The Federal Communications Commission is not taking robocalls lightly, requiring providers to monitor their networks for illegal activity. Today, the agency’s Robocall Response Team issued an Initial Determination Order requiring One Owl to provide proof it is tracking and blocking illegal calls. The company has two weeks to hand over documentation of its efforts to the FCC or see its traffic get cut off.
The FCC found One Owl operates as a gateway provider for international robocalls, which “bombarded” consumers with prerecorded messages requesting confirmation of fake orders from “ACM Trading LLC.” Some calls falsely alerted people to a “pre-authorized order placed in your name.” The Industry Traceback Group found the calls originated overseas, with One Owl acting as the original source or the gateway provider for the robocalls.
Robocalls remain even as consumers, carriers, and the FCC agree they are a nuisance that needs to be stopped. An average of 50.3 billion illegal calls were made in the past two years, according to YouMail, with an estimated $58 billion lost each year. Sources are difficult to track down and stop as companies use masking tactics to hide their identities. To further complicate matters, as the FCC shuts down one operation, another springs up in its place.
Gateway providers must block illegal traffic when notified by the FCC, which One Owl has failed to do, going as far as to authenticate calls before sending them along to additional providers. One Owl has repeatedly failed to comply with a cease-and-desist order the FCC sent in August. The company has not responded to the request and shows no effort to investigate or block illegal traffic, the agency said.
As a result, the Enforcement Bureau has advised other providers to cut off traffic from One Owl if the company continues to resist regulating its services.
“One Owl faces a simple choice – comply or lose access to U.S. communications networks,” said Loyaan A. Egal, chief of the Enforcement Bureau.
The FCC became aware of One Owl’s illegal activities while taking action against Illum Telecommunication Limited and One Eye LLC, a predecessor to One Owl. The companies operate as independent corporations but share personnel, IP addresses, customers, and “a penchant for disregarding FCC rules,” as stated in the order.
“It’s not right when illegal robocalls flood our phones,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “We need to stop them in every way we can. Today’s action takes out a carrier responsible for these scam calls. But we won’t let up here. We have to keep at it until we get all this junk off the line.”
One Owl has 14 days to provide the FCC with proof of compliance or face a Final Determination issuing a mandatory blocking order from other providers. The Enforcement Bureau sent a K4 Notice alerting all U.S.-based voice service companies of “substantial amounts” of illegal robocalls from One Owl. If One Owl misses the deadline, “downstream” providers will have 30 days to block all traffic stemming from the company.