CRTC approves Bell’s plan to use AI to block scam calls on 90-day trial basis

The call blocking will be done at the network level and doesn't require any action from customers

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has approved Bell’s plan to use AI to block certain fraudulent and scam calls on a 90-day trial basis.

Bell’s application to the CRTC proposed the use of AI to analyze telecommunications traffic in order to “flag anomalies that suggest possible fraudulent and scam activity.” These anomalies would be subject to review, and if Bell verifies the scam activity, then the carrier would block subsequent related calls.

“Given that the call-blocking system would be implemented at a network-wide level, every call originating on, terminating on, or merely transiting through Bell’s networks would be subject to analysis and potential blocking,” the decision reads.

The commission notes that since the blocking occurs at the network level, the scam caller or the recipient would not be notified that the call has been blocked. It’s important to note that only voice calls are subject to this system, and that text messages are not affected.

As part of the proposal, Bell was asked to provide a definition of what it considers to be a fraudulent or scam call. The carrier’s definition refers to a scam call as “a voice telecommunications call that attempts, by deceit, falsehood, or other fraudulent means, to defraud a person, organization, or the public of any property, money, valuable security, or any service.”

Vidéotron had stated that Bell’s proposal would cause consumer confusion between the measures that are taken by the CRTC and those taken by Bell. The commission found that Bell’s proposed trial would not have a negative impact on existing regulatory measures, such as Universal Call Blocking and STIR/SHAKEN, and would instead complement them.

The commission’s decision also outlines that false positives through the system are unlikely “given the extensive and thorough verification system [Bell has] developed.”

Further, the commission states it is satisfied with the measures Bell has put in place for the protection of confidential information, and that the consent requirements for the use of the collection and disclosure of personal information are sufficient.

Source: CRTC