Concerns Raised Over Potential Presidential Abuse of Emergency System

Marcus Pearson

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireless Emergency Alert system (WEA), a set of admonitive pop-ups taking residence on the nation’s mobile devices since 2008, has been used to alert Americans across the nation about dangerous weather, child abduction, and soon, presidential communique.


As soon as Oct. 3rd (delayed from the original Sep. 20 trajectory due to Hurricane Florence) every WEA compatible device is set to receive a message from the President reading “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”.


The extra emphasis on the test nature of the message is likely due to the recent Hawaii nuclear response debacle, in which shoddy UI led the entire state of Hawaii to believe they were about to be the targets of nuclear assault for over 38 minutes. In a nation of 300 million, with almost as many WEA compatible devices, the same widespread panic would best be avoided.


There’s been much backlash against allowing President Trump to directly address the American public in such a way, especially considering his more than controversial public rallies and Twitter rants.


Many see this as an unavoidable invasion of privacy on behalf of the president, while others are concerned the president could abuse the position of power given to him and use the emergency service much the same way he uses his Twitter account, to disparage his political opponents and promote his administration.


Whether or not this newfound power will lead to abuse is yet to be seen, though opinions around OHS seem to be in line with the rest of the country. One such student, Collin Shriner, expresses the sentiment that “I highly doubt it would be abused that bad, though I could see Trump abusing it if it’s left just to him”.


This was similar opinion to Social Studies teacher Mrs. Lissa Smith who responded to the news with a more reserved response, namely, that the power had “the potential to be abused” but ultimately would serve its purpose if “properly checked” by outside forces, such as the FCC.


The power to directly connect to hundreds of millions of Americans is not one to be looked upon lightly, but it seems as though any worst case scenarios involving drip fed propaganda or late night unblockable tirades are just that, worst case.