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BT Announces Free Service To Screen Nuisance Callers (thestack.com) 69

An anonymous reader writes: British telco BT is launching a free landline service for UK customers which promises to divert millions of unwanted calls. A dedicated team at BT will monitor calls made to UK numbers, across its network of over 10 million domestic landlines, to identify suspicious patterns, which could help to filter out nuisance callers. The flagged numbers will then be directed to a junk voicemail box. The company has estimated that the voicemail 'net' will catch up to 25 million cold calls every week. It explained that to achieve this success rate, it would be deploying enormous amounts of compute power to monitor and analyse large amounts of data in real-time.
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BT Announces Free Service To Screen Nuisance Callers

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  • BT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @07:52AM (#51499821) Homepage

    30 years too late, could have been done at ANY point, but they are no longer making money from such calls so they promote a service AGAINST them to increase their product value.

    Fuck off.

    We got rid of landlines because of this shit.

    Mobiles all have caller blocking.

    Everything past that is your fucking responsibility anyway, to trace these "withheld numbers" and shut them down. But you have ZERO interest in doing so.

    Why is it even possible to fake Caller-ID anyway? You are charging a provider to make the call, you know exactly who it's come from. Even if I can't SEE the number, I should be able to block the fucker with one button. And should have always been able to. And you should spot the pattern in who gets blocked and chuck them off your service.

    You didn't care when it mattered. Now it doesn't matter. Nobody really "needs" a landline any more. Nobody even needs a mobile number. They certainly no longer need to have one they advertise. You can buy front-numbers that just forward to your phone for a pittance. And that's exactly the problem you introduced and refused to combat. And that's exactly why nobody gets my mobile phone number, or my landline.

    And yet, somehow, I still get occasional junk calls. There's only a few sources of such information. My providers and/or the numbering authorities. Who should be combating this shit all the time for me anyway.

    The day my phone rings with too much spam, I enable the "reject calls from unknown callers" options on my phone, or people will only get my WhatsApp or Skype and unless you're on my contact list, then fuck you.

    What stopped you doing this sort of thing even before CallerID existed? Nothing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So how do you block 'number withheld' calls on your mobile?
      A lot of these callers spoof the number they put into the SS7 system. Every call they make appears to come from a different number.

      some Government services withold their numbers as a matter of policy. Can't have the plebs calling them directly now can we eh?

      Whilst BT are not perfect, I wish others would follow suit. Then those PPI, Microsoft Support and Double Glazing sales calls will get what it coming to them.

    • Re:BT (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardpriceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday February 13, 2016 @08:55AM (#51499929)

      The problem with the way the international telecommunications systems are set up is that no, you dont know where the call originates from, just that a network next to yours is handing it to you - its essentially one massive Tor network where the upstream routing information passed around cannot be trusted. You bill the person than handed it to you, they bill the person that handed it to them and so on.

      This is why Indian call centres can buy blocks of a million phone numbers, hit UK targets all week and not be penalised for it.

      BT cant solve this on their own, because that would require them to be able to force other telecoms companies to solve their own problems with the setup or simply reject 99% of all international calls made.

      • There is a chain of command.

        If BT threaten to blacklist the whole of (say) India, then there would be no more (problem) calls from India pretty darn quick. You can bet the call centre operators have some leverage over the government there.

        People terminating VoIP in the UK can be cut off in seconds, and it takes weeks to get a new line.

        • Not really, because all that happens then is Indian telecoms companies hand off to South Africa, who hands off to BT. No change then, another origin to deal with.

          Same issue with VOIP, they dont have to terminate in the UK, they can terminate anywhere in the world.

          • Wherever they terminate, the telco can be located and "advised" that they will be unplugged if they don't stop. BT IS the UK, and cutting off anyone will cause enough pain for them to pass the message back up the chain.

            I used to work for a company that terminated VoIP calls in several countries. If anyone used us for cold calling, they could have been unplugged in minutes. It would not have taken hours. It can definitely be done if the company wants to do it.

            • You don't seem to get that this is as much a game of "wack-a-mole" as is killing off The Pirate Bay. An Indian call centre doesn't give a toss that its causing third parties problems, so long as they have their leased line then they can gain access to the global telecoms network anywhere in the world - they can make millions of calls a week, so if it takes them a day to find a new route then they don't particularly give a damn in the mean time, its the cost of doing business to them. No one is going to ta

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I've not poked at the phone system in a *very* long time so I may be in error here but doesn't this insert a potential for false positives and blocking of legitimate calls? It kind of defeats the point if you have to check a second voice mail inbox and filter out the messages. That and, well... There are a lot of people who, like myself, have a deep disliking of talking to a machine unless the call was specifically made in order to talk to a machine.

        Add to this, countless phone numbers, spoofing, and the ma

    • by stooo ( 2202012 )

      NSA is launching a free landline service for worldwide Telco customers which promises to analyze millions of unwanted calls. A dedicated team at NSA will monitor calls made to all numbers, to identify suspicious patterns, which could help to filter out nuisance callers and terrorists....
      It explained that to achieve this success rate, it would be deploying enormous amounts of compute power to monitor and analyse large amounts of data in real-time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dissy ( 172727 )

      Why is it even possible to fake Caller-ID anyway? You are charging a provider to make the call, you know exactly who it's come from.

      Because you have a grave misunderstanding that Caller ID and call routing and billing codes have anything to do with each other, and have unrealistic expectations out of Caller ID.

      Take the example at my work place. We have over 200 phone extensions, but we only have 60 DIDs from the phone company and thus 60 phone numbers.
      For those 60 extensions our system reports the DID in the Caller ID field, so you know the outside phone number to call if you want to reach that extension.

      But what do you suggest for the

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        And why can you not list with BT what your DID's can be, and what your internal numbers are? So when your DID is linked to crank calls, they can shut you down or notify you? In fact, the link is ALREADY there. BT know exactly what number you're claiming to be when you ring out, and which one you actually rang from.

        But why should I have to deal with people able to fake YOUR DID (and thus your company's reputation) or a random or invalid DID, without any traceability?

        Why should I only have that DID number

        • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

          Yeah, BT have been milking it for call-blocking revenue. I only have a landline because it's mandatory for internet, it's been unplugged for months because I got sick of cold calls. The govt need to break up the landline cartel, Virgin, BT etc have raised their prices from £10 to £17 per month over the last few years whilst inflation has been near to zero and the costs have fallen not increased.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Mandatory? Hmm... I was just having this conversation yesterday and finished it up today. There's no technical reason why you have to have a phone with DSL. I have had this setup before. It was just DSL, there was no phone number. If I hooked up a phone, I could not make local calls nor could I even reach an operator. I do believe emergency calls would still work - I did not try calling 911 to test that. I did try to call a local number and I did try to contact the operator. No service, at all... It was jus

      • We got to the moon how many years ago, and yet it is suggested this is the best we can do.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I thought the CID standard supported appending an extension to it so that one could route the call back into the appropriate phone - which, as I recall, also could be configured to allow internal roaming? Meaning, you sign into the phone and your extension follows you. When you make an outbound call then it lists the generic number and then appends the appropriate digits so that one can call back that particular extension without needing to go to a menu or human - all done via PBX?

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "Making the Caller ID value "correct" would mean you couldn't dial it (it's a 4 digit number after all), and it wouldn't tell you who is calling you. Completely worthless.

        It can't be made a DID since the phone has none."

        I can tell you don't know jack fucking shit about CID. My old business extension would show up on CID, be it two, three, or four digits long. Internal routing systems can append that data before going outside, how the fuck do you think CID spoofing works in the first place?

    • I'd just like to say I am going to save your comment and send it to my Matriarch, who has been plagued by junk calls for some time. Your expletive-laden rant is, and I mean this genuinely, expressing the very same sentiment she feels as a fellow victim. And I'm 100% with you, too.
    • The reason it is possible to spoof caller id is so that you can receive return calls to an incoming number when the outgoing is not that same number. I use it in my case because I have a Google Voice number, which has been my number, originally a landline, since the late 90s. I never have to tell friends what my new number is each time I change phone companies. With spoofing, they see that Google Voice number as the source of the call, and correctly call back "my" number instead of the number du jour.
    • Hmmmm. All I got was that BT is cranking up data collection on phone calls and found something good to do with it so it doesn't sound nerfarious.
  • The start offering companys that pay a fee the ability to be white listed and let their calls trough anyway.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Most of these calls are from bots overseas using VoIP. They are not local companies trying sell you PIP plans, and other crap.

      Once BT have this working, they will make it a monthly subscription option. When you leave your parents house, you'll learn how BT operate.

      • Correctamundo.

        They (BT) did (and do) this with Caller ID. It was free and then, just a few months ago, they silently introduced a monthly charge for it - at a time when spam calls were worse than ever and it's more important than ever to see who's calling.

        They'll run this for free for a time then start charging for them.

        On the plus side, landline phones with call blockers are at long, long last starting to appear.

  • All private phone conversations will be stored for later use in targeted advertisements and citizen profiles.
  • by Harold Halloway ( 1047486 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @08:04AM (#51499851)

    Well that's really big of you, BT, considering it was you that pretty much single-handedly enabled the whole spam/unwanted/nuisance calling industry.

  • by tomalpha ( 746163 ) * on Saturday February 13, 2016 @08:08AM (#51499857)

    "It explained that to achieve this success rate, it would be deploying enormous amounts of compute power to monitor and analyse large amounts of data in real-time."

    How is this different to what the NSA, GCHQ et al were (or are) doing? It's ostensibly for a different purpose, but presumably would have to work on a pretty similar dataset. That is to say: watching who's calling who, in realtime. And do they collect everyone's data for analysis, but only "use" it if you opt-in to the service, or do they only analyse your calling patterns if you opt-in?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      BT installed the hardware for GCHQ, paid for with tax money, and is now looking for ways to turn a profit from it. If you are going to screw your customers for GCHQ, you might as well profit from it too.

    • At least the NSA has the courtesy to not phone me.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @08:08AM (#51499861) Homepage

    let people report a spam call number easily. once you get 15 different people reporting the same number block it system wide. Honestly it will take down the whole spam calling industry within 30 days.

    But knowing how telcos work, they will monetize it and sell to spammers a service to have their number forever whitelisted.

    • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @09:22AM (#51499997) Journal

      It's not exactly that simple. The caller ID can be programmed to send any number on the caller ID. It gets even more complicated with VoIP where the gateway to the telecom can be used by hundreds or more of different users . The number sent may be an active number for another user not associated with the spam calls.

    • Suppose 10 people press 1-8-7-6 (say) to report a call as (say) robot or (say) fraudulent tech support and so on. Now the charge rate is doubled. Telco networks are superlative at charging. The more people complain the more the charge goes up. WIN-WIN. Simple.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @08:18AM (#51499873)

    Because this is maybe the most stupid, most expensive and most error-prone way to set this up.

    You know what's easier, faster and cheaper? Give people the ability to complain. Since you're monitoring already anyway who calls whom and at what time (oops, hope I didn't give away a military secret here...), let people record the time they were called and report this. If enough people complain about some nuisance, block them.

    Unless said nuisance is, of course, not just some kid making phony calls but a company peddling shit, then you should give them the option to give you a cut of their profits to stay in business, making the whole shit moot.

    As usual.

    • by Alumoi ( 1321661 )

      Since you're monitoring already anyway who calls whom and at what time (oops, hope I didn't give away a military secret here...), let people record the time they were called and report this. If enough people complain about some nuisance, block them.

      Unless said nuisance is, of course, a politician, a charitable organization, a debt collector, your friendly marketing company, your friendly advertiser and so on

      We've tried that but the fuckers lobbied for loopholes and got them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wouldn't put it past BT (who collaborate in GCHQ illegal domestic surveillance*) from putting a clause in to permit it and third parties from monitoring the calls. It probably sells access to your telephone calls to GCHQ.

    * Parliament never authorized domestic surveillance, a civil servant decided to do it. Him and his crooks are trying now to make it legal with Snoopers Charter.

    • It probably sells access to your telephone calls to GCHQ.

      This is the UK. BT probably has to pay GCHQ for access to your phone line in the first place.

  • Postal service announces free service to screen nuisance snailmail. CIA will open all your letters to check them for subversive^Hillegal content

  • All they have to do is add a code (*64 or something) that reports the last call as undesired. Then when a very small number of people have reported the last call as undesired anybody who has subscribed to the undesired service doesn't get that calls from that number.

    This would then take the paternalistic element out of the equation such as allowing politicians or charities to have a pass. Pretty much anyone who makes calls people don't want would then be cut off. This would include any sales calls that mi
  • They could get a hoard of people listening in who would be paid for every sales call, or charity call or pervert call. With enough paid hunters the negative calls could quickly vanish.
  • If you receive an unwanted cold call, you dial a particular number after it, which isn't processed as a regular call, but flags the number. If the counter goes high enough, things happen.
  • For decades, the Telcos did nothing about unwanted calls. If anything, they encouraged it because they were able to often charge by the minute. All of this was possible because there was absolutely no competition. You signed up with Ma Bell, or you didn't get phone service. It literally took an act of Congress to force them to let you buy your own phone instead of leasing one of the two models (standard or trimline) offered by the Phone Company.

    Nowadays, the old-fashioned Telcos are starting to feel the

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