Thousands of St. Louis residents reported receiving a “strange” text message from the government over the weekend, unaware that their cell phones had been automatically enrolled into a FEMA alert program that they cannot opt out of completely.
“It’s called the Wireless Emergency Alert system and people here are wondering why and how it showed up on their phones….(the message) was about an AMBER Alert issued for a young girl missing from the Springfield, Missouri area.,” reports KDSK.com.
The text message asked residents to be on the lookout for a 2002 gray Nissan Maxima and included the license plate number.
As Infowars previously reported, virtually all new cell phones in America now include “government alerts” as standard on the latest operating systems, including “imminent threat” alerts, extreme weather alerts, AMBER alerts for missing children and presidential-level alerts.
Users cannot opt out of presidential alerts, meaning the government has a direct line to every cell phone user in the country, something which spooks big government critics and those who fear a state takeover of communications.
“Consumers will have the option….to block all PLAN alerts except for those issued by the president,” the L.A. Times reported in 2011.
The emergency alert system went into place in April last year. The KDSK report credits the system with finding a lost girl.
“It really engages more people,” said St. Louis resident Megan Abbott, who was initially baffled by the message she received on Saturday. “Because if you’re not seeking out that information you’re not getting it. So by reaching everybody, more people can be involved and thankfully the little girl was found safely. So obviously the large range of audiences worked.”
Early tests of the emergency alert system in New Jersey caused panic 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.
Concerns have also been raised at the potential for the federal government to use the messages to create unwarranted fear for political purposes.
In June last year, Todd Krause, the weather-warning coordinator at the National Weather Service’s Chanhassen office, admitted that the system tracks cell phone users wherever they go in order to deliver region-specific warnings.
“What the system does is actually follow you around wherever you are going,” based on users’ proximity to cellular towers,” Krause told TwinCities.com.