The Essence of RoBlocker
What IS RoBlocker?
After browsing the many submissions here at the FTC Robocall Challenge, it is clear that many believe that number blocking may be the only easy solution to this uniquely American problem. In fact, the only difference between them is in the implementation and management of such systems. The benefits are readily apparent in that people already using a number blocking method, each in their own way, ARE blocking a significant, and in their own opinion sufficient, number of unwanted calls. But these methods are often more difficult than the average American might be willing, or possibly even able, to use.
It is my hope that by distilling my own submission, known as RoBlocker , down to its most basic principles, that it will be clear what needs to be done to accomplish our goal. That being how to engage a sufficient number of people to block unwanted calls so as to make the use of robodialers an unprofitable venture.
RoBlocker in its purest form (called “Basic” or “Patriot”) seeks to accomplish the following:
- It should take seconds to use.
- It should take seconds to manage.
- The amount of numbers able to be blocked should be fairly large if not virtually unlimited.
- It should be usable by POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) users, not just digital and cellular phone users.
- Caller identification (Caller ID) should take place “server side”. That is, the number should be identified and blocked if need be before the call even reaches the users home telephone or cellphone. This should eliminate the “one ring problem”.
- Text as well as numbers should be used to screen calls.
- If at all possible, no equipment should need to be installed at the user’s home or extra software on a user’s cellphone.
Blocking Calls and List Maintenance Ultra-Simplified
Keeping a high level of simplicity in mind, RoBlocker Basic/Patriot could function in the following way:
• Pressing “*1” from any phone will block all future calls from the last incoming number. • Pressing “*3” (with a possible “Press 1 for yes or 2 for no” recorded confirmation message) will delete ALL blocked numbers from a user’s block list.
It may not be technically feasible for rotary phone users to use even this simple system. However, since perhaps at the very most only 10% of Americans are still using rotary service , it shouldn’t be a factor in the overall success of a call blocking method such as RoBlocker.
If the FTC had access to the (anonymous) block list data from thousands, possibly even millions, of RoBlocker users, it would be infinitely more useful than that gathered by the “honeypot” number(s) system. Statistical specialists would have more than enough information with which to follow up on individual leads for possible investigation.
A Word on Caller ID “Spoofing”
There are those that claim that the ability to fake or “spoof” Caller ID data makes number blocking techniques virtually useless. However, spoofing on the scale that robodialers operate should make it very easy to track down and prosecute those companies employing such techniques.
I still believe there will be a group of users that will not only benefit from but will also enjoy using the advanced features found in products like RoBlocker Pro/Minuteman. This group, while certainly a minority, should not be overlooked or underutilized. Still, and again, in order to reach the number of users needed to passively quell the American robodialer epidemic only the most simple to use and easy to understand blocking service must be used. Even just upping the amount of numbers customers can already block along with providing slightly more comprehensive features with their account management services will go a long way in helping. The only real question that remains is funding: should phone companies charge for such a service and if so how much? I firmly believe that it should be included with even the most basic service. Perhaps the reduced load on the telephone system itself will be sufficient to negate the cost? Then again, is it possible that there is an effort on the part of companies using robodialers to lobby telephone companies and manufacturers to make it less easy for their customers to block calls? That, of course, is beyond my ability to ascertain and is best left up to other more qualified individuals.