The Federal Trade Commission ended summer with multiple announcements, including the winners of the agency’s robocall contest and an increase in fees for telemarketers seeking access to phone numbers on the federal Do Not Call Registry.
Earlier this year, the FTC announced it was taking a second stab at holding a contest intended to think creatively about stopping robocalls. Held at the DEF CON 22 hacking conference in August, the “Zapping Rachel” contest asked participants to design a robocall honeypot that would attract robocalls and provide insight for enforcement authorities and researchers.
Sixty teams and individuals registered for at least one of the three phases of the contest. A three-judge panel scored submissions based on functionality, accuracy, innovation, and creativity, selecting a winning entry for each phase and designating two honorable mentions for the final phase.
In the first phase, contestants were challenged to build a honeypot that identified inaccurate information in incoming calls (like spoofed caller IDs) and determine which calls were likely to be robocalls. In the attacker phase, the winning contestant was able to circumvent an existing honeypot and prevent it from collecting information about incoming calls. And in the final phase, the winning participants analyzed call data from an existing honeypot and developed algorithms to predict which calls were likely to be robocalls.
The winners will receive a combined total of $12,000.
In other news, the agency announced that a new fiscal year means new fees.
As of October 1, telemarketers will pay $60 – an increase of $1 – for access to Registry numbers in a single area code. For access to all area codes nationwide, the new total of $16,482 reflects a rise of $254.
To ensure that they do not call those numbers listed on the Registry, all telemarketers are required to download the list. The first five area codes are free, but telemarketers must subscribe each year for Registry access. Fees are dictated by the Do Not Call Registry Fee Extension Act of 2007.
To read more about the robocall contest entries, click here.
To read the Federal Register notice about the fee increase, click here.
Why it matters: “We were thrilled with the level of interest and participation,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement about the robocall contest. “We look forward to furthering our dialogue with this community on the development of robocall honeypots, and any other tools that can help win the fight against illegal robocalls.”