iPhones on AT&T get government “Carrier Settings” update.

Posted on 18 Jun 2013


I just got an alert on my iPhone 4S that said “Carrier Settings Updated”. My Fiancé said she got it too on her iPhone 5 and we joked about it being the Government.

Well, guess what? It is. That uninformative little message means there is now a new hook into your iPhone by the same Government that brought you the PRISM system to spy on millions of people without probable cause. What I believe has not been leaked yet is that both your front and back facing cell phone cameras and the audio is being captured along with your location.

Modern smartphones have the ability to display emergency alerts pushed out by government agencies. These include notifications about dangerous weather, unsafe situations or Amber Alerts for missing children and seniors. Carriers must enable the features on specific phones and until today, iPhone users on AT&T were not invited to the party. Now, AT&T is pushing out an update that enables governmental and Amber alerts on iPhone 4S and 5 phones runing iOS 6.1 or later. When the update comes, you’ll see a notification on your iPhone’s screen that reads: Carrier Settings Updated New settings required for your device have been installed. Your only option is an OK button – this is not an update you can decline. You can, however, turn off most of the updates if you prefer not to see them. Go into Settings > Notifications and scroll to the bottom. You’ll see separate toggles for Government and Amber alerts.


The FCC provides some details on its website about the types of alerts that are delivered through what’s called the Wireless Emergency Alert service, or WEA:

Pre-authorized national, state or local government may send emergency alerts regarding public safety emergencies, such as evacuation orders or shelter in place orders due to severe weather, a terrorist threat or chemical spill, to WEA.
And . . .

Alerts from WEA cover only critical emergency situations. Consumers will receive only three types of alerts:

  1. Alerts issued by the President
  2. Alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life
  3. Amber Alerts

You can turn off everything but the “alerts issues by the President”. And you may want to leave on the “imminent threats to safety or life” alerts, since they often involve bad weather. They were used during the recent tornadoes in the Midwest. And it is, after all, hurricane season here in the Gulf states . . .

If you’re in an office or some other place where a lot of people have smartphones, you’ve likely heard a bunch of alerts go off at once. That’s the WEA system at work. Now, AT&T iPhone users will be among those joining the cacophony.

And if your iPhone isn’t yet running on iOS 6.1 or later, you’ll get the alert the next time you upgrade….


I believe a crime is being committed by this administration under the disguise of protecting people. Show us the evidence that this only sends information TO our phones. Show us the evidence that they can’t now shut down all the phones in an area to prevent citizens from reporting crimes. Recall that we were told one of the Boston bombers ran over and killed the other in a suicide pact, then we found out what really happened from witnesses: the guy killed was purposefully run over by a police van. People in the area were told to turn off their cell phones because they might accidentally detonate a bomb. I believe that was a lie, that what this is about is the ability to kill people and get away with it, the ability to silence witnesses on a mass scale. Government out of my cell phone! What can we do? Complain to AT&T? They have ignored my complaints about data throttling, so I already know that’s a waste of time. Cancel your service? I would… but I enjoy the constant connection to friends and family. We shouldn’t have to make that choice.

Posted in: Crime, Politics