New York AG Calls on FCC and CTIA to Make Severe Weather Alerts More Accessible

New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and the CTIA (the primary trade association for the wireless communications industry) calling for wireless carriers to send emergency alerts, including severe weather notifications, in languages other than just English and Spanish. AG James pointed out that New York State and City both send out notifications available in twelve additional languages, but unlike the widespread alerts sent by wireless carriers, people must opt in to receive them, and thus the alerts have a much more limited reach. AG James explained how critical it is for severe weather alerts to be as widely accessible as possible, pointing to Hurricane Ida in 2021 as an example: the majority of the 18 people killed in the storm lived in communities with “limited proficiencies in English and Spanish,” which were the only two languages that carriers’ alerts for the storm had been sent out in. This action followed AG James’ March 2022 letter to the National Weather Service and the Commerce Department calling for similar changes.