Forced Presidential Alerts on your Librem 5


The problem is not that the alrets are sent. The problem is inability to ignore them.
Those alerts bypass all the user control on the receiving phone and this is an outrage.


That’s just another way to control it, one should be able to either opt-in (subscribe) to those alerts or opt-out (filter/ignore) them. If they just did something like -
People of earth, this is your president, we just made a nice a shiny notification system which costed you Nteeth billions dollars and now we kindly ask you to subscribe to it at your local phone operator to not miss opportunity to observe next natural cataclysm from afar.


Does your email address have some way to receive messages that aren’t specifically directed at it? If so, that’s a different protocol than I’m familiar with.
But then again, that would also be a broadcast. Regular spam (even bulk spam) has to specify your email address to reach you. There’s no such requirement for these alerts.


That would require the operators to know users preferences. I’d rather they not know that. For me filter on my device is sufficient in this case. It’s not like those alerts consume a lot of bandwidth. They are not sent every second.


Well it does, it’s the same as if government forced all mail providers to provide them a broadcast address to all their subscribers so that they can deliver bulk notifications. From the law perspective it is a broadcast. From the implementation perspective it’s a bulk unicast. Me as a user - i don’t have any broadcast/multicast address, i have unicast address (or phone number in this case). And I see that to my unicast terminal is coming unsolicited notification.


Which they already have via your USIM apps (3g/4g preference, voice mail, redirection, etc.)


O.K., but do you get that a large percentage of us aren’t from the U.S.A. though, eh? Even if we were to rally behind you, there’s nothing we could do. i.e. We use the technology (broadcast from the base station, btw )in Canada for Amber alerts (kids in danger) and I’m way cool with that.

We just need you to be a little more cosmopolitan minded on an international forum please :slight_smile:


It’s a bulk unicast in the same sense that sending a packet to x.x.x.255 is a bulk unicast. The tower gets a message with the alert flag - and it doesn’t have a destination set. It then immediately sends that message to each device connected to that tower, also passing on the alert flag.

The only reason why it’s sent as a series of unicast messages is because that is the only way that SMS delivery can be done on mobile networks. The broadcast channel only ever carries messages saying “device with TMSI xyz, there is a message for you” or “I’m a device with TMSI xyz, I want to talk”. They then go to a separate channel (this one’s a bit “wider”, I believe) to arrange how they’re going to talk (frequency, timeslots, etc.), then they carry out a one to one conversation on that pre-arranged channel. It’s for channel setup and global network status indications only - the standards provide no way to transmit data over these channels.

This is an unavoidable consequence of having to use a shared medium (radio waves) to communicate between multiple devices. You cannot have everything talking at once on the same frequency/timeslot/convolution code.


Yes, I’m aware of physical implementation details. And yes, there were times when you could send a message to broadcast address in lanman/netbios environment using winpopup or net send. But the point is not about implementation but about implication.
eMail provider will likely also not list each and every address to deliver the broadcast mail but rather will use wildcard delivery. That does not change the fact that you get mail into your personal mailbox.


government : thou shall eat ONLY integral wheat bread from now until death do us part … don’t worry it’s healthy and it’s good for your body … we want what’s best for you … please do not resist

the point is everyone should HAVE a choice even if that choice turns out to be the wrong one in the end …


As long as phones are not mandatory then people are free to choose what information they receive.


You do can tell the difference between integral wheat bread and the declaration of thermonuclear war, I hope. Seriously, I know you are all eager to receive your phones, but perhaps you all should go outside for a little walk and get some fresh air. :wink: Or help your local charity by donating some time.


for many it would be worse :sweat_smile:


I see a major difference between the television Emergency Brodcast System and forced Preaidential Alerts. When I choose to watch a given tv station and a warning comes up on an unintelligent brodcast to alert people, that is a good thing. If the government wants to turn on my tv and call my attention to it whether or not I agree to let them do that in advance, then they have violated my boundaries. With your phone, it’s worse. They have a leash on you 24/7/365. Sometimes, I don’t want to be contacted at all, even if there are nuclear bombs on the way. It should be my choice.

I decided I didn’t want the Presidential Alerts during Obama’s reign. When I tried to turn them off, I decided that I would rather accept the unlikely risk being caught by surprise of Nuclear devastation, than to risk the sure thing of getting an unwanted test message from that asshole. Trump… not a problem. All he has to do is tweet and I’ll get his message. I opted-in to that. So who needs the F…ing Presidential Alerts? But putting aside politics, I should have access to that on-off switch for Presidential Alerts, which is greyed-out in my settings.


Nothing I said contradicts that. Not sure what the point of your post is.


Monarchists ITT are. not. impressed.


I’m on LineageOS 16 (Android 9) and that option is no longer available. In fact the only reference to Presidential Alerts is an option to “Show an opt-out dialog after displaying the first alert (other than Presidential Alert).” So mandatory it is once again…


Will it be greyed out on the Librem 5? Do you have a phone to know this yet?

It may be that this is a non-problem.

There is probably no way to stop any kind of emergency alert being received by the modem and processed by the modem (unless the phone is switched off or the modem is killed).

There is probably no way for the government to stop you throwing that alert away before it does anything perceptible on the phone itself.

Is there an actual problem here?


I don’t know that we even know how these Presidential Alerts even come in. Are they SMS, or something else? I am guessing that the Librem 5 won’t force the Presidential Alerts on us. There will always be people who will recompile the kernel if necessary, to get rid of unwanted features. The only way to force a software feature on us on a freed phone, is to take the source code away from us or to lock the hardware, neither of which will happen on the Librem 5. Even if the modem can’t be stopped from receiving the messages, the CPU can recognize and block it before it reaches the outside world.


I don’t know but for the purposes of this discussion the exact technology doesn’t matter and my two sentences starting “There is probably no way” both apply to any mobile messaging. (The modem runs a blob so it will probably do the “president’s” bidding regardless of your preferences.)

If you are talking specifically about the US, maybe the following is relevant background reading:

It would be my guess that they are very similar to a normal SMS but are distinguishable unambiguously from a normal SMS.

I am unclear on whether they are a literal broadcast and will be received by any mobile device within reception range regardless of whether associated with the tower or having a valid SIM, or only mobile devices associated with the tower but regardless of SIM, or only mobile devices associated with the tower and having a valid SIM.

I have enough mobile phones in different situations such that if I received a WEA here, I may be able to answer at least part of that.