FTC wimps out

The Federal Trade Commission was offering fifty large for some new ideas on how to deal with telemarketers and their ilk, and they’ve announced two winners:

[Aaron] Foss’s proposal, which he called Nomorobo, would use “simultaneous ringing” to route incoming calls to a second line. The second line would then be responsible for identifying the bad calls and hanging up on them. The software, he said, identifies robocallers with an algorithm he compared to an e-mail spam filter that looks for specific characteristics of the callers. It will work on both mobile and traditional phones.

[Serdar] Danis’s proposal uses software that people could implement through a mobile app, an electronic device in their home or as a part of their provider’s telephone service to block unwanted calls by consulting lists of good and bad phone numbers.

What’s disappointing here is not so much that the FTC doesn’t plan to mandate either of these schemes, as the fact that neither of them contains the terms “incendiary” or “electrical shock.”

(Via this Virginia Postrel tweet.)


  1. fillyjonk »

    3 April 2013 · 12:07 pm

    Both of those seem to put most of the work on the person who doesn’t want to be called, instead of (figuratively) nuking the spam callers, which was what I thought this was about.

    They also both seem to be devoted to blocking bad calls on smartphones, so I guess those of us still “dumb” enough to want a landline will just have to put up with the (likely increased volume of, since they’re blocked from smartphones) spam calls.

    Maybe we need to give Rachel at Cardholder Services the number of Kim Jong Un’s three desk phones; I bet he’d be thrilled to get a few calls.

  2. McGehee »

    3 April 2013 · 2:22 pm

    The landline providers are following the Postal Service’s business model, of catering to the senders that cause recipients to want both the senders and the messengers to die in a fire.

  3. McGehee »

    3 April 2013 · 2:26 pm

    …of ourse, my phone pest has been calling my cell phone using a caller ID spoofer so I can’t simply stop them using Google Voice’s “block caller” option (I’m SO glad I gave my voicemail business to Google instead of leaving it with AT&T).

    So I set a clip of silence as my default ring tone. They can rack up every number combination available to their gizmo and my phone will never ring for them. But I still block each number as it turns up on my Missed Call list; sooner or later they’ll run out of phony numbers.

  4. Lynn »

    3 April 2013 · 4:54 pm

    I like incendiary and electric shock along with crashing the entire network of any entity that uses robo-calling.

  5. fillyjonk »

    4 April 2013 · 7:05 am

    I’d settle for just crashing the entire robo-calling network….permanently, if possible.

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