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Stopping Illegal Robocalls Where They Start

Stopping the Phone Hijackers

I’m a pilot and I often find myself mapping things into the world of aviation.

In the late 1960’s, there were a rash of airplane hijackings. That’s when passenger screening for weapons was born. The airlines did it originally. The checks were done with a hand-held wand; then they came up with the walk-through metal detectors. Over time, the process has evolved. Now we have the whole TSA rigamarole for passengers and carry-on bags, with a no-fly list and Zip-Loc bags and Pre and Clear.

Nobody likes it, but most passengers appreciate it.

Imagine, though, if this had played out differently. Instead of stopping the weapons from getting on the planes, we could have pursued another approach. Every passenger and crewmember would don a bullet-proof vest. Riot gear including helmets and face shields would be optional.

Sure, you could still get shot in the leg or the arm. But the problem wouldn’t be as bad, so don’t say we’re not making progress. (Bring your own tourniquet; we don’t land for another two hours.)

We wouldn’t want a hijacker to shoot a hole in a pressurized aircraft, so all the windows would be ordered removed, and those cheap plastic interior side panels would be replaced with Kevlar.

As the threats evolved to include not just guns but bombs, we could put a bomb squad (two specialists plus a remote-controlled robot) on every flight, replacing the last six seats on the left side of each plane with an airborne bomb disposal chamber.

That would be ludicrous. And it makes the TSA process we have today, which certainly isn’t perfect, sound like a downright good – or at least better – idea.

Back to telecom and illegal robocalls. For some reason the FCC – and most industry stakeholders, for that matter – are primarily fixated on doing nothing until each call has fanned out to the terminating end. Just as its about to stick its fangs into the intended victim, that’s when we’ll leap into action.

Why aren’t we stopping the calls before they enter the network? Before the caller walks to the gate and down the jetway? Why isn’t somebody asking that guy wearing the fake nose and glasses with the backpack full of illegal robocalls, “Hey, I need to look inside or see some ID?” before giving him a blanket and a pillow as he proceeds to hijack a million phones?

Seriously. Do you know why? Tell me, please.

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