Neowin: Google Phone gets Verified Calls to let you know why a business is calling. “Google is rolling out a new Verified Calls feature for the Phone app to let a user know that they are receiving a call from a business and the reason behind it. The company explains that the Verified Calls feature is meant to avoid scams and fraud calls by verifying the identity of the business that is calling, display their reason for calling as well as their business logo.”
CNET: Facebook launches CatchUp, an experimental app for voice calls. “Facebook’s New Product Experimentation team on Tuesday released a Messenger Rooms-like app for voice calls called CatchUp. The experimental app aims to make coordinating group phone calls with up to 8 friends and family members a little easier.”
CNN: Americans are getting fewer robocalls because of the pandemic. “One of the biggest consumer headaches has eased up at least in part due to the pandemic. Americans experienced a drop in the amount of robocalls flooding their phones in April, helped by international call centers being shut down during the global pandemic and government efforts to stop Covid-19-related scams.”
Techdirt: NSA Blew $100 Million On Phone Records Over Five Years, Generated Exactly One Usable Lead. “The telephone metadata program the NSA finally put out to pasture in 2019 was apparently well past its expiration date. Since the initial Snowden leak in 2013, critics have argued the program needed to die since it was obviously the sort of general warrant rummaging (only without the warrant!) the founding fathers headed off with the Fourth Amendment.”
Motherboard: This App Automatically Cancels and Sues Robocallers. “DoNotPay, the family of consumer advocacy services meant to protect people from corporate exploitation, is launching a new app aimed at helping end our long national nightmare surrounding robocalls by giving you a burner credit card to get their contact details then giving you a chatbot lawyer to automatically sue them.” Oh, if they only had one that worked for land lines…
CNET: Justice Department targets robocalls with two major court cases. “The Justice Department’s first enforcement of a civil complaint against carriers for facilitating robocalls on their networks saw ‘two major actions’ filed in courts Tuesday morning. The calls, originating from India, have spoofed caller IDs from numbers like 911, Social Security and the IRS, and are causing ‘devastating financial harm,’ Assistant Attorney General Jody H. Hunt of the Civil Division said in a press call Tuesday afternoon.”
MakeUseOf: Is “Scam Likely” Calling You? Here’s How to Block Them. “While you’re probably used to your phone’s caller ID letting you know who’s calling, you may have recently seen a strange ‘scam likely’ message in its place instead. Who is ‘scam likely,’ why are you seeing this, and what should you do? Let’s look at the ‘scam likely’ situation so you can understand it fully.” At this writing there are two comments with an additional couple of suggestions.
Ars Technica: Congress passes legislation expanding robocall penalties. “The US Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday that aims to end the scourge of robocalls. The TRACED Act had already passed the House of Representatives, so it’s now headed to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature.”
CNET: Robocaller could be fined $10 million. “The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has suggested a robocall telemarketer be fined almost $10 million, after an investigation found he spoofed a competitor’s phone number to spread misinformation about a candidate during California’s 2018 primary election.”
TechCrunch: The House and Senate finally agree on something: Robocalls. “In these times of political strife, it’s nice that despite our differences we can still band together as a nation in the face of a catastrophe that affects us all equally. I speak, of course, of robocalls, and it seems that the House and Senate have put their differences aside for the present in order to collaborate on a law combating this scourge.”
Techdirt: FBI Asks Congress To Permanently Reauthorize The Phone Record Collection The NSA Voluntarily Shut Down. “The NSA may not need the phone records collection but it appears the FBI thinks it does. The easiest way for Congress to codify the program’s shut down would be to let it expire at the end of this year. FBI Director Chris Wray is hoping to prevent a do-nothing Congress from doing nothing and letting the clock run out on the metadata collection.”
TechCrunch: This brilliant app waits on hold for you. “DoNotPay helps you get out of parking tickets and cancel forgotten subscriptions, and now it can call you when it’s your turn in a customer service phone queue. The app today is launching ‘Skip Waiting On Hold.’ Just type in the company you need to talk to, and DoNotPay calls for you using tricks to get a human on the line quickly. Then it calls you back and connects you to the agent so you never have to listen to that annoying hold music.” It’s not free, but $3 a month could pay for itself depending on how often you have to wait on hold.
How-To Geek: Windows 10’s Phone Calls Will Support All Android 7+ Phones. “If you have an Android phone, the Calls feature will let you answer phone calls on your PC, initiate phone calls from your PC, access your call history in the Your Phone app, and seamlessly transfer calls between your PC and Android phone while on a call. You can even decline a call from your PC and send a custom text message in response or just send it to voicemail.”
Engadget: Phone companies and state attorneys general join forces to fight robocalls. “US consumers receive as many as 350,000 unwanted calls every three minutes, according to the FCC. Despite multiple efforts to end the onslaught, an estimated 4.7 billion robocalls hit American phones in July alone. Now, attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia are teaming up with 12 carriers in a united effort to prevent and block the spam calls.”
CNET: Trump administration reportedly wants to extend NSA phone surveillance program. “The Trump administration has reportedly asked Congress to permanently reauthorize all provisions of the USA Freedom Act, including a controversial National Security Agency program that collects and analyzes records on millions of Americans’ calls and texts in an attempt to thwart terrorists.”