robocall blocking issued on July 17, 2020. Comments were received from 32 organizations. We’ve summarized these comments for you.
Here are some recurring themes found in the comments filed:
- There was no support for call blocking based solely upon the results of STIR/SHAKEN. Several commenters made the point that call authentication should be used with reasonable analytics and is not intended to stand on its own.
- There was no support for call blocking based upon the absence of STIR/SHAKEN authentication. There are many reasons why a call may not have been authenticated or the authentication token may not have survived transit across the telephone network. Too many good calls would get blocked if the criteria were the absence of a SHAKEN identity token.
- Comments from voice service providers and some associations were in favor of a safe harbor for network blocking, also known as provider-initiated blocking.
- Comments from high-volume callers were generally opposed to safe harbor for network blocking. Reasons given were that consumers would not be able to opt out, and blocked calls would not appear in blocked call reports for their subscribed number(s).
- High-volume callers and their associations were adamant that they must receive immediate notification of blocked calls and speedy redress for calls blocked or labeled in error. A few commenters discounted concerns that such notifications would help bad actors, saying that these fraudsters know when their robocalls are being blocked anyway, but legitimate high-volume callers often don’t.
- Some voice service providers were opposed to immediate notification of call blocking, while others were okay with it.
- A few voice service providers were opposed to a requirement to provide lists of blocked calls upon request. Others were okay with it, as long as they had flexibility over how to format and provide the information.
These comments were filed in response to the FCC’s Third Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding proceeding 17-59, In the Matter of Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Calls.
You can click links to jump to the commenters listed below. The heading over each comment summary provides a link to their comment filed with the FCC.
- ACA – America’s Communications Association
- Ad Hoc Telecom Users Committee
- A group of 10 financial service firms
- AT&T Services
- Cloud Communications Alliance
- Competitive Carriers Association
- Electronic Transactions Association
- Encore Capital Group
- Enterprise Communications Advocacy Coalition
- First Orion
- Insights Association
- National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions
- National Opinion Research Center
- NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
- Noble Systems
- NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association
- Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE)
- Securus Technologies
- Transaction Network Services
- USTelecom – The Broadband Association
- Voice on the Net Coalition
- WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband
ACA – America’s Communications Association
- Discourage the FCC from adopting more prescriptive requirements for redress as a result of call blocking. The Commission should let requirements from the Third Order take hold before considering further requirements.
- FCC should wait before adopting requirements for providers to block calls from unauthenticated calls. Unauthenticated calls will include many legitimate calls for the foreseeable future.
- FCC should adopt a well-crafted safe harbor for network-level call blocking.
- FCC should not pursue enforcement action against small providers who fail to cooperate with traceback. First, the Commission should encourage education of these providers. If a provider fails to cooperate, the FCC should first ask the provider why they didn’t cooperate. Enforcement action should only be pursued after a demonstrated pattern of non-compliance.
Ad Hoc Telecom Users Committee
- The FCC should adopt a ceiling for the “reasonable amount of time” allowed for carriers to resolve caller complaints about inappropriate blocking.
- The Commission should not permit carriers to use call blocking to sell additional services that guarantee that calls will be transmitted without blocks or labels.
- The FCC should set a floor for minimal acceptable analytics that carriers must use for blocking.
- The FCC should not extend safe harbor to network blocking until carriers and analytics providers can:
- Establish that the analytics work
- Provide immediate notice to callers when their calls are blocked
- Provide timely redress for inappropriate blocking.
- The FCC should require terminating voice service providers to provide a list of individually blocked calls to subscribers.
A group of 10 financial service firms
Ten financial services companies filed joint comments.
- Lawful calls continue to be blocked.
- The FCC should require immediate notification of call blocking and a remedy for erroneous blocking within 24 hours. If the blocking provider needs more time to investigate, they should remove the block and/or derogatory label within 24 hours while they continue to investigate.
- Telephone numbers confirmed by legitimate companies should effectively be whitelisted so that calls from such numbers would not be blocked or derogatorily labeled in the future.
- The FCC should prohibit voice service providers from blocking unsigned calls originated by providers unable to implement STIR/SHAKEN.
- The FCC should adopt safe harbor for provider-initiated call blocking (e.g., network blocking), but without being overly prescriptive.
- The Commission should not authorize call blocking based solely on STIR/SHAKEN, which only authenticates the telephone number displayed in caller ID, not the content of the call.
- The FCC should require providers to cooperate with tracebacks initiated through the registered traceback consortium (ITG). Providers should be required to cooperate by taking actions consistent with the ITG’s policies and procedures, not just respond.
- The Commission should adopt USTelecom’s robocall mitigation proposal. Providers would be required to self-certify that they:
- Take reasonable steps to avoid originating illegal robocall traffic
- Will cooperate with law enforcement and the industry traceback consortium.
- Blocked call lists are useful for opt-in/opt-out blocking services but are impractical, costly, and unnecessary for provider-initiated call blocking.
Cloud Communications Alliance
- Asks FCC to mandate real time notification of call blocking as a condition of safe harbor.
- Use the IETF SIP response code 608
- Mislabeling is tantamount to blocking, so redress processes should apply to labeling.
- Providers should be required to respond to traceback requests.
- The FCC should expand safe harbor to include network-level blocking and consider extending safe harbor to other forms of blocking, such as anonymous call rejection.
- The Commission should ensure that redress procedures are realistic and fair to all parties.
- Comcast supports requirement for providers to respond to complaints about erroneous call blocking within one week.
- The Commission should not set a concrete timeline for resolving such complaints, as resolving complaints depends on a variety of factors beyond a provider’s control.
- The FCC should give providers flexibility when producing blocked call lists. If providers are required to produce blocked call lists, they should be allowed to do so in the format and manner of their choosing.
- Calls blocked at the network level should be excluded from blocked call lists, since they never make it far enough to be associated with a particular customer’s call logs.
- The Commission should take other measures to protect consumers without imposing unnecessary burdens. These measures include:
- Know your customer
- Responding to traceback requests.
Competitive Carriers Association
- The FCC should adopt robust safe harbor protection for call blocking.
- Unauthenticated calls from providers with delayed compliance deadlines should not be blocked because their calls were not authenticated.
- The FCC should adopt a network-level blocking safe harbor.
- The Commission should consider additional safe harbors, such as for the unintended or inadvertent misidentification of the level of trust for individual calls.
- The FCC should maintain flexibility as it seeks to ensure adequate redress mechanisms. The Commission need not impose more extensive and prescriptive redress mechanisms.
- The Commission should not require providers to provide a list of individually blocked calls that were placed to a particular number at the request of a subscriber to that number. The record does not demonstrate that consumers demand information about missed robocalls. They complain about too many robocalls. Claims of blocking in error—which fuel requests for redress mandates—come from calling parties.
Electronic Transactions Association
- Legitimate callers must have a challenge mechanism to address calls blocked in error.
- The FCC should not be prescriptive when it comes to call blocking disputes. There should not be a specific time commitment.
Encore Capital Group
- Voice service providers should provide advance notice when a number is flagged as suspicious and may be blocked.
- When a number is blocked, the caller should receive immediate notification, an explanation using uniform language, and prompt redress when a caller asserts its calls have been erroneously blocked.
- Safe harbor must be contingent on adopting these standards.
Enterprise Communications Advocacy Coalition
- ECAC proposes a 24-hour response when a legal caller requests recourse for unjustified call blocking and a five-business day response to concerns about inaccurate call labeling.
- Terminating carriers and their analytics partners should not receive safe harbor protection unless they receive verified caller information.
- Terminating carriers and their analytics partners should not receive safe harbor protection if they charge callers to fix erroneous blocking or labeling.
- ECAC supports a verified identity process.
- First Orion provided a table summarizing free registration and redress arrangements of three analytics providers and six service providers.
- No additional requirements for labeling redress are authorized or required. The TRACED Act requires redress for blocking, not labeling.
- The FCC should not permit additional call blocking based upon caller ID authentication. Call blocking should be based on a combination of call analytics factors, not just authentication.
- It would be premature to permit call blocking based upon caller ID authentication, since some voice service providers will not be able to participate in STIR/SHAKEN.
- The FCC should not extend a safe harbor over call blocking based solely on call authentication. Safe harbor based upon reasonable analytics, which will include call authentication when available, is sufficient.
- Any new requirements for call authentication imposed on TDM or small providers should align with rural call completion efforts.
- The FCC should encourage and support certificate delegation in STIR/SHAKEN.
- The FCC should require voice service providers to provide timely notification to callers when calls are blocked.
- Voice service providers and call blocking/labeling service providers should give callers advance notification that calls from their originating phone numbers deserve blocking.
- Safe harbor for mislabeling and blocking calls must hinge on prompt and advance notification to callers and a swift process for caller redress. Insights Association is less worried about the timeframe for redress response than for resolution.
National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions
- Call block notification provided to callers must be fast, if not immediate, so that it can be acted upon swiftly. For this reason, a SIP code, ISUP code or intercept message is most desirable. Any controls to limit access to thee notifications to legitimate callers, such as requesting notifications or registering with a service provider, must be easily identifiable, accessible and free-of-charge. Credit unions should be permitted to register or request notifications once for all service providers.
- The Commission’s concern that meaningful notification of call blocking might benefit illegal callers is understandable. But without transparency from service providers, illegal callers will still recognize when their calls are being blocked and alter their tactics. Lawful callers, however, will be left confused and forced to pay others for assistance. Both basic fairness and the language of the TRACED Act demand transparency for legitimate callers.
- Service providers should be required to track erroneous blocking and labeling. This information should be used to establish supportable benchmarks for “reasonable” analytics.
- Disputes should be resolved in 24 hours.
National Opinion Research Center
- Transparent and adequate redress requires clear notice and immediate resolution. This could be an audible signal that is distinct from busy or disconnect signals.
- The Commission should require providers maintain a public website listing the numbers they block or label.
- Terminating providers should only be permitted to block calls signed with full (A) attestation after application of objective, defined criteria and investigation into the call.
- The Commission should not extend safe harbor before establishing rules for timely notice and prompt remediation for erroneous blocking.
NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
- The FCC should extend safe harbor to cover the following:
- Unintended misidentification of the level of trust for a call
- Network-based blocking.
- The FCC should not permit blocking based only on caller ID authentication.
- The FCC should establish an end date for the use of TDM tandems and TDM intermediate providers.
- The Commission should require voice service providers to respond to all traceback requests from the Commission, law enforcement, or the Traceback Group.
- The Commission should require all providers to mitigate bad traffic when notified by the Commission.
- The Commission should not require providers to mitigate new and renewing customers from using their networks to originate illegal calls. Wait for the complete implementation of STIR/SHAKEN.
- The FCC should not require service providers to produce lists of individually blocked calls placed to a particular number at the request of a subscriber. Let providers decide what types of information to provide.
- The FCC should not require providers to respond to redress requests within a specific timeline.
- The FCC should encourage calling parties to use market-based solutions to avoid and address adverse effects of incorrect caller ID authentication
- Delegate certificates will allow enterprises to sign their own calls.
- Caller should contact the originating service provider to correct caller ID authentication.
- Commercial solutions are available that correct wrongly blocked or mislabeled calls.
- The Commission should not impose a deadline for redress, nor mandate a specific notification system, which would make it easier for bad actors to evade blocking.
- The FCC has a statutory mandate to define a per-call blocking notification.
- Blocking notifications are necessary for the Commission to meet its other mandates.
- Assertions that blocking notifications are harmful, unnecessary, or unwanted are not supported by the evidence.
- The scope and definition of “reasonable analytics” for call blocking is unclear and arbitrary. Algorithms are hidden. Besides, reasonableness will ultimately be determined from the perspectives of the calling and called parties, not the algorithm.
- Safe harbor should not be available for blocking calls with full attestation.
NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association
- Voice providers must adopt a process for rapid redress of false positives that inadvertently block or mislabel legitimate or wanted calls.
- The FCC should require providers to deliver an intercept message to calling parties to inform them that their call has been blocked or labeled.
- The NTCA supports the proposal to require terminating providers to provide to their subscribers, upon request, a list of blocked calls.
- Redress processes for call blocking should be adopted equally in all respects for call labeling.
- Advocates end-to-end call verification, where large-volume callers are vetted by a trusted entity.
- Carriers should not get safe harbor protection for blocking calls unless they use this third-party vetting information.
- The FCC should make participation in traceback mandatory.
Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE)
- Callers should receive a real-time indicator that a call is being or has been blocked. This should be both an audio intercept and a SIP error code to the caller.
- Voice service providers should provide callers with information about calls that were blocked because of reasonable analytics if the caller credibly asserts that the calls were blocked wrongfully.
- Voice service providers should be required to maintain a central point of contact with whom callers interact to identify and rectify wrongful blocking.
- Safe harbor should not be permitted for providers once notified that their call analytics are blocking legal and wanted calls.
- Outside review should be available to resolve disputes about over blocking.
- The FCC should require immediate transparency when calls are blocked, but not for labeling decisions. This would provide information to address erroneous blocking without giving away too much information to bad actors.
- Immediate notification of blocked calls should be done with a SIP code or a TDM cause code. Alternatively, the Commission could require the use of an intercept message.
- Calls that fail authentication for invalid certificates should be treated differently from those that lack authentication. Calls that fail authentication could be reasonably blocked. The absence of authentication is not sufficient cause to block.
- The FCC should not allow voice service providers to solely rely on caller ID verification to block calls.
- The Commission should require robust redress mechanisms that clearly articulate a timeframe for unblocking.
- The FCC should require providers to provide prompt notice of blocked calls using SIP and ISUP codes. If a call is sent over TDM at any time along the call path, the specific ISUP code used for blocking should be translated to a similar SIP code that can be received by the originating carrier to indicate that a block has occurred.
- The Commission should require blocking providers to make a list of individually blocked calls available to consumers and originating providers upon request.
- Safe harbor should be extended to network blocking.
- The FCC should not impose additional redress or mislabeling requirements. In the TRACED Act, Congress addressed the redress issue for blocked calls. Congress could have done the same for mislabeled calls, but it did not.
- If a T-Mobile customer does not answer a mislabeled call, it goes to voicemail. While scammers may not leave voicemails, legitimate callers do. T-Mobile customers who think a call was mislabeled are encouraged to report the mislabeling on T-Mobile’s website. Callers that think their numbers have been incorrectly labeled can also report the issues to T-Mobile.
- The Commission should not set timelines or methods for responding to unblocking requests from blocked callers. There is no evidence that carriers are not already effectively providing redress.
- No further steps are required to prevent blocking of emergency public safety calls.
- The FCC should implement SIP code 608 as the call blocking notification standard.
- The Commission should implement a time frame of three business days for terminating parties to respond to blocking reports.
Transaction Network Services
- The FCC should not impose additional redress options for blocked calls.
- Voice service providers should not be required to provide real time notification when a call is blocked. This would make it easier for bad actors to circumvent reasonable analytics.
- The FCC should not specify a minimum time for responses to claims of erroneous blocking. Circumstances vary, and some requests may require more time to respond.
- Concrete guidance on redress mechanisms would help stop erroneous blocking and labeling.
- The FCC should impose reasonable time limits for prompt notice of blocking or labeling and quick redress of erroneous blocking or labeling.
- The Commission should mandate the use of intercept codes, like SIP codes.
- The Commission should require providers to provide on request lists of calls they have blocked and labeled. Providers should have flexibility in the form of notice.
- Safe harbor should not be extended further. For example, safe harbor should not be extended to network blocking. The Commission should observe the effects of the current safe harbors to see whether further safe harbors are needed.
- The Commission should expand protection from blocking emergency and critical care calls, such as from law enforcement officers, not just PSAPs.
USTelecom – The Broadband Association
- Voice service providers should be required to respond to traceback requests.
- Originating voice service providers (including gateway providers for calls originated in other countries) should be required to mitigate bad traffic. However, the Commission should not prescribe specific methods to do so.
- The FCC should extend safe harbor to network blocking.
Voice on the Net Coalition
- The FCC should not allow blocking based solely on call authentication. Authentication should be considered with other reasonable analytics.
- VON opposes Commission adoption of specific steps to prevent new and renewing customers from placing illegal calls. Instead, each provider should develop its own plan.
- VON supports the proposal to give providers the flexibility to use SIP code 608 (call rejected) for timely notification of blocked calls.
- The Commission should establish a specific response time requirement to resolve disputes. It may take time to obtain the necessary information from sources outside of the provider’s control.
WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband
- WTA opposes call blocking solely on the basis of caller ID authentication.
- WTA opposes call blocking by intermediate providers.
- WTA supports calling party verification process that begins with contacting the terminating voice service provider that blocked calls.
- WTA opposes network-based blocking that would eliminate the right and ability of customers to opt out.
- WTA suggests that small and rural LECs need more time to respond to traceback requests.
- WTA opposes requirements for free blocked call lists to requesting customers.
- Foreign-sourced calls should be prohibited from using USA caller-IDs.
- Web consent to receive calls should apply precisely to one named seller and should expire after three call attempts or 14 days, whichever comes first.
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