Opinion: The FTC Loves Robocalls

robocalls_0Recently NPR’s Marketplace featured an interview with Edith Ramirez, Chairwoman of the FTC. The interview can only be described as softball. Host Kai Ryssdal didn’t press her on any of the real issues facing the organization. He most specifically didn’t ask her about the number #1  consumer complaint – Robocalls.

Their own reporting in 2013 indicated that they receive 200,000 complains/month about robocalls. This reality inspired a one day summit in 2012, then the first Robocall Challenge in 2012-2013.

Several other events have since been held in an attempt to engage the technical community with respect to this problem, including:

While they’ve handed out cash prizes, neat T-Shirts and other goodies, they’ve haven’t made any measurable progress in combatting the scourge of robocalls.

Oh, they’re no doubt busy…having a nice time…and engaging the dev community, which are a younger group of people that could have a transformational effect on the organization. According to the recent NPR interview their staff are mostly lawyers ands economists at present, though they intend to add more technologists in the future.

We might not expect much on the matter in 2016. After all, it’s an election year. Elections breed robocalls like mosquitos in a swamp.

I suspect that the FTC is so engaged in their current activities that finding a real, deployable solution isn’t even a consideration anymore. All of the contests and PR exercises have become their M.O.

Hereabouts the robocalls continue unabated, despite being on both state and national do not call registries. Excuse me, the phone is ringing. Again.

Incidentally, it happens that this is National Consumer Protection Week. #NCPW2016