GB2478589A - Screening call requests for anonymous communication between members of a community - Google Patents

Screening call requests for anonymous communication between members of a community Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2478589A
GB2478589A GB201004114A GB201004114A GB2478589A GB 2478589 A GB2478589 A GB 2478589A GB 201004114 A GB201004114 A GB 201004114A GB 201004114 A GB201004114 A GB 201004114A GB 2478589 A GB2478589 A GB 2478589A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
user
requests
requestor
users
voice
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
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Application number
GB201004114A
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GB201004114D0 (en
Inventor
Davide Guglielmo Federico Giovanni Antilli
Original Assignee
Davide Guglielmo Federico Giovanni Antilli
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Publication date
Application filed by Davide Guglielmo Federico Giovanni Antilli filed Critical Davide Guglielmo Federico Giovanni Antilli
Priority to GB201004114A priority Critical patent/GB2478589A/en
Publication of GB201004114D0 publication Critical patent/GB201004114D0/en
Publication of GB2478589A publication Critical patent/GB2478589A/en
Withdrawn legal-status Critical Current

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/42008Systems for anonymous communication between parties, e.g. by use of disposal contact identifiers
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/436Arrangements for screening incoming calls, i.e. evaluating the characteristics of a call before deciding whether to answer it
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M2203/00Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M2203/60Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges related to security aspects in telephonic communication systems
    • H04M2203/6009Personal information, e.g. profiles or personal directories being only provided to authorised persons
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M2203/00Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M2203/65Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges related to applications where calls are combined with other types of communication
    • H04M2203/652Call initiation triggered by text message
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M2203/00Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M2203/65Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges related to applications where calls are combined with other types of communication
    • H04M2203/655Combination of telephone service and social networking

Abstract

A system and method whereby users of a 'community' such as a social networking website may conduct voice calls between their respective personal phone terminations without divulging their phone numbers. The telephonic identifier for a user's personal telephone is not the associated network termination number but the unique user ID, ie the username by which the user is known to fellow users of the website or 'community' and requests for a voice connection to a fellow user's handset are automatically screened such that only those verified as placed by expressly 'authorised' users are executed. Requests may be submitted by SMS or other parsable messaging format, or may be submitted via a graphical user interface of the website. Users may edit their personal details, including their list of authorised users, via either the GUI or via SMS or any other parsable messaging format.

Description

1 Purpose and field of the invention
It is not uncommon for users of dating websites or gaming sites such as poker rooms' to participate anonymously, forming relationships and conducting friendships through messages and chat exchanged under a strict alias. If two Users wish to talk to one another anonymously they can set up a V0IP account under their respective aliases but, unless at least one of them is prepared to exchange a personal phone number, calling opportunities will be restricted to when both parties happen to be logged on to the site.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that website users who participate under a bona fide name may be as reluctant to exchange phone numbers as those who use a cognomen. The growth of internet telephony as a usable communication medium is thus inhibited by its remaining tied to the sometimes on' mode of the website; conventional offline' telephony usage on the other hand has reached an unprecedented level of importance in our lives owing to our mobile phones' being always with us, and always on'.
The ability to access our website friends' mobile phones at all times and to grant them access to our own in turn without the need to divulge our phone numbers would be a welcome innovation; and it would be a further advantage, indeed for many website users a sine qua non of adoption, if the status of phone friend' were, in line with other privileges of online friendship', not transferable to third parties but obtainable only by direct invitation.
2 Statement of the invention
Accordingly, a system and method is disclosed for the screening and forwarding of call requests placed between Users of communities' such as dating and social networking sites whereby: * The telephonic identifier for a User's personal telephone is not the associated network termination number but the Unique User ID, ie the name by which the User is known to fellow Users of the website or community' * Requests for a voice connection to a fellow User's handset are automatically screened, and only those verified as placed by expressly authorised' users are forwarded for connection.
* Voice calls are not routed by default to or from the device from which a call request is made, eg the User's laptop, but to a telephone number which the User registers with the website * Authorisation' is physically non-transferable and can be granted and withdrawn at any time.
3 System apparatus The invention exploits the infrastructure of the social networking website: the User database, Users' stored personal preferences and settings, their Contact or Friends' Lists, their available/unavailable status, and so on. The system apparatus is shown in Figure 1. Here the Website's Graphical User Interface (GUI) is shown here as separate from the user's mobile handset; but the GUI might equally well be hosted by the mobile device.
Also shown is the back end infrastructure comprising a networked database where (a) a directory of User IDs and (b) those Users' personal preferences and settings data are stored. Figure 1 shows the two categories of data stored on dedicated databases; there is no intrinsic need to separate them. A parser for interpreting the content of messages sent in alternative formats, eg SMS, is also shown.
We also see the networked Dialler, which communicates with the databases. In practice this would be a multi-functional telephony platform, such as a server running the Asterisk platform, and capable of queueing, logging, dialling, recording calls, of sending and receiving DTMF tones, and more besides.
Closer attention to detail is unnecessary here: online social networks need no reinventing. With the exception of the Telephony Platform none of this apparatus would need to be expressly acquired by a website owner: for that matter it might for many reasons be desirable to have the Telephony functionality outsourced to a dedicated operation.
4 Setting up a User Account Website users create an ad hoc Contact List' of User IDs from whom they agree to accept voice calls; they also need to register a telephone number to a secure database, for example a mobile CLI.
Registering a personal telephone number serves a dual purpose: 1. The invention requires the User to supply a Contact Number for at least one such device 2. The number is a signature' on SMS Requests and may serve to verify the Requestor's ID It being far beyond the powers of the vast majority of website users to counterfeit or spoof' the Sender ID component of an SMS message the sender's phone number may be taken, for the purposes of an application of this type at any rate, as adequate proof of User identity.
Requesting a call For the purposes of this description the process of requesting and being granted a voice connection according to the system and method disclosed will be known as paging'.
We will now suppose that two Users, with User IDs User A' and User Z', have set up paging' accounts on some common website. How does User A page' User Z? In one embodiment of the invention the website publishes an SMS code, which may be a free, a standard rate-or a premium rate number. When User A wishes to page User Z, User A sends the text message "User Z" to this SMS code from the phone number which User A has registered on the website. The message received by the website via the telephone network will comprise two elements: 1. The body of the message, the destination identifier "User Z" 2. The SMS sender's implicit CLI or Sender ID: the message signature' 6 Screening the Request The condition of a Request's being submitted for execution by the system is that the Requestor be a registered Phone Friend' of the Requested Party.
The steps required to screen the call request, ie to establish whether the Requestor is listed on the Requested Party's Contact List, are shown in the Flow Chart of Figure 2.
It will be remembered that in our example User A sends the text message "User Z" to the website's SMS code and that the System is thus in possession of two identifiers: the Requestor's Sender ID or mobile CLI, and the Requested Party's Unique User ID.
If the Sender ID is registered as the Contact Number of a registered User the corresponding Unique User ID will be discoverable by a reverse look-up in the database of registered Contact Numbers.
We will assume that in this case the system successfully retrieves the match User A' for the Sender ID. It must now be established whether User A is authorised to page' User Z. If a search of User Z's Contact List fails to yield the item "User A" the request will be discarded and no further action need be taken: the Request is deemed valid if and only if the User ID "User A" is found to match a name on User Z's Contact List, in which case, and only in which case, User Z's personal Contact Number is looked up and forwarded along with User A's to the Telephony Platform for connection.
7 Requests made via other media There is no need to limit Users to placing paging Requests by the medium of SMS. Any messaging system capable of expressing the identifier "User X" would serve the purpose defined in Section 6, provided the message embodied some readable implicit signature'.
Requests sent direct from the website that hosts the community' would embody a signature known as a cookie' which would serve precisely the same purpose as the Sender ID of the previous example; requests submitted over a voice connection, for example over a voice connection to an IVR platform incorporated into the Telephony Platform, might be screened by means of any one of (a) the caller identity, or (b) a password entered by means of DTMF tones, or a spoken word or phrase, or (c) by the characteristic sound of the speaker's voice.
Any messaging system that embodies a signature difficult for the non-expert user to conterfeit would be acceptable to the majority of users; and if a User should have any objection to any particular messaging system it would be easy to incorporate an opt-out into the Preferences' menu, and to introduce a further step of checking the Request medium against Users' preferences into the screening process.
8 Setting up the voice connection The screening process complete, the Telephony Server may now attempt to connect the two parties.
One way would be method disclosed in GB DAVOO157WO which may be summarised as follows: 1. The receiver forwards two identifiers to a dialler: the Requestor's (origin identifier') and the Requested Party's (destination identifier').
2. The dialler dials, in the first instance, the destination identifier; when a response is deemed to have been made the responding party is requested to hold the line while the origin identifier is dialled 3. The dialler bridges the two calls into a single voice connection This is by no means the only method envisaged. The necessary step of screening Requestor's telephonic signature' could be performed equally well if the Requestor dialled the Telephony Platform as the initial step and subsequently specified the Requested Party's telephonic identifier by means of DTMF tone input. However, a discussion of the relative benefits of various call connection methods would not be relevant to the description of an invention whose function is not to connect, but rather to deny connections.
9 Request management A percentage of calls placed will inevitably go unanswered. Connection might be reattempted any number of times manually or automatically but Users might prefer to have unfulfilled requests sit pending in a sort of In/Outbox', awaiting a convenient time for resubmission.
It is likely that Users would wish to have the option of switching off' from time to time, ie making themselves unavailable for paged' voice connections; also, that Users might wish to be able to delete pending Requests, particularly if the website makes a charge for fulfilled Requests, or to postpone their execution.
Another option Users might like is the hunt group', a method borrowed from contact centres whereby calls are placed to a plurality of agents simultaneously in order to spread the net' and obtain a response more quickly than would otherwise be likely.
A further option might be call conferencing, the ability to request a call with more than one party, and the ability to add an additional party to a pending conference call.
Those skilled in the Art will be aware that functionality such as queueing outbound calls, setting time parameters for outbound calls, call bridging, dialling hunt groups etc are all within the scope of a regular telephony platform such as Asterisk, and that it would be feasible to incorporate the Telephony Platform's administrator's UI into the User's Website's GUI as an adjunct or as an integrated element, thus granting the User the ability to manage pending requests in the manner described.
Payment for the service For Requests posted by SMS there are two established billing mechanisms: a premium rate SMS code, and a premium rate reverse billed' SMS code.
For Requests posted via the website GUI hosted on a handheld device we propose the following as an option: that submitting a Call Request via a UI on telephony-enabled internet device c8uses the application running the UI to send an SMS to a premium rate number in addition to posting the Request to the website for execution over IP; alternatively the application could cause the device to dial a premium rate line in addition to the characteristic response or application output.

Claims (4)

  1. Claims 1 A System comprising (A) a User network, for example a Social Networking website, comprising -at least one memory for storing a plurality of Unique User IDs, along with the associated personal data -at least one GUI for uploading and updating personal data and settings to the memory and managing call requests pending on a Telephony Platform.
    -at least one message receiver/parser if updates and requests are to be received from sources other than the website GUI -at least one update receiver for updating User data wherever in the system it may be stored, whether in a single or a plurality of locations (B) at least one Telephony Platform for setting up voice connections between registered Users, whose capabilities might include, but need not be restricted to, the following: I. simulaneously dialling a plurality of terminations ii. bridging a plurality of connections into a single conference line' III. playing voice messages iv. parsing DTMF tones v. speech recognition vi. outbound call queueing vii. receiving calls viii. forwarding call logs ix. interfacing with a billing module x. ignoring duplicate dialling requests xi. interfacing with an online or offline application GUI
  2. 2 A method of screening voice call requests between Users of the system, the Requestor' and the Requested Party', whereby for each such User there is associated (a) some Unique User ID, which may be a true name or an alias, as well as (b) the contact number of at least one personal device such as a cell phone, as well as (c) a personal Contact List' of fellow Users authorised to initiate voice calls with said User; and whereby the information embodied in a Request' submitted to the system consists of two identifiers: (1) the Requested Party's Unique User ID, this being the explicit content of the message, and (2), an identifiable signature' implicit in the message and uniquely associated with the Req uestor such as a website cookie, or a Caller ID, or the characteristic sound of the Requestor's voice; and whereby only such Requests as are verified by the system as originating from an authorised User, ie from a User currently listed on the Requested Rarty's Contact List, being deemed valid, are forwarded to the Telephony Platform for execution.
  3. 3 The system and method according to Claims 1-2 whereby the system screens a Request by executing some sequence of the following steps: (i) the Requestor's signature' or Sender ID is submitted to a database for comparison with those of the system's known Users; (ii) the Requestor's Contact Number is looked up in the database of Users' personal data; (iii) the Requestor's Unique User ID and/or Contact Number are matched against the Requested Party's or Parties' Contact Lists; (iv) the Requested Party or Parties' Contact Number or Numbers are looked up in a database of Users' personal data; and whereby failure to identify a positive match for one or more of these steps results in the Request's being deemed invalid, and its execution withheld; and whereby, if and only if the Request is validated, the Contact numbers of the associated Parties are forwarded to the Telephony Server for connection.
  4. 4 The system and method according to Claims 1-3 whereby Requests as well as data and settings updates may be submitted by one or more of the following means: i. entering the Requested Party's Unique User ID into a website GUI field ii. activating a GUI field such as an icon or an item on a pull-down menu iii. submitting an SMS with the Requested Party's User ID in the body of the message iv. activating a field on a handheld device application such as an iPhone app v. issuing an spoken voice command or a DTMF tone command to an IVR platform vi. issuing an spoken voice command or a DTMF tone command in the course of a voice connection set up by the System, said command being intercepted and executed by the Telephony Platform The system and method according to Claims 1-4 whereby the User may opt out of Requests submitted by means of one or more of the messaging media the website makes available, eg because the User may not trust the security of allowing Requestors to confirm their identity by means of a DTMF password; and whereby the system performs the additional screening step of matching the Request's messaging medium against Users' stored preferences.6 The system and method according to Claims 1-5 whereby a validated request, for example one placed by a User via the System's website GUI, causes the Telephony Platform to establish a voice connnection between the Call Requestor's and the Requested Party's or Parties' respective registered telephonic devices.7 The system and method according to Claims 1-6 where the voice connection is established by the Telephony Platform's first dialling, and if necessary redialling, the Requested Party's registered telephonic device and, second, once the Requested Party is deemed by the system to have responded, dialling the telephonic device associated with the Requestor; or vice versa, ie dialling the Call Requestor in the first instance and, in the second, the Requested Party.8 The system according to claims 1-7 where valid Requests that initially fail to result in establishing a voice connection between the Requestor and at least one Requested Party in person are deemed pending', and submitted to the User's Website GUI for management by the User; and where this management functionality might include, but need not be limited to, deleting or rescheduling or deferring of pending requests, defining the execution sequence of pending requests, or opting to have pending requests attempted in parallel after the fashion of a Hunt Group', ie by dialling a plurality of terminations simultaneously and, upon obtaining a response from one of the plurality, abandoning the rest, a method common in contact centres and well known to those skilled in the Art.9 The system according to Claims 1-8 whereby the User may issue an instruction over the website GUI or send a message instructing -subject to authentication in the latter case -the System either to hold until further notice or to re-activate said User's inbound and outbound Requests, whereby held Requests are deemed pending according to the method described in Claim 8 and treated accordingly.The system according to Claims 1-9 whereby payment for voice connections is made by means of a Request made to a premium rate SMS code or, regulatory conditions permitting, whereby the Request SMS or SMS (plural) act as an opt-in message for a reverse billing' agreement, this being a payment mechanism familiar to those skilled in the Art.11 The system and method according to Claims 1-10 whereby submitting a Request via a UI such as a mobile application GUI causes the host device to generate, in addition to the characteristic output and subject to the User's implicit or explicit consent, an SMS sent to a pre-defined SMS code, or a voice call to a pre-defined premium rate telephone number, and thus to incur on the part of the Requestor a charge for the requested connection, this step being executable before, during or after the Request has been fulfilled; alternatively, regulatory conditions permitting, whereby the SMS message thereby generated is an opt-in message for a reverse billing agreement.12 The system according to Claims 1-11 whereby the connection time between Requestor and Requested Party is limited to a maximum of eg 3 minutes per call, or 3 minutes within any period one hour, or 3 minutes within any 24 hour period, whereby calls are torn down upon expiry of the maximum period, and Requests whose fulfillment would exceed said maximum are automatically rescheduled for the next permissible' time.13 The system and method according to Claims 1-6 whereby the Requestor establishes a voice connection by dialling the Requested Party via the System Telephony Platform's published contact number; whereby the Telephony Platform, here in effect a Proxy Telephony Platform for the Requestor, captures the Requestor's Contact Number from the incoming Caller ID and and is given the identifier for Requested Party by means of an associated DTMF or spoken command issued by the Requestor; or where a unique telephone number is assigned to each Unique User ID, and where all such numbers are routed to the Telephony Platform's termination, and the Requested Party's User ID indentified from the dialled number; and whereby only such requests as are verified by the system as originating from an authorised User, ie a User currently listed on the Requested Rarty's Contact List, are deemed valid; and whereby all Requests for a voice connection deemed invalid are denied.14 The system and method according to Claims 1-13 whereby all Requests found to originate from known or registered Users of the network are deemed authorised and forwarded to the Telephony Platform for connection.The system and method according to Claims 1-13 whereby all Requests received, whether from known Users or not, are deemed valid and forwarded to the Telephony Platform for connection.
GB201004114A 2010-03-12 2010-03-12 Screening call requests for anonymous communication between members of a community Withdrawn GB2478589A (en)

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GB201004114A GB2478589A (en) 2010-03-12 2010-03-12 Screening call requests for anonymous communication between members of a community

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GB201004114A GB2478589A (en) 2010-03-12 2010-03-12 Screening call requests for anonymous communication between members of a community

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GB2478589A true GB2478589A (en) 2011-09-14

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Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20020143812A1 (en) * 2001-03-27 2002-10-03 Bedingfield James C. System and method of automatically updating content on a web site
GB2414892A (en) * 2004-06-01 2005-12-07 Voice Courier Mobile Inc Establishing voice communication when communicating via non-voice communication.
US20070011248A1 (en) * 2005-07-08 2007-01-11 Nokia Corporation Web publishing arrangement
US20080096592A1 (en) * 2006-10-19 2008-04-24 Waytena William L Systems and Methods for Providing Communications Services Using Assigned Codes

Patent Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20020143812A1 (en) * 2001-03-27 2002-10-03 Bedingfield James C. System and method of automatically updating content on a web site
GB2414892A (en) * 2004-06-01 2005-12-07 Voice Courier Mobile Inc Establishing voice communication when communicating via non-voice communication.
US20070011248A1 (en) * 2005-07-08 2007-01-11 Nokia Corporation Web publishing arrangement
US20080096592A1 (en) * 2006-10-19 2008-04-24 Waytena William L Systems and Methods for Providing Communications Services Using Assigned Codes

Non-Patent Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Title
"Top 10 Facebook Phone Applications for Mobile Phones", retrieved from http://blog.dialphone-blog.co.uk/blog/2008/03/11/top-10-facebook-phone-applications-for-mobile-phones on 15.06.2010 *
Application Directory, Facebook, applications matching "phone call", retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/apps/directory.php?app_type=0&category=100 on 15.06.2010 *

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