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November 2nd, 2020

Canada mandates STIR/SHAKEN to battle “nuisance call” epidemic

Robocalls, call spoofing, and fraud are a global issue. In Canada, where they label these calls “nuisance calls”, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says such calls are on the rise, nearly doubling in number in the first seven months of 2020 from last year. The Centre, in partnership with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, says robocalling was the number one contact method used by fraudsters in 2019. As a result, eradicating unlawful robocalls and caller ID spoofing is now a top priority for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC). They’re relying on STIR/SHAKEN as the weapon of choice.

Canada is gaining momentum as the second country in the world to implement STIR/SHAKEN call authentication by June 2021, and they’ve made rapid progress in short order. 

A winning partnership.
In 2019, the CRTC approved the establishment of the Canadian Secure Token-Governance Authority Inc. (CST-GA) whose role is to rally industry-wide adoption of STIR/SHAKEN policies, protocols, and operating procedures to mitigate spoofing and illegal robocalling. The CST-GA is responsible for directing the Secure Telephone Identity Policy Administrator (STI-PA) and Certification Authorities (STI-CA) in Canada. All Canadian carriers who wish to implement STIR/SHAKEN must be a member of the CST-GA. 

This past July, the CST-GA and their shareholders partnered with Neustar to stand up both the STI-PA and STI-CA by September 30, 2020, which was accomplished. As STI-PA, Neustar will provide comprehensive governance solution support to CST-GA, enabling STIR/SHAKEN protocols across the Canadian telecommunications industry. As an STI-CA, Neustar will issue digital STI certificates to be used by service providers to authenticate and verify calls.

Then, in October, the CST-GA engaged Neustar to help  launch the Canadian-based infrastructure and website for eligible carriers to register and join CST-GA and to participate in the Secure Telephone Identity (STI) call authentication ecosystem using STIR/SHAKEN.

“The launch of the new Secure Telephone Identity infrastructure represents a major step forward in the fight to protect consumers against nuisance calls,” said Jacques Sarrazin, president and CEO of CST-GA. “Canada is the second country to deploy a national STIR/SHAKEN framework, and we are proud to have operationalized the Policy Administrator and Certification Authority roles in just three months. Successful implementation of the STI framework is an important step toward allowing Canadians to once again answer the phone without apprehension.”

First North America, then the world.
Global adoption has long been the vision of STIR/SHAKEN authors and administrators. How STIR/ SHAKEN is implemented with respect to international calls is becoming increasingly important. As seen in recent high-profile legal cases, the primary source of fraudulent voice traffic has been linked to VoIP applications, trunks, and wholesale providers catering to subscribers who are sourcing traffic from international entities set on committing fraud. 

It’s a complicated mission as every country has its own rules about privacy, data security and governance. Progress is possible, however, as Northern American efforts demonstrate. In fact, in 2019, Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman in the U.S. and Canada's CRTC Chairman Ian Scott reported that they had completed end-to-end international authenticated calls using STIR/SHAKEN through Xfinity Voice and Telus wireless phone services.  

Neustar is currently providing our Certified Caller STIR/SHAKEN hosted solution to multiple Canadian carriers, and actively conducting tests with others. These carriers are made up of national and regional providers offering mobile, cable, and landline networks. These efforts point to positive trends in restoring trust in the voice channel and getting legitimate calls through, while stopping scammers and spoofers in their tracks. 

To learn more about STIR/SHAKEN in the U. S. and Canada, tune into the virtual Canadian Telecom Summit, November 17-19. The event will feature leading experts on the top issues of the day, from regulations to digital readiness, intelligent network transformation in the 5G era. CST-GA executive Jacques Sarrazin and Neustar’s SVP and GM of Caller ID, James Garvert, will be co-presenting as keynote speakers.
 
To learn more about how to become a member of CST-GA, visit cstga.ca/members.

Neustar has long worked with government, VSPs, and enterprises to mitigate fraud across the call ecosystem. As an approved Certification Authority and co-author of the STIR certificate management standards, Neustar plays an integral role in the governance structure to win the fight against illegal robocalling and call spoofing. To learn more, visit our Trusted Call Resource Center.


 

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