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Collective intelligence roots out spam calls

Posted March. 11, 2014 02:00,   


Kim Joon-soo, a 34-year-old office worker, recently had an interesting experience with his phone. His phone rang and he found an unfamiliar number on the mobile phone screen with a message “Don’t pick up this call!” Someone who got the same call before Kim might have left the comment on the number. Kim smiled and pressed the decline button.

Kim knew it was a spam call without answering the phone because he had a “spam call detector app." The app provides reviews on a specific number to users when their phone rings.

“I got annoyed by spam calls but I can block quite many unnecessary calls after installing an app,” Kim said, adding, “If I get a spam call by accident, I leave a review on the number for others.”

○ Root out spam calls with collective reviews

A spam detecting service using collective intelligence is welcomed as an alternative to block spam calls and messages at a time when a series of personal information leak released their names and mobile phone numbers.

There are around 50 spam detecting apps in the market such as Naver’s “Whos call,” and KTcs’ “Who Who.” SK Telecom recently released “T phone,” a service that sorts out spam calls embedded in the mobile service provider’s own platform.

A user who installed “Whos call” can see the number stored in the database and other people’s reviews on the number when he gets a call. If there is a content related to the number on the Internet, the Internet search results also appear, which enables users to identify a spam call in 10 seconds.

After hanging up a call, a user can select one among many types of spam calls – spam; telemarketing and advertisement; service center; illegal gambling contents; adult contents; voice phishing; and others – and leave comments. Lee Ji-eun, a 32-year-old housewife, said, “I got frustrated after getting a voice phishing call. But now, I feel relieved because I can leave comments and let other people know about this.”

○ Spam-blocking market is a new growth driver

The spam-blocking service market is growing exponentially. “Whos call” whose service started in July 2012 has surpassed 100 million downloads across the world in 18 months. “Who Who,” an app developed by KTcs, a subsidiary of KT, is also popular while recording more than five million downloads in Korea over the past months

“As more than 70,000 cases per day are reported to be spam calls or messages, the monthly average number reaches up to 200 million,” KTcs said, adding, “We also detect smishing text messages disguised as a message on traffic ticket fines or IRS filing to prevent scams.”

“Whos call,” was initially serviced by Gogolook, a Taiwanese venture company, was taken over by Naver in December last year. The industry estimated that Naver paid 18.6 billion won (17.4 million U.S. dollars) for the venture company.

“The IT industry pays attention to spam-blocking service because everybody wants it regardless of their citizenship or age,” a source from Naver said. “Korea had such a service like ‘Whos call` but Naver paid a large sum of money to acquire Gogolook because of an incredible data base of more than 600 million telephone numbers,” source from the Internet industry said, adding, “Naver can seek an opportunity in Chinese speaking regions with its service Line based on the numbers in those regions.”

The telecommunications industry believes that SK Telecom released T Phone service to increase customer loyalty by providing differentiated service to its subscribers. “Google, the world’s no. 1 mobile OS supplier, embedded caller ID service in its latest smarphone OS Kitkat,” a source from the mobile phone market, said. “If the market starts to build a database, Google will emerge as a powerful player in the market.”