The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the US, which is headed by Ajit Pai, has opened an investigation into the false alarm that was set off in Hawaii asking people to seek shelter as there was an imminent threat of a ballistic missile coming at them.
On Saturday, 13 January, at 8:07am local time, Hawaii's missile warning alert was set off. The emergency alert system was sent to all people in Hawaii on their mobile handsets, while radio announcements accompanied by sirens were also set off.
For more than 30 minutes, the people of Hawaii believed that their islands were under attack, with widespread panic reported. It was later declared as a false alarm that was sent out accidentally. The initial warning message read, "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."
In this time, President Donald Trump was also informed of the false alert after the US Military's Pacific Command confirmed that there were no missiles coming at the islands.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza later clarified with NBC News saying, there was "no missile threat to Hawaii".
The FCC has now taken it upon itself to launch an investigation to find out why such an incident took place. The federal agency sent out a press release in which Pai stated that the false emergency alert sent out in Hawaii was "absolutely unacceptable". He then added that it caused a wave of panic across the state and that it was made worse by the almost 40 minutes it took for the clarification to come through and correction alert to be sent out.
He also pointed out, "False alerts undermine public confidence in the alerting system and thus reduce their effectiveness during real emergencies."
The statement read, "The FCC's investigation into this incident is well underway. We have been in close contact with federal and state officials, gathering the facts about how this false alert was issued."
Pai also went on to seemingly blame the Hawaiin government, saying that they "did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert".
As a next step, he said that the FCC will be looking into how to prevent a similar incident from happening again. He urged local, state and federal officials to identify vulnerabilities in alarm systems so that false alerts like this could be prevented.
"We also must ensure that corrections are issued immediately in the event that a false alert does go out," he added.