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FEMA to test ‘Presidential Alert’ system next week

Posted on Saturday, 15th September 2018 @ 01:55 PM by Text Size A | A | A

President Donald Trump may soon be communicating with you directly on your phone — even if you don’t follow him on Twitter.

Next Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will do its first test of a system that allows the president to send a message to most U.S. cellphones.

More than 100 mobile carriers, including all the major wireless firms, are participating in the roll out, FEMA stated in a message on its website posted Thursday.

“The EAS [Emergency Alert System] is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency,” FEMA said.

The test message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert,” according to the agency.

Users whose phones are on will twice hear a tone and vibration and then see an English-only (for now) message: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

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Related Articles:

IPAWS National Test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) [fema.gov]

Residents of Southern California were stunned yesterday morning when their avocado toast breakfast was suddenly interrupted by an ominous “end-of-world prediction” that took over their TV’s, interrupting their normal programming for a full minute. Among other things, the broadcast predicted that “extremely violent times will come.”

Coming just a month after Project Gotham Shield, a major nuclear detonation drill in the New York-New Jersey area, a false alarm that went out to some people’s television sets Tuesday might have scared some in New Jersey. As NBC New York reports, a nuclear power plant warning issued in Cumberland and Salem counties was sent out by mistake. The message that was sent out said “a civil authority has issued a nuclear power plant warning for the following counties/areas.”

A mixture of human and computer error caused a “Civil Emergency” alert to be sent to thousands of cell phones in Southern Kentucky Tuesday, the Kentucky Emergency Management office said. There was never an emergency and the alert was sent out during testing at the Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, spokesman Buddy Rogers said.

Several models of Emergency Alert System decoders, used to break into TV and radio broadcasts to announce public safety warnings, have vulnerabilities that would allow hackers to hijack them and deliver fake messages to the public, according to an announcement by a security firm on Monday.

“The primary goal is to provide the President with a mechanism to communicate with American public during times of national emergency,” said Fowlkes. The change, she said, is that prior to last week’s order there was no rule in place to call for or allow a test from top to bottom.

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