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Texting Their Patience: New Yorkers Sue Trump, FEMA Over Presidential Alert No Opt Out

All cellphone users received a presidential alert at 2:18 p.m. on Wednesday.
All cellphone users received a presidential alert at 2:18 p.m. on Wednesday. Photo Credit: FEMA

A lawsuit has been filed in New York following Wednesday’s test of FEMA’s new “presidential alert” notification system.

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the initial test of FEMA’s new system went off for most Americans at around 2:15 p.m. The message was sent to cell phones similar to AMBER alerts and inclement weather warnings that are currently in place.

However, not everyone was pleased about the alert, and three New York plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit in Manhattan against President Donald Trump and FEMA officials.

They are claiming that the alert system is a “violation of Americans' First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from Government-compelled listening, as well as warrantless, non-consensual trespass into and seizure of their cellular devices.”

The lawsuit states that “the Presidential Alert system, which is compulsory and cannot be opted out of, violates these rights because it is tantamount to hijacking private property for the purpose of planting a government-controlled loudspeaker in the home and on the person of every American.”

It goes on to say that “Trump is the 45th President of the United States. His rise to power was facilitated by weaponized disinformation that he broadcast into the public information sphere.” The lawsuit also cites FEMA Administrator William Long as a defendant.

According to FEMA, “Presidential Alerts are not to be used for general communication, and will only be used in cases of extreme national emergencies that affect public safety."

Officials noted that all cell phone users will receive a loud tone and vibration at the time of an alert. FEMA said the “presidential alerts” are only meant for use in a national emergency, and are the only type of alert that can be sent nationwide by the organization.

“The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones.  The (new system) will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages,” FEMA noted. “Presidential Alerts are not to be used for general communication, and will only be used in cases of extreme national emergencies that affect public safety.”

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