We all hate them! You are just sitting down to dinner when a telemarketer calls. You jump up to answer the phone and hear crackling and voices in the background, followed by someone asking for you with a horrible mispronunciation of your name. Of course you say they aren't here right now and hang up. Or if you are with it, you say "I'm on the national Do Not Call List", whether you are or not.

But why did you have to get up in the first place! Why can't you filter out the Robocall! Apparently you can in Canada, using a service that does the filtering. And even in the United States some people have devised ways to filter or block unwanted calls. But what about the not so tech-savvy folks?

Early this year the FTC offered a prize to inventors who could devise the most creative ways to block Robocalls. The prize was split between two programmers who created two different approaches to the problem, and would provide seed money to get their projects off the ground in addition to one devised by Google. (These are more details about the different approaches arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/04/no-more-robocalls-new-tech-automatically-hangs-up-on-robots/ )

The approach by Serdar Danis developed the Robocall Filtering System utilizes black lists and white lists as well as Caller ID Verification to prevent or allow calls to go through.

And the approach by Aaron Foss with Nomorobo (this is their propaganda video that tells how it works www.nomorobo.com/ ) has the member sign up for a third party service which routs the calls through a center that can identify which calls are Robocalls and which are real people. It blocks the Robocalls from even ringing through, while allowing real people calls to ring through. It also utilizes blacklists and whitelists, while uncertain callers are presented with a Captcha to verify that they are actual people.

Plus the google approach, which was not eligible for the FTC prize, relys on user generated blacklists to block unwanted calls.

This sounds wonderful and it is high time to be able to stop these annoyances. But is it really worth it. I'm not so sure. Do I really want a third party standing between me and my phone calls? I see a potential privacy concern here.

My own phone company has a log of my phone calls. I'm not so sure someone else should have them also. With all of the recent government spying issues, I would need a few more reassurances that my information would not be abused before I would sign up.

- Photos by me.