Tuesday, August 6, 2013

CREEPY: The State of California Pokes My Cell Phone

Drudge has the headline:
California issues its first cellphone Amber Alert...

Startles Sleeping Californians...
And the LA Times explains:
Monday marked the first time in California that officials notified the public of a statewide Amber Alert through their cellphones, a California Highway Patrol official said.

It differed from phone to phone, but sometime between late Monday and early Tuesday many mobile phones across Southern California received an Amber Alert related to two missing children in San Diego.

Some cellphones received only a text message, others buzzed and beeped. Some people got more than one alert.
It’s all thanks to the Wireless Emergency Alert program, a cellphone version of the Emergency Alert System that gives you the high-pitched test tone on your television.
Cellphone owners receive messages automatically, based on their proximity to the emergency, not based on their phone number.
“If you’re from Texas and that’s where your phone number is based and you’re traveling in California at the time of the Amber Alert, you’ll receive the text message about the Amber Alert in California on your Texas-based phone,” said CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader.
The messages go out over a special wireless carrier channel called Cell Broadcast and aren’t affected by regular cellphone traffic that might disrupt calls and text messages during times of heavy usage, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which has teamed with the government in the program.
Yes, I did receive the Alert. The sound it made was downright creepy. It wasn't any sound I had programmed into my phone. I wasn't sleeping though, I was out with a friend. I received the Alert and she received  the Alert on her cell phone about 15 minutes later. My Alert came with an option to-opt out of future alerts, though it wasn't clear if this was an opt-out for all alerts or just Amber alerts. My friend did not receive an opt out option with her alert message.

Mark this down: The use of alerts will expand to "warn us" of all kinds of government perceived dangers dangers and  actions the government will want us to take.


  1. My Android phone received it's first Amber Alert last month. I discovered there's an preloaded app, "Emergency Alerts", that can be set to shut them off, along with "extreme alerts" and "severe alerts". Apparently there's a difference between those two, but I'm guessing it's classified.

    Alas, the "Presidential-level alert" cannot be disabled.

  2. On the iPhone, go to settings->notifications, scroll to the bottom, and you can turn off the two levels of alerts.

  3. I got the same alert last at 11:07 last night (in California) and it freaked me out. I thought my phone was going to explode, Michael-Hastings-style. It was that horrible emergency-broadcast/cat-hanging-from-a-tree screeching sound that would wake the dead. I just wish I could personally thank our great and benevolent protectors for saving us all from evil.

  4. Yea yea yea

    Minnesota has been at this for about a year now. I got woken up at 6 am for a flash flood warning. I live on top of a hill above the river by about 100 feet.

  5. Last April my wife and I were at Chili's (in TX near San Antonio) celebrating our 45th anniversary when we heard a sound in "stereo" from all over the dining room. Everyone with a cellphone received an Amber alert at the same time.

    I hope they have a similar alert for weather. If a tornado is coming I would appreciate knowing it.