Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tech to Block Spam Calls

Phone companies are developing tech that will block spam calls. Yes, please and right away! (BTW, how do the spammers know the most inopportune time to call?) The New York Times explains the work in this article, Phone Companies Are Testing Tech to Catch Spam Calls. Let’s Hope It Works.

This data ought to frighten you:  "[t]he seemingly endless stream of robocalls reached a new monthly high of 5.23 billion nationwide in March, according to the call-blocking service YouMail. Some were spammy pitches for unwanted vehicle warranties or debt-relief services. Nearly half were straight-up scams. And there was often one common thread: They frequently came from somewhere other than they said they did."

But the article tells us there is hope for us.  "New technology is providing a glimmer of hope that, someday, you might be able to safely pick up your phone again. Mostly, you’ll now be more likely to know callers are who they say they are." But wait, now for some bad news. "[D]on’t expect any silver bullets that will put an end to robocalls. Pending regulatory changes could even add to the flood." 

The anti-spoofing technology is already being used by T-Mobile ("known by the acronym Stir/Shaken, a tortured reference to James Bond and martini preparation — in January, although it’s currently compatible only with certain devices. ") AT&T and Comcast have been doing some work on caller verification and Verizon should have theirs available by early fall.

But wait-do you have a land-line? This need tech won't help you then. There are also limits on tracing calls from abroad.  Congress is also helping.

A Senate bill that would establish a deadline has gained bipartisan traction. The Traced Act, introduced by Senators John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, and Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, passed a committee vote this month. Along with stiffening penalties and giving the F.C.C. more time to punish perpetrators, the bill would require all voice service providers — including those over the internet, such as Skype and Google Voice — to adopt call authentication technology within 18 months of the bill’s enactment. 

Watch for new regs coming from the F.C.C., especially the one on the definition of auto-dialers, the article explains. There is the potential for opening us to even more spam calls.  Here's how the two sides see that issue

“If they define auto-dialer the way the industry wants it defined, it will be so narrow it won’t cover any of the auto-dialers out there,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel at the National Consumer Law Center. “The scourge of robocalls will skyrocket.”

The F.C.C. said those concerns were speculative. The agency has solicited public comments on the issue twice lastyear, but declined to say how long it might take to come up with a new definition. A spokesman said the commission “will continue to combat all illegal robocalls with every tool we have.”

I don't know if you do like I do now--when my phone rings-if I don't recognize the number I don't answer it. Is that how we have to operate now? Do the folks at the F.C.C. get all of these spam calls too?

Consumer Information, Federal Statutes/Regulations | Permalink


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