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Wanna be a national hero? FTC contest offers $50,000 prize for solution to end annoying robocalls

If you have a phone, it’s a safe bet you’ve received plenty of robocalls, you know, those automated, pre-recorded commercial calls that seem to come at the most inopportune moments like when you’re settling down to dinner or stepping into the shower or about to watch a movie. Not only are they extremely annoying, they also happen to be illegal.

You’ve tried telling the caller never to call again, but these robots just won’t listen. You signed up to the National Do Not Call Registry but it might as well be called the Please Call Me Even More Registry for all its effectiveness.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) knows all too well that people are peeved. It’s been working with industry insiders and technical experts to try to find a way to put an end to the unwanted sales calls, but so far has been unable to come up with an effective answer. So now it’s turning to you for help. Yes, you. If you can come up with a workable solution that’s legal (ie. doesn’t involve a hit squad roaming towns and cities looking for the perpetrators), then you could bag yourself $50,000 in prize money.

David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, launched the FTC Robocall Challenge on Thursday.

“The FTC is attacking illegal robocalls on all fronts, and one of the things that we can do as a government agency is to tap into the genius and technical expertise among the public,” Vladeck said. “We think this will be an effective approach in the case of robocalls because the winner of our challenge will become a national hero.”

The contest is free and open to all, with entries accepted from individuals, teams and corporations with fewer than 10 employees. According to the contest’s rules, the solution must fulfill the following criteria:

– it has to work (surely that goes without saying?)

– it has to be easy to use

– it has to be easy to roll out

Entries will be accepted from next week until January 17, 2013, with the winner(s) announced in April next year. If you fancy entering, be sure to take a moment to check out the full list of rules and frequently asked questions. Good luck.

[via TNW] [Image: Hypno Creative / Shutterstock]

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