Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

SoylentNews is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop. Only 16 submissions in the queue.
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This discussion has been archived.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

Mark All as Unread

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (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.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +2  
       Insightful=1, Interesting=2, Overrated=1, Total=4
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   4  
  • (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) 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.