Robocalls: Everyone’s problem
The telephone network is an ever-evolving technical marvel that we take for granted. The public switched telephone network connects practically every household and business in the entire world. The Internet similarly connects people worldwide, but person-to-person communications are split across dozens of different systems, protocols, and apps. Not everyone has a Twitter, Facebook, or even an email account, but they certainly have a telephone number that can receive voice calls and SMS.
It’s this universal connectivity that makes it so attractive to scammers and swindlers: they can ply their trade through one inexpensive channel at impressive scale and speed.
The result is that our phones are ringing off of their (now metaphorical) hooks. The network that connects the entire world with impeccable reliability has been rendered completely useless by a tiny fraction of people trying to bilk their way to riches.
The good news is hope is on the horizon. Citizens are fed up, and a coalition of legislators, regulators, providers, trade organizations, and attorneys general are working diligently to devise and deploy solutions to the problem and put robocallers out of business. The goal is not easy to achieve — robocallers continue to evade consequences due to a surprisingly complex Gordian knot of social, policy, and technological issues that cannot be easily untangled. Worst of all, it’s hard to know if proposed and deployed solutions are actually helping the problem.