Canada has implemented new technology to help combat spam calls – but will it actually work?
The Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) said on Tuesday that telecommunications service providers will now be required to use the new technology, called STIR / SHAKEN, to mark spam calls.
STIR / SHAKEN indicates whether a call made over the Internet, also known as a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) call, comes from a trusted source.
VoIP calling is known to trick caller ID into showing the caller as legitimate, such as from a government agency. This is known as caller ID spoofing.
Now users should receive an indication when they receive a call whether it is fraudulent or not. How this information is communicated may vary between service providers, the CRTC said.
“This new caller ID technology will allow Canadians to determine which calls are legitimate and worth answering and which should be treated with caution,” CRTC CEO Ian Scott said in a statement.
“As more providers upgrade their networks, STIR / SHAKEN will undoubtedly reduce spoofing and help Canadians regain peace of mind when answering phone calls.”
The technology was originally slated to be implemented in 2019, but has been delayed until now.
New technology will help fight spam calls, CRTC says
While many Canadians have probably received a spam call themselves, they can actually be dangerous for some, according to Shruti Shekar, senior reporter at tech site Android Central.
“These automatic phone calls pose threats to individuals,” Shekar said.
For example, the caller may say that they are from CRA and that the individual owes money.
Shekar said the victims are often new immigrants to Canada who are unaware that the calls are not real and do not want their hard work to get into the country to be ruined so they pay up.
“A lot of people get really scared.”
STIR / SHAKEN works by digitally validating the transfer between the VoIP calls and a “network of networks,” CRTC said.
“This allows the telephone company of the consumer receiving the call to confirm that a call is coming from a legitimate source … The called party can then make an informed decision as to whether to answer an unconfirmed call.”
However, the technology does not work with all calls.
CRTC notes that some calls will not be verifiable due to similar device and network compatibility, as well as calls that are not made exclusively over the Internet.
David Reevely, Ottawa correspondent for the business website The Logic, said that STIR / SHAKEN will also not work with older telephone networks, such as those that use copper wires instead of fiber optics.
While Canada’s major telecommunications companies have been involved in implementing the technology, according to Reevely, as they are often the target of spammers trying to get their customers’ personal information, there is a chance they may be a bit also on board.
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John Lawford, CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Center, a consumer advocacy group, said there is a chance that telephone companies could start charging users for the service, as the CRTC did not say it is not allowed.
“Some consumers may see this offered in the coming months with a fee of $ 1 or $ 2 per month, maybe more,” he said.
“There is nothing to stop them from doing that.”
Lawford said the technology should help reduce the amount of calls people interact with, but it will not prevent the calls from being made completely or that seniors or immigrants take the calls incorrectly.
“All it takes is a call to get through, and that person starts listening to a scammer’s pitch,” he said.
“This is not the whole solution.”
– with files from Anne Gaviola
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