Acting to implement a Congressional legislative directive, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week “adopted new rules banning malicious caller ID spoofing of text messages and foreign calls” (https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-358841A1.pdf). The ruling further implements amendments to the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, codified in 47 U.S.C. 227(e), enacted last year in the RAY BAUM’S Act.
The Truth in Caller ID Act “prohibits anyone from causing a caller ID service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information (‘spoofing’) with the intent to defraud, cause harm or obtain anything of value.” However, until last year’s Congressional action, that prohibition did not extend to text messages or international calls. The new FCC rules will effect that extension, including to “additional types of voice calls, such as one-way VoIP calls.”
The FCC adds broad definitions of “text messaging service” and “voice service” to its TCPA definitional library in Rule Part 64. The proposed text would define the former as “a service that enables the transmission or receipt of a text message, including a service provided as part of or in connection with a voice” service. The latter would be “any service that is interconnected with the…[PSTN] and that furnishes voice communications to an end user using resources of the North American Numbering Plan [NANP] or any successor to [that Plan] adopted by the” FCC pursuant to its authority under Section 251 of the Communications Act; it would also include “transmissions from a telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to a telephone facsimile machine.”
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, in supporting the decision, commented that these terms “are broader than my liking and may cause future unintended consequences,” but did not lay out what those might be. He attempted to exclude application of the new rules to Short Codes, “given the apparent lack of evidence, necessity, and notice….,” but was unsuccessful. However, the final text, which has yet to be released as this is being written, apparently restricts “regulation of the technology to the Truth in Caller ID context.”
Interestingly, the amendments to the statute, and thus the regulations implementing them, do not become effective until at least 6 months after the date on which the FCC prescribes those regulations. The proposed FCC text states six months after adoption and release of the order or 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, whichever is later.