Phone spampocalypse: fighting back in the age of unwanted calls

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Phone spampocalypse: fighting back in the age of unwanted calls

Post by Liberty » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:39 pm ... ted-calls/

When Nigel Guest, then president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CNA), sent an email with the subject line, “test,” and the small letter “x” in its message body, the city of Berkeley, CA, went into a frenzy. You see, Mr. Guest thought he sent it only to himself, but he actually posted that terse email by accident to thousands of registered voters in the area. And thus, what is now known to locals as the Berkeley Spampocalypse was born.

Some were understandably annoyed, angry—even threatening—while others took it with grace. Those in the latter group were able to organize a potluck picnic they called “CNA Survivor Picnic” that weekend at Ohlone Park. 70 residents turned up, had a blast, and capped off the event by handing Mr. Guest a can of Spam as a thank-you gift.

Granted, not many spam stories have a happily ever after. In fact, many of us know that a positive outcome like typically doesn’t happen at all. When it comes to spam, faces flush red, pupils dilate, and people force a smile behind gritted teeth.

Bulk unwanted email spam was once the bane of society before the technology of filtering was introduced. Although email spam can still cost someone else’s productivity, we can genuinely say that at this point in time, we have, at least, come to manage bulk email spam.

Sadly, we can’t say the same about phone spam.

Spampocalypse reborn
Users have found themselves at war with a constantly burgeoning trend of unwanted calls that plagues smartphones, traditional landlines, and VoIP devices. And while there are tools to help consumers address robocalls, scam calls, and spoofed calls, contrary to popular opinion, US telecommunications companies have the technology to protect customers themselves—they just haven’t done it yet.

To this day, some of these companies are still hemming and hawing about aggressively block robocalls, putting technology on the back burner. Another roadblock to the adoption of new blocking technologies is the existence of legacy phone systems that may not be up to the task. As a result, addressing the robocall problem is left mostly in the hands of consumers.

But the spam problem isn’t going to go away on its own. According to a report from First Orion, a company that provides call blocking, by 2019 almost half of cellphone calls in the US will be scams. We’re also seeing a new and emerging trend of non-English speaking robocallers targeting immigrant communities. Thankfully, lawmakers have taken note of the rising tide of phone spam and decided to do something about it.

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