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Presidential Emergency Alert Sounds Off Across U.S. After Judge Refuses to Block It

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Electronic devices sounded off across the United States Wednesday afternoon as the Federal Emergency Management agency conducted an emergency alert test.

The tone sounded at 11:18 a.m. Pacific Time. The subject read: "Presidential Alert" and text read: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed."

It is the first test of the national wireless emergency system by FEMA. The message was broadcast on cell towers for 30 minutes. Some people got the alert multiple times. Others didn't get it at all.

FEMA estimated about 225 million electronic devices, or about 75 percent of all mobile phones in the country, would receive the alert. It hasn't said yet whether the test went well.

The system test is for a high-level "presidential" alert that would be used only in a nationwide emergency. The goal is to have phones get the alert at the same time.

A New York federal judge refused to block the Federal Emergency Management Agency from conducting its emergency alert test on telephones.

Judge Katherine Polk Failla in Manhattan rejected the longshot effort by three individuals who sued without a lawyer to try to stop the test Wednesday afternoon.

She called the constitutional questions raised by the lawsuit significant and urged the litigants to find attorneys to help them pursue their claims. The lawsuit said the alert system violates the First and Fourth Amendments by failing to give people the chance to opt-out.

Failla said the claims were too speculative to block the test.

The judge said she believes the litigants want to ensure President Donald Trump doesn't turn the alert system into a second Twitter feed.

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