Get with the program, MAN (Part 1)

Learn about France’s MAN program, a regulatory move against illegal robocalls.
A phone with France's flag and the text 'MAN' indicating France's MAN program

Updated: 19th June, 2024 with deadline information

Imagine you’re trying to launch an important project at the 11th hour and your pocket won’t stop buzzing. A recorded voice wants to loan you thousands of dollars in pre-approved loans, just like that!

Or your mother calls but you’re so used to the ‘other voice’ that your first response is “I don’t need that vacuum cleaner”. Or worse yet, you miss your mother’s call because of all the robocalls (also infamous as spam calls). 

It gets worse. Until you give up the number that’s pretty much your tele-identity. 

Fortunately, regulations like STIR/SHAKEN in the U.S. and the MAN program in France come to the rescue.

Robocalls are rampant. Why should you care?

Fraudulent calls have become a problem globally and the losses are building to a critical mass. According to a Juniper research report[1], global losses from fraudulent robocalling are:

In 2022 $53bn
In 2023(forecasted) $58bn (Nearly 10%^)
By 2027(forecasted) $70bn

These calls are not only a nuisance but also pose a significant threat to people’s personal information and financial security. Scammers resort to evolving fraud tactics, such as pretending to be a bank or a government agency, to trick people into giving them sensitive information or making fraudulent transactions. It’s like the enigma code. Companies get smarter, scammers evolve to match them. 

Until they don’t.

The U.S. implementation of STIR/SHAKEN has been pivotal in reducing fraudulent robocalling, with an anticipated 85% reduction in losses between 2022 and 2023. That said, the U.S. consumers still have to reach for the “ignore” button for 4 billion robocalls per month[2]

The result? Consumers’ trust in voice calls is eroding. And reclaiming trust in voice has become vital.

The MAN program: French legislators took notice

France has taken steps to fight fraudsters with the introduction of the new MAN program. France has the second-highest spam rates (43%) amongst EMEA countries[3]. The implementation of MAN program is expected to bring noticeable respite and improve how consumers communicate with businesses.

How does the MAN program combat robocalls?

This newly-created program aims to reduce fraudulent robocalls by providing an efficient and reliable system for authenticating phone calls. Similar to the U.S. STIR/SHAKEN framework, a call is authenticated based on the originating number, and any calls made from that number will be signed with an A, B, or C based on the carrier’s relationship with the calling party. 

The MAN program was developed as a collaborative effort between French telecom operators and the French Telecom Federation (FTT). MAN stands for Mécanisme d’Authentification des numéros (Number Authentication Mechanism). The new Law n°2020-901[4] requires telecom operators to regulate call solicitations for marketing purposes and prevent fraudulent calls, spoofing, and identity fraud. This is a part of ARCEP’s (France’s Communications Regulatory Authority) overall strategy to protect consumers and fight fraudulent communications but also complements their new sub-allocation regulations to strengthen France’s identity as a leader in communications regulations. 

The MAN: Deadlines and action items

October 1, 2024, all ARCEP-notified Operators and owners of numbering resources in France will need to comply with the MAN Program.

Update: While the compliance deadline for operators/providers to implement the MAN program remains October 1, 2024, the French regulator has extended the date that operators must block unsigned calls they may receive. A new deadline for this blocking mandate has not been determined at this time.

As laid out in the MAN program, operators must have the capabilities to sign, verify, and transit French calls. Ultimately, the program requires implementing a mechanism to identify the number and authenticate the call before reaching the call recipient. This helps to build trust between the caller and the recipient, reducing the likelihood of the call being ignored or treated as a potential scam.

What’s Bandwidth doing about MAN?

We understand that not only is the MAN program protecting consumers, but it is also a substantial step forward in rebuilding trust between consumers and businesses. It enables legitimate businesses to approach their customers with meaningful and relevant offers. This empowers them to continue building consumer loyalty and satisfaction, unhindered by scamsters. This is ultimately resulting in improved business growth, because at the end of the day—every legitimate call counts.

Bandwidth is in the process of implementing a solution that will satisfy MAN requirements while following a timeline to meet the deadline of October 1, 2024. We will be able to sign calls on behalf of our customers, provided other compliance requirements are met.

Zooming out

The MAN program is still in its early stages, and it remains to be seen how effective it will be in combating fraud. That said, this program shouldn’t be considered a universal shield against all fraudulent calls. Telecom companies must still be vigilant in monitoring their networks. Their fraud protection strategy should be as inventive as the scammers themselves. 

France’s MAN program will contribute heavily to this strategy, ensuring that French consumers are protected as needed from undesired calls.