ACA International and Joint Trades Issue Comments on FCC Call Authentication Rulemaking


Groups advocate for financial services industries to ensure legitimate calls are not blocked and safe harbors are in place as the FCC implements components of the TRACED Act this year.

6/8/2020 9:00

A group of industry trades, including ACA International, recently filed reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission on implementation of the SHAKEN/STIR call authentication framework and certain provisions of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.

“We write to urge the commission to promptly initiate a rulemaking to implement other, critically important provisions of the TRACED Act that require the Commission to address erroneous blocking or mislabeling of legitimate calls,” the comment letter from ACA, the Credit Union National Association, the American Bankers Association, the American Financial Services Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, and the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions states.

The comments are in response to the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking implementing the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework and certain provisions of the TRACED Act due May 29.

The FCC unanimously approved a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  on mandating adoption of STIR/SHAKEN by voice service providers and additional measures to combat spoofed calls March 31.

The commission’s approval of the order requires all originating and terminating voice service providers to implement SHAKEN/STIR in the Internet Protocol (IP) portions of their networks by June 30, 2021, a deadline that is consistent with Congress’s direction in the TRACED Act, ACA previously reported.

ACA International met with several FCC offices to outline concerns and suggestions before the vote.

Highlights from the joint comment letter include:

  • The joint trades support efforts to curb illegal robocalls but stress there is the need to ensure that implementation of SHAKEN/STIR and related efforts to combat illegal automated calls through authorized call blocking and labeling do not adversely affect the delivery of important and often time-critical legitimate calls.
  • The staggered adoption of SHAKEN/STIR further amplifies the need for effective redress mechanisms, particularly as providers begin to label authenticated calls as valid. Despite the June 30, 2021 required implementation date, implementation will be far from universal by that date.
  • If providers cannot authenticate calls, this will impact many of the joint trades’ members that operate in more rural areas where end-to-end IP transmission is not currently available.
  • On a broader level, many of the outgoing calls placed by the members of the joint trades cannot be signed, or at least signed at the highest level of authentication, because there are no standards yet adopted for many common business calling scenarios.

ACA and its advocacy team in Washington continue to work for the industry’s needs to ensure legitimate calls are not improperly impacted by call blocking and labeling. In a discussion for members, Mark Brennan, lead innovation partner with Hogan Lovells LLP, Arielle Roth, wireline legal advisor with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s office, and Alex Sachtjen, legal assistant to U.S. John Thune, R-S.D., and Leah Dempsey, ACA’s vice president and senior counsel of federal advocacy during the Washington Insights Livestream June 3, reviewed implementation of the TRACED Act and the importance of ensuring legitimate calls are getting through to consumers.

By Dec. 30, 2020, the FCC is required to issue rules that establish when a voice service provider may block calls based in whole or in part on information provided by the SHAKEN/STIR authentication framework and that establish a safe harbor for unintended or inadvertent blocking of legitimate calls.

“Given that rules regarding blocking, safe harbors and redress are interrelated and, under the TRACED Act, must be adopted by the end of the year, we urge the commission to address these issues simultaneously,” the joint trades’ comments state. “We respectfully urge the commission to promptly initiate a rulemaking to implement these requirements to provide reasonable opportunity for meaningful feedback before the statutory deadline.”

Related Content from ACA International:

TRACED Act Timeline: What’s Next for the Legislation in 2020

ACA’s Advocacy Pays Off in FCC’s Vote to Mandate Caller ID Authentication by Phone Companies

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