On Saturday I woke up to find a strange message waiting for me on my iPhone. The message said “Carrier Settings Updated: New settings required for your device have been installed.” Being the paranoid sort I decided to find out what the heck was going on!
It turns out that U.S. carrier AT&T announced Friday that its subscribers will soon start receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts to their iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 devices. Text notifications will include AMBER, Imminent Threat and Presidential Alerts and will be enabled following an upcoming carrier update pushed out to iPhone devices running iOS 6.1 or later.
Of the three types of alerts, users will be able to disable AMBER and Imminent Threat alerts. Presidential alerts, which are sent straight from the President (or a delegate), can’t be turned off…
According to the AT&T blog:
When the software update is delivered to your phone, you will see a message that states “Carrier Settings Update: new settings required for your device have been installed”.
After that, your iPhone 5 or 4S will receive all Wireless Emergency Alerts by default.
This carrier update is mandatory.
The good news is that these types of alerts won’t count against your messaging plan. The bad news is that the Government feels it’s perfectly OK for them to mess with your phone (you bought it with your own money right?) and require that you receive these messages. Yes I said require because you can turn off Amber alert imminent threat notifications, but not the Presidential Alerts .
The timing has to be interesting considering all the hoopla about the NSA listening in on people. Surely one has to wonder what other ‘features’ were installed along with this mandatory roll out that we were not told about? And if you can’t turn off the Presidential alerts then you just know that someone is trying to figure out a legitimate angle to send information about their political agenda to the unsuspecting public.
Personally I like the idea of being warned there’s a tornado headed my way but I already get that from Nixle and I didn’t have to a government agency mess with my phone to get it.