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IP Relay Services Halted From Processing Unregistered Users’ Calls

The new rule works to provide the communication access intended by Congress while eliminating fraud and abuse in the program

The U.S. Government implements a rule prohibiting Internet-protocol relay providers from processing non-emergency calls made by new IP relay users before “reasonable measures” are taken to verify a new user’s information.

On July 25, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission posted a “final rule” on the Federal Register—Misuse of Internet Protocol (IP) Relay Service; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals With Hearing and Speech Disabilities—that became active the same day.

The final rule—FCC 12-71—“is intended to eliminate abuse that has resulted from unauthorized users having access to IP relay services prior to verification of their registration information,” according to the notice.

By implementing the rule, the commission seeks “to curb the misuse” of IP relay services by prohibiting providers from handling non-emergency calls made by new IP relay users prior to taking reasonable measures to verify the user’s registration information, the rule says. In addition, the new rule works to provide the communication access intended by Congress “while eliminating fraud and abuse in this program.”

The FCC says it is taking this action—in part—“because of concerns that individuals without a hearing or speech disability were using the anonymity of the IP relay service to call merchants and place orders using fake, stolen, or otherwise invalid credit cards.” The new rule permits relay providers to screen and terminate such calls, the commission says.

Because small businesses are more vulnerable to illegitimate IP relay calls involving fraudulent credit card purchases, by reducing the misuse of IP relay service, the new requirements will protect many small businesses that might be affected by illegitimate IP relay calls, the FCC says.