Startup Lesson: A “REAL” Contest to Combat Robocalls©
Are you on the “Do not call list”? I am, and yet it seems almost nightly I am interrupted by robocalls offering me credit cards, insurance, solar panels, aluminum siding, and more. I am either in the middle of supper preparation or actually eating but when I pick up and answer: “Hello”, a few clicks and some silence is all that greets me and I know I have been reached by a robocaller. I normally hang up but I am not alone.
The FTC has said: “Robocalls make up the largest number of complaints to both the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC alone receives more than 200,000 robocall complaints per month.”
Robocalls have become so annoying and such a large source of complaints nationally that the FTC is offering a contest, the third in the last three years. Called Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back, it will have two phases, a “Qualifying Phase and a Final Phase”.
The Qualifying Phase: Build a crowd-sourced honeypot. Your solution should enable people with landlines or mobile phones to identify robocalls and block or forward them to a honeypot. You can work alone or as a team. Your solution must be submitted by June 15, 2015.
The Final Phase: The top five scorers from the Qualifying Phase will move on to the Final Phase, where you must “seed” your honeypot to attract as many robocalls as you can. Seeding might include encouraging people to use your solution to forward robocalls to the honeypot, or listing a phone number associated with your solution where robocallers collect phone numbers. Points will be awarded for robocalls collected during DEFCON23, starting at 5 pm PT on August 5 and ending at 7 pm PT on August 8.
• First Prize - $25,000
• 2 Runners Up - $10,500 each
• 2 Additional Finalist - $2,000 each
If you are interested, sign up to get contest updates by email. Important information, like how to register and how to submit your entry, will be sent as it becomes available. If you have questions please email: RobocallContest@ftc.gov.
So for you enterprising and tech-savvy entrepreneurs, this may be your path to fame and fortune. At the very least, millions of suppers will not be interrupted nightly.
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