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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

Exclusive: Biden administration raises minimum wage for federal employees to $15

A poster demanding a federal $15-per-hour minimum wage seen near the White House in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 26, 2021. Photo: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal agencies are being directed to raise the minimum wages for government employees to $15 an hour, according to new guidance from the Office of Personnel Management shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: The guidance will impact almost 70,000 federal employees, most of which work at the Departments of Agriculture, Defense and Veterans Affairs. OMP is directing agencies to implement the new wage by Jan. 30.

21 mins ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron’s blitz around the globe has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

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