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Volume XII, Number 335

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TCPAWORLD AFTER DARK: The FCC Just Killed a Carrier, and Its Just the Weirdest Thing…

So the FCC just issued the death penalty.

It determined that a company called Global UC, Inc. just doesn’t deserve to live anymore.

Apparently the company failed to fix its “deficient Robocall Mitigation Database (Database) certification” despite being emailed about it and the Commission has had enough.

Ok.

As a result it has removed Global UC from the Robocall Mitigation Database.

Ok.

And Removal from the Database requires all intermediate providers and terminating voice service providers to cease accepting the Company’s traffic.

Lethal injection administered.

Actually its more like a firing squad.

Let me back up.

According to the FCC’s death penalty ruling–which you can read for yourself here DA-22-1219A1 — this company Global UC submitted a robocall mitigation certification back in July, 2021. But the certification was apparently garbage. There was nothing meaningful in the certification explaining how the company was going to combat robocalls.

So the Commission followed up with Global UC “via email” in October, 2021.

Ok.

No response.

So the Commission issued an “order” in October, 2022 demanding Global UC respond to its email or else. Apparently Global UC did so, but not in a satisfactory way:

“We are not needing this certification.”

Wrong move.

The FCC determined the company had “certified that it is subject to a robocall mitigation program, but it failed to describe specific reasonable steps that the Company is taking to prevent the origination of illegal robocall traffic.” Moreover “[t]he Company’s certification therefore was deficient because it did not describe any robocall mitigation program.” And because the company refused to provide the explanation the government required, a head had to roll.

And so it did.

As a result of these findings the FCC ordered: “All intermediate providers and terminating voice service providers must cease accepting traffic from Global UC within two (2) business days of this Order.”

Hmmm.

I’m not entirely sure what to say here.

Obviously this is an unsophisticated outfit that had no idea what it was doing–if it wanted to stay in business. And perhaps it didn’t. The order contains no explanation of the volume of traffic the carrier is handling. Maybe this company is already shuttered and this order is nothing more than another example of futile bureaucratic box checking.

A kneejerk response to a quasi-voluntary renunciation of a required certification.

Maybe.

Or maybe this is a real company that does real business and has real employees that just got shut down because they didn’t understand the rules of the road–and who can blame them. There really aren’t any rules. Yes, carriers have to submit a robocall mitigation plan. But what does that plan have to entail? Does anyone really know.

So now we know, the plan has to include more than a recitation of SHAKEN/STIR authentication framework technicalities. Cool. We probably could have guessed that would be insufficient–and, I get it, the Commission emailed these guys and told them it was insufficient–but you can’t say it is ludicrous for a carrier to point at the FCC’s own standard for authenticating calls as a starting point for robocall mitigation. In fact, it kind of makes sense from a laymen’s perspective.

And I guess that’s what bothers me about this whole thing. It feels like Global UC is a laymen caught up in some web of Orwellian government red tape. Executed for failing to timely respond to an email.

And maybe that’s not true. Maybe Global UC is a terrible awful scam robocall facilitating shell that deserves to burn in the telecom equivalent of hades for all eternity.

But we don’t know that.

That’s not what the FCC found.

That’s not why the FCC killed this company.

It wasn’t killed for being a bad actor in the true sense of the word. It was killed for being, at worst, a stupid or belligerent actor that didn’t want to play along with the new robocall mitigation rules. At best, it was an unsophisticated actor that didn’t timely respond to one email and that didn’t understand the importance of the certification that it stated it did not need (when it plainly did.)

Maybe I’m reading too much into this. But it makes me uneasy.

Then there’s the other piece.

The piece where the death penalty was carried out using private companies to do the killing.

All the other carriers were, essentially, ordered to cast out Global UC. To starve it to death. To treat it like a pariah. Offer it no refuge. No mercy. Close its doors to its traffic until it simply withers on the vine.

Its just… weird.

In most death penalties the government has the means to effectuate a swift and certain demise without the preoccupation of any private enterprise. It hires an executioner to chop off a head or inject some poison. Done.

But here, Global UC is only dead because the FCC has ordered all the other carriers to stop dealing with it. Private resources are being seized. Regular old people are being turned into executioners at gunpoint.

In fact, this order doesn’t actually require anything of Global UC.  It is an order that everyone but Global UC stop doing something.

So companies that didn’t do anything wrong are now ordered to do something–kill a fellow carrier–or else risk facing the same fate.

Again its just… weird.

There’s something wrong with this picture. I can’t quite describe the aching feeling of unease except to say, I know this isn’t right.

Carriers in this nation aren’t winged monkeys out to do the bidding of some witch (or Commission) somewhere.

Or maybe they are.

What do I know?

Well, here’s what I know: If you’re a carrier, voice service provider or anyone else in the telecom ecosystem that might have to submit a robocall mitigation plan, you better do it–and you better do a good job of it. And if the Commission emails you, you better respond.

Otherwise everyone else might be ordered to do something. And that something–weird though it is to say–might be to end your company.

Sleep tight TCPAWorld.

© 2022 Troutman FirmNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 327
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About this Author

Eric Troutman TCPA Lawyer Troutman Law Firm Orange County, CA
Founder

Eric J Troutman is known as one of the country’s prominent class action defense lawyers and is nationally recognized in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation and compliance. He has served as lead defense counsel in more than 70 national TCPA class actions and has litigated nearly a thousand individual TCPA cases in his role as national strategic litigation counsel for major banks and finance companies. Eric also helps industry participants build TCPA-compliant processes, policies, and systems.

Eric's perspective allows him to...

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