Feeds

FTC splits $50,000 robocall killing tech prize

Mobile apps and cloud checks to silence spammers

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The Federal Trade Commission is awarding $25,000 apiece to two inventors who have come up with methods to defeat the hated robocaller, and has tipped its hat to Google for also putting in a good suggestion.

Last October, the FTC announced it would offer $50,000 for workable solutions from individuals or companies with less than ten people to block illegal automatic calls. Both of the proposed solutions use a form of black- and white-listing, but with different approaches.

The first idea, from computer engineer Serdar Danis, involves either a mobile application or software built into a standard phone or telephone exchange to apply a black or white list to calls automatically.

Danis shares the $50,000 with Aaron Foss, a software engineer who devised a system dubbed "Nomorobo" that uses conditional call-forwarding to send incoming calls to a cloud-based checking service. This looks at black and white lists, too, but also adds in a Catpcha service – if it's unsure if the caller is real, it asks them to input a number sequence.

"The solutions that our winners came up with have the potential to turn the tide on illegal robocalls, and they show the wisdom of tapping into the genius and technical expertise of the public," said Charles Harwood, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

"We're hoping these winning proposals find their way to the marketplace soon, and will provide relief to millions of American consumers harassed by these calls."

In addition, the FTC recognized an idea from Daniel Klein and Dean Jackson at Google which, while not eligible for the prize, was the most interesting commercial suggestion, in the organization's view.

"The recommended system ... would provide a means whereby users can make reports of spam calls as well as ask if others have reported a caller as a spammer. While the first few people called would get spammed, after a sufficient number of reports are made, further calls would be blocked," they suggest.

The FTC gets hundreds of thousands of complaints a month about robocalls, and has been cracking the whip on the practice by closing down some operations and threatening others. While it's not endorsing the prize winner's solutions, it says it hopes new technology can be brought in soon to curb the voice spammers. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.