[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 39 (Tuesday, February 28, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 11997-12000]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-4658]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 64

[CG Docket Nos. 12-38 and 03-123; DA 12-208]


Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Seeks To Refresh the 
Record Regarding Misuse of Internet Protocol Relay Service

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission, via the Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) seeks comment to refresh the 
record regarding misuse of Internet Protocol relay service. Further 
comments are requested to bring the record up to date on proposed 
additional rules that would have the intended effect of reducing or 
eliminating misuse of Internet Protocol Relay.

DATES: Submit comments on or before March 20, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by CG Docket Nos. 12-38 
and 03-123, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the Commission's Electronic Comment 
Filing System (ECFS), through the Commission's Web site http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Filers should follow the instructions 
provided on the Web site for submitting comments. For ECFS filers, in 
completing the transmittal screen, filers should include their full 
name, U.S. Postal service mailing address, and CG Docket Nos. 12-38 and 
03-123.
     Paper filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and four copies of each filing. Filings can be sent by 
hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by 
first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although the 
Commission continues to experience delays in receiving U.S. Postal 
Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. All hand 
deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any 
envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial Mail sent by overnight mail (other than U.S. 
Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 
East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail should be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    In addition, parties must serve one copy of each pleading with the 
Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 445 
12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, or via email to 
fcc@bcpiweb.com.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eliot Greenwald, Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Disability Rights Office, at (202) 418-
2235 (voice), (202) 418-2922 (TTY), or email at 
Eliot.Greenwald@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a synopsis of the Commission's 
Public Notice, document DA 12-208, released February 13, 2012. The full 
text of document DA 12-208 and copies of any subsequently filed 
documents in this matter will be available for public inspection and 
copying during regular business hours at the FCC Reference Information 
Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 
20554. Document DA 12-208 and copies of subsequently filed documents in 
this matter may also be purchased from the Commission's duplicating 
contractor at Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, 
Washington, DC 20554. Customers may contact the Commission's 
duplicating contractor at its Web site www.bcpiweb.com, or by calling 
1-800-378-3160. To request materials in accessible formats for people 
with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio 
format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 
(TTY). Document DA 12-208 can also be downloaded in Word or Portable 
Document Format (PDF) at: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/trs.html. Pursuant 
to 47 CFR 1.415 and 1.419, interested parties may file comments on or 
before the date indicated in the DATES section of this document. 
Comments must include a short and concise summary of the substantive 
discussion and questions raised in the document DA 12-208. The 
Commission further directs all interested parties to include the name 
of the filing party and the date of the filing on each page of their 
comments. Comments must otherwise comply with 47 CFR 1.48 and all other 
applicable sections of the Commission's rules.
     Pursuant to 47 CFR 1.1200 et. seq., this matter shall be 
treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with the 
Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations must 
file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any 
oral presentation within two business days after the presentation 
(unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period 
applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that 
memoranda summarizing the presentation must: (1) List all persons 
attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex 
parte presentation was made; and (2) summarize all data presented and 
arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted 
in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already 
reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda or other 
filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such 
data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other 
filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where 
such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the 
memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex 
parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must 
be filed consistent with Sec.  1.1206(b) of the Commission's rules. In 
proceedings governed by Sec.  1.49(f) or for which the Commission has 
made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte 
presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, 
and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic 
comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed 
in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). 
Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the 
Commission's ex parte rules.
    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large

[[Page 11998]]

print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov 
or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 
(voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

Initial Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis

    Document DA 12-208 does not contain any new proposed information 
collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 
Pub. L. 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new 
proposed information collection burden for small business concerns with 
fewer than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork 
Relief Act of 2002, Pub. L. 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

Synopsis

    In document DA 12-208, the Bureau seeks to refresh the record on 
several issues pertaining to misuse of Internet Protocol (IP) Relay 
Service, including issues that were initially raised in the Further 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2006 FNPRM) released by the Commission 
on May 8, 2006 and published at 71 FR 31131, June 1, 2006. IP Relay is 
a form of text-based telecommunications relay service (TRS) that uses 
the Internet to allow individuals with hearing and/or speech 
disabilities to communicate with other individuals. The Bureau remains 
concerned that individuals who do not have a hearing or speech 
disability may be continuing to misuse IP Relay by, for example, 
calling merchants to place orders using fake, stolen, or otherwise 
invalid credit cards. Such abuse not only drains the TRS Fund that 
supports these services, but also harms legitimate consumers whose 
calls are rejected by individuals and businesses that have been the 
victims of such misuse. The Bureau believes that a refreshed record 
will better enable the Commission to take timely and appropriate action 
to address these problems.
    As the 2006 FNPRM explained, IP Relay affords users a degree of 
anonymity that can facilitate fraudulent activity. The 2006 FNPRM 
sought comment on ways to curb fraudulent calls via IP Relay, including 
requiring user registration and permitting relay providers to screen 
and terminate fraudulent IP Relay calls.
    Since the 2006 FNPRM was adopted, the Commission has undertaken a 
number of measures to combat misuse of the IP Relay program. Most 
significantly, in June 2008, the Commission adopted a mandatory system 
in which users of iTRS, including IP Relay, are assigned ten-digit 
telephone numbers linked to the North American Numbering Plan and iTRS 
users with disabilities are registered with their provider of choice 
(default provider). The Commission expressed its expectation that the 
registration of iTRS users with a default provider and the requirement 
for each user to provide a ``Registered Location'' would reduce the 
misuse of IP Relay. See 73 FR 41286, July 18, 2008. The Commission also 
sought comment on whether additional steps were needed to curtail 
illegitimate calls made through this service. See 73 FR 41307, July 18, 
2008.
    In December 2008, the Commission adopted a second iTRS numbering 
Order, published at 73 FR 79683, December 30, 2008, addressing IP Relay 
and video relay service (VRS). Among other things, the Commission:
     Directed iTRS providers to ``implement a reasonable means 
of verifying registration and eligibility information,'' including the 
consumer's name and mailing address, before issuing the consumer a ten-
digit telephone number. The Commission provided the following examples 
of what such verification could include: ``(1) Sending a postcard to 
the mailing address provided by the consumer, for return to the default 
Internet-based TRS provider; (2) in-person or on-camera ID checks 
during registration; or (3) other verification processes similar to 
those performed by voice telephone providers and other institutions 
(such as banks and credit card companies).''
     Directed that such registration be accompanied by consumer 
education and outreach efforts designed to inform iTRS users of the 
importance of providing accurate registration information.
     Limited eligibility to receive ten-digit numbers for iTRS 
use to people who have a hearing or speech disability and directed 
provider verification procedures to include a self-certification 
component requiring consumers to verify that they have a medically 
recognized hearing or speech disability necessitating their use of TRS.
    In April 2011, the Commission adopted several additional measures 
to combat relay fraud and abuse. See 76 FR 24393, May 2, 2011 and 76 FR 
24437, May 2, 2011. Among those measures that apply to IP Relay were a 
requirement for all TRS providers to submit to Commission-directed 
audits, a mandate for iTRS providers to retain, for five years, call 
detail records and other records supporting claims for payment, 
whistleblower protection rules for provider employees and contractors, 
and a requirement that a senior executive of a TRS provider certify, 
under penalty of perjury, to the validity of minutes and data submitted 
to the TRS Fund administrator.
    Lastly, in July 2011, the Commission adopted new certification 
rules applicable to iTRS providers, authorized on-site visits to the 
premises of applicants for iTRS certification and certified iTRS 
providers to confirm compliance with Commission rules, and set forth 
new requirements for providers to submit documentary evidence of their 
ability to comply with the Commission's TRS rules, to provide annual 
updates to their certification application information, and to certify, 
under penalty of perjury, as to the accuracy of their certification 
applications and their annual compliance filings to the Commission. See 
76 FR 47469, August 5, 2011 and 76 FR 47476, August 5, 2011.
    Refreshing the Record. Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities 
Act (ADA) mandates the provision of TRS for individuals with hearing 
and speech disabilities that is functionally equivalent to voice 
telephone services. This functional equivalency standard has served as 
the touchstone for the Commission in determining how TRS providers must 
provide services to consumers: the goal is to have the features, 
functions, and capabilities of these services mirror voice telephone 
services as closely as possible. To this end, Commission rulings have 
characterized CAs as ``transparent conduits'' to a relay call, 
frequently equated the connection to a CA with accessing a dial tone, 
and mandated confidentiality protections. Calls that are not legitimate 
relay calls, however, are not entitled to these transparency and 
confidentiality protections. Moreover, when there is concern that fraud 
or misuse infects a relay service, the Commission has an obligation to 
consider actions necessary to preserve the integrity and sustainability 
of the service.
    Despite the Commission's persistent efforts to combat the 
fraudulent use of IP Relay, the Bureau remains concerned that such 
misuse may persist. For example, although the Commission directed iTRS 
providers to implement reasonable methods to verify registration and 
eligibility information submitted by IP Relay users, the methods that 
providers currently are using may not be reasonable and may not be 
achieving the desired goal of ensuring that only eligible or qualified 
persons are using the service. Accordingly, the Commission may need to 
impose additional and more specific requirements with respect to both

[[Page 11999]]

authenticating initial registrants and verifying users of the service 
in order to ensure that providers are in fact taking reasonable steps 
needed to curb IP Relay misuse. Such steps are necessary to protect the 
integrity of the IP Relay program so that this service remains a viable 
and a valuable communication tool for Americans who wish to use it. 
Therefore, the Bureau believes it is necessary to refresh the record in 
this proceeding to help the Commission better understand what 
additional tools are needed to aid the Commission in these efforts.
    To this end, the Bureau seeks additional comment to refresh the 
2006 FNPRM record and regarding IP Relay generally on the following 
matters:
     The effectiveness of current measures to verify 
eligibility information for registration. In this regard, the Bureau 
asks commenters to provide information about methods of verification 
currently in use to authenticate the identity and eligibility of an 
individual seeking to obtain a ten-digit number. The Bureau 
specifically seeks comment on the extent to which IP Relay providers 
are utilizing one or more of the following verification procedures when 
registering such individuals: (1) Sending a postcard to the mailing 
address provided by the consumer, for return to the default IP Relay 
provider; (2) utilizing in-person or on-camera ID checks during 
registration; (3) utilizing verification processes similar to those 
performed by voice telephone providers and other institutions (such as 
banks and credit card companies); or (4) utilizing an alternative means 
of verification approved in advance by the Commission. The Bureau asks 
providers to comment on the effectiveness of each of these or any other 
verification measures that they use to screen out illegitimate IP Relay 
users, as well as how they assess the effectiveness of such measures. 
The Bureau further asks whether individuals outside of the U.S. have 
been obtaining IP Relay access numbers or otherwise using this service 
unlawfully, as well as to what extent current provider practices enable 
or contribute to the registration of ineligible IP Relay users. The 
Bureau also seeks input on what additional steps should be taken, or 
technology implemented, to prevent the registration and use of IP Relay 
by these and other ineligible individuals?
     Other verification processes, such as commercial 
verification services, that are available and may be appropriate to 
more effectively screen out ineligible individuals who attempt to 
register as IP Relay users. For example, the Bureau notes that the 
Commission has in place verification procedures for other programs, 
such as those recently adopted for Lifeline assistance. Specifically, 
in light of evidence demonstrating that consumer self-certification of 
program-based eligibility does not effectively prevent ineligible 
consumers from enrolling in Lifeline, the Commission amended its rules 
to require providers to confirm a consumer's eligibility for Lifeline 
with documentation. Would utilization of similar or analogous 
procedures be appropriate and necessary to verify eligibility in the IP 
Relay context? The Bureau seeks specific comment on whether a database 
would be effective in this context, and on what types of documentation 
would be available and appropriate to establish the eligibility of 
registrants for IP Relay. Are there other governmental programs that 
may serve as a model for verifying the eligibility of individuals who 
seek to use IP Relay?
     Although the iTRS Numbering Implementation Public Notice 
directed providers to verify each caller's registration prior to 
completing non-emergency calls, it also directed providers to handle a 
call from a newly registered user immediately, even if the provider had 
not completed the process of verifying the caller's information, 
assigning the caller a new ten-digit number, and provisioning that 
number to the iTRS database. Should the Commission continue to permit 
temporary authorization for a user to place IP Relay calls while 
verification of the caller is taking place, in light of the apparent 
misuse of IP Relay? Or should the Commission prohibit temporary 
authorization for this service (other than for the handling of 
emergency calls)?
     To the extent the Commission adopts specific user 
verification procedures, should it require IP Relay providers to 
revalidate all of their currently registered users?
     Whether IP Relay providers and their CAs should be given 
the discretion to determine, on a case-by-case basis, that a call is 
not a legitimate TRS call, and to block, terminate, or refuse to handle 
the non-TRS call. Are there ways for an IP Relay provider and its CAs 
to determine when an IP Relay call is fraudulent through identifiable 
indicia? If an illegitimate call (i.e., one that the CA has determined 
is not a TRS call) has been placed to a merchant, should the provider 
or CA be permitted to alert the merchant that the call is believed to 
be fraudulent, or take other steps to prevent the misuse of IP Relay?
     Whether advanced call tracking mechanisms--e.g., 
geolocation systems--are available for the purpose of accurately 
determining whether a particular IP Relay call is originating from or 
terminating to an international location. If available, can such call-
tracking mechanisms identify international IP Relay calls, even when a 
party to the IP Relay call is attempting to disguise the IP Relay call 
as a domestic U.S. call by, for example, re-directing the call through 
a domestic IP address? The Bureau also seeks comment on the extent to 
which providers are using tracking mechanisms to determine where IP 
Relay calls originate.
     At present, Commission rules require providers to maintain 
and submit various records of the relay calls for which they seek 
reimbursement. However, the Commission's rules also prohibit CAs from 
keeping records of the content of any conversation beyond the duration 
of a call. For calls placed with IP Relay providers that are determined 
by a provider to be illegitimate, what documentation, if any, should 
the provider be required to maintain and submit to the Commission 
regarding such calls to facilitate better program oversight?
     Whether more rigorous user authentication on a per-call 
basis should be employed to combat misuse of IP Relay. If so, what form 
would this take? Would such an approach enable providers to 
authenticate callers who dial-around to a different IP Relay provider 
more effectively? Would the use of a common resource, such as a third-
party database or service, enable providers to authenticate dial-around 
callers more effectively? Would more rigorous user authentication on a 
per-call basis address current vulnerabilities to IP address spoofing? 
How could such an approach be extended to popular messaging services, 
such as AIM and Google Talk, that callers might use to access IP Relay?
     Under the Commission's iTRS registration process, IP Relay 
users select a default relay provider for the handling of their IP 
Relay calls, but are permitted to dial-around to a different IP Relay 
provider at any time. To what extent is this dial-around feature used 
or desirable for IP Relay calls? Under the Commission's rules, IP Relay 
providers must answer 85 percent of all calls within 10 seconds, 
averaged daily. Does this rapid response time negate the need for a 
dial-around feature? To what extent is the dial-around feature 
contributing to relay misuse? If the Commission discontinues allowing 
the dial-around feature, should an exception be made for emergency 
calls?
     Whether providers maintain lists of illegitimate users 
whose numbers are

[[Page 12000]]

blocked from using IP relay, and, if so, the approximate number of such 
users and the extent to which providers share this information with one 
another. Should the Commission require providers to share such 
information or to take additional measures to ensure that all providers 
have the same information, e.g., by creating a central database of 
barred users and/or blocked numbers/addresses?
     The extent to which IP Relay fraud or misuse exists, and 
specifically, the extent to which it has worsened (or has been 
ameliorated) since the Commission adopted its iTRS numbering and user 
registration requirements. The Bureau also seeks updated information on 
any patterns associated with such misuse--for example, whether it is 
more prevalent at specific times of the day, week, month, and year--as 
well as the nature of this misuse.
     Whether specific audit procedures, in addition to those 
that the Commission has already authorized, are needed to identify and 
curb IP Relay misuse.
     The extent to which IP Relay is currently being used by 
consumers with and without disabilities, and whether it is meeting a 
need that is not fulfilled by other forms of relay, or other text-based 
services. When IP Relay was approved in 2002, IP-based captioned 
telephone relay service was not available to consumers and VRS was 
typically available in community settings only (e.g., libraries, 
consumer organizations). In addition, purely text-based services such 
as on-line ordering and text messaging were not as commonly used as 
they are today. To what extent do other forms of relay services, as 
well as text messaging and other electronic messaging services, now 
serve as adequate or preferred alternatives to IP Relay?

Federal Communications Commission.
Karen Peltz Strauss,
Deputy Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.
[FR Doc. 2012-4658 Filed 2-27-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P