The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, said the Commercial Mobile Alert System that Congress approved in 2006 will direct messages to cellphones in case of a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other serious emergency. There will be at least three levels of messages, ranging from a critical national alert from the president to warnings about impending or occurring national disasters to alerts about missing or abducted children. The alert would show up on the phone's front screen, instead of the traditional text message inbox, and arrive with a distinct ring and probably a vibration. People will be able to opt out of receiving all but the presidential alerts.
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