The “Presidential Alert” Is One Message You Can’t Ignore

Beeeeep…this is an alert! Do you trust our new Presidential emergency alert system in the hands of someone who has a proven to be impulsive on Twitter?

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Total Votes : 94

Scroll down to see how people across America voted.

All cell phones, switched on and within range of an active cell tower, across the United States went off at once with a message from the president. The emergency presidential alert was designed to warn people of a dire threat, like a terror attack, pandemic or natural disaster, according to the New York Times.

The first nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system was conducted at 2:18 p.m. Eastern standard time on October 3. This is the first national WEA test.

Every cell phone user received the following alert at the same time, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System,” it said. “No action is needed.”

Two minutes later, television and radio broadcast tested the Emergency Alert System (EAS), making it the fourth EAS nationwide test.

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test. In case of a nationwide catastrophe, the president or someone he designates – would make the decision to send a real alert, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency would push the button.

Before the wireless test went out, officials said they believed it would reach only about 75 percent of the roughly 225 million cell phones in the country, though they were hoping the number will ultimately be way higher. The test was a high point of many years of work and was originally planned for las month, by got delayed by Hurricane Florence.

What was supposed to draw a positive moment for Americans across the country, drew jokes and complaints on social media. The option to not be able to opt out has already prompted a lawsuit that was filed in New York. The plaintiffs, three New York residents stated that the presidential alerts “violate their free speech and amount to an unconstitutional seizure of their devices.”

The system “is tantamount to hijacking private property for the purpose of planting a Government-controlled loudspeaker in the home and on the person of every American,” the lawsuit states.

The Communications Act of 1934 gives Trump the power to use communications systems in case of an emergency, and a 2006 law called for the Federal Communications Commission to work together with the wireless industry to transmit these messages, the New York Times reports. The F.C.C. also states that the Wireless Emergency Alert System has been used by local government more than 40,000 times since 2012.

Based on the law, you are allowed to unsubscribe from local alerts that relate to extreme weather alerts and missing children. Though, users are not allowed to opt out of presidential alerts, which raises concerns for some. Given that President Trump has the tendency for sending impulsive messages on Twitter, many users expressed their concerns.

In response, federal officials have stated that the law abides to strict guidelines for sending emergency alerts and follows a strict protocol when doing so. Antwane Johnson, who oversees public alert for FEMA, also assures us that the president won’t be able to just wake up and choose to do so.

Verizon responded to the social media chaos regarding their alerts and reassured its customers in a statement posted on their website, to inform and educate on the importance of an emergency system. They even clarified that the law was passed by Congress in 2015 and signed by President Obama at the time. Therefore, regardless who the president was, the law was already set in place during Obama’s administration.

The bigger concern that many have brought up, is ability for hackers to hack the system. The system can also have mishaps from within, for example the false alert that was sent to the state of Hawaii back in January, warning of an incoming ballistic missile. The alert created panic and mayhem, but officials pointed the blame on a worker who they say misunderstood instructions from a supervisor. Then there is the possibility of failing to send an alert when needed, which was the case during the wildfires in California last fall.

Many have joked that they are all switching back to flip phones that cannot receive text messages. The system may not be as strong yet as many hope, but tests are crucial to help make them stronger. The system is still relatively new, so it is too soon to say how it will do in the moment if crisis, or how President Trump will use it. Read the full story on the New York Times here.

Here’s how people on the Zip app are weighing in on this all over the country!

Beeeeep…this is an alert! Do you trust our new Presidential emergency alert system in the hands of someone who has a proven to be impulsive on Twitter?

88% He won’t abuse it
12% I’m concerned
86% He won’t abuse it
14% I’m concerned
90% He won’t abuse it
10% I’m concerned

He won’t abuse it

I’m concerned

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