Disaster: Government wants to warn citizens with push message | free press

In the event of an emergency, the federal government wants to warn citizens with extra push messages on their mobile phones. Consequences are drawn from the devastating storms in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. On Wednesday, the cabinet approved a formulation aid for the coalition factions of the CDU/CSU and SPD, so that the …

In the event of an emergency, the federal government wants to warn citizens with extra push messages on their mobile phones. Consequences are drawn from the devastating storms in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. On Wednesday, the cabinet approved a formulation aid for the coalition factions of the CDU/CSU and SPD, so that the legislative changes can be implemented quickly. The Telecommunications Act must be amended for the introduction of so-called cell broadcast. “The public’s warning must work on all channels,” said Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU). “The introduction of cell broadcast will complement sirens, apps and broadcasting.”

In the future, all residents of a risk area who have a mobile phone can be reached by text message with one message. With this, the government implements an EU directive from December 2018 and obliges mobile network operators to take precautions for sending alerts using so-called cell broadcast technology.

Although SMS alerts are mentioned again and again, the planned technology works differently: the messages are not sent to specific numbers known to the senders, but to all devices that are logged into a radio cell during the alarm. Data protectors consider the technology, which is already used in other European countries, to be harmless.

From the ranks of the Greens and the FDP, testing of the technology had been demanded as early as 2020. “By the end of the disastrous Warning Day 2020, the federal government should have improved the warning infrastructure in Germany more powerfully and quickly. In particular, the addition of existing physical warning systems and digital options with a third cellular pillar such as Cell Broadcast was criminally oversleeping,” criticized Mario Brandenburg, spokesman technology policy of the FPD Group. Franziska Brantner, spokeswoman for European policy for the Greens, also welcomed the plans: “We are lagging behind in a European comparison and have repeatedly asked for the technology.” According to a survey by the German information and telecommunications industry association Bitkom, 83 percent of the population want to be warned by a short message on their mobile phone. Already, warning apps such as Nina from the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Management or Katwarn from the Fraunhofer Institute can warn of dangers. The problem: The apps only install for a few users and sometimes an internet connection is required to receive the warning

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