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Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC Rules re Spoofing and Blocking

Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-100

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In this Report and Order, the Commission adopts rules implementing the Truth in Caller ID Act. The Truth in Caller ID Act and the implementing rules prohibit any person or entity from knowingly altering or manipulating caller identification information with intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of                                                                            )

                                                                                                       )

Rules and Regulations Implementing the                            )

Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009                                                    )           WC Docket. No. 11-39

REPORT AND ORDER

Adopted:  June 20, 2011                                                          Released:  June 22, 2011

By the Commission:

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Para.

I.    INTRODUCTION …………………………………………………………………………. 2

II.   BACKGROUND …………………………………………………………………………… 2

III.  IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TRUTH IN CALLER ID ACT ……………………………. 6

A.   Prohibited Practice ……………………………………………………………………….. 7

B.   Exemptions ……………………………………………………………………………….. 10

C.   Definitions…………………………………………………………………………………. 12

D.   Caller ID Blocking ………………………………………………………………………… 15

E.   Third-Party Spoofing Services…………………………………………………………… 15

F.    Amendments to the Commission’s Enforcement Rules……………………………. 18

IV.   PROCEDURAL ISSUES………………………………………………………………….. 20

A.    Paperwork Reduction Act ………………………………………………………………… 20

B.    Congressional Review Act……………………………………………………………….. 21

C.    Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification………………………………………………… 21

D.    Accessible Formats ……………………………………………………………………… 22

V.    ORDERING CLAUSES …………………………………………………………………… 22

Appendix A – Final Rules

Appendix B – List of Commenters

I.          INTRODUCTION

Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC Rules re Spoofing and Blocking

Image courtesy of [Serge Bertasius Photography,] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1.      In this Order, we adopt rules to implement the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 (Truth in Caller ID Act, or Act).1   Caller ID services typically identify the telephone numbers and sometimes the names associated with incoming calls, thus allowing consumers to decide whether or how to answer a phone call based on who appears to be calling.  However, caller ID information can be altered or manipulated (“spoofed”).  Increasingly, bad actors are spoofing caller ID information in order to facilitate a wide variety of malicious schemes, from identity theft to “swatting” (the practice of placing false emergency calls to law enforcement in order to elicit a response from a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team).2.      In response to the increasing use of caller ID spoofing to facilitate schemes that defraud consumers and threaten public safety, Congress passed the Truth in Caller ID Act. The Truth in Caller ID Act, and our implementing rules, prohibit any person or entity from knowingly spoofing caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. The Commission can—and will—seek substantial penalties from those who violate the Act and the rules we adopt today.II.        BACKGROUND3.      Caller ID services became possible in the early 1980s when local exchange carriers (LECs) began adopting Signaling System Seven (SS7) signaling techniques, which carriers use to route and manage telephone calls.2   SS7 techniques place signaling information on a separate transmission channel from the telephone call (i.e., “out-of-band” instead of “in-band” signaling).  Separating the signaling information from the voice traffic, along with other features of SS7, enables providers to transmit caller ID information across multiple carriers.34.      In the mid-1990s, the Commission adopted rules governing interstate caller ID and other calling party number (CPN) services offered by telecommunications providers (CPN rules).4   The CPN rules1 The President signed the Truth in Caller ID Act into law on December 22, 2010. Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-331, codified at 47 U.S.C. § 227(e). The Act directs the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) to issue implementing rules within six months of the law’s enactment. 47 C.F.R. § 227(e)(3). On March 9, 2011, we issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing rules to implement the Act. Rules and Regulations Implementing the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, WC Docket No. 11-39, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 4128 (2011) (Caller ID Act NPRM). Comments on the Caller ID Act NPRM were due April 18, 2011 and Reply Comments were due May 3, 2011. Appendix B of this Order contains a list of commenters and reply commenters and the abbreviations we use when referring to the comments they filed in this proceeding. The Act also requires the Commission, by the same date, to submit a report to Congress on “whether additional legislation is necessary to prohibit the provision of inaccurate caller identification information in technologies that are successor or replacement technologies to telecommunications services or IP-enabled voice services.” 47 U.S.C. § 227(e)(4).2 See Rules and Policies Regarding Calling Number Identification Service – Caller ID, CC Docket No. 91-281, Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order and Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 10 FCC Rcd 11700, 11704–05, paras. 7–11 (1995) (Second Caller ID Order); see also Rules and Policies Regarding Calling Number Identification Service – Caller ID, CC Docket No. 91-281, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 6 FCC Rcd 6752, para. 2 (1991) (Caller ID NPRM).3 See Caller ID NPRM, 6 FCC Rcd at 6752, paras. 1–2. Early subscribers to caller ID services typically paid a monthly fee for caller ID service and usually had to purchase a separate device that received and displayed caller ID information. Id. Today, caller ID is provided as a standard feature of many telephone services.4 See Rules and Policies Regarding Calling Number Identification Service – Caller ID, CC Docket No. 91-281, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 9 FCC Rcd 1764 (1994) (First Caller ID Order); Second Caller ID Order, 10 FCC Rcd 11700.

generally require common carriers that use SS7 signaling techniques to route and manage telephone calls to transport the CPN on interstate calls to interconnecting carriers.5  Terminating carriers can, but are not required to, display calling party numbers to their subscribers.

5.      SS7 signaling techniques do not transmit the name of the calling party along with the number, but many caller ID services are able to display both the phone number of the calling party and the name associated with the calling party. The providers of caller ID services identify the name of the subscriber associated with the calling party by sending a query to a centralized calling name (‘‘CNAM’’) database or directory that associates telephone numbers with names. There are multiple CNAM databases used by providers of caller ID services.6

6.      Under the Commission’s rules, a calling party can request that his or her calling number and name not be revealed by dialing *67 (or 1167 for rotary phones) before dialing the phone number.7

Carriers using SS7, or offering or subscribing to any service based on SS7 call set-up functionality, are required to recognize and honor calling parties’ privacy requests.8   As a result, on a call-by-call basis, most callers have the ability to block a call recipient from seeing the calling party’s telephone number or name.9   This basic framework reflects the Commission’s balancing of the benefits of caller ID with the privacy issues raised by this and other CPN services.10

7.      When the Commission first adopted its rules relating to CPN, the use of caller ID services was a new phenomenon.  Over time, however, caller ID and other CPN services have become commonplace. Consumers have come to rely on caller ID services to display the phone number and sometimes name associated with an incoming call, and consumers use that information to decide whether or how to answer a phone call. 11   With the proliferation of caller ID services, caller ID spoofing has also become more commonplace. In the past, caller ID spoofing required special equipment or a relatively high degree of

5 47 C.F.R. § 64.1601. Earlier this year, the Commission issued an NPRM proposing revisions to section 64.1601 of our rules to require that the calling party number be provided by the originating service provider and to prohibit stripping or altering of this call signaling information. The proposed requirement would apply to interstate and intrastate traffic transmitted by telecommunications providers and entities providing interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services. See Connect America Fund; A National Broadband Plan for Our Future; Establishing Just and Reasonable Rates for Local Exchange Carriers; High-Cost Universal Service Support; Developing a Unified Intercarrier Compensation Regime; Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Lifeline and Link-Up, WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 07-135, 05-337, 03-109, CC Docket Nos. 01-92, 96-45, GN Docket No. 09-

51, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 4554 (2011).

6 See TSN Comments at 3–4; Horowitz Comments at 1.

7 47 C.F.R. § 64.1601(b).

8 Id. See also TNS Comments at 4.

9 The Commission’s rules exempt certain types of calls, including calls from payphones and from most Private Branch Exchanges, from the requirements to transmit CPN and to recognize and honor calling parties’ privacy requests. See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1601(d).

10 The Commission’s rules concerning the delivery of CPN also address the transmission and use of automatic number identification (ANI) information, which is information about the phone number used for charging purposes, and may or may not be the same as the CPN. See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1602. When the Commission adopted its rules, it found that ANI blocking was not technologically feasible, and that use of ANI did not raise the same privacy concerns as the use of CPN services. Therefore, instead of requiring that ANI blocking be made available to subscribers, the Commission required carriers offering ANI services to limit the permissible uses of ANI. See First Caller ID Order, 9 FCC Rcd at 1772–74, paras. 51–58.

11 See Copilevitz Comments at 1; Horowitz Comments at 1; Minnesota AG Comments at 1; TNS Comments at 2; Verizon Reply at 1.