The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that all mobile carriers and phone companies must adopt the STIR/SHAKEN protocol by June 20, 2021.
This regulatory requirement is aimed at combating robocalls, especially those that try to hide their phone numbers by allowing carriers to authenticate caller IDs.
According to the FCC, widespread adoption of the STIR/SHAKEN protocol will make illegal spoofing less effective, help law enforcement agencies identify those behind these schemes and allow mobile carriers to identify spammers before they call people's phones.
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The agency also estimates that fraudulent call schemes cost Americans approximately $10bn each year.
Back in 2018, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai started putting pressure on carriers to adopt the STIR/SHAKEN protocol. In a press release, Pai commented on how he and the American people are tired of receiving robocalls, saying:
"American consumers are sick and tired of unwanted robocalls, this consumer among them. Caller ID authentication will be a significant step towards ending the scourge of spoofed robocalls. It's time for carriers to implement robust caller ID authentication."
Last year Congress passed the TRACED Act which mandated the use of STIR/SHAKEN. However, the FCC's new regulatory requirement for mobile carriers and phone companies to support the protocol won't make robocalls disappear overnight.
Carriers can't simply enable the protocol on their own as they also have to test that their implementation works with other networks. Additionally consumers must own a device capable of displaying the “Caller Verified” notification when they receive a call. Most modern smartphones already support this feature but some will need to be updated to do so.
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After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.