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FCC changes how emergency alerts appear on your phone

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Get ready to say goodbye Presidential alerts – in a way to speak. The FCC has rules adopted replacing previous warnings with “National Warnings” that include both previous non-optional messages and the FEMA administrator’s alert for natural disasters and similar crises. Like the agency explained by March, this allows officials to meet a new requirement for FEMA alerts without having to create a new category or make significant “technical changes”.

The new rules also implement a handful of policy updates to reduce the likelihood of one False Hawaii-style emergency alert. States will receive an information checklist for their Emergency Alert System plans, along with a new FCC process to review those plans. The new move also clarifies how the organization can repeat warnings, and “encourages” states to form Emergency Communications Committees that help manage alerts. And if a government office slips up, it now has a clear permit to report these alerts to an FCC center 24 hours a day.

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

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

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