With the new James Bond film delayed until the end of the year, the FCC has something to tide everyone over: STIR/SHAKEN – the SIP-based caller ID authentication process. Last year, Congress passed the Traced Act, which required the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to require caller ID authentication within 18 months of the Traced Act’s passage (June 2021). In response to the Traced Act, the Commission issued a STIR/SHAKEN implementation Report and Order (“Order”) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) on March 31, 2020 (“Order”).
The Commission’s Order would generally require Voice Service providers to implement the STIR/SHAKEN protocol by June 30, 2021. For now, a Voice Service is any service that (1) “‘enables real-time, two-way voice communications’” or (2) “‘permits out-bound calling, whether or not the service is one-way or two-way voice over [I]nternet [P]rotocol.’” In either case, the service must interconnect with the public switched telephone network (“PSTN”) and provide service to an end user. The definition is service specific, as opposed to entity specific.
The broad definition of Voice Service adopted by the Order mirrors the breadth of the definition adopted by the Traced Act. The definition intends to capture certain services to which the Commission has historically taken a light regulatory touch. For example, a one-way, out-bound calling service that would not meet the definition of an interconnected-VoIP service would fall under the definition of a Voice Service for STIR/SHAKEN implementation purposes if it connects to the PSTN and furnishes service to end users. The definition is limited somewhat by the fact that STIR/SHAKEN currently can only be used by IP enabled networks; however, the Order’s FNPRM asks, among other things, how and whether the Commission can develop a caller ID authentication protocol for legacy portions of the PSTN that have not transitioned to IP. It also asks how the Commission can further encourage providers to transition to IP.
The Order requires Voice Service providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication in three situations: (1) where a Voice Service provider originates a call that exclusively transits its network, (2) where a Voice Service provider originates a call that it will exchange with another Voice Service provider or an intermediate provider and, to the extent technically feasible, must transmit the authentication information to the next provider in the call path, and (3) where a Voice Service provider terminates a call for which it receives caller ID authentication information.
Intermediate providers are not required to implement STIR/SHAKEN, but the FNPRM asks whether the Commission has the authority to require intermediate providers to implement the protocol. The Commission tentatively concludes that it does have such authority and proposes requiring intermediate providers to pass along any authentication information they receive to a subsequent provider in the call path. The FNPRM also asks several questions regarding the definition of intermediate providers, the technical details of including such providers in STIR/SHAKEN, and the limits of any implementation mandate, particularly with respect to non-IP elements of an intermediate provider’s network.
Now that rule is published in the Federal Register the deadlines are set at May 21, 2020, for Comments and June 21, 2020, for Reply Comments.