By December 19, 2005

Whitelisting phone numbers

In the email world, there is the concept of blacklisting and whitelisting. Blacklisting is the act of banning certain domains or IP address from sending mail to you. This is very similar to when you click the “report spam” button in GMail or label mail as “junk” in HoTMaiL. The problem with this approach is that it is reactive and doesn’t get everybody — you have to wait to get spam from a source before you blacklist it. I’m not sure how much spam comes from repeat addresses, but I have over 1000 messages marked as spam in my GMail box, and we’re only halfway through the month (GMail purges your spam and trash folders every 30 days).

Whitelisting is a much stricter, but proactive, approach. Everyone is prohibited from sending you email until you allow them to. That means no spam, no unwanted solicitations, nothing. The drawback to whitelisting is that if people change their identifiction information, such as their email address, you won’t be able to receive mail from them. For example, my stepsister sent out an email last night from her new email address. In a whitelist-only world, this message would never land in your inbox.

As I mentioned some time ago, we have a Broadvoice, a Voice Over Internet Protocol online telephone service. We also have a landline just for our ADT alarm system. Believe it or not, we’ve gotten more spam callers (telemarketers and poll takers) on the alarm line than the VOIP line. Nothing makes my heart race faster than the alarm control panel ringing — is it ADT letting me know that someone’s in the house? Blacklisting and whitelisting works for email, so why not throw it on your mobile, VOIP, and land lines?

I could easily see this being a service on VOIP offerings. Broadvoice has an option to reject anonymous calls. What I’m after, though, is the option to reject all calls from people I don’t know. Now, given, we’d have the same problem with whitelisting and blacklisting as we do in the email realm, but do you think it’s something that people would be willing to tinker with?

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1 Comment on "Whitelisting phone numbers"

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  1. configuratrix says:

    I think whitelisting would make a lot of sense as a service bundled with phone lines for dedicated purposes — why would you ever want to get a call from anyone besides ADT on your alarm line?