If a state legislator has his way, residents of Virginia would be able to block a president from sending emergency messages through the new Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS, also known as Personal Localized Alerting Network or PLAN). The public will be able to opt out of receiving imminent threat alerts and Amber Alerts, but not presidential alerts.
Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall has introduced a bill that would give Virginians ability to block presidential alerts, too. The Republican told us he's concerned President Obama would use the system for political purposes, saying "This guy has shown no restraint at all."
Marshall, who recently announced that he's running for the U.S. Senate, also said he's concerned the messages would create panic. He asks, "What if a 12-year-old girl gets a message from the President?"
There’s currently no law or regulation that would restrict a president’s use of CMAS. However, some members of Congress have been talking about legislation that would state that a president may not use CMAS for political purposes.
In over fifty years, no president has ever activated CMAS’s sister program, Emergency Alert System (EAS). It’s hard to imagine any president using CMAS for political purposes. The outcry would be loud (to say the least). As for the 12-year-olds, if I had a 12-year-old daughter who had a mobile device and something major enough had happened for the president to issue a CMAS/PLAN alert, I want her to know about it.
All the best,