False Alert in Hawaii Goes Uncorrected for Forty Minutes

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A false alarm from U.S. Pacific Command claiming a ballistic missile was headed to Hawaii prompted an immediate response from the FCC Saturday.  Commissioner Brendan Carr said the FCC would fully investigate why the initial message was sent and was left uncorrected for nearly forty minutes creating a panic among residents of Hawaii.

“The FCC has begun a full investigation into the FALSE missile alert in Hawaii,” Carr said. A similar tweeted message came from FCC chief of staff Matthew Berry.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted: “The @FCC is launching a full investigation into the false emergency alert that was sent to residents of Hawaii.” Yesterday, he issued the following statement:

“The false emergency alert sent yesterday in Hawaii was absolutely unacceptable.  It caused a wave of panic across the state—worsened by the 38-minute delay before a correction alert was issued.  Moreover, false alerts undermine public confidence in the alerting system and thus reduce their effectiveness during real emergencies.”

He continued, “The FCC’s investigation into this incident is well underway.  We have been in close contact with federal and state officials, gathering the facts about how this false alert was issued.  Based on the information we have collected so far, it appears that the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert. Moving forward, we will focus on what steps need to be taken to prevent a similar incident from happening again.  Federal, state, and local officials throughout the country need to work together to identify any vulnerabilities to false alerts and do what’s necessary to fix them.  We also must ensure that corrections are issued immediately in the event that a false alert does go out.”

“What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process,” added Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz.

January 15, 2018

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