IT-Alert, because conspiracy theorists invite you to deactivate the alarm

“They monitor your location and your activity.” This is one of the fake news concerning the world of technology and more specifically IT-Alert, the new public alert system for direct information to the population. A hoax that the Civil Protection immediately tried to dismantle with a card on social media where it highlights that the service is “unidirectional. IT-Alert sends an alarm message but does not send data or information of any kind on the recipients”.

The alarm system

IT-Alert is not an app but an alarm system already present on the iOS and Android operating systems. What makes conspiracy maniacs worry is the fact that it glided into our devices in general silence, without asking the user for consent or offering them a choice. The reason is linked not only to the precedent of Immuni, an application that was supposed to be used to track Covid positives but which did not reach a sufficient number of downloads to be valid, but also to the recent flood in Emilia-Romagna, which led the authorities to think of a warning system that helps citizens in the event of disasters. The cases can be different: some examples could be the tsunami generated by an earthquake; the collapse of a large dam; volcanic activity (especially in reference to the volcanoes Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei, Vulcano and Stromboli); nuclear accidents or radiological emergency situation; significant events in establishments subject to the legislative decree of 26 June 2015, n. 105 (Seveso Directive) or intense rainfall.

How does it work

IT-alert uses the traditional mobile network, therefore it does not introduce any new tracer element that was not already there and does not use GPS. The smartphone constantly connects to cell phones to function, and that doesn’t change. The technology used is “cell broadcast”, which dates back to the time of 2G, so nothing new under the sun. The IT-alert message does not arrive if the device has no reception, even in the presence of a Wi-Fi connection.

Where is it

The alarm system is already present on all devices that have iOS or Android as the operating system. On the former you can find the checkmark in the Settings, Notifications section and scroll down going beyond the applications. On Android devices, however, we find it under Security and emergency and then Emergency wireless alerts: basically the IT-alert item is present here, already active by default.

Notification can be deactivated after the test

As stated on the IT-Alert website, the purpose of the system is “to minimize individual and collective exposure to the danger that triggers the alarm”. In the event of a natural disaster, the alert notification on your phone can save your life. Users can, however, block the alarm by deactivating the notification from their phone settings as is done for applications or messages. The only exception concerns the test message which, having “very high priority”, bypasses the notification preferences. The only way to avoid the test sound is to turn off your cell phone. Once the tests are finished in all regions, people will be able to choose whether or not to block the IT-Alert notification.