Tired of receiving phone calls about nonexistent grand prizes and luxury cruises at odd hours?
Well, the Federal Trade Commission has awarded two New Jersey hackers its top prize for developing an app intended to make those pesky robocallers go away.
The FTC announced the winner of its anti-robocall technology contest, Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back, on Monday. The winning team, Ethan Garr and Bryan Moyles, received a cash prize of $25,000 for their mobile app, RoboKiller. Garr and Moyles work together at TelTech Systems, in South Amboy, New Jersey. The app relies on call forwarding and works on both landline and mobile phones. Users have greater control over how and when they receive calls by sending robocalls to a SpamBox and using personal filtering lists.
The FTC enlisted tech gurus at DEF CON, an annual hacker conference, as part of its broader campaign to fight illegal robocalls. This year’s conference was held from Aug. 6-9 in Las Vegas. A second-place winner, Hemant Sengar, was also announced. Sengar received a $10,500 cash prize.
The reason robocalls are still such a common problem is that telephone carriers do not have access to the content of calls themselves, said FTC spokeswoman Patty Hsue. "It's very difficult for carriers to really figure out what calls are good calls and bad calls," she said. "Until we figure out ways to differentiate good calls from bad calls, it's going to be a difficult issue to crack."
The FTC also announced the winners of DetectaRobo, a contest that asked participants to develop an algorithm that could predict which calls were likely to be robocalls. Team HaV was dubbed Champion RoboSleuth.