PRESS RELEASE: Attorney General Reyes Fights to Further Crackdown on Illegal Robocalls

https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/attorney-general-reyes-fights-to-further-crackdown-on-illegal-robocalls/

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general in calling on USTelecom – the leading organization representing telecommunications providers – and its Industry Traceback Group (ITG) to continue its collaboration with state attorneys general by bolstering technological capabilities to improve enforcement against illegal robocallers.

In a letter to USTelecom, the coalition is urging the association to further develop robocall traceback and other tools suited to law enforcement and regulatory needs.

“For many years, I have been fighting this threat to protect Utah citizens from illegal robocallers, but these criminals are very persistent, and it is a lucrative enterprise,” Attorney General Reyes said. “The problem is massive and complex. And to be clear, we are not talking about the type of robocalls that may be annoying but are not fraudulent or dangerous. We are talking about ones that lead to economic or physical exploitation and leave people with ruined lives and finances. We must work even more closely with Telecom leaders to combat these criminal robocalls. We need the right set of tools to combat this pervasive threat, and furthering this collaboration is a step in the right direction.”

The letter asks USTelecom to advance the ITG’s abilities in identifying robocall campaigns, trends and business ecosystems; conducting automated traceback investigations; and coordinating with relevant law enforcement agencies.

A key part of that action would be for USTelecom to develop and roll out an online platform to collect live data from carriers and robocall-blocking apps. When USTelecom or a law enforcement agency detects an illegal robocall campaign, the law enforcement agency would then be able to submit a subpoena to USTelecom in a streamlined online portal.

The process would allow for rapid review by USTelecom and provide law enforcement agencies the ability to expedite subpoena procedures and access the platform to quickly retrieve relevant data. The platform would bolster law enforcement investigations and could potentially lead to attorneys general offices issuing temporary restraining orders that could stop a live robocall campaign in its tracks.

The coalition’s letter follows a January 2020 meeting in Washington, D.C., with representatives from state attorneys general offices, federal agencies and the telecom industry. Some priorities developed at that meeting include:

  • Automating and increasing the total volume of traceback investigations;
  • Alerting relevant law enforcement agencies of suspected illegal robocall campaigns;
  • Enabling law enforcement agencies to electronically upload and receive responses to subpoenas and civil investigative demands, and providing swift response to those requests; and
  • Identifying noncooperative Voice Service Providers, including those that do not participate in the traceback process, repeatedly originate or accept illegal robocalls, or repeatedly fail to provide sufficient records.

The coalition believes these measures would strengthen the partnership between the USTelecom-backed ITG and attorneys general, a relationship that led to the creation of the Anti-Robocall Principles. Those principles were established in August 2019 when 51 attorneys general and 12 major telecom providers took aim at reducing the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people.

More recently – and due in part to the support from the telecommunications industry and state attorneys general – the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act was signed into law by the federal government. This law enables the industry to develop call-authentication protocols to combat caller-ID spoofing and implement other sweeping anti-robocall measures.

Read a copy of the letter here.

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