Trump & Wireless Emergency Alerts

I was recently watching the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and, in one of his sketches, he mentioned something that I personally had not realized about yet: Donald Trump will be able to send unblockable texts to every American starting January 20th. I am particularly curious to see how things are going to turn out from here on out, taking into account we are talking about a President-elect who has shown no hesitation when it comes to firing off tweets on social media.

Until this moment, we have received Wireless Emergency Alerts (or WEAs) on US soil mostly concerning weather warnings or Amber alerts. According to the Federal Communications Commission, WEAs can be released for three different reasons:

A) Alerts issued by the President
B) Alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life
C) Amber alerts

Guess which one of the above cannot be blocked.

However, it is also true that all 90 character WEA text messages are issued through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. With that being said, these texts must pass through at least one more layer before being released throughout the Nation. Moreover, access to this system usually takes two different training courses, apparently. As Jake Swearingen points out in this article, getting access “requires some time and effort […] it’s hard to imagine Trump (who doesn’t use a computer) learning how to do on his own. Which means he would need the help of his support staff to issue a WEA”.

In any case—and taking into account how the electoral campaign and the election went—I am sure this will also be another controversial topic come Trump’s presidency.

(I hope you all had a great last day of class yesterday presenting your final papers.)

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