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DHS to Send Widespread Alerts 265

MarsGov writes "The Department of Homeland Security is gearing up to be able to periodic test 'alerts' to cable television stations, satellite radio, as well as any text-capable device — PDAs, cell phones, and web sites." From the article: Some glitches remain as telephone companies and other networks grapple with potentially trying to alert all of their customers at the same time without jamming their systems, Lawson said. But the alerts could be transmitted by text messages, audio recordings, video or graphics, he said, opening the possibility of sending out additional detailed information to specific sectors, like hospitals or emergency responders."
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DHS to Send Widespread Alerts

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  • Re:Cool, but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Infoport (935541) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:16PM (#15706950)

    SURPRISE! The DHS & NSA (& CIA, FBI, DEA) already have your phone numbers!

    Read the previous Slashdot articles 16245 [] 42211 [] 15252 []

    -- phone companies have been giving over records and access to logs to the NSA, if not access stream of converstion itself, and acc. to the agencies, they routinely SHARE all secret intelligence information that they can with each other-- FBI, DEA, etc. It doesn't really matter WHAT the first agency used as a justification once info is SHARED with another agency either.

  • by JetScootr (319545) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:32PM (#15707101) Journal
    When Hurricane FEMA^H^H^H^HRita was due to hit the Texas coast, I received 3-4 phone calls in a 15-minute span telling me to leave. Forced evacuations mean the gov't won't allow individuals to plan for themselves. I've lived within 15 miles of the Gulf since 1967, and have never needed to leave for any hurricane. I could tell that Rita was going to weaken, from experience. Hurricanes that start up quickly in the Gulf also weaken quickly as they approach Houston.
    I spent 5 days on the road for no good f******* reason.
    That's abuse of power.
  • Re:kind of scary (Score:4, Informative)

    by stefanlasiewski (63134) <slashdot&stefanco,com> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:40PM (#15707163) Homepage Journal
    I'm on a couple of these kinds of lists already.

    I've been on the the CERT [] lists (and the Old system [] for 9 years now, and they have never abused the system to my knowledge. Granted, CERT is only for computers, but it is similar to some of the new proposed lists.

    I also signed up for the Safe Community Alert Network [], which is some sort of private-public partnership between SBC/ATT & various other organizations. Various government State, County & City agencies in California have referred me to ScanUSA.

    ScanUSA does send me Amber Alerts, notifications about nearby fires, etc. However some of those Amber Alerts & Fire Alerts are from San Diego, which is 500 miles from me. Not very relevant.

    The vast majority of the messages have been spam-ish -- I got notifications about the COPS [] program (COPS uses *very* agressive fundraising techniques), non-urgent warnings regardiing West Nile Virus, reminding me to wear sunscreen, and notifications about upcoming meeting for the County Health Department.

    Here's the kicker: I'm only signed up for "Critical" alerts. I shouldn't be getting any of these--- but I do.

    I would never sign up for SMS alerts from this organization. Way too much Spam.
  • Re:kind of scary (Score:5, Informative)

    by dougman (908) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:25PM (#15707570)
    AFAIK, it hasn't been used on a national scale, but the EBS has been activated over 20,000 times at the local level since 1975 ( I've heard tornado alerts over the system several times in my life, and frankly getting it via cell phone text message would be an asset.

    Here's a couple articles on the subject in the event you were honestly wondering.

    The Emergency Alert System (EAS) page []
    National Alert System In Disarray []
    The Partnership for Public Warning []

    Facts that can be found in the above links:

    President Truman established CONELRAD in 1951.
    President Kennedy established the EBS in 1963.
    President Clinton established the EAS in 1995.
    Clinton Administration updated the EAS to all digital in 1996.
    President Bush began procedures to amend the EAS rules to include Digital Media Technologies on November 3, 2005.

    With all due respect, you're spreading FUD, not FACTS.
  • by flynns (639641) <> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:45PM (#15707739) Homepage Journal
    Bah. Nobody in emergency comms relies on cell phones anyway.

    Except the Red Cross. But that's another story.
    /Emergency Coordinatory, Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Okaloosa County, FL
    //73 from KI4IIB
  • Re:Indeed (Score:3, Informative)

    by The_Unforgiven (521294) <> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:54PM (#15707824) Homepage
    I could be wrong, but I think you're probably thinking of Fahrenheit 451, rather than 1984.

    Not trying to be picky or anything, just figured I mention it.
  • by TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:55PM (#15707833)
    Did they issue such a warning for hurricane Katrina? I honestly don't recall if they did. If they did, kudos to them.

    You betcha, the National Weather Service did an excellent job. (For confirmation, see this timeline [].)

    I don't think having another warning from cellphones would have made much difference.

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling