FCC Releases Order Implementing Truth in Caller ID Act


On June 22, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) released an order in its proceeding to consider rules to implement the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 (the “Act”).  The Act makes it “unlawful for any person in the United States, in connection with any telecommunications service or IP-enabled voice service, tocause any caller identification service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identificationinformation with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.” The Actinstructs the Commission to adopt implementing regulations within six months. On March 9, 2011, the FCC issued its Caller ID Act NPRM seeking comments on its proposed rules.  The June 22nd Order adopts the following rules to implement the Act.

First, the Commission adopts the Act’s language, prohibiting knowing transmission of misleading or inaccurate Caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.  The Commission’s rules specify that it may impose penalties against any person or entity for violating the Act whether or not it holds a Commission license or registration.  The rules prohibit only conduct in connection with telecommunications and interconnected VoIP services, foregoing the broader term of “IP-enabled” services in the Act in favor of the Commission’s I-VoIP definition in Section 9.3 of its rules.

In addition, while the Commission declined to adopt any specific exceptions other than those expressly enumerated in the Act (namely law enforcement activities and court orders), the FCC emphasized that to violate the act a person or entity must “knowingly spoof caller identification information and do so with intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain something of value” whether directly or indirectly.

To clarify the Act’s requirements, the Commission also defined several terms including “caller identification information,” “caller identification service” and “information regarding the origin” of a call.  In its definition of “information regarding the origin” of a call, the Commission included “billing information, including charge number, ANI or pseudo-ANI” as well all or part of the telephone number, name, location information or other information regarding the apparent source of the call.  The Commission further clarified that “location information” includes information transmitted in the SS7 JIP code.

The Commission likewise clarified that a person or entity that blocks or attempts to block the display of its own Caller ID information will not be liable for violating the Act or implementing rules. Telemarketers are still required to transmit accurate Caller ID information.  The Commission did not adopt any reporting or compliance obligations for third-party spoofers or address call unmasking. And, the Commission declined to adopt the DOJ’s request for third-party providers to make a good-faith attempt to “to verify that a user has the authority to use the substituted number, such as by placing a one-time verification call to that number.”

Under the Act, the Commission may issue penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation, or 3 times that amount for each day of a continuing violation, with a cap of $1,000,000 for any single violation. The Commission adopted the balancing factors for general forfeitures and the Act’s two-year statute of limitations for prosecuting violations.

Clients with questions regarding this Advisory should contact the Attorney assigned to their account.

To read the Commission’s Order, see here: Truth in Caller ID Order

The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 is linked here: Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009

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