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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, 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.

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

    by VLM (445) 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.