The personal website of Chris Coyier

Infrastructure for Robo Calls

I hear this robo call problem is largely a western-countries thing. It certainly affects me. I’ve been on the Do Not Call list for a decade and it does nothing. These days I get at least a few fraudulent calls a day. Literal fraud. Literally people trying to get me to pick up, talk to them, and take something from me.

The government is at fault, to some degree. The calls aren’t legal. I’m on a government-run list to stop them, which doesn’t work. Apparently, they are on it and having some success.

It’s the carriers whom I literally pay money to have phone service at all. I make precious few actual phone calls in a month. Seems like we are awful close to just not needing them at all, and this speeds along that process. Shouldn’t this be one of their top priorities? Some of them are doing work.

Phone makers too, you’d think. I remember when Apple gave us voice mail where we could just tap the message we want to hear from a list. Seems rudimentary now, but they had to invent that, not the carriers. Maybe they can invent tech to stop this also. There is some of that happening.

I guess it’s somewhat hopeful that it’s being fought at lots of different levels. As a consumer, I’m not particularly happy about it. I like the governmental fighting of it the most, because the people doing it should face consequences not just be stopped.

I can never bring this up without people reminding me that Reply All did an episode on this. They did! It’s great! Here it is!

Another angle to this though is what software is actually making these calls? When I think of APIs for calls and text, I think of Twilio.

Twilio says:

Since the pervasiveness of robocalling has exploded in the last year, folks have asked me my thoughts, and frankly, whether Twilio allows this with our platform. We don’t, and I’m as concerned as you are about robocalling. We don’t want these robocallers on our platform, and we actively work to prevent these perpetrators from making unwanted calls using our product.

They don’t want them (good) and fight to keep them off (good), but are they winning that fight? That part we don’t know.