The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced that itis increasing its efforts to stop illegal robocalls that originate overseas from reaching Americans’ phones. On April 11, 2023, the FTC said that it would be implementing “Project Point of No Entry” (“Project PoNE”), which targets Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) service providers that serve as “point of entry” or gateway providers. Under Project PoNE, the FTC plans to: “1) identif[y] point of entry VoIP service providers that are routing or transmitting illegal call traffic, 2) demand they stop doing so and warn [that] their conduct may violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and 3) monitor them to pursue recalcitrant providers, including by opening law enforcement investigations and filing lawsuits when appropriate.”
The FTC is authorized to seek both civil penalties and court injunctions to enforce the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The FTC may also sue scammers for monetary damages and use those funds to reimburse consumers who have been defrauded via illegal telemarketing calls.
Project PoNE will work in concert with similar efforts from the Federal Communications Commission, which adopted rules last year to stop foreign-originated robocalls from passing through U.S.-based gateway providers into U.S. calling networks. The Commission set the effective dates for those rules in December 2022.
According to the FTC, through its own enforcement efforts in collaboration with partners such as the Industry Traceback Group, the Federal Communications Commission, and state attorneys general, Project PoNE has already “uncovered the activity of 24 target [gateway] providers responsible for routing and transmitting illegal robocalls between 2021 and 2023, in connection with approximately 307 telemarketing campaigns.” In each case, the FTC demanded that the target cease transmitting the illegal traffic and warned the providers of potential enforcement action. According to the Industry Traceback Group data, in 22 of the 24 cases, the target “significantly curbed or altogether stopped the flow of illegal robocalls” on their networks.