Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, on Sunday issued a scathing statement regarding the ballistic missile alert disseminated to Hawaiian residents in error Saturday, slamming the state's government for lacking "reasonable safeguards or process controls" to prevent the mistake.
“The false emergency alert sent yesterday in Hawaii was absolutely unacceptable," Pai wrote in a statement. "It caused a wave of panic across the state — worsened by the 38-minute delay before a correction alert was issued."
"Moreover, false alerts undermine public confidence in the alerting system and thus reduce their effectiveness during real emergencies," he added.
Pai's communications regulatory agency is conducting an investigation into how the alerts were erroneously sent to Hawaiian cellphones, television stations, and radio channels using the "Emergency Alert System" and "Wireless Emergency Alerts" program.
The alert warned residents of an inbound ballistic missile, claiming it was not a drill.
"Based on the information we have collected so far, it appears that the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert," Pai continued.
While officials didn't identify who pressed the "button," Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator Vern Miyagi said it was his "responsibility."
The pair announced Saturday that changes were already being introduced, including a "two-person rule" for any drill or to send an actual alert. Another action taken by the government has been to implement a "cancellation command that can be done automatically that can be triggered within seconds of an error, has been put in place."
The White House on Saturday downplayed its involvement in the incident.
"The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii's emergency management exercise. This was purely a state exercise," White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters wrote in a statement.
The FCC's investigation is ongoing.