Arguments in Brazil about STIR/SHAKEN

Brazil’s telcos are pushing back against the regulator’s plans for STIR/SHAKEN, the expensive US technology to prevent CLI spoofing, reports Teletime. Anatel, the government agency responsible for telecoms in Brazil, has long favored a plan that would be administered by Brazil’s Associação Brasileira de Telesserviços (ABT), an association of big telemarketing companies. However, Brazil’s telcos want their own association, the Associação Brasileira de Recursos em Telecomunicações (ABR Telecom), to be in charge. The telcos refer to the high costs of implementing STIR/SHAKEN and the complexity of making the technology work across multiple networks as reasons to challenge the competence of ABT to lead execution.

ABT represents call center providers and other businesses that make high volumes of calls to Brazilian consumers. They follow the model established in the USA that argues it is good for both commerce and for society as a whole to place millions of legal sales calls to ordinary people who may not want to receive them. This means their business models are deeply threatened by the significant increase in calls made by scammers and other illegal callers as this discourages consumers from answering any calls they do not recognize. There is also an obvious connection between the huge volumes of legal telemarketing calls made in both countries and the fact that Brazil and the USA are also the worst places to live if you want to avoid nuisance calls, though telemarketing businesses are reluctant to observe how they fueled investment in infrastructure that is co-opted by criminal enterprises which pretend to behave legally.

Anatel wants the Brazilian version of STIR/SHAKEN to be working before the end of this year, but it should be noted that they are not proposing to copy the strategy pursued by the USA, Canada and France, the three countries which have mandated STIR/SHAKEN so far. Their explicit focus is on implementing the technology for outbound calls made by large call centers, instead of mandating its use across the entire telephony ecosystem. Gustavo Borges, a senior official at Anatel, has previously stated their target is for 50-60 percent of calls made in Brazil to have an identification signature.

We often see the biggest telecoms crimes can be tackled with the use of technology, if there is a refusal to address the more fundamental factors that make crime viable. Bypass frauds become more common when wide differences in pricing encourage criminals to disguise their traffic, artificial inflation occurs when criminals are incentivized by payments for terminating traffic, and illegal spam occurs when there is already a vast infrastructure supporting legal spam. Much like the African countries which persist with throwing money at detecting simboxes because they will not contemplate reducing sky-high termination fees, the US and Brazil will likely need to keep throwing money at detecting illegal calls because they have already decided to permit many kinds of calls that other countries have banned. So when authorities like the FCC and Anatel claim to be protecting consumers from harm, keep in mind the decisions they have already made that prioritize the goals of big business over the desire of many ordinary people to just enjoy a peaceful life.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.