Court-ordered plan raises guardrails to prevent robocalls
A recent court order settlement includes a very detailed, comprehensive robocall mitigation plan that might be an instructive example for the industry. Let’s have a look.
The case was brought by attorneys general for Indiana and seven other states against Rising Eagle Capital Group, JSquared Telecom, John C. Spiller II, and Jakob A. Mears in U.S. district court. The settlements with Spiller and Mears include permanent bans on a variety of activities related to robocalls, telemarketing, and providing or provisioning communications services that would violate rules.
The orders indicate that the defendants neither admit nor deny the allegations but enter into an agreement to resolve the court action. We won’t get into the details of the legal proceedings, monetary awards, and so forth here. We’re interested in the robocall mitigation aspects of the orders and will review them in this article.
The robocall mitigation aspects of these orders establish guardrails to prevent illegal robocalls and telemarketing activity in the future. Here’s what these guardrails look like.
The defendants must fully implement and use the STIR/SHAKEN framework in the telephony services that they provide.
The defendants must implement and maintain constant, up-to-date written policies, practices, and procedures monitoring, reviewing, and analyzing call traffic to identify, mitigate, and block illegal robocalls. Monitoring should include the consideration of such things as:
- Call duration
- Call volume
- Calls per second
- Source or legality of caller ID numbers
- Location of the calls’ origination or U.S. point of entry.
Screening current and prospective customers
The orders include very thorough Know-Your-Customer provisions, including information such as:
- Name, physical and mailing addresses, contact telephone numbers, and email addresses of principals and controlling persons of the entity and any persons with a majority ownership interest in the customer.
- Same identifying information for the customer’s employee responsible for compliance with the TCPA, TSR, and other federal and state laws governing telemarketing and automated dialing.
- Same information for places of business.
- For customers that are involved in telemarketing, obtaining the prospective customers’ subscription account number for the DNC Registry, Universal Service Fund registration number, a copy of their FCC 499, and Section 214 International Authority (if applicable)
- Federal taxpayer ID number
- IP addresses for every computer used by the customer’s employees
- Trade or bank references for high-risk customers
- Copies of customer’s written policies, practices, and procedures for complying with the TCPA, TSR, and other federal and state laws that regulate telemarking, auto-dialed calls, calls to numbers on the DNC registry, robocalls, and calls using spoofed caller ID numbers.
- Customer’s policies for compliance with traceback requests
- Customer’s history of traceback requests
- Customer’s policies for robocall mitigation
- Customer’s list of all telephone numbers used for caller ID used over the previous six months and proof that they had the legal authority to use those numbers.
- Review the customer’s website and publicly accessible databases or websites to verify the information provided.
Customer review and termination
The defendants must terminate, or refrain from entering into, any business relationship with a customer that can no longer provide the screening information listed above or is found to have provided false or misleading information.
Will this plan be a model for the future?
This plan is incredibly thorough. IP addresses for every computer used by your customer? Wow.
Meanwhile, the FCC has received comments in their robocall prevention and call authentication dockets that some of the robocall mitigation plans found in the Robocall Mitigation Database seem incredibly thin. The contrast between those plans and the plan required by these court orders is remarkable.
Should the Commission mandate robocall mitigation plans in such detail? They’ve carefully avoided being too specific and prescriptive in their rules. It’s difficult to imagine them going from the current hands-off approach to something as specific as these court orders.
Voice service providers have the incentive to implement robocall mitigation processes and procedures that work—to prevent robocalls, yes, and also to manage legal risks. Perhaps they can pull some ideas from the court-ordered plans to make their vetting and monitoring processes better.
TransNexus is a leader in developing innovative software to manage and protect telecommunications networks. The company has over 20 years’ experience in providing telecom software solutions including toll fraud prevention, robocall mitigation and prevention, TDoS prevention, analytics, routing, billing support, STIR/SHAKEN and SHAKEN certificate services.
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