Emergency alert test going out to mobile phones nationwide

Pauline Obrien
October 5, 2018

Any cellphone that is on, in range of a cell tower, and whose provider participates in the system should be capable of receiving these alerts.

It's a test of the national alert system that will let any president reach out to people across the country in the event of an emergency.

All wireless carriers that participate in the WEA system will send the alert; there are approximately 100 WEA carriers in the United States, including the four major providers.

And while you can block that cloying ex or irritating in-law from texting you, there's no opting out of Beltway bellwethers from the Oval Office.

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The test today is a joint WEA and EAS test. The people with their phones on do not disturb got the alert once their phone is off that mode. Users can not opt out of receiving the WEA test.

The WEA system is used to warn the public about unsafe weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. While those can be turned off, the 2006 Warning, Alert and Response Network Act stipulates that the "Presidential Alert" cannot. It was sent by FEMA as a test of the system.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which will send the alert, explained that the text will be titled, "Presidential Alert".

By law though, the system can not be used for personal messages from the president. It will sound similar to the routine tests that flash across your television screen once a month.

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Before a presidential alert shows up on cellphones, it must be routed to wireless carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon, through an online system called the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS. It featured a loud alarm, followed by vibration that lasted around one minute, and required no action. It can also be used regionally for emergency information like AMBER alerts.

It didn't take long for the internet to buzz with reaction to the country's first nationwide tweet from President Trump. They allege that the Presidential Alert is a violation of the First and Fourth Amendment, not allowing Americans to be free of government-compelled listening, and amounts to a seizure of their cellular devices and a warrantless trespass, CBS News reported. They failed, at least when it came to the test. J.B.

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.

The judge asked a government lawyer if there were standards in place to prevent someone from using the system for political purposes. However, the FEMA alerts are not blockable.

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