Apple’s eagerly awaited iOS 6 update for iPhones and iPads will include controversial ‘government alerts’ that some fear are part of the federal government’s takeover of communications networks.
“In compliance with the National Alerting Program, the WEA will be coming to Apple devices that will run on the new mobile OS once it arrives this fall. The iOS 6-compatible devices include iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch 4G, iPad 2 and the new iPad. This means that users with older iPhone will be able to receive WEA messages once they upgrade their handset to the new mobile software,” reports AMOG.
The federal government is keen to implement a centralized system of control over all communications, with last year’s announcement that all new cell phones will be required to comply with the PLAN program (Personal Localized Alerting Network), which will broadcast emergency alert messages directly to Americans’ cell phones.
Although users can opt out of receiving the alerts from FEMA and the Amber Alert program, messages direct from the president will be mandatory.
“Consumers will have the option….to block all PLAN alerts except for those issued by the president,”the L.A. Times reported last year.
The thought of cellphone users being forcibly targeted with text messages from Barack Obama during the election season has obviously stoked concerns that the emergency alert system could be exploited for political reasons, just as former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge claimed he was pressured to artificially raise the national terror alert by the Bush administration to help Bush win re-election.
The system, which went live in the New York and Washington Metro areas last December, caused panic in New Jersey after Verizon customers received text messages warning them that a “civil emergency” was in progress and to “take shelter,” prompting alarmed citizens to flood 911 lines with anxious calls.
Verizon Wireless later apologized to its customers for causing alarm, admitting that the confusion was caused by a “test” of the PLAN emergency alert system.
As we have documented, the PLAN program is part of the wider move on behalf of Homeland Security to create a public environment dominated by a pervasive sense of fear and paranoia, a context in which the safe exercise of constitutional freedoms doesn’t normally thrive.
The emergency alerts are eventually designed to be incorporated into the Intellistreets system which turns all street lights into surveillance hubs that can record conversations and broadcast messages.
For the first time ever the feds will have a direct line to the millions of Americans who use cell phones and be able to use the messages to transmit whatever they like, whether that be genuine safety information, fearmongering about spurious terror alerts, or political propaganda.
Judging by the response in New Jersey, the overwhelming majority of Americans will simply react by panicking, which in a real emergency situation could only make the crisis worse.
Obama Launches Total Takeover of Media: Emergency Alert System[youtube height="400" width="550"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4ZdbiSLnv4[/youtube]