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FTC Offers $50,000 Prize to Innovators to Do Battle with Robocallers

October 31, 2012

To address the public grievances caused by illegal, prerecorded telemarketing calls on mobile and fixed phones, the Federal Trade Commission is challenging the public to create an innovative solution that will block these annoying, commercial robocalls. To accelerate this effort, the agency is launching FTC (News - Alert) Robocall Challenge and offering a $50,000 cash award for the best technical solution.

The contest, which is the agency’s first, will be hosted on Challenge.gov, which is administered by the U.S. General Services Administration, in partnership with ChallengePost. This online challenge platform enables the U.S. government and the public to bring the best ideas and top talent towards addressing country’s most critical issues.

While announcing challenge and prize at the Commission’s Robocall Summit, David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement, “The FTC is attacking illegal robocalls on all fronts, and one of the things that we can do as a government agency is to tap into the genius and technical expertise among the public. We think this will be an effective approach in the case of robocalls because the winner of our challenge will become a national hero.”

The FTC Robocall Challenge is free and open to the public. Steve Bellovin, FTC Chief Technologist; Henning Schulzrinne (News - Alert), Federal Communications Commission Chief Technologist; and Kara Swisher of All Things D are nominated as the judges for the FTC Robocall Challenge, who will evaluate the entries, and if a winning solution is identified, the FTC will announce the winner(s) early next April. A complete list of official rules and frequently asked questions can be found on Challenge.gov.

The Best Overall Solution prize will be awarded to an individual, team, or small corporation (an organization that employs fewer than 10 people) if a solution is developed based on the criteria such as demability, ease of use and readiness for implementation. Additionally, companies employing more10 people may compete for the FTC’s Technology Achievement Award, which does not include a cash prize.

Participants of this challenge will have access to the data on consumer complaints about robocalls made between June 2008 and September 2012.  They will receive periodic updates with contemporary data through December 31, 2012. 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.

 




Edited by Rich Steeves

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