Senate Commerce Approves WARN Act

[SOURCE: Senate Commerce Commission press release]
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Thursday reported by unanimous consent S. 1753, the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act of 2005. As reported, the WARN Act will establish a network for the transmission of alerts across a broad variety of communication technologies, including wireless communication devices such as cell phones and Blackberries, the Internet, digital, analog, cable, satellite television, and satellite and terrestrial radio, as well as non-traditional media such as sirens and “radios-on-a-stick.” The legislation would require that alerts provide individuals with instructions about what to do in response to the threat. The National Alert System, created under the WARN Act, will ensure that regardless of where an individual is or what kind of communication technologies they are using, they will receive a life-saving alert. Alerts would be transmitted in response to all threats to public safety, including natural disasters, man-made accidents and terrorist incidents. Alerts would only be allowed for hazards that pose a grave risk to public health and safety. The WARN Act also would establish a grant program to help remote communities install sirens and other devices, particularly in areas where telecommunications infrastructure is insufficient. Amendments to the bill were passed to 1) ensure that tribal governments are included in the national alert system; 2) include the needs of older Americans in the system; 3) provide for the utilization of the non-commercial sustaining announcement program to publicize the national alert system; 4) provide greater integration of the National Alert Office and the research and development and testing programs; and 5) better integrate communications infrastructure needs into the disaster planning process.

* Text of bill:



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