Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back

Criteria

Contestants will seek to advance the battle against robocalls (a call delivering a prerecorded message) by building a solution that creates a crowd-source honeypot. The Contest will be judged in two phases – the “Qualifying” phase and “Final” phase.

Qualifying Phase

For the Qualifying phase, contestants will build solutions that help enable consumers to: 1) identify unwanted robocalls that consumers receive on landlines and/or mobile phones; and 2) block and/or forward those active robocalls to a crowd-source honeypot. The Contestant’s solution must include some method of confirming that the calls forwarded and blocked are robocalls. The Contestant’s solution must also include some method of disclosing to the consumer that the calls they identify for forwarding may be disclosed to law enforcement and all carriers associated with delivering the call. In designing the solution, Contestants may not include any feature that requires ongoing manual processing.

Contest Judges will test the Submissions by sending calls to the solution and reviewing the information associated with the calls that are forwarded to the crowd-source honeypot. Each Contestant will be assigned a phone number that their solutions should forward calls to for testing purposes (i.e. the crowd-source honeypot number). The phone numbers will be assigned once each Contestant submits a Submission. Contestants may not disclose that number to anyone other than a fellow team member. Each Contestant must provide all equipment and information necessary, including any legal rights or licenses required, for the Contest Judges to test and review the Submissions. Each Contestant must also submit all source code in addition to a written description of the solution, consisting of fewer than 500 words, summarizing the Contestant’s techniques and outcomes.

Judging Criteria:

How well does it work? (50% of total score)

  • How well did you succeed in accurately forwarding only robocalls to a honeypot? You will receive twenty points for each distinct successful method that your solution used to identify robocalls for forwarding. For each call forwarded that was not a robocall, one point will be deducted. For each robocall received that the solution failed to forward after the user identifies such robocalls for forwarding, one point will be deducted. Contestants will need to prove to the Contest Judges’ satisfaction that the solution accurately forwarded only robocalls, and the necessary level of proof is within the Contest Judges’ sole discretion. Furthermore, the Contest Judges have sole discretion to determine whether two successful methods are meaningfully distinct.
  • How well did your solution successfully block robocalls identified for blocking? Contestants will receive twenty points for each distinct successful method that your solution used to identify robocalls for blocking. For each call blocked that was not a robocall, one point will be deducted. For each robocall received that the solution failed to block after the user identifies such robocalls for blocking, one point will be deducted. Contestants will need to prove to the Contest Judges’ satisfaction that the solution blocked only robocalls, and the necessary level of proof is within the Contest Judges’ sole discretion. Furthermore, the Contest Judges have sole discretion to determine whether two successful methods are meaningfully distinct.
  • How scalable is your solution? For each distinct method that your solution uses to forward or block robocalls, Contestants will receive five points for each such method that is easily replicable and adaptable. Furthermore, the Contest Judges have sole discretion to determine whether two methods are meaningfully distinct.

How user-friendly is your solution? (20% of total score)

  • Does your solution adequately provide consumers with notice that calls forwarded may be disclosed to law enforcement or any carrier associated with delivering the call?
  • Does your solution provide consumers with flexibility in identifying calls for forwarding or blocking? Flexibility may include, but is not limited to, forwarding or blocking particular calls for specified hours of the day, or limited calendar days.

Explaining the Scheme (20% of total score)

  • What insights did your Submission demonstrate with respect to identifying calls that should be forwarded?
  • What insights did your Submission demonstrate with respect to identifying calls that should be blocked?
  • What insights did your Submission demonstrate in providing consumers with the greatest control over the calls their phones receive?

Innovation (10% of total score)

  • How innovative was your Submission?

Final Phase

To be eligible to compete in the Final phase (“Finalists”), Contestants must have scored within the top five scores in the Qualifying phase. Finalists will “seed” their solutions to collect and forward robocalls to a crowd-source honeypot designated by the Sponsor. Seeding could include, but is not limited to, encouraging consumers to use the solution to forward their robocalls, or listing a phone number associated with their solution (in lieu of a consumer’s phone number) on websites or other lead sources that robocallers may collect phone numbers from. Finalists will be assigned a phone number that they will forward all robocalls to by 8:00 p.m. EDT on August 5, 2015. For judging purposes, only calls forwarded between 8:00 p.m. EDT on August 5 through 10:00 p.m. EDT on August 8 will be included in determining a Finalist’s score. Finalists will be disqualified, however, if they disclose the assigned number to any person other than a team member. Finalists will also be disqualified if they: 1) place calls using an autodialing program or the functional equivalent; 2) encourage, assist, or request any other person or company to place calls using an autodialing program or the functional equivalent; 3) place their own, or encourage, assist, or request any other person to place their own robocalls to their solution for forwarding; 4) adversely affect any platform, product, system, or technology; 5) violate the terms of service of any third party provider; or 6) do anything prohibited by law. Each Finalist must also submit a written description consisting of fewer than 500 words, summarizing the Finalist’s seeding techniques and outcomes.

Judging Criteria:

How many robocalls did your solution forward? (70% of total score)

  • Did you succeed in accurately forwarding robocalls to a honeypot? You will receive one point for each robocall forwarded. For each call forwarded that was not a robocall, one point will be deducted. Contestants will need to prove to the Contest Judges’ satisfaction that the solution accurately forwarded only robocalls, and the necessary level of proof is within the Contest Judges’ sole discretion.

Explaining the Scheme (20% of total score)

  • What insights did your Submission demonstrate with respect to seeding techniques?

Innovation (10% of total score)

  • How innovative was your Submission?

Complete judging criteria and other requirements are in the official Rules.