On June 11, 2019, Somos’ Vice President of Industry Relations and Public Policy, Mary Retka, participated in a Robocall Forum hosted by U S Telecom. The workshop featured a mix of public and private stakeholders including industry experts and government leaders at the federal and state level. Chief among the topics discussed was the issue of robocalls and what initiatives the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and service providers have taken to help combat this high priority concern.
One of the efforts discussed was presented by Chairman Joseph Simons of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Chairman Simons described the three-prong effort the FTC has underway to mitigate robocalls. The first prong includes a focus on law enforcement against fraud and abuse with civil penalties, as well as undercover investigations. Next, he introduced the second prong which entails supporting industry-led technology solutions. Since 2012, the FTC has been pushing service providers to develop call blocking technology via a robocall challenge and investigations. The third and final prong of the robocall program is robust consumer and business education. For consumers, the message is simple: do not answer calls from unfamiliar numbers. For legitimate businesses seeking to be compliant, the FTC provides a number of resources on their website.
The workshop also featured a panel session comprised of telecommunications industry experts from organizations such as Frontier, Comcast and AT&T. During the panel, each spoke on what steps their organization have taken to help solve the illegal robocall epidemic. A specific demographic they are targeting are bad actors who originate international calls into the US over foreign or VoIP service providers. Additionally, each spoke to the issue of false positives and the processes their organizations have in place to handle these false positives.
Last, a Government panel comprised of speakers from the FCC, FTC, and more took center stage. Their conversation included a discussion around violations of the Telecommunication Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Truth in Caller ID Act. Specifically, the panel spoke on the notorious Adrian Abromovich case involving neighbor spoofing, illegal calls and wire fraud. One solution presented was to streamline enforcement work as well as create a robocall division in the FCC Enforcement Bureau.
Overall, a lot of ground was covered, and most participants can agree that they left with a clearer understanding of the efforts industry and government are both taking to solve the illegal robocall epidemic. While a lot of progress was made, we still have a long road ahead to completely eliminate robocalls. From implementing SHAKEN ASAP to establishing a nationwide Caller ID authentication program and more, the industry looks forward to working together to address the challenge.
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