Ajit Pai Explains FCC's 'Full Investigation' Into False Hawaii Missile Alert

January 15, 2018

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai appeared on "Fox & Friends" on Monday to discuss what went wrong when Hawaii authorities mistakenly sent out an emergency alert notification warning of an incoming ballistic missile on Saturday.

"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," the emergency alert read. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency then responded to the false alarm on Twitter, writing, "NO missile threat to Hawaii."

Pai explained that two things went wrong: first, a lack of proper safeguards at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency enabled the alert to be sent through "human error," and second, it took too long for the agency to issue a correction saying there is no missile threat.

Pai was unable to explain how Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii), who said that she checked with the state agency that issued the alert and was told it was sent in error before calling it a "false alarm" on Twitter, had access to information about the validity of the alert. But Pai said that the FCC has launched a "full investigation" to find out what happened to prevent future false alarms.

"What we want to do is make sure that we have a system that does not allow these kinds of false alerts to go out," Pai said.

Host Brian Kilmeade pointed out that the state of Hawaii took full responsibility for the mishap, before asking how many states have a similar system in which one person could accidentally "hit the wrong button" and send out a false alert.

Pai said that the investigation is ongoing and the FCC is looking to make sure that no state has vulnerabilities to allow a similar error.

"The worst thing going forward is for these false alerts to undermine confidence in our warning system," Pai said.

Published under: FCC