Do Not Call Enforcement; Project No. P034412 #565017-00022

Submission Number:
Paula Bailey-Stine
Initiative Name:
Do Not Call Enforcement; Project No. P034412
Dear FTC: I have attached my submission to the FTC Robocall Challenge, which focuses on a combination of technical approaches (most of which are in developmental stages and involve approaches borrowed from the problems of email and forum spam, particularly the use of Bayesian filtering) and legal/legislative approaches that would give far more power to the FTC and state Attorneys-General to properly prosecute offenders (including formal definition of violation of telemarketing laws as a federal crime, which would allow extradition of bad actors overseas, outlawing the setup of "pink CLECs" and "pink VoIP providers" with criminal penalties for knowingly selling access for purposes of illegal telemarketing, and mandating certain access requirements for telco providers to prevent abuse of their services). The suggestions in this particular submission are based on the fact that almost all illegal telemarketing operations are conducted by the use of "SPIT"--SIP-based VoIP spam, in essence--and the explosion of the use of overseas call centers in particular is directly related to the use of SPITting to inject illegal telemarketing operations into the US phone network. (Probably the largest illegal telemarketing operation--that of a telemarketing company responsible for the "Card Member Services" and "Free Home Security System" scams--involves both SPITting (via a VoIP-based call center in Belize) and the use of "pink CLECs" set up with names confusingly similar to legitimate (and long since merged) telcos. Another telemarketing operation (focusing on roof repair scams in areas recently hit by severe weather) out of Guadalajara, Mexico is almost entirely SPIT-based, promoting its company to students as a "work from home" opportunity in online help-wanted sections worldwide.) Both technical and legislative approaches are posted because--unfortunately--even in areas with effective and strong laws against telemarketing abuse (such as in Kentucky, which actually classifies violation of telemarketing laws as a felony--Indiana and Missouri also have similar "telemarketing laws with teeth") states have had some problems, but in general there has been more success in stopping illegal telemarketing in states with strong laws that could be used as a model for federal legislation. As we have seen with email spamming (and the unfortunate passage of the CAN-SPAM Act) technological approaches can only go so far--actual reduction tends to coincide with the actual perpetrators being imprisoned (such as what recently happened to "spam every communications media known" mogul Sanford Wallace--singlehandedly responsible for not only a federal ban on junk faxing, but also for many of the (far stronger) pre-CAN-SPAM state laws regarding spamming and wire fraud). Hopefully this submission gives some ideas as to how to effectively fight the SPITting issue. Thanks, -P. Bailey-Stine