Advocates Ask FCC for Action on "Gateway Providers"
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) filed comments this week with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking for action to stop illegal robocalls of foreign origin from reaching American phones by way of “gateway providers.”
“Fraudulent robocalls continue to bombard our telephone lines,” said Margot Saunders, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “To reduce these invasive and dangerous calls, it is essential that all providers in the call path have more skin in the game.”
As an entry point into the American telephone network for foreign callers, gateway providers and the service providers that accept calls from the gateway providers are in a unique position to arrest the flow of harmful scam calls and illegal robocalls. Many illegal robocalls, especially the worst scam calls, originate overseas and are passed through U.S. gateway providers to complicit intermediary providers and then transmitted to American telephones.
NCLC and EPIC made specific recommendations to protect consumers from these illegal calls, including:
- Make all substantiated tracebacks public. Publication of the records of tracebacks will mean that the FCC, state attorneys general, and private litigants will all be able to identify those providers who facilitate the entry of these calls into the U.S. telecommunications system, as well as those who chose to ignore the red flags indicating that the calls were illegal and will be able to proceed against them.
- Hold all providers responsible for illegal calls. The FCC should announce that when a provider continues to transmit illegal calls after notice from any source that the traffic is illegal, the provider will be automatically delisted from the Robocall Mitigation Database–a step that results in barring it from transmitting calls into the U.S. telecommunications network.
- Treat ongoing provider failure to implement an effective robocall mitigation program, non-compliance with traceback requests, or continuing to transmit illegal calls from gateway providers as complicity with bad actor callers. The FCC must unequivocally place the burden on the providers to avoid facilitating illegal calls.
“A single bad actor caller can defraud thousands of Americans of millions of dollars in a month,” warned Saunders. “We urge the FCC to make 2022 the year that enforcement of anti-robocall methodologies becomes fully effective.”