Earlier in September, Donald Trump announced plans for an unblockable Presidential text message that would go out to all American cellular phones. While the first test, set for September 20th was delayed, the test is now scheduled for October 3rd.
Many Americans have chafed at the idea of receiving a text from Trump on the phone. Three New Yorkers have taken their concern a step further and have filed a lawsuit to prevent the President from having access to their phones.
The suit alleges that, “the system violates their free speech rights and constitutes an unconstitutional seizure of their electronic devices.”
Cell phone users typically have the ability to opt out of alerts such as Amber Alerts or severe weather warnings. Trump has maintained that his Presidential message should be unblockable.
In addition to privacy concerns, the 3 citizens, J.B. Nicholas, Kristine Rakowsky and Liane Nikitovich are also concerned about the President using the texts as a propaganda tool.
According to the suit, the trio worries, “Without more specific definitions…officials – including President Trump – are free to define “act of terrorism” and “threat to public safety” as they see fit, potentially broadcasting arbitrary, biased, irrational and/or content-based messages to hundreds of millions of people.”
The system was initially put into place in 2016 when Barack Obama was in office. At that time the law declared that the messaging system could only be used during threats to public safety. The suit claims that the President’s Twitter feed has made it clear that Trump would use the tool to further spread disinformation.
The case is being heard by Katherine Failla in New York City’s District Court. The Judge was an Obama era nominee. The trio was attempting to block their phones from receiving Trump’s message on October 3rd, but the judge has not made any decision on the case as of yet.