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New caller ID law now in place to help fight wave of spam and spoof calls

Up to one-quarter of all calls on mobile networks in Canada are spam right now

The new law will only impact calls that happen entirely over an IP-voice network.

The new law will only impact calls that happen entirely over an IP-voice network.

Photo: CBC / Ben Nelms


Canada's telecommunications regulator is bringing in new laws that will force phone companies to do a better job of identifying who is calling, to help users inundated by nuisance phone calls from telemarketers.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said in a press release Tuesday that phone companies must now implement a technology on their networks that does a better job of weeding out so-called spoof phone calls, which are calls that look like familiar Canadian phone numbers they may want to answer, but are in fact unsolicited spam and nuisance calls from dodgy companies.

Earlier this month (new window), CRTC chair Ian Scott announced that the regulator was going to compel the phone companies to do more about cracking down on such calls, which he said currently make up as much as 25 per cent of all phone calls on mobile networks in Canada right now.

As of today, telecommunications service providers will certify whether a caller's identity can be trusted by verifying the caller ID information for Internet Protocol-based voice calls, the CRTC said. This new technology will help reduce the frequency and impact of caller ID spoofing.

The technology, known as STIR/SHAKEN — which stands for Secure Telephony Identity Revisited/Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs — won't completely block spoof phone calls, because it only works on calls that happen over an IP-voice network. But it will help slow the deluge.

This new caller ID technology will empower Canadians to determine which calls are legitimate and worth answering, and which need to be treated with caution, Scott said. As more providers upgrade their networks, STIR/SHAKEN will undoubtedly reduce spoofing and help Canadians regain peace of mind when answering phone calls.

Ultimately, the phone industry in Canada may move toward a system where users would see a red light or green light next to incoming calls: green for calls where the caller's identity has been verified, and red for when it has not been.

CBC News