NY State, Federal Legislation Targets Spoofing

TCPA Connect

In legislative news, New York enacted two new telemarketing-related laws while Congress is considering a measure that would double the penalties for illegal caller ID spoofing.

On November 8, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed two bills: SB 6267/AB 268, which requires telecommunications providers to block certain numbers, and SB 4281/AB 585a, mandating that voice services providers implement the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework to validate that a call is actually coming from the number displayed by caller ID.

As explained in a statement from the Governor, SB 6267/AB 268 codifies into New York state law the provisions of a federal rule released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2017 that took effect in June, allowing telecommunications companies to proactively block calls from certain numbers.

Calls that will be blocked under this new law “are the most likely to be illegitimate,” Governor Hochul said, as they come from numbers that do not or cannot make outgoing calls and are indicative of spoofing schemes in which the true caller identity is masked behind a fake, invalid number.

The second New York bill also tracks federal developments. Pursuant to the federal Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act signed into law in December 2019, the FCC issued a rule requiring providers to implement call authentication technology known as STIR/SHAKEN by June 2021. As summarized by the FCC, “STIR/SHAKEN is a framework of interconnected standards. STIR/SHAKEN are acronyms for the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) standards.”

New York’s SB 4281/AB 585a tracks the mandate to implement the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework, which uses cryptography to validate that a call is actually from the number displayed by caller ID, preventing the spoofing of phone numbers and making it easier to trace illegal calls back to the source.

The new measure will provide for enhanced state enforcement, Governor Hochul said.

“New Yorkers are fed up with annoying, predatory robocalls, and we’re taking action to stop them,” she said in a statement about the new laws. “This legislation will enable telecom companies to prevent these calls from coming in the first place, as well as empower our state government to ensure that voice service providers are validating who is making these calls so enforcement action can be taken against bad actors.”

On the federal level, a congressional committee approved S. 594, the Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act of 2021.

Sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the bill was introduced in March.

As currently in effect, the Truth in Caller ID Act provides for penalties of $10,000 per violation with a maximum fine of $1 million for violations of the prohibition on “the use of misleading or inaccurate caller ID information to intentionally defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”

S. 594 would double the fines to $20,000 and $2 million, respectively.

On November 17, 2021, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation unanimously approved the measure.

“Older Americans lose billions of dollars each year to an ever-growing array of financial exploitation schemes,” Sen. Collins said in a statement about the committee’s approval. “These scams vary in nature, from COVID-19 scams to government imposter scams to prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams. We must work together to stop the criminals who use illegal robocalls and spoofing to steal American’s hard-earned savings and personal information. By increasing penalties for spoofing violations, the bi-partisan [bill] would provide an additional tool in this fight. I am pleased that the Commerce Committee advanced our legislation … and I urge my colleagues to support its passage.”

To read SB 6267/AB 268 click here.

To read SB 4281/AB 585a, click here.

To read S. 594, click here.

Why it matters: As demonstrated by the new laws in New York as well as the proposed legislation in Congress, lawmakers across the country continue to keep a close eye on telemarketing and the issue of spoofed calls.

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