FCC Amends Rules Requiring Disclosure of Blocked Caller ID Information for Threatening Calls

In response to the dramatic increase in the number of threatening calls in recent years, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has adopted a new exemption to its rules that generally restrict disclosure of Calling Party Number (“CPN”) (or Caller ID information) on interstate calls subject to a privacy indicator (*67).  Previously, disclosure of blocked Caller ID information required a waiver of the FCC’s rules, which the FCC granted on a case-by-case basis.  With the newly adopted exemption, however, common carriers will be required to override privacy indicators on threatening interstate calls so that law enforcement and security personnel will have quick access to the Caller ID information needed to identify and thwart threatening callers.

The requirement becomes effective 30 days following publication of OMB approval in the Federal Register.

Required Disclosure Applies Only to Threatening Calls
The new exemption applies only to threatening calls.  The FCC has defined a threatening call, consistent with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), to mean “any call that conveys an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requiring disclosure without delay of information relating to the emergency.”  Required disclosure does not apply to a call from a person reporting a threat.
Law Enforcement Must Request Disclosure / Disclosure Limited to Law Enforcement
Disclosure of blocked Caller ID information may only be made in response to a request from law enforcement made on behalf of the threatened party.  The blocked Caller ID information may only be disclosed to law enforcement and, when directed by law enforcement, to security personnel.  Law enforcement and security personnel are subject to a number of conditions related to the use and protection of CPN disclosed by common carriers.


Disclosure Does Not Violate CPNI Rules and Does Not Result in CPN Liability 
The FCC has determined disclosure of blocked Caller ID information when consistent with the new CPN exemption is consistent with the requirement to protect the confidentiality of customers’ proprietary information.  Further, the FCC has stated that carriers should not be subject to liability for violation of the Caller ID privacy rules if carriers disclose blocked Caller ID information pursuant to the new exemption.
 
Non-Public Emergency Services May Obtain Blocked Caller ID Information

The FCC also amended its CPN rules to allow non-public emergency services that are licensed by a state or municipality to retrieve from carriers the blocked Caller ID of callers seeking assistance.  These non-public emergency services do not need to engage law enforcement to request and obtain blocked Caller ID information from carriers.

 

Please contact Robin Tuttle, rtuttle@hermanwhiteaker.com, or Greg Whiteaker, greg@hermanwhiteaker.com, if you have any questions about the new requirement to disclose blocked Caller ID information on threatening calls.