On Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 11:18 PST, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted an emergency alert test that sent alerts to more than 225 million electronic devices across the United States.
This was FEMA’s first time testing the National Wireless Emergency System.
The alerts read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” The subject read “Presidential Alert.”
While users can opt out of messages about missing children and natural disasters, they cannot opt out of presidential alerts.
Cal Poly students shared their concerns about the government having access to nearly all cell phones.
“It’s a little freaky that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, my phone knows that,” landscape architecture senior Bethany Smith said.
City and regional planning junior Melia Schelstrate said it was a good idea in terms of keeping people informed, but also felt it was strange that the government was able to send an alert to everyone.
“It could be used in a good or a bad way, it just depends on what their intentions are,” Schelstrate said, explaining that she felt worried that the alert system could be abused.
The test, however, is only for emergencies and can only be used if the public is in peril or there is a national emergency. According to the 2006 Warning, Alert and Response Network Act, it cannot be used for any personal message from the president.