Feeds

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

Add torture and we'll pay extra

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.