FTC, FCC Disagree Over Who Should be VoIP Robocall Enforcer

The Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission are having a tough time figuring out who should be the primary regulator going after individuals and organizations that are making illegal robocalls, according to a published report [Registration required].

Both sides appear to think the other has jurisdiction, according to the report, especially when it comes to the smaller Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) carriers which are believed to be the vehicle of choice among scammers and those seeking to make calls without necessarily being detected.

According to a trade association of cell phone carriers, “relatively few” of the calls that are flagged as being potentially spam or fraud calls originate from one of the national telecom companies.

Meanwhile, the FCC says it does not have regulatory authority over what are known as “one-way carriers,” which make calls but are not allowed to receive them.

The FTC has broad authority to go after deceptive business practices, but the agency believes some robocall intermediaries, including VoIP providers, fall outside its jurisdiction. In a recent memo to a congressional committee, viewed by the Journal, the FTC cites a May 2018 enforcement action related to scam callers where it declined to sue an internet-based phone company “for its knowing participation in the illegal robocalls.”

The FTC memo pointed the finger at the FCC, saying the company in question was likely a “common carrier” exclusively under the jurisdiction of the FCC.

An FCC spokesman declined to discuss specific enforcement cases but disputed the FTC’s legal interpretation, saying the FTC has broad authority to go after both robocallers and “middlemen that facilitate them.”

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