RealTime IT News

VeriSign Offering 'Do-Not-Call' Service for Telecoms

In 1991, enough people complained about annoying phone calls from telemarketers that Congress passed an Act that lets consumers defend themselves. The legislation gave birth to the "Do-Not-Call" list movement.

More than a decade later, the calls are still coming from an increasing amount of faceless Internet-based call centers.

Hoping to help telecom companies win the battle, security company and domain registrar VeriSign Wednesday signed a partnership with Glen Cove, N.Y.-based Call Compliance to create the only Do-Not-Call compliance service that is nationally available at the highest level of the public switched telecommunications infrastructure.

The joint offering will combine Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign's nationwide SS7 signaling network and Call Compliance's TELEBLOCK Do-Not-Call Blocking System for telecom carriers that serve telemarketing call centers.

The two companies said they would market the major telecoms with their solution so they can achieve compliance with federal and state "Do-Not-Call" laws. Currently, 20 states including California, New York, Texas and Connecticut support such laws. Industry leaders like the Direct Marketing Association maintain a voluntary registry of roughly 4.5 million Americans who better not get an unsolicited call come dinner time.

VeriSign and Call Compliance say they want to offer the telecoms a self-regulating option before the government steps in.

"This is a major breakthrough for the carriers, telemarketers, and for consumers, too," said Call Compliance president Alison Garfinkel. "Through our arrangement with VeriSign, telephone companies will be able to offer their telemarketing clients an efficient and cost-effective means to be compliant, and most importantly, avoid the reputation-damaging fines and penalties being levied by the states and the federal government."

The announcement comes as the Federal Trade Commission is moving quickly to try and regulate the telecom sector under the umbrella of shielding consumers against aggressive telemarketers and questionable billing practices. The FTC's five commissioners are expected to testify today in front of a Senate Commerce subcommittee to state their case.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission issued its first series of official citations to four companies for initiating prerecorded unsolicited advertisements to residential telephone lines in violation of federal law and FCC regulations.

The FCC can immediately institute forfeiture proceedings for rules violations only against companies or persons who are already regulated by the FCC, like radio licensees, cable TV operators, phone companies, etc. However, for non-regulated entities, the FCC must first issue a citation, putting the violators on notice that subsequent violations are subject to forfeitures of up to $11,000 each.

Full commercial deployment of the new Do-Not-Call service is expected in fourth quarter.

VeriSign also said it plans to install the new nationwide Do-Not-Call service on its Advanced Transaction Look-Up And Signaling system, known as ATLAS. The platform interacts with multiple protocols including DNS, SIP, and SS7, so it can potentially serve as a database platform for Local Number Portability, Calling Name and other telecom services, in addition to Do-Not-Call.

By bridging these protocols, VeriSign said users eventually will be able to communicate and transact business across different kinds of networks using all kinds of devices - wireline phones, mobile phones, PDAs, or PCs.

"ATLAS provides a powerful next-generation database platform that will greatly enhance the advantages of Call Compliance's TELEBLOCK technology for telecom carriers," said VeriSign Telecommunication Services executive vice president Terry Kremian. "Do-Not-Call will be the first telecommunication service to utilize ATLAS, making this a significant step forward in VeriSign's mission to deliver the promise of convergence by providing a scalable, reliable, and flexible infrastructure that bridges Internet and telephony services."