New Yorkers Are Weirded Out By The Phone Alert They Got During Bomber Search

During the pursuit for suspected New York bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami – who has just been charged with five counts of attempted murder – the authorities took a fairly unprecedented step: they used a emergency alerts service to beam a message about Rahami to every active smartphone in NYC.

“We activated earlier today a messaging system used by our Office of Emergency Management that allowed us to get information out to all New Yorkers across the board,” Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Monday afternoon. “It had an extraordinary effect.”

The Wireless Emergency Alert system is generally only used for disasters and also cases of missing children, the latter of which covered under the AMBER Alert scheme. Using it to find a criminal suspect is quite unprecedented. And it kinda creeped everyone out – like it was something from a sci-fi:

People are vaguely concerned about it too. It seemed to work quite well in this instance – at least that’s what the mayor is saying, even though the bloke who discovered Rahami basically just reported him for napping in a stairwell. And it may well be reason for concern: beaming a message to millions of people could cause a panic if not handled correctly.
What if they start including physical descriptions in the message? That could be a nightmare. Some New Yorkers who received the message were a little iffy about the implications.

It definitely raises ethical questions about how such a system ought to be deployed in future, and the limitations thereof.
Source: CNN.
Photo: Twitter.