New York State Approves Set of Bills to Clamp Down on Robocalls

Published · Nov 13, 2021

New York governor Kathy Hochul has approved a set of bills designed to combat robocalls. These are automated phone calls people receive that normally attempt to advertise something or, in some cases, scam them.

Over the course of the pandemic lockdowns, the number of robocalls increased. The increase was so pronounced, that they’ve been blamed for people no longer answering calls from unknown numbers.

A notorious case is when a rescue team was unable to contact a hiker thought to have gone missing. The hiker ignored the calls as he didn’t recognize the number and assumed it was a robocall.

The new law will require phone service providers to block robocalls from certain numbers. Providers will presumably draw on a list of suspected sources. The set of bills will also require providers to implement an authentication framework to validate calls.

Rise of the Robocalls

Robocalls aren’t always nefarious, but often they are annoying to deal with. Companies use them because they’re far quicker and cheaper than a human agent.

Some scammers have begun using them to imitate official security checks. In fact, 98% of attacks involve social engineering. In this case, it is preying on the fact that humans may trust a robot but not a human claiming to be from a certain company. The tone or way of speaking of people may give them away. Robots eliminate that issue.

Robocalls are also used for phishing, which can be very costly if it succeeds against a business. Scam calls are so widespread that people often use reverse phone lookup services to check who is the caller on the other side of the line.

The new bills ultimately codify into state law a rule the Federal Communications Commission put into effect earlier this year. It allows phone providers to proactively block calls from blacklisted numbers.

Hopefully, other territories will enact similar laws, which will be a step to restoring some legitimacy to simple phone calls.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.