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Siri Prank; Image Courtesy of Daily Star Online, http://www.dailystar.co.uk/

A new prank has law enforcement agencies and officials worried, prompting them to issue a warning to iPhone users. Why iPhone users and not Android phone users? Well, the new prank involves Siri, the virtual assistant that comes installed on Apple iPhones. It’s been discovered that a number of social media posts have been “encouraging users to ask Siri about the number 108.” The problem with this command and a handful of others is that it actually ends up instructing Siri to dial emergency services, which can, according to a Texas Sherrif’s department, “potentially tie up emergency lines.”

Because of this, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas NENA recently issued a statement on Facebook, “encouraging iPhone users NOT to test the ‘108’ command.” But what’s special about the number 108? Why is that number dialing emergency lines? The answer is simple. According to WPTV, Apple designed Siri to recognize emergency service numbers from anywhere in the world. The number 108 is actually “the equivalent of dialing 9-1-1” in India, which is why it’s been connecting callers to 911 dispatch centers. Other numbers that should be avoided are 112, 110, 999, and 000 because they’ve been tested by the 911 Communications Division and will, according to an Oregon sheriff’s department, “result in a call being placed to the emergency communications center.”

NRH Police Tweet; Image Courtesy of USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/

This is why law enforcement officials are advising against using these numbers with Siri, and it’s why offices, like the NRH Police department and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, have issued tweets and statements like the following:

“Help us spread the word and make our community safe by ensuring those who need the life or death assistance of police, fire or EMS have access to them quickly when they call for help.”

Pranks like these are very dangerous because they tie up emergency lines and delay response times for those who are actually in need of help. Accidents happen all the time. Not having quick access to emergency lines could literally be the difference between life and death in some case.

Sources:

Deputies warn iPhone users of potentially deadly, criminal Siri prank

Police warn about Siri ‘108’ prank

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