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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: 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.

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  • (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.