Can You Block the President?

Jada Sardin, Editor



          If you were near a phone or watching television at around 1:18 p.m. on Wednesday, October 3rd, you probably received an Amber Alert labeled, “Presidential Alert,” Many Americans are concerned by this, some are calling it a Black Mirror scenario, but can we do something about it?


          First, let’s clear up some things about the “Presidential Alert” and why it happened. The alert we received on our phones was a test to determine the effectiveness of sending a national message in the case of an emergency. The alert was sent out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), not the president. FEMA says, “The test was originally planned for September 20, 2018 but has been postponed until October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.”


          One of the concerns is that all of the U.S. mobile devices will get a notification that is a false alarm, like the scenario in Hawaii that happened early 2018. This is a plausible concern, and it could very well happen. Isis Johnson ‘19 says, “I was confused, but I know I didn’t like what was happening.”


          Another concern arose from McAfee founder, John McAfee. On Twitter he said, “The ‘Presidential alerts’: they are capable of accessing the E911 chip in your phones – giving them full access to your location, microphone, camera and every function of your phone. This not a rant, this is from me, still one of the leading cybersecurity experts. Wake up people!”


           Unfortunately, by law, your phone’s software is unable to turn off the alert, but you can turn off emergency notifications. Emily Nguyen ‘19 says, “I’d opt out if I could. I didn’t even look at the alert. I just swiped it away.” Would you block the President?