Move over Suicide Squad?—?there’s a new group of crime fighters in town.
Over 30 technology and communication companies including AT&T, Google, Apple, Verizon and Comcast are joining forces with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop a strategy to end “robocalls.”
The committee, which goes by the name “Robocall Strike Force,” is made up of a ragtag group of government officials, industry representatives and consumers. Together, they hope to put an end to the “scourge” that is automated, prerecorded phone calls.
As technology advances, automated phone calls are becoming a more prevalent and pressing problem?—?in fact, unsolicited phone calls are currently the number one consumer complaint the FCC receives.
Randall Stephenson, the chair of the task force and AT&T’s CEO believes that the only way to solve the problem is by uniting the entire industry, saying:
“If we truly want to deal with this, the entire ecosystem has to work together?—?carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers. And don’t forget, regulators and lawmakers have a role to play.”
Some prerecorded calls, like telemarketing or surveying calls are annoying, but legal. Others, like a recent IRS scam, are both needlessly threatening and fraudulent. And while there are currently some measures in place to help consumers battle unwanted phone calls and texts (for example, the app Nomorobo has stopped over 126 million calls since its inception in 2013) by and large, consumers have been left to fend for themselves.
In the past, customers have tried to protect their phones from unwanted calls by registering their number on the “Do Not Call” list. However, the registry does not protect consumers during the first 31 days following their registration, it does not protect against all telemarketers and it does not take into account illegal calls made by “spoofed” numbers.
And when a consumer finds themselves the target of aggressive scamming, their options are limited. A blog on the Federal Trade Commission’s website advises customers suffering from unwanted robocalls to “hang up” and “file a complaint,” but later acknowledges that filing a complaint may not work, as the number the customer reported probably isn’t real.
Robocall Strike Force hopes to counteract the calls by reversing the system. Instead of having customers register their numbers on a “Do Not Call” list, the task force will implement a “Do Not Originate” list, which will prevent robocalls from imitating or spoofing the phone numbers of legitimate businesses. They also plan to update Caller ID verification standards so that calls from fake phone numbers can be blocked.
Robocall Strike Force expects to have a plan in place for “developing new tools and solutions” by October 19th. I guess we can expect their superhero movie to begin production shortly after that.