After the governments embarrassing failed test of the emergency broadcast system, the feds are moving full speed ahead with their plans to be able to take over all methods of communications – “in the event of an emergency” – with the flip of a switch.
The next phase of their plan includes rolling out the National Emergency Alert System to your cell phones.
It’s estimated that half of all smartphones, including the new iPhone, have already been chipped to receive these alerts. Sprint announced today that they will be the first carrier to mandate these alerts on their service and will be conducting the first test of Wireless Emergency Alerts system in New York City.
Sprint in their press release said that
“The wireless emergency alerts will be available in three categories – Presidential Alerts, Imminent Threats to Life and Property, and AMBER Alerts – and provide mobile users an additional tool for learning of impending danger in relation to their current location. Wireless users can opt out of all message types with the exception of presidential alerts.”
The Wireless Emergency Alerts are part of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) which will soon be able to send these presidential alerts through satellite, digital radio, internet, digital road signs, NOAA Radio, and commercial broadcast television.
Here’s an overview of IPAWS from FEMA
These new alerts give the government the ability to take control of almost all types of communication and broadcast medium. While that may sound like a good thing to have during a national emergency, does anyone think the government can actually get things right? I mean we are talking about the same agencies that screwed up during Katrina, The Gulf oil crisis, and let’s not forget the most recent failure of the EAS system. Judging from the government’s track record of dealing with previous emergencies, I really don’t have much confidence in them being able to do anything right during future ones.
And what if this system is abused? I don’t care what side of the political aisle you come down on, but the fact is this system is ripe for abuse. That’s a lot of power in one person’s hands. The ability to shut down all communication with the flip of a switch and then broadcast your message to the world is a pretty scary scenario.