Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the be-alert,-the-country-needs-more-lerts dept.

frojack writes:

"Amber alerts on our smartphones are starting to become all too frequent, and like most things, they are burdened with a certain degree of Feature Creep. Not just for abducted children anymore, the Alert system in US carrier sold phones can carry Presidential Alerts, Imminent Threat Alerts (weather or forest fires mostly) and the original AMBER alert for missing children.

Its not clear the President is ever going to have a single message for the entire population, where that message will make any difference to the average citizen. But then, this category is seldom abused. Weather broadcasts are invariably too late, historically too widely distributed, and often simply redundant. And Amber Alerts are, in the majority of cases, custody disputes, where the child is never in any real danger.

Amber Alerts are quickly becoming viewed as security theater, and the most abused aspect of the entire system. This has increasing numbers of people opting out of the alerts on their phones as a result.

The Amber system is the "third rail" of child safety discussions, and few agencies are willing to address its failings. Do we need additional shades of Amber, or the ability to filter custody disputes from the system?"

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough

Mark All as Read

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by bd on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:08AM

    by bd (2773) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:08AM (#14562)

    As a recent visitor to the united states (California to be precise), I am surprised that amber alerts are not yet used to warn you that cellphones are known to the government to cause cancer.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by nitehawk214 on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:35PM

      by nitehawk214 (1304) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:35PM (#14706)

      A more ironic quip would be "An Amber alert to everyone's phones to tell people not to use their phones while driving."

      I had the thing go off in the car once, it made a crazy sound that the phone had never made before so it was very distracting, even though I did not check it. I wonder how many accidents these things cause?

      --
      "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by demonlapin on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:50AM

        by demonlapin (925) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:50AM (#14959) Journal
        We had an Amber alert recently. All the overhead highway messaging signs read "AMBER ALERT - FOR DETAILS SEE OURSTATETRAFFICWEBSITE.COM"
        • (Score: 2) by nitehawk214 on Wednesday March 12 2014, @06:59PM

          by nitehawk214 (1304) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @06:59PM (#15444)

          Well that takes the dumbness cake. (assuming they award cakes for these sorts of things)

          --
          "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
    • (Score: 2) by FuckBeta on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:36PM

      by FuckBeta (1504) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:36PM (#14720) Homepage

      ...contain materials known to the State of California to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm.

      --
      Quit Slashdot...because Fuck Beta!
    • (Score: 1) by cge on Wednesday March 12 2014, @05:30AM

      by cge (67) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @05:30AM (#15043)

      That would be far too specific for a Prop. 65 warning. The more likely alert would be that something, somewhere in your vicinity, is known to cause cancer.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by lil'wombat on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:24AM

    by lil'wombat (1664) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:24AM (#14566)

    The problem is that the alerts are too broad. Flash flood warnings in Northern Il, after its been raining - useless. Severe weather/ tornado warnings for my town when the sirens (which you can't hear due to severe weather) are sounded - excellent idea. Unless I can configure the level of alerts I want to receive, there should be strict guidelines as to when they are triggered. If you are not setting off the sirens or firing up the reverse 911 system to contact every citizen in an evacuation zone, you shouldn't be firing off a cell phone alert.

    Whats next, alerts when Max Madsen Nissan is inflating the gorilla - because these prices are so good they can't last - hurry before they're gone?

    • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:46PM

      by ikanreed (3164) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:46PM (#14734)

      Some people live in easily flooded areas(especially farmers), and need to know they should be prepared. Tornados are scary, but flash floods do more property damage and I believe they kill more people, but my memory there is hazy.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Non Sequor on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:28AM

    by Non Sequor (1005) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:28AM (#14568) Journal

    Presidential alert:
    Two words: alien attack.

    Weather alert:
    Too widely distributed? So what, I check a more specific detailed bulletin in a weather app and decide if the warning affects me.

    Amber alert:
    Typically in a custody dispute, I'm going to have to deduct some points from the parent who is taking the kid somewhere the other parent doesn't know about. Sure I accept that doesn't amount to a life or death situation, but it's something that needs to be resolved, that involves a kid.

    --
    Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by morgauxo on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:22PM

      by morgauxo (2082) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:22PM (#14623)

      Sure, custody disputes ARE something that needs to be resolved. They don't need to be resolved by bringing every local cellphone carrying citizen into the middle of it. Too much 'noise' in the alert system will just train people to ignore it. Then nobody will be paying attention when it's a paedo or other form of kidnapper.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by snick on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:02PM

      by snick (1408) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:02PM (#14641)

      Presidential alert:
      Two words: alien attack.

      Two words: never used.

      Yes, I have a hard time picturing a situation where everyone in the US of f'n A needs to be told something RIGHT NOW!!! But the good news is TPTB seem to have a hard time picturing it too, so it isn't used. This just isn't a problem.

      Weather alert:
      Too widely distributed? So what, I check a more specific detailed bulletin in a weather app and decide if the warning affects me.

      For me these are invariably flash flood warnings, and invariably "in the mountains and deserts" so they are just noise to me. I have this shut off so I don't get woken up by an urgent message that means nothing to me. This is too bad, because I'd be willing to bet that fire warnings come on this same channel an I _do_ want those. Better location targeting would allow folks to leave this on and to get notified when there was something that actually affected them.

      If there was just some way for the phone companies to know whether your cell phone is in an affected area...

      Amber alert:
      Typically in a custody dispute, I'm going to have to deduct some points from the parent who is taking the kid somewhere the other parent doesn't know about. Sure I accept that doesn't amount to a life or death situation, but it's something that needs to be resolved, that involves a kid.

      I'm mixed on these. When these come in, they are always "last seen in this color car..." I am either driving at the time (and can't be reading my phone) or not driving, (and am not looking at traffic) Either way, it seems like an idea that sounds better than it actually is. Maybe I'm wrong, but these seem like noise too.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:25PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:25PM (#14825)

        Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom from alien overlords.

    • (Score: 1) by TK on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:09PM

      by TK (2760) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:09PM (#14650)

      >Presidential alert:
      >Two words: alien attack.

      Sounds like a recipe for the best prank ever made. All we need is a talented cracker or another disgruntled NSA employee.

      --
      The fleas have smaller fleas, upon their backs to bite them, and those fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:52PM (#14670)

        Or a lame duck president with a sense of humour, who realizes he's not going to be remembered for his policies so might as well be remembered for something.

        But either way, no-one would believe it. For example, the Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" panic was over-stated, apparently [slate.com].

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by evilviper on Tuesday March 11 2014, @06:22PM

      by evilviper (1760) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @06:22PM (#14751) Homepage Journal

      Presidential alerts are for WWIII... full-scale (retaliatory) nuclear strikes. It started with CONELRAD, then Ememrgency Broadcast System (EBS), then Emergency Alert System (EAS), and now cell-phone based alerts (since people aren't listening to their radios/TVs all the time, and the fed couldn't convince everyone to go out and buy a weather-alert radio).

      It used-to be that NORAD could also issue nation-wide alerts, but they forgot to flip. a switch when doing a test, and accidentally told the country the world was about to end... So now it's by presidential alert-only...

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
      • (Score: 1) by chromas on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:07PM

        by chromas (34) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:07PM (#14901)

        NORAD could also issue nation-wide alerts, but they forgot to flip. a switch when doing a test, and accidentally told the country the world was about to end

        I never understood the purpose of the "Lock out changes" button that they forgot about after pressing but at least Joshua learned humility.

      • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Wednesday March 12 2014, @01:04AM

        by evilviper (1760) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @01:04AM (#14965) Homepage Journal

        Actually, the emergency alert was a wrong tape: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Broadcast_ System#False_alarm_of_1971 [wikipedia.org]

        The switch I was thinking of was from the new NORAD computers that ran the test / simulation on the big screen just like the real-deal. See the last few paragraphs here:

        http://blockyourid.com/~gbpprorg/2600/sac.html [blockyourid.com]

        --
        Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by mtrycz on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:32AM

    by mtrycz (60) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:32AM (#14571)

    What is an Amber Alert and why should I care?

    --
    In capitalist America, ads view YOU!
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by c0lo on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:48AM

      by c0lo (156) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:48AM (#14574)

      Better questions: who's Amber, why does she send these alerts and how come there isn't (yet) any govt program or legislation for protection against alert-abuse (why nobody thinks of alerts)?

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Sir Garlon on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:02AM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:02AM (#14578)

      [A search engine] is your friend. So is Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] in this case. You should care if you live in the US or a country that has a similar system, and you either don't want to receive alerts of incidents you can't realistically do anything about (your chances of spotting the suspect vehicle, etc. are infinitesimal) or you are concerned that a potentially-useful system is being overused to the point of alarm fatigue [wikipedia.org].

      That is to say, you are perfectly justified in not caring. But I do think the issue is relevant to a tech audience, because it pertains to the use of a communications network and the effects of that use on the people.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mmcmonster on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:38AM

    by mmcmonster (401) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:38AM (#14573)

    I turned off amber alerts on my cell phones (along with the weather advisory alerts) the first time one went off at 2am and woke up my family.

    I wouldn't mind some sort of smart alert ability. Given the processing power of phones, something should be possible. But a blanket alert for every phone in a zip code is ridiculous.

    If I were to design it, I would use something that would only alert when the user picks up the phone, and then make a different chime and vibration pattern so they know something odd is happening. And don't make the chime at the maximal volume of the phone.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by galgon on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:54PM

      by galgon (3041) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:54PM (#14608)

      I turned them off too the first time I was woken up at 2 AM for an Amber alert 60 miles away. I would love if IOS would allow you to selectively choose which alerts will get to you in Do Not Disturb mode. For example I specifically do not need Amber alerts from 10pm-6am. I am not going to be able to help the search for the child while I am sleeping.

      However, there are some alerts that I would like to know about at 4am. For example tornado warning for my zip code or a presidential warning - "Aliens have landed". But most things can wait till I get up for work in the morning.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Snotnose on Tuesday March 11 2014, @06:13PM

      by Snotnose (1623) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @06:13PM (#14748)

      This. I turned mine off when I heard about the alerts waking people up at 2 AM.

      When this hit the news we were flooded with "if you disable Amber alert on your phone you are a bad person who doesn't care about the children". Nothing was said about treating them like a standard text. Give me a little ping when it arrives, start blinking the green light, and I'll read it when I wake up. Insist on waking me up at 2 AM, uh, no. Just no.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Sir Garlon on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:15AM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:15AM (#14579)

    I have mixed feelings about Amber Alerts. On one hand, my knee-jerk reaction when someone says "think of the children" is annoyance and defiance: think of shutting up and keeping the government off my back! On the other hand, I have enough knowledge of history to know that the professional police force we have and take for granted today is a relative novelty that was implemented in the mid-nineteenth century (too lazy to look up a reference). Before that, law enforcement relied on citizens to be alert and to assist the laughably few constables, marshals, etc. when an emergency occurred. So under certain circumstances I think it makes sense to remember that the police can and should call for help from regular people. To expect the police to do all the work all the time is too sheep-like for my comfort.

    Like all authority, this can be abused. Specifically, turning citizens into informants risks injecting all kinds of biases into the investigation. As Bruce Schneier said, ask amateurs to do security work and you should expect amateurish results. But it worked for finding the Boston marathon bombers. So, like I said, mixed feelings.

    --
    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 1) by GeminiDomino on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:52AM

      by GeminiDomino (661) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:52AM (#14585)

      Before that, law enforcement relied on citizens to be alert and to assist the laughably few constables, marshals, etc. when an emergency occurred. So under certain circumstances I think it makes sense to remember that the police can and should call for help from regular people. To expect the police to do all the work all the time is too sheep-like for my comfort.

      Screw it. They decided the citizens couldn't have any authority, so they can take the responsibility and shove it.

      --
      "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:13PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:13PM (#14690)

        Before that, law enforcement relied on citizens to be alert and to assist the laughably few constables, marshals, etc. when an emergency occurred. So under certain circumstances I think it makes sense to remember that the police can and should call for help from regular people. To expect the police to do all the work all the time is too sheep-like for my comfort.

        Screw it. They decided the citizens couldn't have any authority, so they can take the responsibility and shove it.

        I think the GP's point is that citizens should have more authority. By the police and citizens working together, the hope would be that we would get police which don't consider every unknown citizen they encounter to be their enemy and that citizens in turn don't have to consider every unknown member of the police to be their enemy.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:17PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:17PM (#14593)

      "But it worked for finding the Boston marathon bombers"

      You mean the reddit guys? That didn't turn out so well.

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:06PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:06PM (#14682)

        Indeed. Garlon seems to be very confused about what happened in Boston.

        Even the guy who "found" the kid in his boat was not actively looking for him. He just saw that something was weird with the cover on his boat. That's luck, not design or even intention.

        • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:33PM

          by Sir Garlon (1264) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:33PM (#14717)

          I think I have a different interpretation of events than you do, which is not the same as being confused. Notice how fast the suspect was caught after the lockdown was lifted. You call it luck. I say alerting the whole population of the metro area created approximately 2 million chances to get lucky. Both can be true.

          --
          [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:20PM

        by Sir Garlon (1264) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:20PM (#14713)

        In what way?

        --
        [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by lentilla on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:56AM

      by lentilla (1770) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:56AM (#14963)

      the police can and should call for help from regular people

      I believe that we each have an obligation to look out for our fellows. A police force is simply an extension and formalisation of this responsibility. It behoves us all; citizens and public servants alike; to recall we are not serfs and masters but rather equals with a common goal.

      Police need to understand that they are being employed to do the boring parts - the standing in the rain or the filling-in of countless reports. They need to remember their authority to act is derived solely from the citizenry and their purpose is to ensure society runs peacefully.

      I prefer to see it not so much "police can and should call for help from regular people" as much as "regular people should be able to ask for help from their neighbours". A paid police force is no more than the continuation of this basic responsibility.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:48AM

    by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:48AM (#14584) Homepage

    FTFS:

    And Amber Alerts are, in the majority of cases, custody disputes, where the child is never in any real danger.

    The thing is, a lot of kidnappings, and quite possibly the majority, are by a non-custodial parent. This can be from a custody dispute between a divorced couple, or it can be a biological parent taking the child from adoptive or foster parents. The problem is that sometimes the kid really is in danger because of that - for instance, if the custodial parent knows of medication the kid needs to take that the non-custodial parent and kid aren't aware of, or if the biological parent doesn't have custody because they're strung out on heroin.

    This is part of an overall trend: Most crimes against children are carried out by an adult the child knows well, and frequently is either a parent or trusted by a parent. That's in part because most children can and will act to protect themselves from strangers who appear dangerous, but trust their parents to be safe and pick other adults who are safe to be around.

    --
    In Capitalist America, ads view you!
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by VLM on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:32PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:32PM (#14599)

      The problem is alarm fatigue caused by at least one hundred times as many "That bastard ran off with a girl 10 years younger than me and I'm still butthurt about it, so god help me if he's five minutes late bringing our son back from visitation I will call the police and I will get them to issue an amber alert and I hope the SWAT team shoots that cheating bastard in the head and I bet the judge will give me more money too".

      Meanwhile poor VLM is in his bedroom sleeping about two hours away by car, when the phone goes crazy like a tornado is about to level the house, then I find out this dude is two hours away in rush hour traffic and heading away from my area and I WAS in bed asleep not on the interstate. Next thing you know I'm reconfiguring android "Settings" "Wireless + networks" "Emergency Alerts" and uncheck ALL those bastards. Never F-ing again. Never. F security theater and all the parasites making money off it, I'm going back to sleep.

      The only Amber alerts I see now, are DVR'd TV recordings from a week or two ago. The DVR'd weather alerts are also pretty annoying. Sorry, I don't care today if it rained heavily 30 miles away two weeks ago but nothing really happened. Heck even if something did happen like a tornado, lets be honest, I still don't care. If only there were a way to shut those off too. Maybe satellite dish? Or stream?

      Its not like the modern world has an acute shortage of security theater. To regain the balance, Fox News will just broadcast an expose that there's a terrorist hiding behind every tree trunk, or revive the McCarthy hearings and Hollywood is full of commie sympathizers (and if so ... so what? Like I care.)

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:15PM (#14693)

      The problem is that sometimes the kid really is in danger because of that

      The problem seems to be that when the parent takes the kid from a state service, the state is too willing to call am amber alert even when there is no danger. My opinion is based on anecdote, but I've started googling the details every time I hear about an amber alert and more often than not, that's what it is. For example, a recent case involved a mother taking her kid from custody, I think it was a group home, the child had been taken from her because she beat up another woman in front of the kid. No drug abuse, no special medications (which they could inform the kidnapper of via amber alerts too), no violence to the kid. She was just a bad example.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by tangomargarine on Tuesday March 11 2014, @06:19PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @06:19PM (#14750)

        "This should help you calm down. Please come back when you can afford to make a purchase. Your kids are starving. Carl's Jr. believes no child should go hungry. You are an unfit mother. Your children will be placed in the custody of Carl's Jr. Carl's Jr... 'Fuck You, I'm Eating.'"

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12 2014, @06:58AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12 2014, @06:58AM (#15070)

      The problem is that sometimes the kid really is in danger because of that - for instance, if the custodial parent knows of medication the kid needs to take that the non-custodial parent and kid aren't aware of

      This would be an exception, which possibly would justify an amber alert. But otherwise, no.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by samwichse on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:01PM

    by samwichse (3189) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:01PM (#14589) Journal

    Just last week we had an amber alert in my area. It was startling, I had only heard that tone once before, and I thought it was annoying (a stupid 2:00am warning about high wind). But the alert was informative (black SUV, so and so model, tag #whatever, last seen here), and instead, I kept my eye out for that car.

    I didn't see it, but someone did and called it in and they found the kid at an inn.

    There was an outcry about the stupid weather alert, and we haven't had one since. If they start abusing it, I'll turn it off. But I plan to start a family myself soon, so... do unto others.

    Sam

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:45PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:45PM (#14604)

    I have a weather radio at home that picks up weather alerts. Unlike my cell phone, I can configure the radio to only alarm for certain counties and for certain events. For example, I don't care if there are small craft advisories, as I don't own a boat. Tornado watches? Eh, it's just another day. Tornado warnings? That, I want to know about.

    As for Amber alerts, society has made it clear that as a single adult male I am not to look at or even notice children lest I be assumed to be a molester. So, I don't look at them or even notice them, and if that includes a poor kidnapped lamb, so the hell be it. Amber alerts are turned off on my cell (and the weather radio), and the only ones I see are the ones put up on the highway notification signs. Most of those are "missing elderly" notices anyway, and I figure if grandpa finally made his escape from the nursing home, more power to him.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:47PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:47PM (#14631)

      "I can configure the radio to only alarm for certain counties and for certain events."

      Your description closely resembles the Android app "pro weather alert". I shut off all the notifications from wireless and rely on that app for "real" warnings.

      You can also set up multiple areas. Understandably I'm interested in tornado warnings at my house, even when I'm at work or traveling, and at some elderly relatives homes, etc.

      I am also very selective with my choice of alerts. Not interested in air quality alerts, WTF am I supposed to do, hold my breath till next Thursday?

      Its interesting that given enough careful filtration, what superficially is FUD security theater can be useful.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by MrGuy on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:56PM

    by MrGuy (1007) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:56PM (#14639)

    If people are opting out of Amber Alerts, just make them mandatory. There, now we can push all the crap we want at people any time we want.

    Though that might cost money, so maybe each push should carry a little ad from a sponsor. Just to offset the costs, of course.

    And, heck, why follow the DOJ guidelines on using the alerting (which are rarely followed anyways, since they're SUPPOSED to be reserved for situations where there's reason to fear for the child's life/safety)? Push out something any time we feel like there's something the government might want to remind you about. Hey, it's a "service."

    Seriously, I supported the original idea - the ability for law enforcement to use mass posting on highways to enlist citizens to help them find specific vehicles in response to a very specific and imminent threat. But this is quickly getting out of hand. Current usage is inconsistent, poorly thought out, and not part of any organized plan. It's a solution in search of a problem right now - we built this infrastructure, and it cost a lot of money, so let's find some things to use it for, because the thing we built it for almost never happens (child kidnapped by a dangerous stranger and we know with certainty the license plate of the car), and we'll look like we wasted a ton of money if we don't use it for SOMETHING!

    If we want to get serious about a citizen alerting system that's designed by smart humans to solve real problems, great.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by hybristic on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:30PM

    by hybristic (10) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:30PM (#14703) Journal

    When I worked at a gas station, Amber Alerts would pop up on the lotto machine that printed the tickets. I always thought that was really smart, as its a likely pit stop for anyone. We would then print an alert and hand them out to customers. Other than that, I have never seen an Amber Alert that was actually close enough to me that made me feel like I could help. The last one sent to my phone was around 6 hours away from me. So yeah I could see how they might not be as effective as we would like them to be.