Google Wins FTC Award for Robocall Prevention Technology

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-04-03 Print this article Print

Several IT analysts said they saw the Google proposal as at least partially a means of working more closely with a government agency, which ultimately would play into the search giant's future plans.

The blacklisting and whitelisting approach taken by Google in the proposal isn't entirely new, said Dan Maycock, an analyst with Slalom Consulting. "It makes me think there are other things at play," such as gaining "another foothold with another government agency by entering the competition."

Such participation gives Google greater access to government agencies and leaders, he said. "The solution itself is pretty passé. These things already exist. They certainly have more things to do with their time than to build another solution to robocalling."

Google especially wants to make deeper connections with government agencies, Maycock said, because of potential legal and regulatory battles they might ultimately have to fight over some of the company's other innovations, such as the controversial Google Glass project.

Last month, a ban on the use of Google Glass while driving was introduced before the West Virginia legislature, but so far it has not come up for full consideration. Such proposals, however, could become more of an issue in the future after Google Glass is available to more users.

Jeff Kagan, an independent telecom analyst, told eWEEK in an email that he has similar concerns.

"Robocalls are a real problem for the consumer," Kagan wrote. "A few years ago we had a real solution and it worked, for a while. It no longer works and we are all bombarded with unwanted calls."

That's changed as calls became cheaper to make using voice-over-IP (VoIP) and computer technology, so the incentives to stop are gone, he wrote. "Having this call for ideas is a great idea. It gets lots of smart people together competing for the winning idea. We expected lots of new ideas and innovation."

The problem, according to Kagan, is that he's not sure that Google's idea for user reporting of robocalls was recognized for what it was.

"Perhaps this would use a new Google telephone system using VoIP or something like it, and give them the ability to have complete control," he wrote. "While this idea is not new, combining it with a Google phone system is new. So even though this may be a solution, it could also become another growth engine for Google. What, you thought Google was just doing this from the goodness of their hearts? Think again."

In October 2012, the FTC announced a $50,000 bounty to seek good ideas for stopping robocalls.


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