Netflix, Hulu could send emergency alerts if new bill comes to pass

Netflix sign Los Gatos
Streaming services like Netflix and Spotify could soon begin delivering emergency alerts to users. (Netflix)

Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify could begin serving up emergency notifications thanks to a bill being introduced in the U.S. Senate.

TechCrunch spotted a new bill named Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act of 2018 being sent out by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-S.D.). In addition to better ensuring emergency alerts reach mobile phones, televisions and radios, the bill wants to “explore new ways of alerting the public through online video and audio streaming services.”

“When a missile alert went out across Hawaii in January, some people never got the message on their phones, while others missed it on their TVs and radios. Even though it was a false alarm, the missile alert exposed real flaws in the way people receive emergency alerts,” said Schatz, lead Democrat on the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, in a statement. “Our bill fixes a number of important problems with the system responsible for delivering emergency alerts. In a real emergency, these alerts can save lives so we have to do everything we can to get it right.”

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Emergency alerts are of course a big aspect of what traditional television operations like broadcasters offer to viewers. Updates like being able to awaken a receiver when alerts are sent in the middle of the night are part of the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV standards currently being developed and deployed.

The Emergency Alert System currently requires TV and radio broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service providers, direct broadcast satellite service providers and wireline video service providers to give the president as well as state and local authorities the ability to deliver emergency alerts.