updated 11:08 am EDT, Wed April 3, 2013
Two proposals share prize for blocking marketing calls
The Federal Trade Commission has announced the winners of its contest to block illegal automated marketing calls. Two proposals share the $50,000 Robocall Challenge bounty, with entries from Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss using a combination of intercepting a call, using blacklists and whitelists, and a Captcha-style audio test on unknown callers.
A solution by Danis suggested the use of an external filter device, capable of automatically compiling blacklisted and whitelisted numbers. Foss presents a more detailed system, Nomorobo, that intercepts the call for filtering, hanging up blacklisted calls automatically but allowing whitelisted calls through. An audio Captcha would be employed for callers that are not on either list and have a similar calling pattern to blacklisted calls, with those failing the test being put onto the blacklist.
One suggestion by two employees of Google, Daniel Klein and Dean Jackson, involved a similar system to the winners, and allowed users to report calls from bogus callers, with the overall proposal mimicking Gmail's spam filter in many respects. Though proposed and noted by the FTC as a possible solution, it was not eligible for the prize, as it was for individuals and organizations smaller than 10 members.
All entrants to the challenge are free to bring their solutions to market, if they choose to do so.