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2017-02-15 11:33 PM
I have been loving the "do not disturb" feature of the Xperia Z5 Premium, since I can have my ringer turn itself off and on according to my schedule. However, after a very long night working, I went to sleep at 10:30 AM where I NEEDED to STAY ASLEEP, and what happened? At 12:45 a "Wireless Emergency Alert" started beeping. Of course, I was so out of it, I didn't fully wake up from it for nearly 3 hours (I was that tired) and when I did I was like, "What is that sound!?" and I go to look at my phone, turn the screen on, just in time to see "powering off" in front of the "Wireless Emergency Alert" dialog box and a time, but could not see what was so annoyingly important, or even what kind of alert it was. My phone was fully charged, but 3 hours of beeping nonstop drains it fast. Given how I feel right now, I can say with certainty I wasn't fully asleep at all in that time, meaning this accursed phone ruined my entire day.
When I turned my phone back on, I could not find any record of it (at first), so if it was actually important (Like, say, something that could affect my choice to travel - I live in tornado country afterall) the alert failed to reach me. So it both wakes me up by ignoring total silence. What is the use of an emergecny alert that doesn't let me read it if the phone power cycles?
Now, it took me a while to find, but when I open Apps > Emergency Alerts I am able to see the last alert sent. It readsL
Wireless Emergency Alert
This is a test of the Commercial Mobile Alert System. This is only a test.
Feb 15, 12:45 PM
So... not only does the Z5 premium not have the normal settings for disabling certain kinds of alerts, it disables my audio settings for a stupid test!?!? Why isn't "test" a category!? So, what, I have to stop everything I am doing whenever someone wants to test their system!?
I double checked, and under "Do Not Disturb Access" in settings there is a list of apps, which an option to let it override, but "Emegency Alerts" is not one of them, meaning that the emergency alerts are allowed to control the phones audio whenever it likes. That's... really bad.
What is especially odd about this though is that I previously blocked the emergency alerts app from running all together due to this very type of problem. I have no idea how or why after all these months it turned itself back on. I went into app permissions though I found that "Emergency Alerts" had SMS permissions again, so something changed my phone settings on me. I'm not seeing any other app permission category where it even exists. The fact that I haven't recieved this alert in several months indicates I had it properly blocked before, so I am puzzled as to how that changed.
I wouldn't mind emergency alerts if it was like a normal text message that only makes a sound when the ringer is turned on, or vibrates only when in vibrate mode. However, the way these are presented only encourages people to find ways to get rid of them, while directly endangering the public health. You see, people who drive commercially - especially at night - are required by law to get minimum hours sleep. These alerts disrupt that creating the conditions for unsafe drivers.
Hopefully in a future update I am given the ability to disable certain kinds of alerts - which, btw, was written into the law for emergency alerts. I know I am not allowed to shut off Presidential alerts (which is it's own unsettling thought), but I should at least be allowed to stop tests.
2017-02-16 02:50 AM
well emergency will always be priority. if DND mode would overide it , that would defeat the purpose if there was real emergency and you are not alerted.
2017-02-20 05:49 AM - edited 2017-02-20 08:03 AM
I actually contacted FEMA about the issue, and they told me a few things of importance here:
1.) They confirmed a test alert was sent at the date and time I listed, but that phones are not supposed to recieve the test alerts. It's clearly a bug that test alerts are pushed with actual alerts. In this case it's technically not a crime, since Sony isn't causing it to be transmitted, but it's still a problem and the law makes explicitly clear what type of alert is supposed to go to phones. FEMA isn't allowed to transmit test alerts to actually go to phones, and it's the responsibility of Sony to be compatible with the standards in place, so I still argue they have to do something about this.
§10.520 Common audio attention signal.
(d) No person may transmit or cause to transmit the WEA common audio attention signal, or a recording or simulation thereof, in any circumstance other than in an actual National, State or Local Area emergency or authorized test, except as designed and used for Public Service Announcements (PSAs) by federal, state, local, tribal and territorial entities, and non-governmental organizations in coordination with those entities, to raise public awareness about emergency alerting, provided that the entity presents the PSA in a non-misleading manner, including by explicitly stating that the emergency alerting attention signal is being used in the context of a PSA for the purpose of educating the viewing or listening public about emergency alerting.
2.) They told me that beeping constantly for 3 hours is not what is supposed to happen. Unfortunately, they also told me that they are not the ones who created the app. In this case, it started with google, then passes to the phone maker, in this case Sony. If I was carrier locked it would then go to them before going to my phone, but Sony provides updates directly so they are the ones directly responsible. More specifically, it's illegal for a phone to produce this type of audible response, since the law specifies exactly how the alerts are to be recieved and transmitted:
§10.520 Common audio attention signal.
(a) The audio attention signal must have a temporal pattern of one long tone of two (2) seconds, followed by two short tones of one (1) second each, with a half (0.5) second interval between each tone. The entire sequence must be repeated twice with a half (0.5) second interval between each repetition.
In other words, Sony MUST correct this issue or be in willful noncompliance. It's actually illegal to market this phone for public use while in non-compliance.
3.) They quoted this in the law as well: “A device may include the capability to mute the audio attention signal.”
But the key word is "may", as in it's optional. It is literally up to Sony to decide to allow me to disable the audio or not, but it's not up to Sony to decide what sound plays and for how long. They told me that it would be best if I filed a complaint against Sony through the FCC, but I am hoping that if the issue was reported someone at Sony would chime in, pass this on to the correct department, and push for a fix.
Now, as far as "actual emergencies" go, as far as I am concerned these alerts - as implemented - create a larger problem than they aim to solve. Alerts that cannot be silenced disrupt sleep. Missing even 2 hours of sleep doubles the risk of car accident. Traffic fatalities increased by 10% right after emergency alerts became commonplace, meaning roughly 3,400 people died right after a system came into effect that disrupted sleep in a manner that definately would contribute to fatalities. More directly, there have also been cases of car accidents, where a phone started beeping at full volume and wouldn't stop unless the driver looked away, but every driver was getting the same thing, and this resulted in a large group of distracted drivers on the road at once time who ended up getting into a wreck. In a round about way, that makes Sony directly responsible for traffic accidents, but it gets worse than that.
On call doctors use "Do not Disturb" so they can get valuable sleep. They then white list a specific number so it can call regardless. When the doctor is called to perform a surgury, they wake up and get moving. If an alert wakes up the doctor that will impair their rest which will impair their performance. An argument could therefore be made that if the doctor is sued for a death Sony was ultimately responsible for designing the app to wake him up shifting blame away from him. It's an argument that would work in court at least, and I really hope Sony's legal team considers this type of scenario.
Considering Sony made an app which repeatedly warns us about audio issues to insulate them from another hearing loss lawsuit, you'd think they would be concerned about someone making the case that Sony was responsible for a death through an alert implementation that FEMA doesn't approve of in order to push the test alerts that FEMA does not even want the general public getting.
There's also the issue that, at least in the United States, we are supposed to have the right to disable all but Presidential Alerts. I cannot disable Amber Alerts, Weather Alerts, or Test Alerts. While this phone wasn't marketed directly to the US, it definately has US customers and they obviously went through the trouble to put the Emergency Alert app in place to be compatible with the US market, so they actually have to fix that, or they are in violation of the law. In older models this setting used to be in:
Messaging > menu > settings > look for Emergency Alerts
But the Xperia Z5 premium doesn't have the option anymore apparently, as discussed here:
Meaning that the only way to not get those alerts is to disable it from getting any alert, but doing so is technically in violation of the requirement to get Presidential alerts, and doesn't address the issue for people who want alerts, but don't want to be woken by them, and as I pointed out I had previously disabled the app so not sure how or why it re-enabled itself just to send me a test.
Personally, I wouldn't mind getting alerts, but I want to control what wakes me up. If there is a tornado in my town, yes, please wake me up. If it's snowing please do not wake me up. If a child went missing, don't wake me up as there is nothing I can do about it in my bed. If it's a test don't even send the text to my phone because no one cares. Under any circumstance though, don't beep constantly until my phone dies. That's stupid and dangerous.
Now, what happens when people can't control any of that? They disable every alert they can. If I have to choose between never getting an amber alert, and getting one in a way that doesn't wake me up, I'd choose to get one in a way that doesn't wake me up, but if there's a risk of it going off constantly while driving I'd still want it off.
In other words, by preventing DND from overriding emergency alerts, that defeats the purpose since the alerts would instead be disabled completely meaning that I won't get an alert in an actual emergency.
I find it very strange that the most common response to this type of issue is to basically tell me I have to be inconvenienced so I can be alerted to a real emergency, without acknowledging the fact that as software it can easily be designed to only wake me up in a real emergency, and since the exact law doesn't force them to wake me up for any emergency they have no excuse for this.