Emergency Weather Alerts coming soon to a Cell Phone near you

First, here is some information I was forwarded today:

http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/lwx/WEA/WEA.php

Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 05/23/2012 TheWashingtonPost

Emergency weather alerts coming soon to a cell phone near you

By Dan Stillman
CMAS Alert
(National Weather Service) If you have a cell phone, it may soon make some curious sounds and vibrations the next time you find yourself in the possible path of a tornado or several other types of weather emergencies.

Starting any day now, the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system will go live. That means National Weather Service warnings for dangerous weather, including tornadoes, flash flooding and hurricanes, will be delivered free of charge to many mobile users on major wireless carriers. The alerts will look like text alerts, but use a different technology that is not affected by network congestion.

The WEA system is “location-based,” which means that you only receive alerts relevant to your physical location. In other words, if you travel to another city, you’ll receive alerts for where you are, not back home.

AMBER Alerts and Presidential Alerts during a national emergency will also be delivered through the WEA system. If you have a WEA-capable phone, you’ll receive alerts unless you opt out (you can’t opt out of Presidential Alerts, however).

Interestingly, the alerts will *not* interrupt phone conversations, but rather will be delayed until a call is finished.

CMAS Message
NWS Warnings and the corresponding messages that will be sent out through WEA. (National Weather Service)
Here’s a selection of FAQs on the WEA system from the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.:

What are WEA messages?
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. Government partners include local and state public safety agencies, FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service.

What types of weather alerts will be delivered?
*Tsunami Warnings
*Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings
*Hurricane, Typhoon, Dust Storm and Extreme Wind Warnings
*Blizzard and Ice Storm Warnings

Why is this important to me?
Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, alerts can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm’s way, without need to download an app or subscribe to a service.

What does a WEA message look like?
WEA will look like a text message. The WEA message will show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. The message will be no more than 90 characters.

What should I do when I receive a WEA message?
Follow any action advised by the emergency message. Seek more details from local media or authorities.

Read the full FAQ here.

OK, so, now you’ve read that. It sounds good, doesn’t it? Now you don’t have to look for a special app to track the weather and weather warnings around you, right?
But wait, hold on a second, let me re-read this, something just doesn’t feel right about it. What was that piece that caught my attention?
Hmmm… oh, yeah, there it is, “AMBER Alerts and Presidential Alerts during a national emergency will also be delivered through the WEA system. If you have a WEA-capable phone, you’ll receive alerts unless you opt out (you can’t opt out of Presidential Alerts, however).

So, while this system will appeal to the lazy masses, it doesn’t occur to them that the federal government will now be empowered to “provide” you with any information they want, based on your location. This means that the governments own computers will undoubtedly be tracking your every movement with your cell phone. I know, you say they already do that, and I won’t disagree, the only difference as I see it is that right now the government has to “request” that data from a third party (just because the third parties never deny them doesn’t mean they aren’t required to “ask”). Since this WEA program is a location based service to provide you with real-time alerts, this means the computers must know where you are. Does anyone believe that the government will “forget” to disable the memory on those computers?

I also see a lot of other reasons why this is a bad thing, but I don’t know where to begin pointing them out.

OK, so that’s where I’m at, this is one more violation against us, but what do we do about it? I’m open to suggestions here. Short of lead flying, I’m not sure what we can do.

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