Wireless Industry and The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children Team Up for Child Safety
May 17, 2005
Washington, D.C. - Statistics show that when a child is abducted, the first three hours are the most critical to recovering the child alive. Recognizing their unique ability to provide timely assistance to law enforcement in these unfortunate situations, the wireless industry and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) have officially partnered to launch Wireless AMBER AlertsTM, an initiative that will help galvanize 182-million wireless subscribers in the search for an abducted child.
Beginning today, any wireless subscriber capable of receiving text messages, and whose wireless carrier participates in the Wireless AMBER Alerts Initiative, may opt in to receive alerts by registering at www.wirelessamberalerts.org
or their wireless carrier’s website. Subscribers may designate up to five geographic areas for which they would like to receive Wireless AMBER Alerts.
“Americans want to help fight crimes against children, and now that power rests in the palm of their hand,” said Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless AssociationTM, and President of The Wireless Foundation. “Currently, Alerts are broadcast by television and radio outlets and on some electronic highway signs. With more than 60 percent of Americans owning wireless devices, and seldom going anywhere without them, this initiative will significantly increase the reach of the AMBER Alert program by notifying people – wherever they are – of the emergency situation.”
AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response” and was created in 1997 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to find abducted children. The AMBER Alert Program was soon adopted across the nation and is a legacy to Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then murdered. All 50 states have since established AMBER Alert programs.
President Bush authorized the national AMBER Alert program as part of the PROTECT Act signed in 2003. The law formally established the federal government’s role in the AMBER Alert program, appointing the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the agency responsible for coordinating AMBER Alerts on the national level. DOJ has officially partnered with NCMEC, authorizing them as the agent that coordinates and disseminates AMBER Alerts to secondary distributors.
“To date, more than 200 children have been successfully recovered as a direct result of AMBER Alerts,” said Ernie Allen, NCMEC President and CEO. “My colleagues and I experience great satisfaction when we see abducted children reunited with their families and thank the wireless industry for providing Wireless AMBER Alerts so even more Americans can join us in this important work.”
Wireless AMBER Alerts may serve as a preventative tool as well. People who prey on innocent children should now think twice before carrying out their malicious acts, knowing that almost any cell phone owner they pass could identify perpetrators and have access to the immediate means to guide law enforcement officials to their location.
“Firsthand experience has shown us that tips from the public play a vital role in helping law enforcement locate and ultimately arrest child abductors,” John Walsh, host of “America's Most Wanted” and co-founder of NCMEC said. “I applaud the wireless industry for creating an initiative that will involve millions of Americans helping law enforcement reunite abducted children with their families and potentially leading to the arrest of abductors.”
Syniverse Technologies donated the Wireless AMBER Alerts Initiative infrastructure to The Wireless Foundation, in partnership with HP, Oracle, SunGard Availability Services, VERITAS Software, Verizon Information Technology LLC, and Integrated Research.
“Syniverse is honored to have been selected by the wireless carriers to develop a single alert notification solution that will work across multiple carriers and the entire industry,” said Ed Evans, Syniverse Chairman and CEO. “Responding to this technical challenge has been a top priority for our company and we look forward to the positive outcomes the AMBER Alert Initiative will generate when it comes to finding an abducted child.”
Wireless carriers participating in today’s launch include ALLTEL, Cingular Wireless, Dobson Communications, Nextel Communications, RCC/Unicel, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless.
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CTIA is an international association for the wireless telecommunications industry, representing carriers, manufacturers and wireless Internet providers.
The Wireless Foundation is a non-profit organization that was formed by member companies of CTIA-The Wireless Association™ in 1991. The Foundation oversees a number of programs designed to put wireless technology to work addressing the challenges of society.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC's congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled more than 313,000 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 106,000 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 92,000 children. For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit