FTC Offers $50,000 Cash Prize for Robocall Killer

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently launched the FTC Robocall Challenge, offering $50,000 for the best technical solution to block illegal commercial robocalls on both landlines and mobile phones.

"Unfortunately, laws prohibiting this type of robotic shenanigans haven't done much to curb the public nuisance," writes TechSpot News' Rick Burgess. "According to the FTC, robocalls have been on the rise. This is likely due to ever-improving, inexpensive consumer technology which can turn someone's basement into a sophisticated, number-spoofing, make-shift robocall center."

"Each entry will be judged on three criteria: Whether it works, whether it can be rolled out, and whether it’s easy to use. ... The contest is open to all adult U.S. citizens, and there is no limit to the number of entries per person," writes The Los Angeles Times' Laura J. Nelson.

"Entries can be in the form of idea proposals, fully functional solutions, and proofs of concept," writes CNET News' Charlie Osborne. "The winner will get $50,000 and a trip to D.C, where the creator or team will present the winning solution. Runners up are given the Federal Trade Commission Technology Achievement Award, but no cash prize. Entrants keep the intellectual property rights of their submission."

"As part of the challenge, the FTC announced it will provide participants with data on de-identified consumer complaints about robocalls made between June 2008 and September 2012," writes Computerworld's Michael Cooney. "Challenge participants interested in this data will receive periodic updates with contemporary data through Dec. 31. The complaint data will include: date of call; approximate time of call; reported caller name; first seven digits of reported caller phone number; and consumer area code."

"The FTC will start accepting challenges on Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. Eastern and the submission period will run until Jan. 17 at 5 p.m," writes PCMag.com's Chloe Albanesius. "Winners will be announced in April."