I’ve generally been happy with AT&T Uverse once our nightmarish installation experience was resolved but this morning every Uverse customer had their channels force-changed to The Today Show as an “emergency alert” blared but there is no emergency.
The angry Tweets from viewers are just hilarious.
UPDATE: confirmed that this affects Uverse customers nationwide, there is no emergency, and it’s AT&T’s fault.
UPDATE 2: The thing that’s pissing me off about this is that AT&T and even some news reporting are trying to make it sound like we merely had to put up with an emergency alert message. And yes, that’s bad: as freaked out as this nation is right now about ISIS and EBOLA and (fill in the blank)-ghazi, that’s not cool. But what no one is talking about is the fact that our televisions were hijacked! They literally took control of our TVs. They changed everybody’s channel to the local NBC affiliate and we were unable to control our televisions. I couldn’t even change the damn volume.
That is some messed up Big Brother shit right there, on a par with Apple forcing you to own a U2 album or Amazon entering your Kindle to take back a book you’d bought because of a copyright issue.
Corporate America is overstepping its bounds and infringing on the private lives of consumers. Again.
Update 3: FCC is investigating the hijacking of private televisions:
ATLANTA, Ga. — AT&T U-verse customers in several states woke up Friday morning to find a federal emergency alert on TV. The problem is, there was no emergency and the alert somehow hijacked their TV’s, refusing to allow them to change the channel.
Alan Sams, who has his phone and internet service bundled through AT&T says he couldn’t use the internet or his phone either.
“I’m more concerned that somebody on the inside of AT&T has the capacity to deal with shutting off my communications and controlling my communications, even if it was for a short period of time,” said Sams.
AT&T is still trying to figure out exactly what happened, but says the alert should not have impacted anything but television service.
In a statement released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency said the problem started when an unidentified nationally syndicated radio show inappropriately broadcast the emergency signal. AT&T says it and a few other providers picked it up.
AT&T declined to answer questions about how decisions are made whether to air an emergency alert and why it took several hours to get it removed. The company also could not explain why customers were unable to change the channel.
FEMA has yet to say how many states were affected, but 11Alive saw complaints on social media from viewers in at least six states: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Michigan, Arkansas and Texas.
“Who’s controlling, who’s watching the traffic?” questioned security analyst Greg Evans, who is also a U-verse customer. As the morning rolled on, Evans began to question whether the system had been hacked.
“Anything electronic you can hack into it. If it has an internet IP address, you can hack into it,” said Evans.
AT&T insists its system was not hacked. Instead FEMA says several providers aired an emergency alert, inappropriately played by a nationally syndicated radio show. AT&T can’t say why the alert hijacked their customers TV’s, and insists the alert shouldn’t have affected phone service.
The FCC says it will also investigate the incident.