Robocalls have been on the rise. Photo: Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission voted on a ruling Thursday that would combat robocalls that spoof legitimate, in-service numbers and provide a legal framework for phone carriers to carry out the action.

Why it matters: Robocalls are one of the most universally complained-about issues in the U.S., with a total of 48 billion made in 2018 alone, per YouMail Robocall Index. Most major wireless carriers have already promised to implement standards that verify if a call is real or if it comes from a computer.

“We expect phone companies will move quickly to use this tool and help consumers block unwanted robocalls. Among other things, default call-blocking will reduce the costs of handling the robocalls that flood their networks and save them grief by limiting customer complaints.”
— FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in USA Today

Details: The declaratory ruling, per the FCC, enacts:

  • Phone companies would be allowed to block calls for consumers by default.
  • Consumers could "white list" their contacts and opt-in to only receive calls based on that list.
  • Emergency and other vital calls would not be blocked.
  • Through the notice of proposed rulemaking, the FCC will also seek comment on additional measures aimed at curbing robocalls.

What to watch: Phone companies will be required to put the tools in place to block robocalls, but the execution by these companies is not outlined by the FCC. For example, phone companies could choose to text consumers when a call is blocked or leave a voicemail.

  • The FCC is not mandating the service be free, but doesn't expect this service to add cost for consumers. Phone companies will save money by not servicing as many robocalls or not dealing with as many customer complaints, the agency said.

Go deeper: 48 billion robocalls annoyed Americans last year

Go deeper

In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, downed powerlines and left a trail of destruction since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. Zeta weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

2 hours ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Consumer confidence sinking Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

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