FCC’s Pai Criticizes False Missile Alert in Hawaii, House Schedules Hearing
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 | Comments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai criticized a false alert of an imminent missile attack broadcast to the homes and cellphones of the residents of Hawaii Jan. 13 using the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). Pai said an investigation is underway, and the House subcommittee on communications and technology said it will hold a hearing on the investigation in coming weeks.

“The false emergency alert sent yesterday in Hawaii was absolutely unacceptable,” Pai said. “It caused a wave of panic across the state — worsened by the 38-minute delay before a correction alert was issued. Moreover, false alerts undermine public confidence in the alerting system and thus reduce their effectiveness during real emergencies.”

Pai said an FCC investigation into the incident is underway. Public/private partnerships allow federal, state and local officials to send alerts regarding public-safety emergencies.

“We have been in close contact with federal and state officials, gathering the facts about how this false alert was issued,” he said. “Based on the information we have collected so far, it appears that the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert.”

He said federal, state and local officials throughout the country need to work together to identify vulnerabilities to false alerts and do what’s necessary to fix them to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

“We also must ensure that corrections are issued immediately in the event that a false alert does go out,” Pai said.

The House Energy subcommittee hearing will allow an in-depth discussion of public-safety communications and provide the subcommittee with an update from the FCC on its investigation into the false emergency alert event in Hawaii.

“A reliable and strong communications service can save lives during a disaster, but the public needs to be able to trust that the emergency alert they receive is legitimate," said a statement from lawmakers on the subcommittee. "We need to make sure that a mistake like what happened in Hawaii never happens again. The upcoming hearing will be an important opportunity to hear from the commissioners as they continue to investigate the incident."

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Comments
On 1/19/18, Manuel A Alvarez said:
I think the system sucks. It should be more elaborate than a Joe Doe pushing a button — ridiculous to say the least.

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