After like 20 years of trying, we’re making some good progress on email spam, and now it’s time to move some attention to (mobile) phone spam.
I think Apple and Google should have a few core features for this:
- Use one or more competitive databases of known spam callers that are kept updated, similar to malicious IP lists.
- A method of automatically blocking calls that come in from extremely high probability spam callers.
- A simple UI for not just blocking a number, but for rating it as unsolicited and spammy.
- Connecting those local ratings back into the database.
The databases would map numbers to businesses, and where numbers are not clearly associated with businesses or individuals there would be some assumption of possible foul-play—especially when it’s a new number and a ton of spam complaints come in for it. It’d be a lot like an email domain where you have spam ratings associated.
So when you receive a spam call you either mark it just, “Mark as Spam”, or you potentially select from Unsolicited and Spam, depending on whether you want to make that distinction and decision each time.
But if you do mark a call as spam, that goes into the distributed database, which is then shared with everyone else within seconds or minutes.
[ NOTE: I wonder if it could be a use case for blockchain (shared public ledger) at some point. ]
Blocking isn’t enough. Companies need to know that it’s not ok to build a business around unsolicited sales calls from hidden, rotating numbers. It’s gross, and it makes it unpleasant to answer the phone from numbers you do not explicitly recognize.
That’s the worst part of it—you should be happy when someone calls you. It should make you think,
Wow, I wonder what this person has to say!
Who’s this asshole?
And because of call spam we’re too often in that second mode.
Let’s link these pieces together and get the functionality down to the mobile phone operating systems.