Mobile users based in the United States might already be familiar with WEAs. Short for Wireless Emergency Alerts, WEAs are basically text messages (usually limited to 90 characters) that alert people regarding the weather, missing persons, or in times of emergencies and natural calamities. WEAs were implemented after the US Congress passed the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act about a decade ago. Well, it turns out that WEAs can also be utilized by the person currently holding the highest office in the American nation. In other words, Donald Trump, when he officially begins his presidential term in January next year, can send text messages to just about every American.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), WEA text alerts are deployed only in instances of critical emergency situations, and are of three types -- AMBER Alerts (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response; alerts for child abduction), alerts involving imminent threats to lives or public safety, and alerts from the President of the US. Wireless carriers who are part of WEA can block the first two, but not the last one, which means that, yes, you will not be able to stop Trump’s text messages from reaching your smartphone.
Now before you hit the panic button, there actually are checks and balances on the Presidential texts. First of all, the soon to be commander in chief can not just send impulse text messages just like the way he tweets. All WEAs must be sent out via the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System. For those not familiar with the FEMA, this agency is controlled by the executive branch, with its director appointed by the President and will report to the Department of Homeland Security. For the Presidential texts to be approved by the FEMA, they have to be for emergency purposes.
Moreover, in order for somebody to gain access to the FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System, they will have to complete a couple of computer courses in how to operate the system. Trump is a lot of things, but he may not be willing to go through all that computer course stuff (he claims after all that he does not use a computer) in order to learn how to operate the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System on his own. While it is true that he can have members of his staff help him out in issuing WEAs, the resulting text alerts probably will not be of the candid or colorful nature his tweets are known for.
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