Big Brother Puts Chips In Your Cell Phones

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces new emergency alert system set to launch in NYC, May 10, 2011 (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)
Source: CBSNewYork

Recently, there were local fears of new cameras for speed enforcement raising “Big Brother” alarms. And, of course, Sheepshead Bites has its own Big Brother. Now the city is prepping to roll out a new alert system, requiring cell phones to be equipped with special chips and software that would give the president a direct line to our handsets. Creepy…

In accordance with the Warning Alert and Response Network Act that was approved by Congress in 2006, New York City is set to launch a new national alert system that will notify the public in emergency situations. Here’s CBSNewYork’s rundown of what it does:

It’s called the Personal Localized Alert Network or PLAN. Presidential and local emergency messages as well as Amber Alerts would appear on cell phones equipped with special chips and software.
The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the system would also warn about terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
… Verizon and AT&T, the nation’s largest cell phone carriers, are already on board. Consumers would be able to opt out of all but those presidential messages.
… For now, the alerts are capable on certain high-end cell phones but starting next year, all cell phones will be required to have the chip that receives alerts.
By the end of the year, the new system will be in place in New York City and Washington and in cities around the country by the end of 2012. (emphasis added)

Of course, those of you with a decent memory might remember that it was almost exactly a year ago that the city rolled out Notify NYC, the nation’s largest opt-in notification alert system that does, well, just about exactly the same thing without the special chips or software.

Now, I’m no conspiracy theorist, so I don’t really believe this is a Big Brother thing. But it does seem a little creepy that they’re implementing what seems to be an override chip into your cellphone to deliver you messages directly from the president, especially when there’s a chip-less existing service that seems to do just fine. Remember those televisions in 1984? Yeah, thought so…

What do you think?