FCC changes how emergency alerts appear on your phone


Get ready to say goodbye to Presidential alerts – sort of. The FCC has adopted rules which replace earlier warnings with “national alerts” which include both prior non-optional messages as well as FEMA administrator alerts for natural disasters and similar crises. As the agency Explain in March, this allows officials to honor a new requirement for FEMA alerts without having to create a new category or make significant “engineering changes.”

The new rules also implement a handful of policy updates to reduce the risks of a Hawaiian emergency false alarm. States will receive an information checklist for their emergency alert system plans, as well as a new FCC process to review those plans. The new decision also clarifies how organizations can snooze alerts and “encourages” states to form emergency communications committees that help manage alerts. And if a government office makes a mistake, it is now clearly authorized to report these alerts to a 24-hour FCC center.

You can receive these new warnings under the old Presidential Alert label until your phone receives a software update reflecting the change.

This should lead to a wider (if not necessarily more frequent) range of alerts on your phone. It also removes some of the connotations of the previous system – nationwide messages don’t necessarily reflect the views of the president and may come from a designated official rather than the Oval Office. It might seem like a small change, but it could have a significant impact on alerts in the future.

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