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Extreme weather. Threatening conditions in your area. America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. Presidential Alerts during a national emergency; these are the circumstances listed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that can initiate the Wireless Emergency Alert system.

According to the LA Times, FEMA estimated more than 200 million cell phones were notified on Wednesday morning in the first nationwide test of this alert system. Three out of four of the alerts are absolutely necessary, but a presidential alert of a national emergency has no place on this list.

There is no reason why a president, who has tweeted 5,400 times since Nov. 8, 2016 to 55 million followers on Twitter, needs a direct line to nearly every cell phone in the nation. The WEA system was tested, before noon PST, last Wednesday Oct. 3, and the bold heading above the alert that stated “THIS IS A TEST” read “Presidential Alert”.

This ability to infiltrate the privacy of citizens through mobile devices is the remnants of an 84-year-old policy signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the technological age we live in, the president no longer needs the power to simultaneously alert a majority of people with a cellular device.

The New York Times stated in an article published on Oct. 3, that it is possible to turn off the alerts regarding local emergencies. However, due to a 2006 Federal Communications Commission law, there is no way to unsubscribe from the presidential alerts.

Turning off the alerts for local emergencies is very irresponsible, and the test that occurred on Wednesday morning was necessary in order to make sure the system properly functioned.

The catastrophic North Bay fires that occurred last year are an example of how these alerts can save lives. In contrast, the false alert of an incoming ballistic missile in Hawaii, set off a statewide panic.

Limiting these alerts to only when they are absolutely vital is necessary for the effectiveness of the WEA system, and eliminating the presidential alert would be a step in the right direction.

Those who are comfortable with allowing the president a direct line to their mobile devices may feel reassured by this extremely efficient message delivery system, but any system with that much overarching access to that many devices will surely be a target for cyber-criminals.

The presidential alerts should be allowed to be disabled just like the other WEA system alerts. If every student reached out to FEMA and expressed their opinions or concerns about the test of the WEA system, they would surely have an impact on the future of these invasive alerts.

Students are the undeniable voice of change and can put an end to the nonsensical presidential alerts by staying unified, demanding to be heard and refusing to be silent.

FEMA is open to feedback about the test, and comments and concerns can be sent to [email protected]

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The student news site of Skyline College.
THIS IS AN EDITORIAL