UK Government Alerts

I don’t see any mention of an app on that gov site. What ever these apps are you are talking about, I doubt they have something to do with that testing system.

I may be wrong but no harm in being precautious. The way I see it is, if the Government can gain access to your device via this text message then I’d rather they had access to a dumbphone with nothing on it rather than a smartphone with my exact location data, fingerprint, retina & facial data, bank details, photos etc etc.

Sorry for slight delay didn’t see much point in replying without providing the proper package names, and I only now have access to my computer.

You may very well be correct, I hope not though - only in so much as I don’t want the notifications.

All I can add is what I uninstalled. The apps I removed via adb were:

Universal Android Debloater describes them as:
First one - “Wireless emergency alerts
Cell broadcast is designed to deliver messages to multiple users in an area.
This is notably used by ISP to send Emergency/Government alerts.
Runs at boot and is also triggered after exiting airplane mode.

Second one - “Cell broadcast is designed to deliver messages to multiple users in an area.
This is notably used by ISP to send Emergency/Government alerts.
Emergency alerts and Android: What you need to know | Android Central

I also uninstalled the overlays etc. present on my tablet, but not the Pixel 6a

I forget exactly how the apps are named when you look at system apps. Initially one was at the bottom of the list called ‘Warning…’ and some other words when I updated my tablet (also had to do a reset as I broke something, not related to this!) It’s ‘app name’ for want of a better word had changed to ‘Emergancy…’ I believe Alerts but I didn’t pay much attention as I was going to uninstall them again. Once uninstalled they vanished from the system apps list. There is still an emergancy section in my settings where you can add medical info. When I click it, it does nothing - which is fine by me, not sure if the two are related. This was on my Samsung tablet.

On the Pixel 6a (not my device, so it’s not at hand) the app was still listed, but all options greyed out with a line saying ‘not installed for user’ or something to that effect.

I assume that’s why it’s over 4g/5g because the gov are going through the ISP, just an idea after looking at the descriptions above.

Obviously, we won’t know if it worked until the test takes place.

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Yeah I’m pretty sure as long as the sim card is out there is zero chance to get the notification.

I believe I read that even if the device is off with the sim card in, there is a chance you may get the notification when you turn the device back on. I’m not sure how accurate that is though.

Well actually . . . coming to think of it . . . just removing the SIM card does not help your cause. Cell broadcast does not require SIM cards (I am 95% sure about that), just being in the proximity of a cell tower is enough.

Actually given its purpose as an emergency system this is a very sensible design decision: you wouldn’t want somebody to not get potentially life-saving messages because they didn’t pay their phone bills or have no cell tower of their ISP in reach.

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I don’t understand, if this technology was possible in the early 90’s why was the ‘alert’ never implemented back then? Call me cynical but why is it only in 2023 that we have to have the alert now, and that alert is apparently only being sent via 4g/5g? Despite the fact they have had the infrastrucure since the 90’s…

I’m not sure if you missed one of my posts, but I gave a description of the apps I uninstalled assuming those descriptions are accurate the alert would be delivered via the ISP, no? If they are delivered by the ISP in the event you are out of range then what?

I’d just like to add there are many legitimate reasons to want this disabled. You seem a little dismissive? Maybe I am just reading the tone wrong - if so, apologies in advance.

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Most people in the early 90’s didn’t have a cellphone in the UK. They only became really ubiquitous in mid 00’s. Also, more people watched broadcast TV and listened to national radio (and by extention, the news) in the 00’s and 10’s. Now watching habits have been changed by streaming platforms such as Amazon, Netflix and Spotify.

Domestic abuse victims are being instructed to disable the alert. Emergency alerts – Guide to disabling emergency alert on your phone — STOP DOMESTIC ABUSE

Also, also, they’ve been faffing about with this plan since 2010 Whoa, someone actually texted you in 2020? Oh, nvm, it's just Boris Johnson, telling you to stay the f**k at home • The Register

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I can remember being rhe only one in the workplace (late 90’s) with a mobile phone, they all thought it was a weird thing LOL
Everyone was still using payphones.

I read that article about domestic abise victims, good point raised.

I think @Baggypants is right when he points out, that phones were not a big enough factor in the 90s. Since then some countries were faster to adopt systems based on Cell Broadcast (Wireless Emergency Alerts in the US started in 2008) and some took longer. In Germany and Austria (where I am from) such plans only gained momentum and public awareness after the 2021 flood of the Ahr that caused over 120 dead.

Please bear in mind, that while Cell Broadcast was present in the GSM standard since the 90s (and thus is implemented in pretty much every cell tower and mobile phone active today) it is only the final link of a usually quite long alerting chain:
Some (usually governmental) entity needs to identify an emergency, specify the area that needs to be alerted and then work together with all ISPs to relay their message to all cell towers in that area. This requires quite some technical and organizational infrastructure. And building just these is what “new” alerting systems bring to the table.

I don’t think you are being cynical. I think it is outrageous that such systems took so long to be implemented. “Traditional” ways of getting emergency information to the people have been in decline since longer than yesterday. (I am not sure how many households in my neighborhood have an FM radio . . . by the way I think THESE are the “other means to communicate the message” that the UK Gov website is talking about)

I have absolutely no clue why the UK system is restricted to 4G and 5G since according to this source 3G and 2G should still be in use until 2033.

No I saw them. But when you said “app” I thought about APKs and user-land applications. Things like “get our alerting app from playstore”. What you uninstalled I usually think of as “service”. But I think in the Android context it is probably ok to call them “app”. So I guess it was all a misunderstanding on my part.

Actually no. The alert is delivered via the cell tower. The distinction might be relevant since in some countries (e.g. Germany) cell towers can only be used and operated by one ISP while in other countries (e.g. Austria) multiple ISPs can share a cell tower.
(I don’t know which is the case for UK)

The short answer is that a cell tower keeps repeating the message until it is ordered to stop. If your phone enters the range of a cell tower before the broadcast is stopped it receives the message. If it doesn’t it never gets it.

The longer answer would be to also stress again, that Cell Broadcast should not be thought of as “a special kind of SMS being transmitted from one sender to multiple telephone numbers”. No individual phones are targeted. What is happening is, that cell towers in the affected area start to repeat a signal that can be picked up (and displayed) by any GSM-compliant device. Doesn’t have to be a device of the same ISP. Doesn’t even have to have a SIM card.

Thank you for your concern but no, I am afraid you are not reading my tone wrong (although I was hoping to be polite enough to be called “disapproving” and not “dismissive”)

The reason for turning off these alarms pointed out by (keeping the existence of a phone in your household secret) is a very interesting edge case.
Every other reason I heard so far either fell into “I don’t want my phone to ring in silent mode” (we could argue about “Amber” alerts. That DOES feel like overuse) or some government distrust (which in this case is far too conspiratorial and technically unfounded [*] for my liking). These are literally like covering your ears because you are either annoyed or concerned by fire alarms.
I am not sure whether these are “legitimate reasons” but I for one do not regard them as “good reasons”.

Now of course we are all free to do with our phones as we please and I applaud you to exercise this freedom to its fullest.
But also this is the internet. It’s not just us talking, it’s also other people reading. And I wouldn’t want somebody to turn off Cell Broadcasting on their phones because they “read somewhere” that it’s the thing to do if you want privacy. So I hope I am forgiven if I do not want to let some points made in this thread go undisputed :wink:

[*] a minor note on “government distrust (which in this case is far too conspiratorial and technically unfounded for my liking)
I will not dive into the technical details again that made me say this.
Instead a question: If “they” wanted to get into our phones, would they really choose a way that made them ring at maximum volume?

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By the way:
while the UK Gov site does not specifically mention “Cell Broadcast” it is pretty clear by their description that this is what they are using. Also compare the video on their website with e.g. this one: Cell Broadcast - Presidential Alert - YouTube

Thanks for the reply, I never suggested it was solely for privacy concerns. I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer, it’s for the individual to make a risk assessment as to whether they want to recieve the alerts or not. Personally, I’m very sceptical there are many articles saying how to disable these notifications in the British media - it comes across as if they want people to disable it :man_shrugging:t3:. Even headlines calling it an ‘Armageddon’ alert…

I appreciate we are coming from two different perspectives so there is no point hammering the point home further. I can respect your opinion and I am not trying to change it, nor convince others to follow my example.

I also refrained from explicitly pasting commands etc. to get the “job” done, obviously if a less technically minded person reads these posts they probably don’t know what adb etc. is in anycase. I doubt people will uninstall the apps/services based on a random post, which I have already conceded not knowing if the method even works. I could be wrong of course and maybe someone considers removing the services, I wouldn’t worry as you have made your points well. However, if they are that determined to uninstall them, they at least know what to look for.

I believe most of the providers over here are switching 3g off late this year or early next year, with 2g being switched off later in the decade. I guess forcing anyone with an old device to upgrade etc. and thereby enforcing these alerts :thinking: These may just be empty threats though to discourage dumb phones?

Germany andAustria are two wonderfull countries btw, leider habe ich gar kein Deutsch fuer die letzten paar Jahren gesprochen. It probably shows lol.

Apologies for saying dismissive perhaps disapproving is a better fit :+1:

This probably contributes to the ‘why 4/5G’ question. 4 & 5 G towers are going to be much more Software Defined radio equipment. Older stuff will probably need more manual reconfiguring to make work with the alert infrastructure.

Yes that’s the most logical explanation.

But I cannot help but wonder if this is designed to make people go out and upgrade their devices. Over the past couple of years dumb phones have become more popular among so called sceptics (or so it is presented) - is it possible the goal is to get everyone on smart phones?

Still I’ll only believe the switch off has happened when it happens. Personally, I just think the date will keep being pushed back.

Also remember the debate about 2/3/4/5g only came up because agschaid suggested the alert would come through regardless of what was disabled. Once he found the government site, the 2/3g aspect almost becomes a moot point…

Having said that though I still fail to understand why nothing was implemented until now. Ok phones were less common in the 90’s etc. but you’d think the government would implement it in anticipation that the technology would become widespread. Even if another system of communiction was invented it’s not like the government are shy about plowing millions in to failed projects…

Whilst everything is understandable, it just doesn’t make sense to me. If there had been an inferior and unreliable system that was widely known about, I’d accept this as an upgrade. But it’s this forum, where it is the first I’ve heard about the potential for the solution to exist for at least, what, around 40 years? Give or take. Yet it is only now, when allegedly the device can be disabled if the user doesn’t acknowledge the alert :man_shrugging:t3:

I think there are too many questions and until the government have had some time to prove they will not abuse this technology it will remain uninstalled on my device. I just hope it works - that is the uninstallation of the 2 services I mentioned.

What would be the gain of implementing it in the 90’s - there would be little data to harvest.

Like I said before, despite the World’s Governments most likely having all our data already, this mass delivered ‘alert’ which must be acknowledged by each individual is a good way to catch those who have thus far escaped the dragnet

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The gain would be, that it would have looked a lot less suspicious :sweat_smile:

Honestly? No, I’d bet no-one involved in the alert system is thinking that. It’s just a compromised because of costs situatuon.

As for the reason the UK has left it until now to impliment a half-hearted national alert system?

  1. It costs money, have you seen the news about the current government and paying for services?
  2. There’s a war going on in Europe.

Apropos of nothing, I’m interested to see how my Pinephone reacts to the alert.

Where did you get this from?

I didn’t mean the alert, I meant the switch off. But natually if you are concerned about not receiving the alert the obvious solution is to get a compatible device, no?

No I haven’t seen the news. Also, and this is the last time I will bring this point up, according to the various posts in this thread the system could have been technically possible at any point from the 90’s to now… There have been wars during that time, why was it not considered important then? There have even been terrorist attacks, yet it was still not implemented? Just points to think about, I don’t need an explanation unless you or someone else cares to give one.

It’s just what I have heard, which is why I used the word allegedly - as I cannot verify nor disprove the claim. It would appear DesmondMiles had also heard the same information.

As for your Pinephone, I doubt it will get the notification? The gov website says you have to be on iOS 14.5 or Android 11 and have a 4/5g connection. But anything is possible seeing as they also say it may still be possible to get the notification if your device does not meet these criteria.

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