Mass texts of the Presidential Alert system to everyone with smartphones

On Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018, everyone with a smartphone in the United States was expected to receive a text message that stated: “Presidential Alert: THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency System Alert System. No action is needed.” This is the first test that the federal government and cellular carriers put together to alert people of serious things like widespread disasters and terrorist attacks.

These are similar to AMBER ALERTS, for missing children, or serious weather warnings because they both come from the federal government. The only difference is with Presidential Alerts, you can not turn them off in your cell phone’s settings. The system is run by FEMA, which is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They have stated that all major cell phone carriers have agreed to participate in this.

This test was originally scheduled for September, but it was delayed because of Hurricane Florence. The law behind the cell phone notification system, which was passed in 2016, requires FEMA to run a test at least every three years.

There has been a concern about privacy with these notification alerts. People are worried that the government has too much power over what they can see on our personal devices. Thankfully, President Trump isn’t the one who can just decide what message to send out to cell phones. It is controlled by specific people that work for FEMA. Also, the FCC will ask cell service providers to produce a reflection about how the test went.

 

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