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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

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

8 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

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