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The Recent Presidential Alert: Explained

Many Americans noticed a new alert coming from their phones the other day. It was the first official test for the Presidental Alert System. Before you start worrying. We’re here to help make sense of what exactly it was, why it happened, and anything else you may want to know about it.

On October 3, 2018, at around 2:20 PM, the personal phones of many North Americans broadcast an alert. The alert was titled “Presidential Alert” with the following text attached to it.

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The test was originally scheduled for September 20, 2018. But after the events of Hurricane Florence, the test was delayed.

What Exactly Was It?

This was a test performed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It was a combination test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The intention of the test was to see how effectively they could relay a message across the entire nation in a moment’s notice. The results of this test would help the facilities determine any faults and make improvements accordingly.

Why Did It Say Presidential?

Given our current leader, it is understandable how citizens may be concerned as to a “presidential alert.” It had this title because of the War Powers Act provision of the Communication Act of 1934. This provision states that the president may use this alert system during “a state of public peril or disaster or other national emergency.”

Since the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act of 2006 provides that subscribers may opt out of receiving any wireless alerts “other than an alert issued by the President,” the only way to test the system with EVERYONE was to make it a presidential test.

I hope this clears things up for anyone concerned or confused.

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