"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?"
(Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:48AM
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.
The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
(Score: 4, Insightful) by VLM on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:32PM
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
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
"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
This would be an exception, which possibly would justify an amber alert. But otherwise, no.