Call Authentication and Illegal Text Blocking Plans Getting Through on the FCC’s Docket

FCC logoProposals on call authentication would close gaps in the existing framework while the commission looks for more protections for consumers from illegal text messages. The commission will seek comments on these items.

02/24/2024 1:05 P.M.

4.5 minute read

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The Federal Communications Commission will discuss call authentication framework plans and efforts to mitigate illegal “robotexts” at its March 16 meeting.

First, the FCC will consider a sixth report and order and further notice of proposed rulemaking that would close a significant gap in the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework, grow robocall mitigation requirements for all providers, enact more robust enforcement tools, and seek feedback on more steps to further improve the effectiveness of the STIR/SHAKEN framework, according to its meeting agenda (PDF).

Second, a new report and order (PDF) before the commission would mandate that providers stop texts appearing to be from numbers on a reasonable Do-Not-Originate list; and provide one contact for complaints on text message blocking.

A further notice of proposed rulemaking is also under consideration to require additional blocking of illegal robotexts; add more Do-Not-Call protections to robotexts; and prevent consumers from receiving robotexts and robocalls from “multiple, unexpected callers when they provide their consent on websites for comparison shopping.”

Call Authentication

A STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework is required under the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which was passed to mitigate illegal and unwanted robocalls.

The Sixth Report and Order and further notice of proposed rulemaking (PDF) propose to cover many bases in call authentication and seek stakeholder comment.

According to the FCC, the Sixth Report and Order would:

  • Require intermediate providers that receive unauthenticated Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) calls directly from originating providers to authenticate those calls using STIR/SHAKEN.
  • Require all providers, regardless of their STIR/SHAKEN implementation status, to take “reasonable steps” to mitigate illegal robocall traffic and submit a certification and mitigation plan to the commission’s Robocall Mitigation Database.
  • Require all providers to submit additional information with their certifications to the commission’s Robocall Mitigation Database, including details on their role in the call chain, STIR/SHAKEN implementation obligations, and any recent formal law enforcement or regulatory investigation into suspected unlawful robocalling.
  • Prohibit downstream providers from accepting traffic from intermediate providers not listed in the commission’s Robocall Mitigation Database.
  • Establish new enforcement tools to hold illegal robocallers accountable for violations of our rules, including additional penalties for noncompliance and an expedited removal procedure for facially deficient Robocall Mitigation Database filings.
  • Grant an ongoing STIR/SHAKEN implementation extension for satellite providers that are small service providers using North American Numbering Plan numbers to originate calls.

The Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would:

  • Seek further comment on the use of third-party caller ID authentication solutions and whether any changes should be made to the commission’s rules to permit, prohibit, or limit their use.
  • Seek comment on whether to eliminate the STIR/SHAKEN implementation extension for voice service providers that cannot obtain a Service Provider Code token.

Comments on the further notice of proposed rulemaking would be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Targeting Text Messages

The FCC’s proposals to stop illegal text messages follow similar plans for blocking voice calls.

The report and order would, according to the FCC:

  • Require mobile wireless providers to block text messages from numbers on a reasonable Do-Not-Originate list, which includes numbers that purport to be from invalid, unallocated, or unused North American Numbering Plan numbers, and numbers for which the subscriber to the number has requested that texts purporting to originate from that number be blocked. The commission already requires similar blocking of voice calls by gateway providers.
  • Ensure that any erroneous text blocking can be reported to the provider doing the blocking by requiring mobile wireless providers to maintain a single point of contact for texters to report erroneously blocked texts. This single point of contact is already required for voice call blocking.

The further notice of proposed rulemaking would:

  • Propose to require terminating providers to block texts from a sender after they are on notice from the commission that the sender is sending illegal texts.
  • Propose to extend the National Do-Not-Call Registry’s protections to text messages.
  • Propose to ban the practice of obtaining a single consumer consent as grounds for delivering calls and text messages from multiple marketers on subjects beyond the scope of the original consent.
  • Seek comment on text authentication measures.

ACA’s Take

Illegal robocall and text message mitigation has been a focus of FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel and is expected to continue through enforcement actions and rules.

ACA and joint industry trade association partners have advocated with the FCC to ensure important illegal robocall blocking measures do not impact calls from legitimate businesses consumers want and need, as documented in a letter (PDF) recapping a meeting with these groups and the FCC on its Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls.

Meanwhile, the FCC’s modified rule on call exemptions and obtaining consumers’ consent will take effect on July 20, 2023, meaning compliance is required for certain call exemptions and call limits by that date, ACA previously reported.

Find more information on the FCC’s March meeting here and remember you can interact with fellow ACA members on this topic on The Hub.

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If you have executive leadership updates or other member news to share with ACA, contact our communications department at [email protected]. View our publications page for more information and our news submission guidelines here.


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