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As an interesting followup, I was chatting with a local chamber of commerce member at a lunch and she suggested categorising the blocked numbers so that people could opt-in to various categories if they wanted to.

The example she gave was charities – people might want to block all flagged numbers but allow charitable organisations to ring through, for instance.

While it’s not something I could see a big demand for myself, it does show that I can’t anticipate everything that other people might want, and that some tweaking and modification of the initial concept might be necessary.

I guess numbers could be preclassified from sources like the Yellow Pages and other business directories, or by businesses submitting lists of their own numbers along with categorisations or keyword lists. They could also be automatically classified down to exchange/locality and city, so if people were OK with allowing all local calls through, they could do that too.

One aspect I was considering was that the devices could be set up to generate a signal similar to that of a fax or answering machines, such that telemarketing autodiallers would simply drop them off the list of numbers to be called. From the perspective of the telemarketers, it would be an advantage as they wouldn’t have to spend employee time talking to people who hate telemarketers and wouldn’t buy anything anyway.