‘Big Brother’ surveillance fears ignited over new emergency phone alert

A plan to send alerts to around the UK during has sparked mass surveillance and security concerns.

In April a Government test is scheduled to take place where mobile phones will receive siren-like alerts warning of a potential emergency, leaving people unable to use their device until they acknowledge the message.

Express.co.uk readers have shared their fears over the new scheme which some believe could make them vulnerable to surveillance from the UK – and beyond.

User DanLud wrote: “Big Brother is watching you. I do not trust the government any more, they use any tool they can find to control and manipulate us, and creating fear in place of encouragement. These are our phones, at our expense, the government should not be able to control them in any way shape or form.

“You have to remember that the government is our servant, we pay for it, every penny, yet here it is once again trying to be our master and dictate to us. It will not do. I will use my vote as carefully as I can at every opportunity to restore my personal freedom.”

Another user named Graham O said: “Unfortunately given the draconian measures the government has instigated over the last few years…I don’t trust this.”

User Ann Onymous added: “‘Stay indoors until advised otherwise by your government – anybody found ignoring this advice will be severely punished. Big Brother”.”

While UKnotEU wrote: “They will get our numbers and locations but nothing we can do to stop them. We have now reached the place predicted in the distopian novels a read as a teenager.”

One reader, writing under the username Pewter, said: “And we worry about China overtaking and intruding on our lives. Here our own government will cripple our mobile phone until we acknowledge that they have succeeded in doing just that.”

Just this week the Government banned social media app TikTok on work phones due to security concerns. The video app, which is owned by the Beijing-based firm ByteDance, is faced with concerns over whether user data could be accessed by the Chinese Government.

However, not everyone shared the same fears about the UK’s new mobile phone alert system, with many Express.co.uk readers pointing out that it could save lives in a real emergency.

A user named Mr Mogwopp said: “Had it for nearly twenty years here in the Netherlands, it’s not a problem. It has a test every few months but that’s on a first Monday of the month at 12 noon and it clearly states it’s a test.

“It’s okay, it can give out local warnings should there be a fire with dangerous fumes coming into your area, warning you to keep windows closed, that sort of thing. Nothing to be worried about, it could save your life.”

Another named jc69 added: “It makes good sense that everyone will know if there is, say, a risk to life from flooding or an imminent attack from another country.”

While MartDex wrote: “Oh boo hoo all these naysayers saying they don’t want it on their phone, it’s not right to send it to my phone, oooh they’re controlling us, seriously, so something big is happening and you just want blissful ignorance until you get wiped out? Back to a 3310 with you then!”

The Government said the new alert system will use cell towers to broadcast an urgent message to nearby phones in case of an emergency, without the need to collect personal information, phone numbers, or track locations.

Alert systems have been in place in other countries for a number of years, and the UK test is modelled on those already in place in Canada, the US, the Netherlands, and Japan.

But what do you think? Are you happy about the new alert system? Join the debate in the comments section below.