STIR/SHAKEN takes hold [telecom]

I got a call yesterda, from an "Elizabeth Smith" at 916 658 3702: the oh-so-sweet and sincere sounding Ms. Smith told me I might not know that I was still "Pre approved," and promised to keep my file open, and then asked that I dial 866 776 1384 to get more good news.

It might or might not have been a forged caller ID, but the fact that the computer played a request to call a toll-free response line tells me that STIR/SHAKEN is having an effect. As I've already written, I don't think there will be much improvement in the robocall problem - most likely, the slugs who plan the campaigns will just wait and see if the new tactics work as well as the old, and then buy themselves new laws if their profits drop too much.

As with other sleazy manipulation techniques, robocalls have resulted in an arms race: my son and his friends, all of whom grew up without being taught to answer phones politely, have already adopted a new paradigm: when their phones ring, if they don't recognize the calling number, they just divert the call to an already-full voice mail system. That's discomfiting for Baby-boomers like me, but it's a much more effective way to avoid wasting time listening to the voice of Ms. Smith(1).

Having paid for the product-placement advertising that convinced every teenager to want a call phone, and then having paid TV scriptwriters to show every studly tall white actor or terminally pretty ingénue as being willing to interrupt face-to-face conversations and answer cell calls within seconds like perfectly programmed automatons, the cellular industry is about to reap the whirlwind of manipulation and deceit that it sowed. In the not-so-distant-future, even aged cellular users like me will be setting our phones to silent mode whenever they're talking to actual people, and once again, we'll be screening like Olympic wrestlers *IF* we bother to check for recorded mesaages at all.


  1. If I'm not busy and I'm bored, I ask Ms. Smith what she thinks about items in the news, or for help with a math question, or if she's a member of the professional phone-callers union.
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Bill Horne
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