FTC: Uncle Sam Will Give You $50K if You Can Think up a Way to Stop Robocallers
October 19, 2012 12:51 PM
comment(s) - last by
Contest will only stop "illegal" robocalls, i.e. those intended to sell a product or receive a donation
With just two weeks before Americans elect their next president, both incumbent Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are busy -- in digital form --
harassing beleaguered voters
. Both candidates vowed not to funnel super political action committee (PAC) funds to pay for third-parties to conduct the practice that many find annoying, but both candidates -- awash in hundreds of million from
a record-shattering campaign
on both sides of the aisle to court special interests -- appear to have abandoned their promises.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission
is offering a bit of solace to frustrated citizens. It has created a "prize competition" called the "
...is intended to provide recognition to individuals, teams of individuals, for-profit legal entities and/or non-profit organizations (collectively, “Contestants”) for developing proposed technical solutions or functional solutions and proofs of concepts that can block illegal robocalls (each a “Solution”).
federal telemarketing laws
robocalls looking to sell products
(though the aforementioned political calls are legal). The competition focuses on block "illegal" calls, so it won't exactly offer relief from the advertising.
But for those with an axe to grind against the pesky automatons of the phone lines, you can win up to $50,000 USD yourself or as an organization/group of less than 10 individuals.
The FTC feels your pain. [Image Source: FTC]
The FTC will be providing participants with data to use in the study. The Commission will be holding a Q&A session on the event on Oct. 25, the day the program kicks off. The contest will run through January 17, 2013, at 5:00 pm ET, with winners announced in April.
Winners will be selected based on:
Whether their solution works (
particularly on mobile devices
) (50 percent of the score)
Ease of use (25 percent)
How easy it is to roll out (25 percent)
Not everyone is so intent on killing the robocaller, though.
University of Denver
Professor Seth Masket
with a CBS Corp. (
) station commented, "It’s really just a very inexpensive way to contact a lot of people at once. You don’t even really need employees to run the thing. It’s so inexpensive to contact that one extra person that as long as you’ve persuaded even a handful of people, it can be seen as worth it."
We're guessing he won't be entering the contest.
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Some misconceptions about Robocalls
10/19/2012 5:01:06 PM
Many of those who use robocalls know what they are doing is illegal, so they take steps to mitigate their risk. One of those methods is hacking into privately owned VoIP systems, granting themselves access to make calls through it.
It's through that illegal access that a LOT of robocalls are made.
It would be nice if an orbital nuclear strike was feasible, but unfortunately, there often isn't a centralized location for their operations, and the owners of much of the equipment being used are victims themselves.
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