Senate Committee Approves READI Act

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The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Wednesday approved and sent to the full Senate 20 bills, including S. 2693, the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement Act of 2019. Sponsors Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Thune (R-SD) reintroduced the bill last month.

The bipartisan legislation would ensure more people receive relevant emergency alerts on their mobile phones, televisions, and radios. 

“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,” said Schatz, lead Democrat on the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet.  

“Even though it was a false alarm, the missile alert exposed real flaws in the way people receive emergency alerts,” Schatz explained. “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.”

The READI Act would explore new ways of alerting the public through online video and audio streaming services, track and study false alerts when they occur, and improve the way states plan for emergency alerts. The measure impacts the Wireless Emergency Alert System and Emergency Alert System. FEMA administers the platform that local government agencies use to originate alerts, while the FCC oversees the systems used to distribute the alerts over mobile wireless and broadcast networks. Several industry associations support the measure, including the Wireless Infrastructure Association, NCTA – The Internet and Television Association, the NAB and the Internet Association. 

November 14, 2019

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