The Washington Post reported that nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by early 2019. Americans receive about 2.4 billion unwanted, automated calls each month.
Most of have experienced a telemarketer, whether automated or human, offering to sell us something or a computer technician informing us that our PC is dangerously infected with malware, with both of these type of calls masked by Caller ID displaying a local telephone number.
Blocking these calls is a waste of time because the grifters will use a different Caller ID number for the next call, not to mention that the telephone number of someone who might call for genuine reasons has been blocked.
There is a related issue as well, that of swatting, where a junior psychopath calls 911 pretending to be someone in a home where violence is occurring that very second. This has led to a death as recently as December in Wichita, Kansas, where police killed a homeowner who had been swatted by a California gamer trying to swat another gamer.
Silicon Valley's libertarian agenda has gone too far.
There is a relatively simple solution to the problem, which is caused by unreliable Caller ID data.
These calls are originating via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), in other words, calls are generated on an analog telephone, converted into a digital signal, transmitted via the Internet, and inserted into the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), essentially a network of landline and mobile telephones.
It's also possible that calls are originating overseas, but given the cost -- CenturyLink's best rates to Ukraine and Nigeria, for example, are $0.26 and $0.56 per minute, respectively, compared to VoIP calls which are close to free -- it's unlikely.
There are two keys to the problem. First, VoIP providers are allowing callers to use whatever data they like for Caller ID. And second, VoIP calls must eventually be inserted into the PSTN for delivery, meaning that the FCC and the telephone companies know the identity of all VoIP companies.
For domestic calls originating with a landline, the Caller ID data comes from the local switch and is trustworthy. For domestic calls originating with a mobile phone, the mobile service provider must be required to provide only verified Caller ID data, and if none is available, for example, with throwaway phones, Caller ID data must be set to "POSSIBLE SPOOF." For VoIP companies based in the US, Caller ID data must be set to "POSSIBLE SPOOF" unless the company can prove to the FCC and FTC that it ruthlessly verifies all customer data before allowing calls.
For all overseas calls, if the chain of evidence, if you will, of Caller ID cannot be maintained, Caller ID data must be set to "POSSIBLE SPOOF."
Telephone service providers must offer a blocking service for all calls with Caller ID data of "POSSIBLE SPOOF."
To ensure compliance, Congress must pass legislation making telephone companies liable for false Caller ID data.
And police departments across the country must be strenuously advised by the Justice Department that if a 911 call displays "POSSIBLE SPOOF" for the Caller ID data, they must not go in with guns blazing. The increased liability for a wrongful shooting might also help to convince police departments to change their ways.