Sophisticated Robo-Campaigns Ahead


Part 1—Political roboscams coming to a phone near you 

You hear these urgent messages every day: “Don’t hang up. This is  important.” Or “We’ve been reviewing your credit card history for the last 6 months.” Or “We’ve been studying your medical history and can get you a free back brace.” My favorite is “This is not a sales call” because it is the closest to being honest: It’s a roboscam call.  And wait until you hear what is coming next.

If you think Russian election tampering in 2016 was bad because it was so good, wait until 2020. We are good at it, too. Robocalling and communication technologies are getting even savvier. They will be available to American politicians (and Russian) to send millions of carefully crafted and factually false messages to identifiable voters still making up their minds late in an election. And the creators not only know which mental buttons work best, they are aware our readiness systems and rules are out of date for battling the sophisticated robo-campaigns ahead in the 2020 campaign. At the moment, we are as ready now for those robo-campaigns in 2019 as we were for Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Our current defenses and regulations lack advanced enforcement capabilities to instantly punish perpetrators implementing political robocall attacks. We need to wake up politicians and candidates that sophisticated robocalling can build campaigns that can artfully engage voters with false information designed to make them credible. America needs systems to instantly expose who is paying for the robocalls, making the calls and where the calls originate. The challenge will be to have fast exposure via fact-checking followed by eye-catching fines.

Why am I so sure crooked robo-campaigns are dead ahead? Because whenever new technologies evolve, they attract good actors and bad actors. (And the news media long after it is too late.) It is already understood that the new technologies are effective and efficient in making money and altering reality. Readiness for political robo-campaigns requires response systems that inflict fast exposure and huge expense on robocriminals using the latest technologies. 

Note: Part 2: How consumers can fight back follows tomorrow. Sign up for my blog if you are a new reader. This is the first in a series about robo-campaigns. Your comments will be welcomed. 

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