On August 1, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted new regulations that will allow the federal government to pursue enforcement actions against foreign businesses that knowingly “spoof” US recipients with the intent to cause harm, defraud, or obtain anything of value. Spoofing is the practice of using misleading caller ID information to manipulate a recipient into answering a call or text message through the use of a telephone number displayed on caller ID is intended to be somewhat recognizable to consumers. In the past, we have blogged about legislation that was introduced to address spoofing. That specific legislation died in committee, but with the passage of the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act of 2018(“RAY BAUM’S”), new FCC regulations have been put into place to pursue foreign bad actors.
Why are the new FCC regulations being adopted?
Time to Amend the Truth in Caller ID Act
On December 22, 2010, President Obama signed the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 (the “Act”) into law. The Act made spoofing illegal for any US-based telecommunications, or interconnected VoIP, services provider, punishable by fines of up to $10,000 per violation. The Act limited enforcement to calls made within the US. Six years later, in a 2017 Senate Report, Congress recognized that a substantial increase in spoofing was originating from overseas and that action needed to be taken.
FCC Regulations Targeting Foreign Callers
The passage of RAY BAUM’S extended enforcement of the Act beyond US borders so that foreign callers can be held accountable for illegal spoofing. The authority granted by Congress in RAY BAUM’S allows for the passage of new FCC regulations authorizing the government to police illegal spoofing on a global scale. 2018 saw the largest fines in FCC history and it is likely that the new FCC regulations will lead to larger fines in years to come.
Proposed bills in Congress have made it apparent that the federal government is looking to crack down on unwanted telemarketing calls and text messages. Most recently, on July 24, 2019, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which would add additional telemarketing restrictions to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). As federal regulation evolves, it is imperative for telemarketers to work with knowledgeable counsel in order to stay compliant with applicable law.