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Lawmakers want Netflix, Spotify to show emergency alerts

The READI Act was created in response to 2018's Hawaii missile false alarm.

We interrupt your regular viewing to bring you this emergency alert.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group

A bipartisan push might lead to you getting emergency alerts through Netflix and Spotify. Senators Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, and John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, reintroduced a bill, the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act, originally crafted in response to the false 2018 warning that a missile was about to hit Hawaii.

"When a missile alert went out across Hawaii last year, some people never got the message on their phones, while others missed it on their TVs and radios," said Schatz. "Even though it was a false alarm, the missile alert exposed real flaws in the way people receive emergency alerts."

The READI Act, as previously noted by Engadget, would look into creating "a system to offer emergency alerts to audio and video online streaming services" -- specifically pointing to Netflix and Spotify. It'd also prevent people from opting out of certain federal alerts (like missile warnings) on their phones and require alerts issued by the president or FEMA to be repeated. Right now, TV and radio alerts are only played once.

Additionally, the legislation would set up a reporting system for false alerts so the Federal Communications Commission "can track when they occur and examine their causes" -- something FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called for in the months following the Hawaii alert.

"Modernizing the emergency alert process is crucial to Americans' safety and the READI Act is a well-constructed, collaborative approach to solving this critical problem," said Michael Bloom, vice president of federal government affairs for the Internet Association, in response to the bill.

Spotify and Netflix didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

First published at 3:52 a.m. PT.
Updated at 4:20 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.

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