Lawsuit seeks to block Trump from sending presidential alerts to phones

Lawsuit seeks to block Trump from sending presidential alerts to phones

Three activists filed a lawsuit in federal court last week to block President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE from sending alert messages directly to U.S. cellphones under a new system run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Politico reported on Monday that three New Yorkers — J.B. Nicholas, Kristine Rakowsky and Liane Nikitovich — argued in the new lawsuit that the system is a violation of their free speech rights and would also act as an unconstitutional seizure of their cellphones.

A testing of the new system in question, which would reportedly be the first national test of the "presidential alert" system for cellphones and other electronic devices, was initially scheduled to take place on Sept. 20.


However, the test was later rescheduled because of Hurricane Florence. It is now set to take place on Wednesday.

In the lawsuit, Nicholas, Rakowsky and Nikitovich argue the new system would turn their electronic devices into “government loudspeakers" for Trump and others in the administration to promote propaganda. 

A law former President Obama signed in 2016 stated the emergency alert system was allowed to be used for testing but not "to transmit a message that does not relate to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety."

However, Nicholas, Rakowsky and Nikitovich argue in the suit that the criteria laid out in that law was "unconstitutionally vague." 

"Without more specific definitions...officials — including President Trump — are free to define 'act of terrorism' and 'threat to public safety' as they see fit, potentially broadcasting arbitrary, biased, irrational and/or content-based messages to hundreds of millions of people," the complaint reads.

The three accused the president of using his Twitter to spread "weaponized disinformation" and said they "don't wish to receive text messages, or messages of any kind, on any topic or subject, from Defendant Trump."