Telephone Relay Services, or More Shit You Don’t Know Anything About
In 2008, the U.S. telephone relay service (TRS) industry pulled in around 30 million dollars in revenue, 16 million of which was profit. If you’ve ever had to dial 711, or received a phone call from a ‘relay service’ then you’ve used it before. The TRS exists as a mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Their mission is to assist the hearing or speech disabled to communicate with their fellow citizens over the phone, typically by using a TTY* device. The industry is governed by the Federal Communications Commission, and is funded through NECA, the National Exchange Carrier Association, who get their money from you, in the form of taxes on your phone bill. Ultimately, every penny that the TRS industry makes is from taxes, which makes the fact that the TRS system is completely broken all the more appalling. From ignoring the needs of the deaf customers it was designed to help, to aiding and abetting scammers all over the world. Want to learn more? Check out Stop Relay Abuse. Or, make a call for free anywhere in the US (requires flash, doesn’t play nice in firefox). You don’t even have to prove you’re disabled, and it’s completely anonymous for now. Did I mention federal law makes it illegal to talk about the content of any call, even if it’s criminal activity? The only exception is the nebulous term ‘national security’, otherwise it takes a subpoena just to learn the IP address your call was placed from. Isn’t it grand?