BERLIN, July 23 (Reuters) – Germany will allow mobile operators to broadcast emergency SMS warnings to specific geographic regions, a technology that has been around for decades but which Germany has always resisted for reasons of confidentiality.
The government has faced growing calls to activate the technology since the catastrophic floods last week, which killed at least 180 people. Some have argued that text alerts have given people a better chance of reaching safety on time.
Home Secretary Horst Seehofer told public broadcaster ARD that he had now ordered a system to be put in place to broadcast emergency alerts to all cell phones connected to a particular antenna. from the local network.
“Warnings to the population must go through, on all channels,” he said, adding that short text messages could only complement existing emergency warning systems in Germany, which include sirens, smartphone app called NINA and radio.
“If you are awake at night you need to know immediately what happened and what to do,” he said.
Germany has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, reflecting sensitivity to any kind of surveillance in a country that suffered 20th century totalitarianism under Hitler’s Nazis and the Eastern Communists. Germans. (Report by Thomas Escritt edited by Frances Kerry)