351 points by daegloe 6 days ago
According to Ars they want to leave it up to the carriers if they want to charge for it, if that is accurate and the robocall problems escalate then you could end up paying for it by default ... or just get robocalls all day.
"It will cost $X a month for service, and $Y more if you want to be able to use it..."
And as a revenue stream I worry this could create a perverse disincentive for carriers, why deal with a problem that makes people give us more money?
The more I look at things as I age, the more I see market based solutions as only benefiting the supplier and always hurting the consumer.
Honestly, it's not clear to me that most "pro-market" advocates even understand markets. They work best when purchasers have many options, clear information, easy switching, and equal power to sellers. But at least in the US, most of the "pro-market" voices in practice seem to be in favor of oligopoly and the absolute right of businesses to exploit information, wealth, and power asymmetries.
It makes me a bit bonkers, because well-designed markets can do an amazing job solving optimization problems.
In the US, I think one problem is have too much mixing of public and private. We give the public sector a lot of decision making power relatively free of consequences, and leave massive profit opportunities for anyone in the private sector who manages to buy enough influence. Healthcare was far from a free market already before ObamaCare. But if we're going to regulate it as heavily as we do, I think we need to just step up and socialize it entirely.
I think the issue is political. Completely socializing it is still a hot potato for many, but healthcare as an industry needs to have stringent regulations in general. For example, strong rules around patient rights and patient privacy. But "socialized medicine" is a really dirty world in many parts of the country.
So you have a highly regulated free market that is neither a free market nor does it have the advantages of complete regulation similar to Europe. It just ends up being a really inefficient system.
It's a very US problem where we somehow managed to get the worst of both worlds.
>"We give the public sector a lot of decision making power relatively free of consequences, and leave massive profit opportunities for anyone in the private sector who manages to buy enough influence."
What would be an example of giving the public sector much decision making power "relatively free from consequence?" Would this be the FCC in this context? I ask because I'm genuinely interested in the point your making. Is there a relationship between this and and opportunistic private sector? Would this be the cell carriers in this context?
I had actually entirely forgotten I was still on the FCC thread after reading the comment I replied to, but sure, the FCC is also a good example of this. Take net neutrality for instance. That whole debate was centered on what the FCC would do - very little talk about legislative action. It is de-facto up to one agency that answers to an executive with all-time-low levels of public confidence, that also has an abnormally strong reputation for being in bed with industry. The current chairman has joked about it and been investigated for corruption, the prior chairman was formerly a major lobbyist for telco. There's other examples, like the revolving door between the FDA and Monsanto's board (I'm like 90% sure I'm correctly remembering the agency and the company - I'd double-check myself but I need to get back to a work issue and wanted to answer you soon-ish).
Nah, we just need to regulate prices, and disband insurance entirely.
Trump forced all hospitals to be transparent about their prices, there’s no reason on this planet that the shit they’re peddling should cost the amount it does, and if the overhead is on the hospital then we need to regulate further up the ladder. The pharmaceutical companies and suppliers who are basically extorting everyone.
Over regulation is a bad thing, but some regulation, especially with an industry as corrupt as American healthcare is good.
Unfortunately completely socializing the healthcare system would tank the economy thats why no serious person in washington is pro universal healthcare.
"a new study  from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst finds that single-payer health care will save the US $5.1 trillion over a decade while drastically cutting working-class Americans’ health spending." 
"Blahous’s paper, titled “The Costs of a National Single-Payer Healthcare System,” estimates total national health expenditures. Even though his cost-saving estimates are more conservative than others, he acknowledges that Sanders’s “Medicare for All” plan would yield a $482 billion reduction in health care spending, and over $1.5 trillion in administrative savings, for a total of $2 trillion less in overall health care expenditures between 2022 and 2031, compared to current spending." 
I have no doubt it would save money. But my point was that healthcare companies would no longer be seeing that 5.1 trillion dollars and as a result those companies would lose value and tank the economy.
I just counted 62 Healthcare companies in the S&P 500. 5.1 trillion of lost revenue to those companies would be detrimental to the economy.
My own back of the napkin calculation:
5.1T / 10 Years = .51T / Year
Current US Stock Market Cap: 153% of 21T = 53T 
.51T of 53T = 0.9%
For reference; the 2000s bubble had the stock market decrease by 36% over 3 years, the 2008 bubble 45% over 2 years .
I'd say "tank the economy" is an overstatement. I'm glad to be shown otherwise _with sources_
I'll be the first the admit this is an opinion i've completely come up with it by myself with no research or statistics to prove other wise.
Studies like these are worse than worthless. Just look at any recent major public works project for an example of cost overruns.
Here's how we could lower costs for Americans overnight: Allow importation of prescription medicines.
Medicare for all will lead to doctors for none. It's really hard to get appointments from places that accept Medicare, it's just not worth the hassle for many doctors to deal with them.
"This study is worthless, but here's my unsubstantiated opinion instead" is a weird argument.
Not really. It's pretty evident at this point that most publications are basically worthless.
You've said the same thing with zero evidence, again.
Many countries have universal healthcare without a completely socialized healthcare system.
There are many serious people in Washington talking about the universal healthcare, just not many talking about government takeover of providers.
You would not call Bernie Sanders's plan socializing the healthcare system? (Serious question.)
As far as I know, people are only talking about socializing the health insurance system, not the actual health care providers.
I think the two are pretty closely coupled, if you have a giant insurance provider then they can dictate prices -- if the pharmaceutical companies haven't purchased the agency that does it, of course. It seems to work well enough elsewhere anyway.
You are one of the few people I have ever seen articulate the problem online. Free marketeers are always conflating a free market with an efficient market. We are aiming for efficient not necessarily free. The two only overlap as you described--basically when all participants have no power and good information. Those circumstances are rarely present.
Another analogy I like to give blind conservatives has to do with referees in their favorite sport. Yes, you don't love referees, but when they are doing a good job and seem to be calling it squarely, you know the overall game is better for have their involvement.
It helps but orthodoxy is hard to break.
Some additional resources:
Efficient Market Hypothesis:
"The efficient-market hypothesis was developed by Eugene Fama who argued that stocks always trade at their fair value, making it impossible for investors to either purchase undervalued stocks or sell stocks for inflated prices. As such, it should be impossible to outperform the overall market through expert stock selection or market timing, and that the only way an investor can possibly obtain higher returns is by chance or by purchasing riskier investments."
Investment theory of party competition :
"[...] if voters cannot bear the cost of becoming informed about public affairs they have little hope of successfully supervising government."
Not sure why you're getting downvoted; I agree. One can't have all the freedoms, as they conflict. E.g., my freedom to burn things for fun may clash with other people's freedom to own a house. Free markets are very free on certain dimensions, while very constrained on others.
As an example, I used to work for financial traders. The exchanges were in key ways extremely free markets; anybody with the dough could buy the commodities they wanted quickly, cheaply, and easily. But the exchanges self-regulated very strongly. It was very clear to everybody at the company that making an exchange mad was Very Bad; rules had to be followed. And even getting allowed to trade on the exchange was a difficult and complicated process.
I really wish there w as a party interested in free markets and fostering competition.
Rather the GoP whose rhetoric talks about free markets, is really just all about picking winners themselves and legislating profits for their allies.
It's the same thing.
In order to create any free market and foster competition, an entity has to decide and then enforce the rules for the market, which allows that entity to pick a winner by the rules it choose to write and then enforce.
Plus, in mature markets, fostering competition is antithetical to maintaining the "freeness" of the market, because it requires punishing the "winners" in order to ensure competitors, by things like breaking up competitors that are able to leverage winning in one area to compete and then win in another area (ie antitrust/antimonopoly), invalidating patents/trade secrets/intellectual property/etc. when ever something is so dominant that without access to it no one can compete, and limiting how competitors can compete (eg preventing them from limiting how purchasers can use their products).
And of course, every decision made for how to implement the kinds of issues outlined in the above paragraph is an opportunity to pick who wins, too.
I don't buy into the implication that any decision is picking winners the outcomes don't have to be that absolute.
Every decision about what to enforce and when has a set of competitors that benefit from that decision and a set of competitors that are disadvantaged from that decision.
And over time even a single, small benefit can be enough to guarantee a specific rational actor will win out over its competitors.
Certainly not in all cases, but if the issue you have is that individual decisions aren't enough to pick a winner, no matter how large/important, then change the last paragraph to
>>> And of course, every decision made for how to implement the kinds of issues outlined in the above paragraph is an opportunity to pick whom to give an advantage over their competitors, too.
And this doesn't even begin to consider the issue that since the mechanism for making and enforcing the rules exists within the system of rules it creates, both fostering competition and enforcing a free market give opportunities for competitors to buy rules and/or enforcement of rules that benefit them at the expense of competitors, either directly or indirectly.
It's possible, but I'm still not sure I buy into the idea that a given decision that might result in someone failing is picking winners exactly.
I can say in a given industry they can't pull some bait and switch... a company that relies on that tacit could go out of business, is that picking winners or regulating poor behavior?
Like anything working to maintain some level of competitiveness would be like hitting a moving target, you'll have to change what you do, address barrier of entry issues one day, who knows what next.
In the extreme form of a free market (some would call that 'in a truly free market'), there is no such thing as regulating out bad behavior because, that is a limitation on actors' freedom within that market. As the view goes, even if everyone in the market agreed on what was bad and how to enforce the regulation, it would be wholely unnecessary to actually regulate such bad action, because all participants are rational actors who will naturally punish that bad behavior themselves by preferring a competitor over the bad actor.
And yes, regulating poor behavior is absolutely picking winners/picking losers/picking specific companies to disadvantage/advantage, and not just because of issues with uneven enforcement. Determining which behaviors are disallowed and which behaviors will be policed by "natural market forces", especially when talking about modifying rules for a preexisting market, means picking winners/losers/who gets advantaged/disadvantaged. This is why encouraging/fostering competition is antithetical to making/maintaining a free market.
The market works pretty often when it is fair. The cell phone market is not, at least in the US. The providers maintain high costs of switching via contracts and phone leases and radio fragmentation (Verizon/Sprint/TMo/ATT use different frequencies, all but the highest end new phones generally only work on one or two) and carrier locking. If I could just put a different SIM in my phone anytime to switch carriers, there would be much more space for good carriers to exist - the cost of switching would just be spending an hour at the store porting your number.
Don't forget coverage issues. IPhones have been worldphones (i.e. works on every carrier) for the past 6+ years. Contracts and termination fees have been phased out for most people for 4 and all people for 2 years. Yet in my case despite paying full price for the latest IPhone I'm stuck with Verizon. Why? Because in one key location where I live it's the only carrier with data coverage.
Try xfinity mobile. They use Verizon's network and you pay $12/gb. You can byod or buy one through them.
They are good for iPhones but not great otherwise. My parents switched to them 6 months ago. They don't allow you to bring another Android phone (yet), so I had to switch from my amazing Galaxy S5 to a S9 purchased through them. Aside from being a major hardware downgrade for my purposes, all their phones have locked bootloaders so you can't mess with them at all (aside from `pm uninstall`ing most bloatware).
You also can't bring a non-iOS/Android phone to their network (aside from iPhones, all devices must be purchased through them).
I plan on buying a Librem 5 when they are released; I will have to switch carriers and pay more every month, but freedom is worth the price.
But for my parents, paying just $7/line in taxes and then 20-30 dollars per month for data is well worth it, even after factoring in the expensive upgrades from the old S8+/Note 7 to their S9+/Note 9 (and yes, the S8+/Note 7 would have worked perfectly fine on their network if not for their asinine restrictions).
It’s not really even a market-based solution unless there are blockers competing for your business.
> I see market based solutions as only benefiting the supplier and always hurting the consumer
The more I age, the more I recognize these things aren't absolute and recognize that the levels of benefit/harm are often nuanced to specific situations and wouldn't use such a broad brush strokes of "only" and "always" (as opposed to recognizing a pattern).
The house always wins.
we dont need to have a pro market or pro socialist conversation. we all agree robocalling needs to stop.
Make it illegal, make it illegal for telecoms to allow it.
This sort of incentive scheme is the main reason credit card companies can charge transaction fees to vendors (for “fraud prevention”).
At this point we all effectively pay an extra few percent sales tax for their “services”, when simply securing the payment network would cost much less than that.
Spam communication blocking isn't a revenue stream in other markets (e.g. email, snail mail, etc.), and while cell service may seem like an oligopoly, there is enough competition that customers will scoff at switching to a provider that nickel and dimes on spam blocking.
Really? What competition is there in the U.S. cellular market? MVNOs are beholden to whomever they buy from. T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon. That's 4 carriers total.
Definition of oligopoly: Oligopoly is a market structure with a small number of firms, none of which can keep the others from having significant influence.
I can literally buy a SIM card in Europe for my phone that gives me 5 times my monthly usage for less than what I pay for a single month.The market is absolutely harmed by the lack of competition and we did it to ourselves by selling off the public spectrum and paying for the privilege to do so. The Republican party is the most anti-American party that exists in the US and they used the willingness of the religious right to follow whatever lip service they get paid to the ballot box.
Democrats are pretty terrible too, but mostly because they are naive, unwilling to get their hands dirty, and try to play by rules that are only used by them. You don't win a war with flowery words and kind gestures. You win it by eliminating your enemy and taking away any ability by them to continue the fight.
> Democrats are pretty terrible too, but mostly because they are naive, unwilling to get their hands dirty, and try to play by rules that are only used by them.
The Senate best represents the "party elders" while presidential administrations come and go. And judicial nominations are a major responsibility of the Senate.
They used to be largely pro-forma: as long as the nominee had a decent judicial record, the party in power was allowed to nominate whoever they wanted. Democrats started scorched Earth tactics back with Justice Bork back in '87; attacking his character and slandering him rather than challenging his competence.
Seeing that Alberto Gonzalez was likely to be a Hispanic Republican SCOTUS nominee, they wanted his career ended, and the hearings were so vicious his wife miscarried.
And this has gone off the rails finally with Kavanaugh. Regardless of the truth of Blasey's accusations, it is irrefutable that Democrats sat on them until the last minute, releasing the accusations to delay the nomination until they could retake the Senate.
This was using a criminal accusation, and the human being who was potentially a victim of rape, as a weapon to further their political ends. This represents the deepest and most inhuman disregard possible for the rule of law and justice.
All the while, Democratic nominations continue to either go through, or they have been denied by procedure, which was always the rule and the entire point of having elections. At no point have Democratic judicial nominees been removed by slander that would itself be a crime in any other context.
Verizon, ATT, TMobile, and Sprint compete pretty heavily to get people to switch. If they didn't you wouldn't see as many advertisements or commercials.
Attacking each other on hidden fees to prevent robot spam would be a major selling point, especially since it's so front of mind for so many people.
I've been getting this call literally every month for about a year now. It goes straight to voicemail because their dialer can't get past my voice captcha. I tried blocking the caller id but they keep using a different last four numbers. I've now configured the call flow so that this entire exchange now has to pass the captcha to even get to voice mail.
What I'm saying is, this proposal can't come soon enough.
1. Transcription, for your amusement: Hi this is Carolyn calling from reliable resource communications. Reliable resource communications is a telecommunications service used by other companies to notify consumers on their behalf. I have made numerous attempts to reach you regarding an entry form that was filled out in your name within the last 12 to 18 months to receive a new car. Now this will be my final attempt to notify you that your name was pulled and you are going to receive one of our top three major prizes. It will be in your best interest to give me a call back at soon as possible. My number is 984-292-1515 at extension 3:21. We are not a telemarketing agency nor timeshare and this is not a cold call please do not ignore this message. I'm very aware of the do not call list but wouldn't be calling unless someone actually answered. This is a time sensitive matter and I do look forward to hearing from you. Once again congratulations my name is Carolyn.
> this will be my final attempt to notify you
It's always the final attempt/notice. Every time. I've received dozens of "final notices" that my 22 year old car's factory warranty (10 yrs, 100k miles) is "about" to expire.
Oh, you are handling those calls all wrong. On the odd times I do actually pick up I choose from a handful of possible replies:
1. I am in prison for vehicular manslaughter and how did you get my burner cell phone number?
2. I was in a horrible accident in that car and my life is ruined, thanks for bringing it up.
3. The more general "I only have 6 months to live" I use as a catch-all for ending any of these calls: sure I am lying, are you bold enough to call me on it?
#3 makes me think I should talk to my wife about being ready for me to hand off the phone in that situation.
Get this one all the time. I did have a car warranty that expired (a while ago), so I always wondered if its just a stock message, or if someone actually sold the data of my car warranty.
I've been getting a bunch of sketchy post cards about extended warranties using wrong language about my warranty just expiring on a car I purchased used (9 years old, 50k miles, 3rd owner according to CarFax). I've been filing postal inspector requests on their bulk mail code every time, but no response so far. That particular sorta scam is not limited to phone calls.
In a similar vein: warnings for your 'last chance' to apply for house insurance. As someone who likes to keep physical mail to a minimum, all of the above are rather annoying.
This call is about 3 out of 4 of all phone calls I get.
Years ago the majority of my emails and phone calls became spam. Now it's the great majority.
The majority of people who knock on my door aren't yet religious proselytizers, but it's getting close.
What's this voice captcha you use?
Anveo Call Flow. Numbers not on a whitelist get a recording "press 1 to be connected" which repeats three times a couple seconds apart. If they don't press 1 they get sent to voice mail. I also have a blacklist that gets a captcha which says "press 1 to leave a voice mail" and hangs up if they don't.
On the one hand, that's so smart I can't believe it's not widely used by everyone.
On the other hand, if it was that common, there would be a market for systems that defeat it for the spammers.
If bypasses were common (mostly just sending "1"), then a configurable number you could cycle would work fine. Everyone would have a different number and you only get 3 tries.
Anything more complicated like actually following the voice prompt isn't going to happen soon.
voice recognition is already to the point where it can recognize numbers. That we are limited to one of 12 numbers (including * and #) before it gets too hard for humans limits the problem scope to the point where it is a relatively easy problem.
Of course this assumes enough people follow the pattern of press some number to continue. Every time the pattern changes the cost of understanding it and fitting it into their system goes up. In the end though it isn't a scheme we can win: AI can successfully follow more complex processes than humans can in this limited space - including random failure to follow the instructed process if it is too complex.
It can be done by asking some obvious question for humans:
"This is a anti-robocall system, please answer the question to complete the call. A mother cat and her three kittens are sleeping in a box. Dial the number of animals in that box."
The number of kittens change randomly and maybe the system can put some pillows, blankets and other non-animals in the box too, making automated processing harder. AI will get there, sure, but this will make things expensive for the attackers.
Your example is a trick question that will catch some real humans.
Some might consider that a feature.
I've always thought that binding robocallers in a contract that they must accept to speak or leave a message would be fun. Notify the caller that you charge a fee that's your state's maximum small claims award and add that the fee to be waived at your discretion for legit business. The big problem is spoofing and overseas calls, but I'd bet you could nab a few cases.
I'm thinking something like, "All unsolicited calls concerning the sale, lease, rental, or exchange of goods and/or services, regardless of past contact between calling parties or their third party affiliates, will incur a $5000/hr convenience fee, minimum billing for 1 hour, to be paid to _your name_ at POBox ... in full within 90 calendar days of the current date. This fee may be waived at _your name_'s discretion. Press 1 to accept or hang up to decline."
Bonus points if you fit the fee discussion in before the call center switchboard hand-off to a live operator.
I actually got so fed up with robocallers, and really people just calling me in general that I looked into setting up a 900 number. If people really want to intrude and take up my time, they can compensate me for it.
Unfortunately, 900 numbers apparently went away in the 2000s. Such a shame, it really would have solved the problem quite efficiently.
Wasn't there some kind of scam people used to pull where they'd add a prefix to a cell phone's outgoing calls, such that it bounced through a paid service relay? If I recall, someone would nab your phone, add the dialing prefix to the settings, and then return the phone to you. From that point on, all outgoing calls would actually be calling a 900 number, which then just called the outgoing number. The phone's owner would then get caught with a massive bill from the 900 number. It was an updated version of one of those original 'boxes', maybe a modified brown box? I forget all the phreaking terminology now, but I wonder if there's another olde timey phone phreaker trick that could be exploited.
I have run asterisk for 15 years now, everyone in the house has a 1 digit extension number (that way we can have private voicemail) I haven't had a robocall in years
For the captcha, do you have any proposal for what to do when the caller is legitimate but doesn't speak English?
If someone is legitimately calling me, they need to be able to speak English, or I need to take a few courses in a foreign language first
If parent only speaks English, I don't see the problem.
As a proposal for wider implementation, you could just select the languages you speak to be valid languages for the captcha. Seems like a feature rather than a problem.
I'd assume he's not expecting foreign callers
Are there any other, maybe more consumer-friendly, anti-robocall tools?
Wasn't her name Carolyn?
Direct link to the news release (PDF): https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-357464A1.pdf
tl;dr the action would allow carriers to default to blocking calls on the part of their customers. Once SHAKEN/STIR (caller ID authentication) is available, this means carriers can block calls that don't include authenticated caller ID. Presumably they already could do this if the customer opted in.
This all seems like a good idea, but I think Pai is overselling it a bit by calling it "bold."
> Today, many voice providers have held off developing and deploying call blocking tools by
default because of uncertainty about whether these tools are legal under the FCC’s rules.
Is this really true? How absolutely dysfunctional things must be.
I'm not sure I agree it's dysfunctional. "We're going to block some people off from the phone lines because we don't think they ought to be making calls" is exactly the kind of policy that should be heavily scrutinized.
It could be dysfunctional if the application of that heavy scrutiny is overwhelmingly biased towards a particular interest rather than being applied uniformly. Complaints of dysfunction aren't based on disputes of principle, but anger at their implementation.
That policy wouldn't be about blocking people from making calls. It'd be about allowing TOOLS that let USERS block unwanted calls.
It says it is about tools that "allow phone companies to block unwanted calls" (emphasis mine). So the one wielding the tool is the phone company. It's unclear whether users can opt out of the default. It's also unclear whether "unwanted" is defined with respect to the user or the company.
If it takes a decade and you wait until 50% of phone calls are spam, it's dysfunctional. Glacial speed is not the same as careful scrutiny.
You either need to update regulations on a fast time scale, or a way to encourage actual competition (so the heavy anti-trust-like regulations aren't required). Otherwise, you've just given up on there ever being meaningful progress/innovation in the industry.
Waiting for payout.
Pai, overselling something? I'm shocked.
That said, this is exactly what a competent FCC should do - in the absence of a larger ruling to require consumer-protecting behavior to be implemented by carriers, it should seek to clarify existing rulings - which is exactly what is happening here. Carriers interpreted an older FCC statement to prohibit them from blocking robocalls by default, and it's likely this was never the intent.
Does this authentication rely on devices, or is the authentication at the carrier level?
It's at the carrier level. I believe that at least some part of it is noticing that the calling number is a number that doesn't exist. For example AT&T might be given phone numbers 555-0000 through 555-1000, and they know they've only actually given out 555-0000 through 555-0782, but the caller ID claims the number is 555-0999. They can tell it's not a legitimate call because that number couldn't be making an outgoing call because it's not assigned.
I don't think that's all of it by any means, but there are a number of ways that the carriers can tell that some percentage of the calls are bogus without having to ask the receiver if they want to receive it.
Robocalls are a constant annoyance for me (I get maybe 1 per day on average) and almost all of them are criminally fraudulent solicitations of some kind including calls impersonating the Social Security Administration etc.
It's like being forced to read my spam folder with an audible alert. I have to field calls from a lot of clients that I have never spoken to before or have only called them a couple times, so only answering phone calls from recognized numbers isn't really an option.
I get about ten a day and you are dead on. They are all criminally fraudulent. This shouldn't be handled by the FCC but the fbi. Every single person at the robocalling company should be arrested, even the secretary.
This isn't a civil matter, this is criminal and should be treated as such.
I agree 100%.
It's clear to me that the U.S. has the technical capability of hunting down the origins of these calls, and bring the offenders to trial.
This leads me to believe it's a matter of political will, and I don't understand the inaction.
>It's clear to me that the U.S. has the technical capability of hunting down the origins of these calls, and bring the offenders to trial.
Do they? From what I've gathered its mostly small distributed shops in India and the Philippines. Shut one down, three new ones pop up.
Duterte pretends to be a hardass, right? Tell him to deal with it by any means necessary or else the USS Jimmy Carter starts to sever their submarine cables one by one until the problem is resolved that way.
If anybody thinks that's too severe, explain to them that DDOSing a nation's telecom system is an act of cyberwar.
Do you really think that having Duterte kill these people is an appropriate response to robocalls? I mean, sure, I understand the temptation, but... it's a bit extreme for the actual harm being done.
Duterte's a crazy man, if anyone deserves to get whacked, it's him. In a normal administration, we could manage this, but with a septuagenarian and John "war is fucking awesome" Bolton around, the bastard gets showered with praise.
Sorry to say it, ditto for Erdogan
> "Do you really think that having Duterte kill these people is an appropriate response to robocalls?"
Pretty sure he'd need only threaten the Philippine telecom executives with death, but if he wants to carry through with it at this point I wouldn't shed a tear.
> It's clear to me that the U.S. has the technical capability of hunting down the origins of these calls, and bring the offenders to trial.
How is that clear?
I think you are ascribing magical powers to the NSA that they don't have.
I think you are wrong.
here here. though I would have to say I've been a tough critic of the FCC, but my robocall volume has dropped from 25 a day to about 4. A few big busts are probably the reason it's dropping off. Second to that is probably fear from getting busted at this point.
I still agree with you though, the robocall companies that you can find from google should be arrested. Maybe even slice off a finger?
One!!?!? I am keeping track, and my biggest day was 29 robocalls about 2 weeks ago (all between 7am and 6pm).
I don't always use privacy protection when registering domain names, so my number is out there, and after I get a new domain I get crushed over the next few days with robocalls.
I am in the same boat where I have to answer all the calls or I lose business, so it's a nightmare. Also, I can't even do anything productive on my phone because the calls interrupt everything.
I cursed out a robot trying to sell me solar panels yesterday, but the robot just called me back again the same day, trying to sell me solar panels again. It really is unpleasant. I used to get cruise ship scam calls that always started with the sound of a fog horn.
I think people who run these robocall companies should be burned at the stake.
I had someone make a robocall to everyone in my area code using my number... and then everyone called _me_ back all day long asking me "whats up?" and things like that. It was incredible and when I called my provider they told me there was nothing they can do to stop it because robo-callers can spoof the numbers they appear to be calling from and they have no audit trail for it.
I feel like this is a completely solvable technical problem, I can't accept that it has to be this way.
It seems pointless to implement any new rules when the bad actors already know that they can just spoof caller ID to use a fake number and avoid any consequences. I'm already on every opt-out list in existence - it does nothing. I've filed complaints with the FCC about people breaking the rules - nothing.
What needs to change:
1) Fix Caller-ID so that it can't be spoofed for fraudlulent purposes
2) Make it easy to report violations of the rules to the FCC
3) Actually enforce the rules
Then the Do Not Call Registry and bans on robocallers might actually work.
If this actually happens I will be thankful that at least he did something good during his tenure.
I suppose this will get through since it doesn’t hurt the profits of the telcos. In fact it will give them a new profit center! Because I’m sure that they won’t offer “block by default” for free.
> In fact it will give them a new profit center!
And that is why I'll give him 0.0 credit.
Its easier for an FCC chair in the future working in citizens interests to mandate an already existing, optional extension than to mandate the adoption of call blocking from nothing.
Funny, because if they charged all those calls by the price they sell consumer services they would make a lot of money. But no
It's the same thing with "USPS going bankrupt", charge commercial mail its actual cost (x10 what costs now) and see the money come in. You get subsidized cost if you actually buy a physical stamp and glue it to your letter
You think the letter carrying monopoly is reducing prices by 10x?
Or are there subsidies I don't understand that you think are doing that?
See how much a stamp cost vs. "Commercial"/"Direct Mail" options
(though maybe 10x is an exaggeration)
Oh, I misunderstood what you were saying. But they are getting a volume discount and have to meet stricter requirements and aren't getting quite the same level of service and so on.
How can you expect businesses to survive if you don't offer them everything at a subsidy? That's downright anti-capitalist.
I suspect everything he does is vetted by the telcos.
I think another way to implement it that would be "telco friendly" would be to charge for each phone call, even if it doesn't connect.
Why don’t we just fine the telco $10 each time they connect an obviously fraudulent call?
The fact that they’re still using signaling system 7 is not a defense for their negligence.
Because the people appointed are essentially placed there by companies that profit more by having the system the way it is right now.
I have my iPhone on Do not Disturb allow only contacts to ring my phone.
Also, for each contact I want to be notified about their texts Ive edited each contact > text tone —> Emergency Bypass on and no text tone.
My phone is now back to what I feel belongs to me and not scum using MY phone to bother me for their benefit.
I will welcome a workable solution to the robocall problems. In the interim, they provide a source of entertainment.
The most common ones I get are from The Credit Card Company to tell me that because of my excellent credit history, I have qualified to get my credit card directly through them at a lower interst rate, instead of having it resold to me through Visa or Mastercard. For these calls, I'll generate a fake card number, SSN, name, address, etc, and start answering their questions. Inevitably, when the number comes back as bogus, they get angry, and yell at me to tell me how much of a cocksucking faggot I am and that they're going to come rape my daughter. I laugh at their attempts to form insults being less coherent than their English in general and move on with my day.
Of course, as soon as I tried to start recording these calls, they became much less frequent. I can't help but wonder if my number hasn't become blacklisted by these scam centers in India and the Philippines as a known unprofitable time waster or something. Why waste your time calling someone you know you can't get anything out of when there's lower-effort marks out there which will be more profitable?
All the same, I'd prefer not to have deal with these guys, so any actually workable solution would be welcome.
Hah! While reviewing this post, I got yet another call from these guys. And I got the most persistent one of 'em I've had yet. They're getting good with semi-plausible responses to the most common deflections. But, their geography skills aren't much better than mine. Apparently Lebanon is in Canada.
> Inevitably, when the number comes back as bogus, they get angry, and yell at me
I was really surprised the first time I got a got a bunch of obscenities out of one of these scammers-- I figured they'd consider being screwed with just a cost of doing business.
Aside: I went from a couple a day to none in the last three days after saying "DO NOT HANG UP. You have reached the US department of illicit telephone communication"<click>. Perhaps a coincidence.
If I can plug an app I found helpful in reducing robocalls: Try RoboKiller (iPhone, not sure about android).
I tried Mr. Number and a couple other free options which didn't seem to block much. I paid $30/yr for RoboKiller and unwanted calls have been reduced substantially - to maybe 1 per week slipping through. It's not just doing caller ID analysis, you actually forward your calls to them and they screen them before they even get to your phone. Seems to work well.
RoboKiller hosed my voicemail after uninstalling it and they didn't hose it via my device but actual voicemail line got hosed and AT&T has tried to fix it with no avail.
Best solution I've found on iPhone --> Do NoT Disturb --> only allow calls from contacts. Receive texts notifications only from contacts too.
1. Why can we not ban spoofed numbers?
2. It would be great if instead they introduced legislation that made it dead simple to sue robocallers, i.e.
- request your call records from carrier
- submit said call records through online portal proving excessive calls
It's hard to verify caller ID with current tech is why. Well hard, more like costs money to verify.
How will this be implemented from a technology and policy perspective?
The idea is one I am definitely supportive of. My phone rarely comes out of DnD now because of the robocallers.
But the devil is in the details. Forcing people to add someone to their contact list before being able to receive calls from them will probably be a bit draconian.
Another possible solution would be that someone can request access to call you and there is some service that verifies their identity and presents that information to you.
"[NAME] is requesting permission to contact you through [VOICE CALLS, EMAIL, TEXT]. Allow/Deny?"
Another good solution might be to add something equivalent to HTTPS / SSL certs, where only secure and verified identities can contact you.
I'd settle for non-spoofable CallerID
Yes, that would probably be a good thing. They seriously need to fix the problem of being able to listen to other people's voicemail by merely setting the caller id to the target's cell number and calling them.
Wait is that a thing right now?!
You bet it is, I think the first time I tried this was around 2007 or something like that.
Is that why I need to enter a passcode? I always thought that was stupid.
If you call from another number you get prompted for the passcode. If you call from your "own" number no passcode is needed.
I'm not certain that's the case. At least since I've had a phone (~8 years), I've always had to enter a VM password.
Like ANI? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_number_identificatio...
This will probably get buried, but I’ll give my personal solution to reducing the number of robocalls over the past few months. Be a robot. Either answer the phone with absolute silence or have a very loud dial tone playing. It might be a coincidence, but I’m fairly certain this has put me on robocall blacklists. Bonus points if they give you a callback number to a call center... just keep spam calling them with a loud dial tone. I only get a couple of calls per week now.
Does anyone have statistics on the impact of robocallers? They're ubiquitous and universally obnoxious. I haven't seen any reporting on their effectiveness for the services they're advertising for. I wonder why do they even bother.
I understand these calls mostly take advantage of unsuspecting people, but I still can't imagine the impact these calls are making financially.
There is only one actual solution to this problem.
1. Get the list of phone numbers of everybody working at AT&T (Sony style)
2. Set up robocalls randomly from each of these numbers to each of the other numbers
3. Share this list and your specific howto instructions with three other people
Every other solution fails.
I feel the correct solution (given the current admin, and U politics in general) is just to stop allowing telcos to charge for receiving calls. Fundamentally for everything they say about robocalls, it's still profitable for a telco if you ever pick up.
This should be a no brainer. Robocalls should be illegal and blocked by your phone provider. Must the chairmen really make an exploit a profit margin for corporations? We need somebody in the FCC that can at least understand technology and consumers.
This is awful. There's no chance of their system having a 0% false positive rate (positive in this case meaning spam). Even a low FPR means that potentially important calls will get blocked by default.
Is there any legitimate use case for robocalls at all? Can we not make it illegal punishable with the death sentence? Would any law abidng citizen be affected?
Presuming post and sms messages are still allowed.
> Can we not make it illegal punishable with the death sentence?
I think all spammers should be dealt with in the manner Vlad Tepes used to deal with Turks, criminals, and people who talk at the theater. However, we're going to need a lot of thick, sturdy bamboo stakes if we're going to impale every spammer we find.
> However, we're going to need a lot of thick, sturdy bamboo stakes if we're going to impale every spammer we find.
Sharpen the femurs of their predecessors. Because most spammers yield two femurs, you only need one starter stake and then your supply of weapons is self sustaining.
Certainly less than there used to be. But there are people who still use phones who don't/won't use SMS and/or may not have good cell reception at home. So reminders about pickups, appointments, flight changes, etc. can't necessarily just assume everyone has SMS on a cell phone.
Ok good pount. I've been living in EU with 100% mobile coverage for so long I forgot.
Someone needs to invent sms over landline.
I disagree with having the service providers block the calls. Shouldn't that be up to the consumer? Having your carrier block a call seems like an overreach. I feel this erodes trust in the phone system even more.
How is a consumer supposed to reliably block robocall without help from the provider? The provider is the only entity in this system that has the information needed to curb robocalling.
I too dislike carrier-hosted block. Pass the SHAKEN/STIR validity flag to me along with the CID data and let me decide whether to trash the call. Or give me ANI in place of CID.
How do I explain that to my 80 year old grandmother using a landline from the late 2000s?
I think you're bringing a different but real issue into play here: Are 80 year olds more susceptible to scammers in general? You can assume future scam callers will pass the carrier block because it'll be ubiquitous if free as Pajit proposes so the carrier-based block will lose its value to the frail elderly. More directly responsive perhaps: An add-on device resembling a stand alone caller ID display that can terminate forged calls or pass them through while inducing a warning message on the late 2000 telset display, your choice.
My fear is as with the anti-robo call laws, carrier-level blocking will arrive with exemptions for political and charity solicitations and the like that some non-negligible number of end users would prefer to avoid.
> Shouldn't that be up to the consumer?
The telephone provider is the only one who has the technical ability to block these calls. But I agree that it should only do so with the consent of the subscriber.
Sounds like consumers would have a choice.
From the link:
> He expects providers to offer consumers robust, free call blocking tools based on analytics & consumer contact lists.
I do have some privacy concerns about the contact lists being exposed but in general this seems like a good thing.
Presumably they would be blocking it on the consumer's behalf, with the consumer's consent, through an opt-in program.
Thats not how any phone company I've ever seen works :)
And wouldn’t they, presumably, expect to be compensated for providing this convenience?
> And wouldn’t they, presumably, expect to be compensated for providing this convenience?
Maybe. I think, though, that there is growing understanding that consumers may just opt out of the phone system altogether if something isn't done.
99% of the robocalls I see nowadays are using forged caller ID.
Having the provider drop them is analogous to having ISPs drop packets with forged source IPs.
Off by default for scammy caller ID seems like a reasonable default. Bored seniors can always enable it back.
How about this:
No one is allowed to call me unless they are on my contacts list, or perhaps another whitelist of not-quite-contacts-but-allowed-to-call-me. Any calls off those lists silently fail. Phone providers must upgrade their infrastructure to include origin-number verification.
No business is allowed to expect I be available to answer phone calls, or to require me to conduct business over the phone, for any reason, ever. Each time I am charged or penalized by a business in any way for missing their call, or not doing something that can only be done over the phone, they are required to eat the charge and then fined $10,000.
Let's throw business over the phone where it belongs: in the fucking garbage. The death of robocalls will be a nice side bonus.
I get plenty of calls from people outside my contacts list that I want to hear from. My doctor calls me to discuss test results. My daughter's school calls if there's an issue.
I want to get rid of robocalling, too, but I don't want my phone neutered to do it.
This can be done (1st request of ur post) easily on iPhone ... Do Not Disturb --> Allow only contacts.
Also, only allow text messages from contacts via edit a contact --> text tone --> emergency bypass on and no text tone if you don't want to hear a sound.
Works great for me... my phone is now all mine again! Scum are ignored & go directly to voicemail.
For all of the legacy web forms and apps that require a phone number field be populated, carriers must provide routing for a standardized blackhole number. No business is allowed to reject the blackhole number as an invalid phone number.
They need this whitelist with Android's screen call function, which is currently manually triggered. Basically an assistant-based voice captcha that screens and forwards your calls.
We could just get rid of our telephones. Let's be honest here: when was the last time you were actually happy to make or receive a phone call? It's time to KonMari this tech into the nearest dumpster.
tl;dr: Upload your contact lists to your service provider so that your service provider can block calls from people not in your contact list.
If the blocking doesn't work completely from within my own device then it's going to be a no from me.
1. Network contacts device with a request for synchronous voice communication, including identifying information from the originating party.
2. Device consults its own program, controlled by the subscriber-recipient, and responds with a signal to the network regarding the disposition of the call.
3. The network will then relay that signal to the originator, who may be required to respond one or more times before any human even knows someone is calling.
In short, I'd like the service providers to give me options other than "connect the call" and "send the call directly to voice mail and notify me anyway". I also want, at least, "refuse the call immediately without me knowing anything about it", "pay me a toll before I allow my phone to get my attention for you", and "prove you are the real person that you claim to be before I ring my phone on your behalf".
I'd like to be able to whitelist all my contacts so they ring immediately, and blacklist some numbers that will always get a fast busy signal every time they call my number. Ideally, there would also be some way to validate that the caller id number belongs to the call originator, perhaps by sending a nonce to the number claimed, and requiring that the originator repeat it in the current call session.
The provider can handle a simple program for land lines, dumb phones, or other phones that can't understand the newer protocol, but given that smartphones are pocket computers, I want to be able to control my own device without some third party stepping in and possibly selling me out.
This is a much better solution that has no chance of seeing the light of day because it keeps your contact information and routing preferences private.
Ernestine strikes again.
I don't understand this reference. Can you elaborate?
Ernestine is a Saturday Night Live character, played by Lily Tomlin. Strongly encourage you to look up the video ("SNL Ernestine") and watch it, because it is truly evergreen.
The bit is basically "F U. We're the phone company; we don't have to care."
How would this account for (legitimate) blocked numbers or those that originate behind a switch? I get calls from recruiters from time to time that do this as a matter of course.
Although I have no expectation the GOP would actually do this, I would add an asterisk to the policy...
* If you use these lists for marketing to existing customers, we reserve the right to sue you out of existence. Kindly GFY.
> * I get calls from recruiters from time to time that do this as a matter of course.*
If this gets widespread adoption, then recruiters and legitimate robocalls will come up with solutions. The problem I have is that if I block all unknown numbers, I'll also be blocking my bank/credit card/pharmacy or other legitimate robocalls. So I can't do this myself. But if everyone blocks unknown calls, these entities will be forced to come up with a solution (e.g. sending out emails instead).
The particular example you give of recruiters with blocked numbers rubs me the wrong way. Like you can call me out of the blue and interrupt my work day, and you're not even exposing your phone number? Good riddance.
They likely do it so they don't have people calling back a direct line on a whim. Usually will ask me to call a different number if I'm actually interested.
How do you define "legitimate"?
Because however you define it, there will undoubtedly be a more legitimate way of contacting the person.
Can't you already do this from your own device? Android and iOS both let you block calls that aren't from people in your contacts.
I specifically purchased an app on my android device ("Call Blocker") to do this, but recently google changed it's play store policies and banned apps from directly forcing calls to voice mail. I think the only way to do it on an android device currently is to put your phone in "Do Not Disturb" mode and only allow calls from your contact list.
Edit: Just checked again on my phone. Even if you specifically tell do not disturb to only allow calls from your contact list they still pop up on the screen and they don't go straight to voicemail. Google seems to have outright banned any behavior that sends calls directly to voicemail without a notification. I'm on a pixel 3 with google fi.
All thanks to John Oliver : https://youtu.be/FO0iG_P0P6M
I'm curious why robocalls aren't protected by freedom of speech. This is the government censoring small businesses from doing direct marketing.
I don't actually believe this argument, but I'm curious what self-described free speech absolutists think.
Freedom of speech includes the ability to be free from speech. You have the right to say things; you do not have the right to force people to listen.
There are some obvious nuances around different media, especially around physical audio in the real world, where just because you're saying something that is reaching people's ears does not within reason mean you're "forcing" them to "hear" it, but in the case of a robocall it's definitely an attempt to force itself on you, especially in light of the Do Not Call list providing positive in-advance affirmation of a lack of desire to hear this particular speech.
I think is one of those cases where a "reasonable person" standard works pretty well and trying to get nitpicky on "but what if...?" is mostly a way to get yourself turned around in circles, not a path to enlightenment.
(If nothing else, you can't have a generalized right to force other people to listen to you out of sheer scale; the many hundreds of thousands of people who would jump on that "right" to do something would consume well in excess of 100% of your time if such a right generally existed, in our current socio-technological landscape in which broadcast is so easy and readily available to everyone. Robocalls are an example of that problem squeezing through even despite our layers of protection; it would be far worse if our society determined there was a right to such things.)
Fraud, harassment, and robot. You can call all your want.
I do not give robots rights. You - or your representative -can personally call anyone you want to. You can have a robot dial the phone even - but you need to be personally on the line when the call connects, not a millisecond latter.
Harassment is illegal so you won't be calling me more than once. Even without a do not call, you won't call more than once unless you can show the call is different from the last time in a significant way. You won't get out of this by starting a different "shell company" to call me again either.
Fraud is also illegal. This stops most instances right there. Note that it is also fraud to take up excessive time, if I've "won a car" I better get a car with not much more than the legal paperwork.
On the other hand, I'm compelled by law to part with my property to fund the FCC, because they must regulate shared communication resources for the common, public good.
If they can't stop intentionally deceptive businesses that spoof their identity on those shared resources from calling my elderly parents 3 times a day because of freedom of speech, they can go ahead and return a bunch of my property and let me do what I want with my ham radio.
I tend towards freedom of speech more than most. I can understand an argument that says calling someone is freedom of speech. I don't think this violates that though. Of course, it will all depend on the actual implementation.
A good analogy would be stopping someone on the street and trying to talk to them. In most cases, you have that right. But the other person also has the right to ignore you.
It sounds like the phone companies won't block without your permission, they will give you (the consumer) the tools to block based on your own criteria.
Social media platforms have different levels of interruption from direct messages depending on whether someone is already your friend. They categorize direct messages from strangers and suspected spammers differently but they usually still provide a section you can check to see them. Gmail does the same with the spam folder.
I could see something like that where you have a separate spam section where you can see a history of who tried to call you but don't get notifications from it.
A system like that would be hard to argue that they are blocking freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech isn't absolute. No right is absolute, as a matter of fact.
Funny how those "small businesses" never seem to use their real contact number and business name on their caller ID. If an actual person from a local business wants to cold call me with their actual name & number displayed up front, that's a lot more acceptable to me than random robocalls that spoof a number in my cell phone's area code that I haven't lived in for 5 years.
The government isn't censoring anything, they're allowing private organizations to block spam calls by default.
When all channels of communication are owned and operated by private companies, it's not quite so clear cut as that. The only means of long-distance communication not operated by a private company is the USPS and that's simply not comparable to email/IM/telephony.
Not at all. When all channels are owned and operated by private companies, then it is _clearly_ not government censorship.
It's clearly not a free speech issue in much the same way that when military actions are conducted by private contractors instead of soldiers, violations of the rules of engagement are purely a private commercial issue and not the fault of the government.