Published on 28 March 2023 11:49 AM

On Sunday 23rd of April the Government are testing an emergency alert system, which will send an alert to every mobile phone in the UK.

The alert will make a siren noise and vibrate for around 10 seconds, with users unable to access their device until they clear the alert. This is still expected to happen even if the device is on silent mode.

The Guardian has published an article in which it explains who the system will reach and what it means for your personal data:

The UK system works on 4G and 5G phone networks and it is estimated the alerts will reach about 90% of mobile phones in a given area

“The system uses the cell tower your phone is connected to. When an alert is triggered, all towers in the area will broadcast the alert. To do this the government does not need to know the specific location or personal data on your device,” government advice states.

Read more from this article explaining the alert and its purpose. 

This could impact survivors of domestic abuse who have another phone or are hiding their phone from the perpetrator.

National charity Refuge have created a useful video to let survivors know how to turn the alert off on both Android phones and iPhones.

UK launches emergency phone alerts public warning system

A new government public warning system, in which alerts are sent to mobile phone users about events that may put their life in danger, has been launched in the UK with a nationwide trial planned next month.

The Cabinet Office said the emergency alert system could be deployed in events such as severe flooding, fires or extreme weather, noting that similar systems had been credited with saving lives in countries including the Netherlands and Japan.

The chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden MP, said: “We are strengthening our national resilience with a new emergency alerts system, to deal with a wide range of threats – from flooding to wild fires. It will revolutionise our ability to warn and inform people who are in immediate danger, and help us keep people safe. As we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere, the buzz of a phone can save a life.”

The government said there had already been successful trials of the UK system in East Suffolk and Reading. A nationwide trial is set for the early evening of 23 April.

Mobile phone users will receive an emergency alert on the home screen of their device, coupled with a vibration and a loud siren-like series of beeps.

The government said the emergency alerts would be used very rarely and be sent only where there was an immediate risk to life – so people may not receive an alert for months, or even years.

The government has previously been criticised for delays in developing such a system, despite successful trials having been carried out a decade ago, with some arguing such alerts would have aided communication during the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK system works on 4G and 5G phone networks and it is estimated the alerts will reach about 90% of mobile phones in a given area, with users needing to acknowledge the alert before they can use other features on their device. The siren-like sounds are expected to occur even if the phone is on silent mode; however, alerts will not be received if a device is turned off or in flight mode.

“The system uses the cell tower your phone is connected to. When an alert is triggered, all towers in the area will broadcast the alert. To do this the government does not need to know the specific location or personal data on your device,” government advice states.

If a mobile phone user receives an emergency alert, they are advised to stop what they are doing, when it is safe to do so, and follow the instructions on the alert.

The advice notes it is possible to turn the emergency alerts off through the settings of a mobile phone, but that it is not recommended given the alerts are potentially life-saving.

Mark Hardingham, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, welcomed the system.

“Together with every fire and rescue service in the country, I’m looking forward to having emergency alerts available to help us to do our jobs and to help communities in the event of emergencies,” he said.

“We’ve seen this type of system in action elsewhere across the world and we look forward to having the facility here in the UK – by working together with fire services and partners we want this system to help us to help you be as safe as you can if a crisis does hit.”

The government will test what it calls the “Armageddon Warning System” on April 23, designed to warn people of floods, extreme weather conditions, fires or other life-threatening (Nuclear Attack? ) dangers.

The test involves sending a test alert to every smartphone in the country, causing them to emit a loud siren sound, vibrate, and receive a message notifying them of the test.

But something far more sinister is afoot for the radical British conspiracy theorist networks that have sprung up during the pandemic. The announcement of plans for the test earlier this month has sent conspiracy theorists into a tailspin, with prominent truth experts warning that the trial is part of a “globalist” conspiracy and a “precursor to what is to come”.

Conspiracy channels have been rife with chatter about the alert system, with users portraying the process as an attempt to enforce public compliance and install spyware as part of a nefarious conspiracy to bring about a dystopian New World Order.

Their concern has seen hundreds of online mentions of hashtags like #PhonesOff23April and #emergencyalerts as conspiracy theorists urge each other to change their phone settings to avoid receiving the alerts, according to Chris Proops, an OSINT specialist at Logically, an organization who fights misinformation online.

He told VICE World News that much of the gossip linked the test to an alleged conspiracy by the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organization to bring about a so-called “Great Reset” — a well-known narrative in conspiracy land.

In a video circulated on conspiratorial Telegram channels, Mick Stott, the leader of the sovereign citizen group Guardians 300, made a series of false claims about the test alert while spreading a hazy narrative about compliance and surveillance.

“If this wasn’t a harbinger of what’s to come, then I don’t know what is,” Stott said in the video. “If that doesn’t wake people up, then I don’t know what will.”

He falsely claimed that the test would require people to “reply” to the message or their phones would be deactivated for the day – and falsely suggested that any response would allow government spyware to be installed on their phones.

The government says the test alert is simply letting recipients know it’s a test and they don’t need to take any action. VICE World News understands that it will be impossible to reply to the messages and that the only response required is to click “OK” to delete them from the phone screen.

Stott, whose group is known for training so-called “peace police officers,” who are self-proclaimed police officers to help people defy authorities, also suggested the test was part of a government ploy to monitor compliance with their orders, a “scoping strategy.” … before they crash the banks”.

READ: I trained to be the wrong cop with COVID conspiracy theorists

And in a Twitter post that was retweeted hundreds of times, a prominent conspiratorial podcaster claimed the alert system finally wiped out her vaccinated “left” mother.

“I think the security alert that came in on UK phones tipped them over the edge. Three times, she said, “I think you’re right. It was all lies,” the post reads.

Aoife Gallagher, an analyst at ISD Global and author of the book “Web of Lies: The Lure and Danger of Conspiracy Theories,” said the reaction was “unsurprising in many ways,” especially since the emergency alerts address two issues that have been the main sources of distrust and fear for conspiracy theorists: smart technology and government.

“The conspiratorial mindset will always revert to the belief that nothing is as it seems. So for a conspiracy theorist, an emergency alert system that warns of life-threatening events must really be a cover for something else,” she said. In this case, they had used it to support their well-known narrative that “an impending dystopian society is being planned under our noses”.

“Many believe the alerts are actually a means to install spyware on people’s phones in order to track them or enforce more bans in the future,” she said. “A post I came across on Telegram sums it up: ‘This has NOTHING to do with protecting you, it’s all to make you afraid.’”

A similar reaction was seen in the US two years ago, when the announcement of an upcoming test of the national emergency alert system – which is routinely conducted every year or two – sparked a wave of viral conspiracy theories on platforms like TikTok. These included narratives that the test would intentionally disrupt communications to sow chaos and bring about the New World Order, that it would emit a vibration to trigger COVID-like symptoms, or that it would activate a kill switch in vaccinated individuals.