On May 13, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the FCC will host a summit on July 11 “to examine industry’s progress” toward meeting the FCC’s deadline to implement “more reliable caller ID information to combat malicious spoofed robocalls.” 

The summit is part of the SHAKEN/STIR initiative which is an “industry-led” program through which the FCC has urged phone companies to adopt matching standards for how calls are signed as legitimate and how that authentication signature is reliably passed along from carrier to carrier. The goal of these standards is to enable consumers to better assess whether a call is authentic. The standards themselves go by the acronyms SHAKEN (Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs) and STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited). 

The SHAKEN/STIR initiative began in November 2018, when Chairman Pai demanded that the phone industry adopt a robust call authentication system to combat illegal caller ID spoofing. However, rather than implementing regulations on the SHAKEN/STIR framework itself, the FCC has requested that voice carriers and providers initiate and implement the framework independently. In so doing, the FCC has highlighted the importance of private actors’ efforts to combat illegal spoofing and unwanted and unlawful robocalls, while simultaneously delaying rules and regulations regarding the same. 

The July 2019 SHAKEN/STIR Summit announcement further emphasizes the FCC’s industry-focused approach to implementing changes that consumer groups demand. Stating that as “[a] regulatory process would likely take more than a year, would be required by law to leave open the question of which specific standard would be adopted, and would potentially get bogged down in litigation,” the FCC has concluded that a “cooperative, engineering-focused effort is best for consumers.” 

Time will tell if the FCC takes a similar approach to other aspects of robocall enforcement.