AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson will soon announce that a consortium of 33 companies, including Apple, AT&T, Google and Comcast are joining the FCC in an effort to crack down on phone call spam made by robots, according to Reuters. In the inaugural “Robocall Strike Force” meeting, the companies will announce their initial plans on how to stop US phone owners from receiving advertorial spam run by automated machines …

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The AT&T CEO said the 33 companies, which includes tech smartphone giants Apple and Google, will work on solutions to present a concrete plan by October 19 in a couple of months time.

Right now, there are no details on what methods the companies have in mind to combat the spam phone calls, or what role Apple will play. There is a possibility Apple could add technology into iOS that can detect robotic spam callers before the user picks up the phone.

Although a plan is to be expected by October 19, a prospective date for implementation of the scheme is even more fuzzy.

AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson will make the announcement at the first “Robocall Strike Force” meeting at the FCC later on Friday, the company said. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in July wrote major companies about robocalls. The strike force will report to the commission by Oct. 19 on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” Stephenson said.

“Accelerate the development and adoption” gives no promises about when such changes could come into effect, likely taking many months or years for 33 companies to coordinate with each other. At this stage, it’s not even clear how the stakeholders would achieve such a feat: just like email spam, combatting phone spam is a cat and mouse game.

In iOS 10, Apple has already started along this path with a new extension point for third-party app developers that lets the phone flag up known marketers. At WWDC, Apple advertised this feature in the context of the Chinese region (where phone spam is also very high) but it works worldwide. This is what Craig Federighi is demoing at the keynote in the image above.

  • Phone adds integration for third-party VoIP calls, voicemail transcription and a new caller ID extension for spam alerts.

However, Apple has not announced any plans to provide this data itself as of yet. If customers want to take advantage of the new iOS 10 feature, they will have to download third-party apps that offer the underlying database and provide integration with the system. iOS 10 is expected to launch next month in September.

We’ll bring more details to follow on Apple’s telephone spam efforts as they are announced.

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