If you have a cellphone, it probably buzzed and beeped loudly Wednesday around 2:18 p.m. EDT. Additionally, if a user is on a call, or with an active data session open on their phone, they might not have received the message.
The EAS portion of the test, which will be sent to radio and television, will follow at 2:20 p.m. EDT. It's just a test of a "Presidential-level" Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA), which will be used to notify Americans in the event of national emergency. The idea is that these "Presidential" alerts will only be used in such extreme circumstances, like a coordinated terror or missile attack, that sending the message outweighs your desire not to receive an alert.
Can I Opt Out or Block the WEA and EAS Test? The test is made available to EAS participants, officials said.
Blasted out by cell towers nationwide over a 30-minute period, the message was expected to reach some 225 million people in an unprecedented federal exercise.
They claim the Trump administration is violating their privacy and that it wants to turn people's phones into "government loudspeakers that compel listening". The message you likely received (unless you turned your phone off) was the first ever nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system. A FEMA lawyer said via a phone connection to the courtroom that decisions about alerts are at the discretion of the president, just as are many other decisions involving national security.
The goal of Wednesday's test is to check how well the system works and iron out any wrinkles that do crop up, so that it works properly in the event of a national emergency.
Although the test had been reported in advance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), few were prepared for the emergency tone on their phones, commonly associated with the "amber alert" system for missing children.
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It guided the ways in which local, state and federal officials could use these alerts. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar.
While users may opt out of alerts for weather or missing children, any "presidential" alert cannot be opt-ed out of.
The system is the same one that's used to warn the public about unsafe weather or missing children. It began operating in 2012 and has been used regionally.
There are also those who question if President Trump would abuse the system.
"With today's society, it's something that was needed and it's sad to say that but I think it's a great thing that they're doing", said Cecilia Stevenson.
The judge asked a government lawyer if there were standards in place to prevent someone from using the system for political purposes.