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Frosh urges stronger industry response to illegal robocalls

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NOTTINGHAM, MD—Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh this week joined a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general in calling on USTelecom, the leading organization representing telecommunications provider, and its Industry Traceback Group (ITG) to continue its collaboration with state attorneys general by bolstering technological capabilities to improve enforcement against illegal robocallers.

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.

“Robocallers continue to harass Americans every day, and many of them are just trying to scam unsuspecting consumers or steal their identity,” said Attorney General Frosh. “We hope that USTelecom will consider the coalition’s suggestions to continue—and improve—efforts to combat the onslaught of irritating robocalls.”

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, and reiterated in this week’s letter, 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 don’t 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, due in part to the support from the telecommunications industry and state attorneys general, the federal Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act was signed into law. This law enables the industry to develop call-authentication protocols to combat caller-ID spoofing and implement other sweeping anti-robocall measures.

In addition to Attorney General Frosh, the letter was signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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