The FCC hosted the second meeting of the Robocall Strike Force on Wednesday, October 26. The focus: what has been accomplished since the Strike Force had been assembled two months earlier, The result? Depends on whom you ask.

The Strike Force's intended mission is a commitment to developing comprehensive solutions to prevent, detect, and filter unwanted robocalls. The Strike Force was set in motion by a mandate from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, demanding an action plan to address consumer concerns with robocalls and deploy anti-robocall solutions within 60 days.

Did they do it?

"We are not yet where we want to be," Wheeler said Wednesday. "We’ve not reached the goal. We need solutions now."

This may have been a lot for Wheeler to expect in 60 days. Wednesday's meeting looked at three goals:

Goal 1: Robust Call Blocking & Filtering Tools for Consumers

FCC Call for Industry Action:


  • Immediately Offer Free Call Blocking & Filtering to Consumers
  • Facilitate Call Blocking & Filtering by Downstream Providers


Strike Force Delivered:


  • Proposal for Network-to-Device Information Sharing Framework to Give
  • Consumers Better Call Data & Call Handling Solutions
  • Consumer Outreach Plan with FCC-Hosted Webpage for Call Blocking Resources
  • Commitments to Facilitate Call Blocking By Downstream Providers


Work That Remains:


  • Consumer Access to Free Call Blocking & Filtering Solutions Now
  • Deadline for Development of Network-to-Device Information Sharing Framework 

Success: Not really. Wheeler wanted to see one thing: Immediate call blocking for consumers. The Strike Force delivered...a lot of other things.

Goal 2: Faster Implementation of Caller ID Authentication Standards

FCC Call for Industry Action:


  • Accelerate Development & Deployment of VoIP Caller ID Verification Standards
  • Implement SS7 Indicator for Verification of Incoming VoIP Calls to Downstream


TDM Carriers


  • Conform with Existing Obligations to Transmit Call Routing Information
  • Ensure Caller ID Information is Not Altered or Removed


Strike Force Delivered:


  • Accelerated Standards Development with Rollout Milestones
  • Submission of SS7 Authentication Solution to Standards Body


Work That Remains:


  • Deadlines for Full Deployment of VoIP Caller ID Authentication & SS7 Solution
  • Provider Commitments to Join AT&T in the “Race to Zero” 

Success: Again, no. (Also again: they had 60 days to deliver, which may have been unfair.)



Goal 3: Solutions to Detect & Mitigate Unwanted Calls


FCC Call for Industry Action:


  • Improve Detection & Avoidance of Unwanted Calls Through Creation &
  • Management of a “Do-Not-Originate” List


Strike Force Delivered:


  • Successful IRS DNO Trial Following FCC Public Notice
    • 90% Reduction in IRS Scam Call Complaints
  • Increased Participation & Cooperation in Industry Efforts, Including
  • Development of Best Practices for Call Blocking & Trace-Back


Work That Remains:


  • Expand DNO Trial to Include Additional Providers & Numbers

Success: Yes! The decrease, specifically with regards to IRS scam calls, was significant. Which made Chairman Wheeler expect to see even greater decreases going forward.

insideARM Perspective: Scam IRS calls were the main impetus for this task force -- a paradigm the debt industry is familiar with. Leaving aside whether greater regulation will succeed in diminishing phone scams of all stripes, consumers have seen some relief from some kinds of unwanted robocalls.

While the debt industry wasn't specifically mentioned, it's not a long step from IRS scam robocalls to debt collection scam robocalls. Consumer protections suggested and offered by this task force have the chance to have influence over the way collection agencies call consumers, too.



Next Article: TCPA Case Law Review for October 2016