Why it matters: The false inbound missile alert that terrified the residents of Hawaii in January is something nobody wants to see repeated. To try and prevent any future mistakes, and to ensure more people see genuine alerts, two US senators have introduced a bill called the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) act. One of its most interesting elements looks at sending emergency notifications through streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify.
Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz and South Dakota Senator John Thune introduced the act yesterday. It explores the idea expanding emergency alerts, including missile warnings, beyond phones to cover TVs, radios, and “online streaming services, such as Netflix and Spotify.”
The Senators have asked that the Federal Communications Commission “complete an inquiry to examine the feasibility of establishing systems and signaling to offer Emergency Alert System alerts to audio and video streaming services delivered over the internet.”
While nothing would ruin your enjoyment of the latest Stranger Things series quite like news of an impending nuclear strike, it could ensure more people see the warnings and give them enough time to hide, pray, or drink heavily before the bomb hits.
The bill also looks at removing the ability to opt out of receiving federal alerts on your phone, creating a better way of reporting false alarms, and requiring some alerts to be repeatedly broadcast. "Our bill fixes a number of important problems with the system responsible for delivering emergency alerts," Schatz said.
As noted by Engadget, the earlier ALERT act, which gives the federal government total control over sending out emergency alerts, was passed by the Senate last month, but there’s no guarantee it will become law. The READI act faces similar challenges.
Should the alerts ever make their way into streaming services, it would be even more critical to ensure that a mistake on the level of the Hawaii incident is never again repeated.