President Trump and FEMA to test cell phone alert system on Wednesday

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A message box will appear on phones with a loud tone and vibration, similar to the alert cellphones receive for Amber Alerts, extreme weather and other threatening emergencies.

The Wireless Emergency Alerts test will begin at 2:18 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

The EAS and WEA test messages will be sent using FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), a centralized Internet-based system administered by FEMA that enables authorities to send authenticated emergency messages to the public through multiple communications networks. Under current federal law, FEMA and the FCC are required to test the government's national warning system capabilities at least once every three years. The message will be active for approximately 30 minutes, so users could receive the alert within that time frame. And in January, Hawaii's emergency system sent out a false alert of an incoming ballistic missile to over one million cellphones.

The test alert will be sent by a device similar to a laptop from a FEMA laboratory.

A separate alert on TV and radios will be issued at 2:20 PM (2320 hours, Pakistan time).

It's the first nationwide test for a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA). Critics say a sitting President can technically "hijack" the system to send out a political message to everyone in the United States with a cellphone.

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The test, scheduled for 11:18 p.m.

The goal the Wireless Emergency Alerts is to be able to reach out to the public through cell phones about critical situations. All the major national wireless carriers and most smaller service providers participate in the WEA program.

"Presidential Alerts are to be used during a national emergency, though none have been sent to date", the agency said on its website.

Finally, FEMA says the test will not be used to steal your private data. Systems are activated differently and with separate, specific sets of criteria, Warstler said. Even if you disable Amber Alerts you'll still get the test message.

The test messages were supposed to be sent out September 20, but the transmission was postponed until Wednesday on account of the emergency response during and after the landfall of Hurricane Florence on the East Coast.

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