The attorneys general of all 50 states and Washington, D.C., announced a partnership yesterday with 12 major telecom carriers to join together and fight the proliferation of robocalls through a set of shared “principles.”
News of the partnership was shared at a press conference yesterday in Washington, D.C. Leading the charge from the state AGs side were Josh Stein, Gordon MacDonald, and Curtis Hill, the attorneys general of North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Indiana, respectively. Joining the AGs are AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, Consolidated Communications, Frontier Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream Services.
The principles that were adopted were:
- Offer Free Call Blocking and Labeling
- Implement STIR/SHAKEN
- Analyze and Monitor Network Traffic
- Investigate Suspicious Calls and Calling Patterns
- Confirm the Identity of Commercial Customers
- Require Traceback Cooperation in Contracts
- Cooperate in Traceback Investigations
- Communicate with State Attorneys General
On its face, the principles do not seem to be too much different than what the companies and the AGs were already doing. The Federal Communications Commission, for example, has already mandated that carriers comply with STIR/SHAKEN by the end of the year. As well, the FCC has given the carriers the opportunity to offer free call-blocking services to their customers.
MacDonald did say that the AGs ability to “protect the public through investigation and enforcement” has been limited, and that the partnership will result in increased usage of call blocking and authentication technology and an increased cooperation between carriers and regulators going forward.
For the credit and collection industry, the concern is that legitimate calls — such as those from collectors — are inadvertently blocked or mis-labeled as spam or fraud, and result in an individual either not picking up the phone or the call not even being connected. While everyone is saying that the idea of this partnership and other efforts is to stop the proliferation of illegal robocalls, there are legitimate concerns that other calls could be blocked, too, especially if consumers are given the power to label callers as spam or possibly fraudulent.