If you have Verizon Wireless cellphone service in the Houston area, today you have no doubt gotten about three AMBER alerts texts to your phone, about an hour apart from one another, alerting you to look out for a 2002 Chevy Blazer and to consult local media.
The alerts came with a special vibration and tone that I had never noticed from my cellphone.
Today's AMBER alert is for a missing boy out of San Antonio, last seen with his father.
A lot of people have taken to Twitter and Facebook to ask why they are getting these messages. Even Houston Texans QBs Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates are asking about them aloud on Twitter.
I for one don't mind getting AMBER alerts since they could and have saved lives, but some are seeing it as a nefarious intrusion.
"What else can they (the government) send to us now?"
Looking at the Verizon Wireless FAQ, it looks like you previously needed to opt in to get AMBER alerts. I don't remember opting in myself. Maybe it was attached to that last terms of service that I never read. The one that said all my calls and texts would now be recorded in perpetuity.
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AMBER alerts are an industrywide service from cellphone companies, though friends of mine that have AT&T have said they had not received any missing child alerts.
Just a few months later came news of wireless carriers also rolling alerts out for extreme weather, which can come in very handy.
For now, be glad that these alerts are going out, and thank your lucky stars that it isn't about your own missing child.