August 10, 2022

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Emergency Alerts May Pop Up On Netflix, Spotify

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Emergency Alerts May Pop Up On Netflix, Spotify

The days of Netflix and Chill might be a little less chill if U.S. lawmakers have their way.

A new piece of legislation, with bipartisan support, would require streaming services, such as Netflix, Spotify, Disney+ and more, to issue alerts in the event of a national emergency, much like television and radio stations as well as cell phones.

The bill, dubbed the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act, would also eliminate people’s ability to opt out of the alerts. And any that are issued by either the president or FEMA would have to be repeated by the services.

Also backing the bill are the Internet and Television Association, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the Internet Association, CTIA, The Wireless Association, and the Wireless Infrastructure Association, say sponsors Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

The system, while it can be efficient in warning Americans, who are increasingly watching services that don’t carry the alerts, has come under criticism for false alarms in the past years. Hawaiian citizens were warned of an incoming missile attack last year, while New Yorkers were told to brace for an impending tsunami.

“When a missile alert went out across Hawaii last year, some people never got the message on their phones, while others missed it on their TVs and radios. Even though it was a false alarm, the missile alert exposed real flaws in the way people receive emergency alerts,” said Senator Schatz, lead Democrat on the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. “Our bill fixes a number of important problems with the system responsible for delivering emergency alerts. In a real emergency, these alerts can save lives so we have to do everything we can to get it right.”

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