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FCC Releases Rules for Trace-Back Consortium

Acting to implement Section 13(d) of the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on March 27, 2020, released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking including rules “‘to establish a registration process for the registration of a single consortium that conducts private-led efforts to trace back the origin of suspected unlawful robocalls.’” In doing so, the agency also sought comment in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on what rules, if any, it needs to guide the process of identifying voice service providers that “‘repeatedly originat[e] large-scale unlawful robocall campaigns’” and the obligations it should impose on such providers to end those practices. Both the Federal Trade Commission and the FCC have recently warned or inquired about providers that facilitate or enable such calls.

Under the new FCC rules, the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) is required to release a Public Notice (Notice) by April 28, 2020, to establish a process for candidates to register to serve as the single consortium. An entity planning to register will be required to submit a Letter of Intent as directed by that Notice, which will have to satisfy the TRACED Act requirements for serving as the consortium, namely:


“(a) demonstrating that the consortium is a neutral third-party competent to manage the private-led effort to trace back the origin of suspected unlawful robocalls;

(b) including a copy of the consortium’s written best practices, with an explanation thereof, regarding management of its traceback efforts and regarding providers of voice services’ participation in the consortium’s efforts to trace back the origin of suspected unlawful robocalls;

(c) certifying that, consistent with section 222(d)(2) of the Communications Act 18, the consortium’s efforts will focus on fraudulent, abusive, or unlawful traffic; and

(d) certifying that the consortium has notified the Commission that it intends to conduct traceback efforts of suspected unlawful robocalls in advance of registration as the single consortium.”


The FCC directs to Bureau to review the Letters of Intent and select the single registered consortium no later than ninety (90) days after the deadline for submission of such Letters. The Bureau must set the submission date for the Letters to be no sooner than thirty (30) days after the rules are published in the Federal Register. In the event that more than one consortium submits a Letter of Intent, the Bureau must select only one.

Under the rules, this registration process will recur on an annual basis, with the Notice being issued each year no later than April 28. However, the rules do not require the incumbent registered consortium to submit a Letter of Intent after its initial selection as the registered consortium.

The Report and Order sets forth “a set of principles, rather than prescriptive directives, for the Bureau to use to select the registered consortium and ensure that it complies with the TRACED Act” provisions.

The rules become effective thirty (30) days after publication in the Federal Register. Comments on the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are due no later than that date. Reply comments are due no later than forty-five (45) days after such publication.

TCPAWorld will continue to track this and other FCC actions to implement the TRACED Act.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

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About this Author

Paul Besozzi, Squire Patton Boggs, telecommunications attorney
Senior Partner

Paul Besozzi concentrates in the wireless, broadband and emerging technology areas. His extensive experience of more than 30 years in the telecommunications field includes regulatory, transactional, legislative and litigation matters for clients ranging from wireless service and infrastructure providers to resellers of long-distance service, including cellular, personal communications services, specialized mobile radio, point-to-point microwave, advanced wireless services and other emerging wireless technologies.

Paul represents clients before the federal and...

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