March 1, 2017–Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) has asked FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to do “everything” in the agency’s power to address recent bomb threats made against Jewish community centers (JCCs) in New York “and across the country” from phones with caller ID information blocked, which has stymied local law enforcement investigations. Section 64.1601(b) of the FCC’s rules prohibit carriers from revealing caller information on calls placed from lines with caller ID information blocked.
In a letter dated yesterday, Sen. Schumer noted that former Chairman Tom Wheeler had “worked with us to pass a special waiver” last year when the Middletown School District of Middletown, N.Y., experienced a similar string of telephone calls delivering “terror threats, also known as ‘swatting,’” a reference to heavily armed SWAT law enforcement teams that often turn out in response to such calls. The waiver allowed the school district to obtain the caller information for the calls.
Sen. Schumer urged Chairman Pai to “coordinate your federal resources with local law enforcement across the nation to ensure they have the resources needed to thwart these attacks.” He also asked for information about what the agency has done to respond to these bomb threats, whether it will consider a waiver like that granted to Middletown School District, and what resources the FCC can provide to local law enforcement “to ensure they are equipped to thwart these attacks.”
In a statement, an FCC spokesman said, “Chairman Pai is very concerned about the bomb threats being made to Jewish Community Centers across our country. These threats have instilled fear and disrupted lives throughout the United States, and Chairman Pai condemns such anti-Semitic acts in the strongest possible terms. The FCC is actively exploring what steps the FCC can take quickly to help Jewish Community Centers and law enforcement combat these threats.”
The Middletown waiver was subject to various conditions, including ensuring that the school district only passed the information to law enforcement through secure communications and that calling party number information be destroyed after a reasonable retention period. – Lynn Stanton, firstname.lastname@example.org