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New body takes over US terror text warnings

The US Department of Homeland Security has taken another step towards a new SMS emergency alert system that will warn citizens of domestic disasters from earthquakes to terror attacks.

The Department has announced it’s picked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to oversee the new system of emergency alerts and act as the aggregator for the scheme, in charge of verifying to operators that any alerts do really come from the government and can be delivered to their subscribers across the country.

Oddly, while FEMA notes while that the gateway system the emergency alerts will use hasn’t been designed or engineered yet, it says it has the “necessary authorities and technical solutions to assume the responsibility as the federal cellular Alert Aggregator”. After having confirmed they have the necessary technical skills, FEMA will now actually start looking at the technical issues surrounding the system, like how to guarantee the government’s text messages can jump the queue ahead of non-emergency traffic. I don’t know about you, but picking the technology first and then getting someone to oversee it seems a bit more of a sensible option.

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