Jim covered Congress and The White House during the George W. Bush administration for The Washington Times, and worked as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California. He has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, and many local and national talk radio shows to talk politics and policy.
Latest posts by Jim Lakely (see all)
Worry not, scared Americans. The government bureaucracies that brought you the eternal “Orange Alert” in airports is now stepping up their efforts to protect you from terrorist attack by plugging into your cell phone.
Emergency officials will soon be able to blast critical alerts to anyone with a cell phone in a certain section of the city.
If Times Square needs to be evacuated because of a bomb threat or if a hurricane is bearing down on Queens, warnings will be bounced from cell towers. …
The system — called PLAN or Personal Localized Alerting Network — uses cell phone towers to send messages to everyone currently in a certain area, regardless of whether they’re visiting from out of town or have a phone registered elsewhere. People won’t have to register in advance to receive the alerts.
Gotta love the creativity of government busy-bodies, especially when it comes to anagrams like “PLAN.” Seems fitting, but they could have done a lot better. How about PANIC, the Personal Alert Nonsense In Cellphones Or: Plying Asinine Nanny-state Intrusions Casually? ? Or maybe: Prying About, Not Including Consent?
The program starts in New York, but will quickly spread nationwide — and will be pretty much mandatory.
For now, the alerts are capable on certain high-end cell phones but starting next year, all cell phones will be required to have the chip that receives alerts.
By the end of the year, the new system will be in place in New York City and Washington and in cities around the country by the end of 2012.
Thankfully, according to CBSNewYork, there is an opt-out clause … but not for everything:
Verizon and AT&T, the nation’s largest cell phone carriers, are already on board. Consumers would be able to opt out of all but those presidential messages.
Yes. we cannot live without that — or at least our government thinks our lives are at risk if the president doesn’t have instant and non-fettered access to our cell phones. And it’s actually not just that. “Amber Alerts” will also get blasted to our phones without delay or interference. According to the New York Daily News.
The messages, including urgent blasts from the President, information on imminent threats and Amber Alerts about missing children, will supercede all other phone traffic so they won’t be stalled or delayed.
And, as is typical with government programs, this new system is redundant.
New York City already has an emergency alert in place called Notify NYC. Bloomberg says it’s the largest opt-in notification alert system in the country.
So why do we need another one? Naturally, it’s so every politician in the country can take credit in campaign literature for putting up various layers of “alert protection” that they made happen. Gag.
Look, I’m all for exploiting the technological ability to warn massive numbers of people in genuine peril so they can take measures necessary safety measures. It should just be in opt-in feature, not something one must actively negate.
Since this program is only technically in its “beta” testing phase, and it already includes Amber Alerts and presidential access, how long until our cell phones are spammed with tons of other government announcements? The history of government programs and activism makes that scenario inevitable.
And we’ll be left with people opting out of a nominally good idea because they are sick of seeing government-directed spam in their cell phones — negating the whole purpose of the program. Which will spur the creation of another government program to fix that mess. Then another government program that will create a new mess. And then … wash, rinse and repeat until your head explodes.