When an issue has a strike force put together to address its presence, things have usually gone above and beyond a reasonable level of tolerance. Welcome the Robocalling Strike Force, a coalition of 33 companies, including Microsoft, that have banded together to create a solution to address the number of unwanted, unsolicited, and often illegal automated calls smartphone users have been steadily receiving over the past few years.
For those fortunate enough to have avoided this phenomenon thus far, a Robocall is the often annoying practice enacted by telemarketers, political campaign parties, and debt collectors to use a computerized autodialer to deliver a prerecorded message ad nauseam to an assigned phone number. To take it a step further, some Robocalls attempt to use a personalized message, often created by using the most generic and publicly available information of the recipient to simulate an actual personal phone call.
Beyond toeing a fine line or privacy concerns, most Robocalls are just time wasters and considered real-world auditory spam by most people.
Well, the Robocalling Strike Force, which includes telecom industry heavy hitters such as Apple, LG, U.S. Cellular, Samsung, Nokia, AT&T, Verizon, Google, T-Mobile, Sprint, and even Microsoft, have come together to combat vexatious practice. In a statement released by AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson, the mission of the Robocalling Strike Force is outlined:
This strike force will need to take a different approach. 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. We have to come out of this with a comprehensive play book for all of us to go execute. While many people like to portray this as a simple issue to address, it isn't. These unwanted calls span a wide range. We have calls that are perfectly legal, but unwanted, like telemarketers and public opinion surveyors. At the other end of the spectrum, we have millions of calls that are blatantly illegal. They are violating the Do Not Call registry or, worse, trying to steal your money or identity.
Furthermore, Stephenson describes exactly how the first steps of combat will be addressed and applied.
- Conform to VOIP caller ID verification standards as soon as they are made available by the standards-setting groups.
- Adopt, if viable, SS7 solutions associated with VOIP calls.
- Work together with the industry, including every company in this room, along with the standards-setting bodies, to evaluate the feasibility of a "Do Not Originate" list.
- Further develop and implement solutions to detect, assess and stop unwanted calls from reaching customers.
- And finally, facilitate efforts by other carriers to adopt call-blocking technologies on their networks.
The level of commitment and the extent to which the Strike Force sees Robocalling as a serious issue is commended. However, there have been no concrete dates as to when its implementation will begin or carried through announced just yet. To this end, it may be up to users to inform their service providers and their business regulatory bodies know of persistent and ongoing Robocalling issues, to help speed up the Strike Forces’ efforts.
Let us know in the comments, whether or not you’ve been a victim of Robocalling and what, if anything, you’ve done to mitigate it. To see the complete list of the Robocalling Strike Force, visit the press release here.