FTC offers $50,000 reward for a cure to robocalls

The FTC has issued fighting words with robo-telemarketers, offering $50,000 for a solution to the pesky robocalls. Commercial telemarketing calls were banned by the FTC in September of 2009, yet that hasn't stopped the barrage of calling-during-dinner robot-initiated calls from a variety of solicitors. Do you have an idea on solving this problem? The challenge opens in 7 days.

According to the FTC's Robocall Challenge page, the solution must block calls on both mobiles and landlines, and can operate via either proprietary or non-proprietary platforms or devices. Entries can be in the form of proposals, functional solutions, and proofs of concept. The winner will get a $50,000 reward, plus a trip to D.C, where he or she will present the winning solution.

A secondary prize is offered for runner-up solutions, which will receive the Federal Trade Commission Technology Achievement Award, which does not include a cash prize. Judging criteria is split into three categories: 50% of the criteria focuses on "Does it Work," 25% on "Is it easy to use?", and 25% on "Can it be rolled out?" The judges are the FTC's Chief Technology Officer Steve Bellovin, the FCC's Chief Technology Officer Henning Schulzrinne, and AllThingsD's co-executive editor Kara Swisher.

Digging a bit into the details, we see that the judging criteria's "Does it work category" looks at whether the proposed solution will end up blocking wanted calls as well, with the ideal solution being one that doesn't block any non-robocalls. The "Is it easy category" looks at the difficulty it would take for the average consumer to learn the solution, and its efficiency, possible problems and their severity that consumers might encounter, among others. The "Can it be rolled out" category looks at how realistic it is economically, how rapidly it can be deployed, and what changes have to be made to implement it.

[via Robocall Challenge]