As first pointed out by Eric Troutman at TCPAWorld.com, the Federal Communications Commission has delayed the implementation of its reassigned number database to January 2020, which is four months less than the group working on the database had asked for.
Last December, the FCC approved the creation of a reassigned numbers database, which would allow callers to see if a phone number that was once believed to be assigned to an individual has been reassigned to someone else. The database is aimed at reducing the number of unwanted phone calls individuals receive.
The database was originally supposed to be up and running by the end of this year, but the complexity of the project, coupled with “a reluctance by vendors of similar databases to provide assistance out of fear of disqualification from bidding on the reassigned numbers database contract,” has hampered its progress.
In its latest request, the Numbering Administration Oversight Working Group had asked for a seven-month extension, until April 13, 2020 to complete its work on the database. The FCC gave the NAOWG half of what it was asking for, extending the deadline by four months, to Jan. 13, 2020.
“We are mindful of the need to establish an operational database as soon as possible and believe that this is sufficient time for the remaining work to be completed,” the FCC wrote in granting the extension.
The North American Numbering Council must submit a progress report by the end of the month detailing how it will complete the project within the new specified timeframe.
Perhaps most importantly to the ARM industry, the FCC also approved a safe harbor from liability for any calls that are made to reassigned numbers as a result of database error. A number of financial services industry trade groups, including ACA International, has lobbied for some form of safe harbor should a call to a reassigned number make it through. The safe harbor should provide some comfort to callers, including collection agencies, and not discourage them from making calls to individuals.