Locals react to presidential alert, inability to opt out

James Marshall
October 5, 2018

The phone has to be on and within range of an active cell tower during the test, and the alert won't interrupt phone calls or appear on phones with an active data session in the background.

Officials will also conduct a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday, beginning at 2:20 p.m. ET, which goes out to radio and television stations, so don't freak out. The EAS, familiar to those who have grown up in the United States, is used to broadcast national emergency alerts over television, radio, cable, satellite radio and other pre-internet mass media channels.

The system was brought into being under the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015. The test is made available to EAS participants, officials said. The other option is to keep your phone from connecting to a cell tower. Wireless users in the USA with compatible phones, connected to commercial networks run by the major wireless carriers, were supposed to get the test.

Don't worry, the system is unlikely to be abused, aiming to warn the public only in instances of unsafe weather, missing children, and other "critical situations".

Ricky Gervais said: "Can't wait for the first ever presidential alert saying that SNL sucks".


Even so, there was a last-minute effort to block the test and wider use of the Presidential Alert system. But there's a select class of alerts referred to as "government alerts" which they can't opt out of.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was testing the system to alert people about national emergencies for the first time. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. Does this mean I'm going to get whatever message President Trump wants to send out through this alert system now?' "CBS News correspondent Anna Werner asked Johnson".

"Agencies like the National Weather Service and local governments use these systems to provide life-saving information during and after natural disasters and other emergencies", Silliman said. It featured a loud alarm, followed by vibration that lasted around one minute, and required no action.

A group of New Yorkers filed a lawsuit in federal court in NY arguing they should not be compelled to receive the alerts under their right to free speech.

Under federal law, users can opt out of the alerts for "imminent threats" and AMBER alerts about abducted children but "not for presidential messages", FEMA warns. It's not supposed to be used for political purposes, and it will only be used very rarely. Unlike the presidential message, these can be switched off. However, the FEMA alerts are not blockable.

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