A Great Solution To A Big Problem: Robocalls


Forget President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney: My man for the job is James B. Rule, hands down. This California sociologist has a simple, workable plan to stop the incessant, aggravating, annoying, unwanted, endless commercial phone calls that are driving all of us to distraction.

In 2003, Congress created the National Do Not Call Network for its “defenseless” citizens. It hasn’t worked for an hour, or a day. After all our Congressional geniuses exempted political candidates and organizations, nonprofit organizations, those conducting surveys or polls, and companies that the person called has “an established business relationship” to begin with. Recognize any of these culprits among the hundreds of “robocalls” you receive every week? Half of the time they come from beyond American borders, to which the Federal Trade Commission seems to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear.

Enter Professor Rule: “All telephone service providers should be required to offer every subscriber the option of accepting only ‘bonded’ calls. To complete a call to a subscriber choosing the option, the caller would have to demonstrate willingness and ability to compensate the recipients should he or she designate the call a nuisance. Before calls to these numbers could be completed, a message would record the amount of the potential charge. Immediately after the connection, the recipient would have the option of ending the call and charging the caller by pressing a keypad button.”

Yes, says my West Coast hero; this technology is already available. This rather simple strategy might well bring back a serious degree of privacy. Could James B. Rule, scholar at the Center for Study of Law and Society at the University of California Berkeley, run the Washington, D.C., jumble with his mixture of brainpower plus an obvious care for the ordinary citizen? He’s got my vote. Of course, I do wonder what his thoughts are on creating jobs.