Feeds

FTC offers $50,000 bounty for robocall-killing tech

Add torture and we'll pay extra

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Federal Trade Commission is offering $50,000 in cash to a "hero" who can come up with a way to block illegal robocalls.

"The FTC is attacking illegal robocalls on all fronts, and one of the things that we can do as a government agency is to tap into the genius and technical expertise among the public," said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "We think this will be an effective approach in the case of robocalls because the winner of our challenge will become a national hero."

The competition opens on October 25, and entrants can come from individuals and companies employing fewer than ten people – companies with ten or more employees can apply, they just wouldn't receive the prize money should they win.

Entrants will have to produce a working system and get extra credit if the system works on mobiles and VoIP systems as well as landlines; judging will take place in January.

The scoring system used in judging, however, looks a little odd. According to the FTC's criteria 50 per cent of the points to award will be based on if whether the proposed system works, with 25 per cent based on how easy it is to use and another quarter on how reliably it can be rolled out.

While the winner won't be expecting a ticker tape parade, we at El Reg would certainly chip in with a pint or three if someone manages to crack the problem, and this hack would chuck extra money into the pot if the originators of the calls could be tortured by the system.

Robocalls are illegal in California unless you request them, but this doesn't stop our landlines getting spammed with requests to check out vehicle licensing or bogus lottery results. It's a common problem in the US, thanks to lax enforcement of the rules and the attractiveness of American consumers to those running illegal robocalls overseas.

The problem is even more acute this year, since it's election time again and robocalling is a major part of campaigning in the US. In the last election cycle in 2010, Pew research found that 69 per cent of voters got a robocall compared to just a third who got a call from a real-life human being.

America is an inventive nation, however, and a group called Citizens for Civil Discourse is fighting back. For a small fee, people pissed off with robocalls can record their own and have them sent to the politician of their choice. Despite what one might wish, however, those calls do have to be polite and not breach obscenity rules. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?