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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?"

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  • (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.

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  • (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.

    In this month in 1958 Project Snot was started. This has upset many people and is widely considered a bad idea.