amber alert opt out

People think they should be allowed to opt out of Amber Alerts

We, as a society, have learned a few things about Amber Alerts since the CRTC starting mandating emergency wireless notifications last year. 

First and foremost, they can go out at any time of day or night. Child abductions also happen more regularly than most of us had likely realized prior to 2019, which has seen five Amber Alerts in Ontario so far. 

Secondly, they're jarring: Loud enough to wake an entire household out of bed and scary enough to keep them awake at least long enough to look out the window. 

That's the point. 

You see, the Amber Alert system works. It worked last night to help police safely locate two young boys within hours of an alert going off around 3 a.m. in Toronto.

It worked to locate a three-year-old boy in May. It worked to locate the father of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar, who was tragically found dead in his basement after an apparent abduction on Valentine's Day.

In each of these cases, however, police expressed their disappointment over how many citizens called 911 not to report sightings that could help the case, but to complain that the alert had woken them up.

After this most-recent Amber Alert, some are wondering if perhaps those angry people could simply opt out of recieving emergency notifications on their phones — you know, as opposed to wasting the time of 911 operators every time they're disturbed.

As CityNews points out, people have the right and ability to opt out of recieving Amber Alerts on their phones in the U.S., which has a tiered emergency response system.

Such is not the case in Canada presently, though that may change in the future as the CRTC works out kinks in the still relatively new system.

"Phone is on [do not disturb] 24/7 because of the previous 3 a.m. alerts. A reactor meltdown alarm for anyone missing 400km+ [away] is absolutely pointless, thoughts and prayers level pointless," wrote one Ontario Twitter user in response to last night's Amber Alert.

"Forcing alarms with no opt out will only produce dissent, it will be changed."

Some publicly wondered if the CRTC might be overstepping its authority by blasting air raid siren noises into the nation's bedrooms at night.

"Hi I have medical issues and I find it extremely concerning that the CRTC decided that I shouldn't have the right to opt out of Amber alerts on a phone that I paid for," tweeted one person to to the federal telecommunications regulator.

"U.S. residents can opt out but Canadians can't? What gives you the right to hijack my personal property?"

Others are taking up issue with the very idea of people being allowed to opt out.

"I mean why... What the f*ck could they possibly gain out of it?" wrote one Ontario resident of the opt out concept.

"I have an idea. Have an opt-out provision for Amber Alerts but if you do so, your forfeit your right to have alerts on your behalf," they continued. "Everyone complains about helping others until they are the ones who need the help."

Now there's an idea.

Lead photo by

Jason Cook

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