New emergency alert system will give Obama the power to flip a switch and address the entire nation at once
White House wants to be able to instantly talk to the entire country in the event of a terror attack of major natural disaster
Current 'Emergency Alert System' relies on each radio or TV station to forward emergency messages to the next broadcaster in a chain
The Obama administration instead wants the power to flip a switch and override the entire EAS network, speaking instantly on every public broadcast at once
'Big Brother is talking to you,' warned a senior Republican congressional staffer. 'This is just begging to be abused'
Hackers gained access to an EAS signal in Montana last year, broadcasting a phony alert about a zombie apocalypse
By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor
Published: 10:56 EST, 15 July 2014 | Updated: 13:15 EST, 15 July 2014
The Obama administration quietly announced on Tuesday that it intends to change the way Americans learn about natural disasters and other major emergencies during radio and TV broadcasts, giving the president the ability to flip a switch and address the entire nation at once.
The Emergency Alert System, the latest version of a program first established in 1951, blasts out emergency messages in the event of local weather emergencies, but can also be used to warn Americans about terror attacks and major natural disasters.
Every broadcaster in the country is required to participate in the EAS. Messages travel along a closed, private network, piggybacking from station to station. It can take up to 10 minutes for every radio, TV, cable and satellite provider to blare its alert.