Robocalls are not just annoying—they are also costing our economy money through lost productivity as well as some falling to the scams. Aiming to tap into the private business brain trust, the FTC is returning to DEF CON with a new robocall challenge.
Zapping Rachel, the FTC’s 2014 contest, challenged security experts to build tools that investigators could use to track and minimize illegal robocalls. For 2015, the agency is hosting Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back, a contest that asks tech gurus to create tools people can use to block or forward unwanted robocalls automatically. Forwarded calls will go to a honeypot — a data collection system that researchers and investigators can use to study the calls. $50,000 in prize money is on the table for the best solutions, with $25,000 going to the first place winner.
Similarly, the FTC also that as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 6, 2015, the agency is challenging the tech-savvy public to DetectaRobo. For this challenge, contestants will use call data to develop an algorithm that predicts which calls are likely to be robocalls. Submissions are due June 7, 2015.
Each contest has its own website with more information, including rules, criteria, and judges. Visit ftc.gov/strikeback for the DEF CON challenge and ftc.gov/detectarobo for the National Day of Civic Hacking contest.
These contests are part of the FTC’s larger efforts to combat illegal robocalls, a problem that has grown worse since advances in technology have made it easy for robocallers to send out thousands of calls every minute and to display fake caller ID information
We look forward to the contest generating some productive solutions.
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