Pai Promises Full Investigation


On Saturday, a false alert of an imminent missile attack was broadcast to the homes and cellphones of the residents of Hawaii using the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts. The FCC Chairman says this is absolutely unacceptable and a full investigation is already underway. “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 says The FCC has been in close contact with federal and state officials, gathering the facts about how this false alert was issued. “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. Moving forward, we will focus on what steps need to be taken to prevent a similar incident from happening again. Federal, state, and local officials throughout the country need to work together to identify any vulnerabilities to false alerts and do what’s necessary to fix them. We also must ensure that corrections are issued immediately in the event that a false alert does go out.”

Broadcast attorney John Garziglia tells Radio Ink the same way that radio stations have procedures in place to confirm and verify school and governmental weather emergency closings, radio stations should have call-back numbers and verification procedures for other governmental agency evacuation and disaster pronouncements. “No radio station should ever take at face value journalistically or otherwise an official-appearing pronouncement. Call to verify, call for further information – have procedures in place to keep your station from being punked or scammed. On the other hand, it is wise to caution against making too much of the Hawaii one-off errant emergency message SNAFU. Emergency messages are meant to save lives. Ignoring emergency proclamations could mean the difference between lives saved and death. The Hawaii fiasco should be a friendly reminder to broadcast stations that being part of your community’s emergency notification fabric is essential to your stations integrity as well as to public safety.”


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