Georgetown Computer Science Prof.: “Carriers could fix this overnight”

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Phone companies are technologically capable of addressing the unwanted robocall problem – they just need a push from the outside.

Last week, the End Robocalls team spoke to Dr. Eric Burger, Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. Dr. Burger is one of the engineers working with the Internet Engineering Task Force to stop spoofing on calls placed using Internet technology. He’s spending his free time working so that you’ll be able to trust your Caller ID!

Dr. Burger explains, “A lot of the issues around robocalls are not technology issues, they are money and policy issues.” While he cautions that it would be impossible to eliminate all unwanted robocalls, Dr. Burger argues that identity verification procedures would go a long way to stopping the robocall scammers. He notes that telecoms are capable of putting a major dent in the problem and could verify the identities of callers, but lack the will to do so.

Many of the illegal robocallers that are spamming consumers, like Rachel from Cardholder Services, obscure their identities using call spoofing. Spoofing has increased dramatically over the last decade, because Internet calling technology makes it easy to enter a fake number on Caller ID. These call spoofers often trick consumers into picking up by pretending to be from the local area code. Call spoofing also makes it difficult to track down the scammers.

Dr. Burger suggests that Congress or the FCC could intervene to require phone companies to verify callers’ identities – and hold them responsible with fines when they don’t.

We agree that companies should take steps to crack down on call spoofing to help stop illegal, scammy robocalls. But, we can’t wait for legislative or regulatory action. Call-blocking technology is available now to block robocalls, and you deserve free access to it. We’re fighting for those in the best position to stop the robocall problem – the phone companies — to provide free, effective tools to all consumers that will block unwanted robocalls before they get to you. Please sign our petition!

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12 responses to “Georgetown Computer Science Prof.: “Carriers could fix this overnight””

  1. I believe that robocalls and robotexts would be greatly reduced if there were a per use charge to the caller, say $0.01 plus a very small time (data) charge. The total charge would be well worth the benefit to the residential user. Legitimate public service organizations, like municipal governments, would be refunded the charge for public messages. Commercial organizations could write off the cost as business expense. Congestion on voice lines would be dramatically reduced. The revenue would be used to 1) pay for the collection cost 2) to pay for a trust fund dedicated to do research on complete elimination of unwanted calls and text messages. If the trust fund, administered by representatives of the telephone service companies, grew too great (more than ~30X the annual research budget), the per call charge might be reduced.

    Having a proven charging system would also provide public security benefits.

    This sender pay per use plus data charge would also be applicable to Email spam.

    The possibility of recovering charging costs would be incentive to the telephone service companies.

    Any service that is free will be abused.

  2. Janice Hite says:

    The government sign up to end robo calls hasn’t worked. I’m wishing for anything to stop their intrusion!

  3. Catherine-Ann Day says:

    Stop these annoying calls and give us privacy, peace, and quiet!

  4. madeline buckendorf says:

    They are very annoying!

  5. Karen says:

    SO tired of hearing the phone ring & an automated voice answer. At least with nomorobo, these calls go “ring” & done.

  6. Patricia Randall says:

    A petition I can put my all into. I’ve had 3 in the last 4 hours. Please cut Rachel and her ilk off the phones.

  7. Robert Hrivnak says:

    I am so sick of the robo calls they have to stop!

  8. Ludwig Hutfloetz says:

    Stop profiting from my paid phone service…you don’t have my informed consent.

  9. Renee O'Donnel says:

    Robo calls are annoying as heck. It needs to stop.

  10. Benjamin Gaines says:

    Stop the robo calls, NOW!

  11. Monica A Guzmán says:

    Enough is enough, put an end to the calls!

    I just received another one, that’s why I pulled up Consumers Union on FB!!

  12. Sylvia Kimmel says:

    Yes, demand an end to these calls.

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