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AT&T and Comcast join forces to fight against robocalls

Wow, this is almost the axis of evil but they’re doing something good…

Phone being held by a robot for robocalls
Image: The Daily Beast

Raise your hands if you received at least one robocall already today. Chances are the majority of you reading this have had at least one unwanted call today, with 2018 ending with a total of 26.3 billion fraudulent, robodialed calls. We’re all tired of picking up the phone, just in case someone we actually care about is in trouble, only to be greeted by IRS scams, fake immigration officers, or “support engineers” purporting to be from Microsoft.

In a rare show of regulatory force, the FCC has actually put the telecoms industry on notice to fix the plague of robocalls. With an optimistic deadline of the end of this year, can the telcos actually squash the bots?

In an even rarer show of cooperation, AT&T and Comcast are collaborating to screen calls made between the two networks. This is supposedly the first time that calls between different providers have been authenticated and verified using the SHAKEN/STIR protocol. That protocol, which was agreed between the CEOs of 14 of the major telcos, provides a way to authenticate a caller before your phone starts ringing. If it fails, that fake call doesn’t even get to your phone.

At least, that’s how it was intended to work

A spokesperson for Comcast told Gizmodo that the way it’ll likely work in practice is similar to the way Google’s Pixel range handles spam calls, with a visible notifier that the call is untrustworthy, so you know not to pick up.

Robocop to fight robocalls? I could see that. Earlier this year, T-Mobile started adding the verification system, which currently only works on calls between T-Mobile subscribers. Sprint is also onboard, with testing scheduled for later this year.

Currently, there’s a bill going through Congress called the TRACED act, which wants to make the SHAKEN/STIR protocol mandatory for US-based telcos.

I can’t wait.

What do you think? Happy to see the telecoms joining forces to work on spam calls? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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