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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 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.

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