Telecom giants signed deal to end robocalls

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The attorney-generals of 50 states and the District of Columbia, together with 12 telecommunication providers including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, signed an agreement that outlines the several anti-robocall principles in order to eradicate one common enemy – illegal robocalls – once and for all.

Illegal robocalls and text spams have been a source of headache not only for consumers but also to regulatory bodies like the Federal Communication Commission and the Federal Trade Commission as well as lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum. This time, telecom service providers are taking a stand to end the scourge of illegal robocalls outlined in eight anti-robocall principles.

The document signed by telecom service providers and attorney generals in different states across the United States aimed to alleviate the problem of illegal robocalls and call spoofing that has become more rampant in the past few years. The deal includes a call-blocking technology that can be integrated into the existing telecom infrastructure as well as a guideline requiring telecom providers to offer the service with no additional charge. The tech giants will also provide other call blocking and call labeling for those customers who want more tools to protect themselves from illegal calls.

“State Attorneys General and the undersigned voice service providers are committed to stopping illegal and unwanted robocalls for the American people. Therefore, state Attorneys General have engaged voice service providers to gain their support and assistance in combatting this pervasive problem. These Anti-Robocall Principles are the product of this engagement.,” reads the seven-page document obtained by Z6Mag.

The deal, which includes eight basic anti-robocall principles that the signatories need to adhere to, does not only require them to Offer free call blocking and labeling, it also outlines how telecom service providers need to analyze and monitor network traffic, investigate suspicious calls and calling patterns, provide a confirmation of the identity of corporate callers, cooperate in traceback investigations, and coordinate with the office of the Attorney General in matters relating to robocalls and illegal call spoofing.

“We owe it to the most vulnerable in our communities to do everything in our power to protect them,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said at an announcement in Washington on Thursday. “Thanks to these prevention principles, our phones will ring less often.”

The deal, which requires telecom companies to provide the necessary support to law enforcement agencies regarding traceback operations and investigations, would help the police in rounding up suspected illegal robocallers by providing prompt and complete responses to traceback requests from law enforcement and from US ‘Telecom’s Industry Traceback Group.

The FCC has said that they are happy with the nationwide initiative to help regulators in controlling the robocall problem in the country.

“I salute today’s bipartisan, nationwide effort to encourage best practices for combating robocalls and spoofing and am pleased that several voice service providers have agreed to abide by them,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement.

“We continue to see progress toward adoption of caller ID authentication using SHAKEN/STIR standards. And our call blocking work has cleared the way for blocking of unwanted robocalls by default and of likely scam calls using non-existent phone numbers.”

As a disclaimer, the deal outlines that those company who adhere to the principles outlined in the document does not make any telecom company immune from prosecution for violations of federal and state laws regarding robocalls. Furthermore, none-adherence to the deal is a basis for a violation.

“Failure to adhere to these principles is not in itself a basis for liability nor does adherence to these principles protect or release any party from liability. Compliance with these principles does not relieve any party from its duty to comply with state or federal laws and regulations. Adherence to these principles may take time for the voice service providers to plan for and implement.”

The deal was signed by different telecom providers in the United States, including:

  • AT&T Services, Inc.
  • Bandwidth Inc.
  • CenturyLink
  • Charter Communications, Inc.
  • Comcast Consolidated Communications, Inc.
  • Frontier Communications Corporation
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile USA
  • U.S. Cellular
  • Verizon
  • Windstream Services, LLC

It is in the hope of the deal that there will be a continued move to eradicate illegal robocalls in the country. With the cooperation between telecom providers and attorney-generals, the government and the private sector is making a stand against the nuance that is annoying and affecting the lives of Americans.

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