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DHS to Send Widespread Alerts 265

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the ripe-for-exploits dept.
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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  • Invasion? (Score:5, Funny)

    by cb8100 (682693) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:56PM (#15706763)
    So, if the U.S. gets invaded I'll get an SMS saying "All our base are belong to them?"
  • kind of scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Twillerror (536681) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:56PM (#15706776) Homepage Journal
    As much as I think this could help in the event of disaster, I hope that some legislation is passed to limit it's use. It would be very easy to abuse it for propogand purposes.

    • Re:kind of scary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:06PM (#15706847) Journal
      Not to mention possibly clogging up vital pieces of infrastructure that would be most needed in an emergency...

      "We're sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed, this cell node is currently attempting to send 104,000 SMS messages..."
      • Re:kind of scary (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrxak (727974) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:12PM (#15706902)
        I can only seeing something like this causing panic. "UR IN DANGER RUN 4 LIFE" getting sent to thousands of people all at once can't possibly be a great way of alerting people to an emergency. At least with television alerts they give you a decent amount of information, but text messenging, especially at this large a scale, any message sent would probably not be able to include a lot of information.
      • 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:kind of scary (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nikker (749551)
        This has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. How can the end user really count on a SMS to be authentic? The only way for this to work is .... if the phone companies filter out all SMS that could be construded as DHS spoofs and who is gonna have to pay for this ? YOU. Will it be cheap? Nope ... why should it be?

        I know this is a rant but the more they want to tell you how terrified you should be today what ever the medium they use becomes governament policed. So one by one they take over
    • That's never happened before, why would they start doing it now?

      I mean, it's not like the terror alerts shifted up and down during the run-up to the 2004 elections.

      Oh, wait.

      • Re:what?! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by timeOday (582209)
        Hopefully it will be an extension of the current Emergency Broadcast System [wikipedia.org] - you know, the one that makes annoying noises on your TV you get your attention. I've only ever seen that used for occasional tests, and for weather storm warnings. EBS doesn't seem politicized to me. In fact, I think having an established way to notify "everybody" of something is a very reasonable idea. (Though I doubt it will be useful for terrorism, which typically strikes with even less warning than an ICBM.)
      • Here you are mistaken.

        Go and ask your grandpa.

        This is a repeat of what was going on in the UK, US and USSRin the late 40-es and early 50-es when they had the idea that they fight a nuclear war and win it. There were casual tests of mass broadcast systems, nuclear fallout shelters being built, contingency procedures put in place, etc.

        This illusion soon faded as it became clear that there will be no winners and no losers if a nuclear conflict really breaks out. So the silly exercises stopped. First in the US
        • I meant the system abused for political means has never happened before, and it was (poor) sarcasm.
        • This is a repeat of what was going on in the UK

          A yellow-coded curfew is now in effect. Any unauthorized persons will be subject to arrest. This is for your protection.
          • You must carry your identity card at all times and show to all policemen when requested.

            What goes around comes around. And in the words of Propellerheads as sung with Shirley Bassey:
            The newspapers shout a new style is growing,
            but it don't know if it's coming or going,
            there is fashion, there is fad
            some is good, some is bad
            and the joke is rather sad,
            that its all just a little bit of history repeating
            .. just little bits of history repeating
            .. and I've seen it before
            .. and I'll see it again

    • Indeed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by temojen (678985)
      I've long wondered how many amber alerts are not for missing children. Train everyone to go "omg think of the children", and you can use it to find political dissidents at the drop of a hat.

      It reminds me of a scene, I think from 1984, "Attention all citizens, there is a criminal running through the streets..."

      Maybe this has happened; maybe it will happen; maybe it's just the muscle relaxants talking.
      • Re:Indeed (Score:3, Informative)

        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.
    • Re:kind of scary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dougman (908) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:36PM (#15707125)
      Clearly you did not RTFA. It states, "Only the president can order a national emergency alert" and "The new digital system will update the emergency alerts planned -- but never used -- during the Cold War in the event of a nuclear strike". More legislation...uggh.

      While you can pretend to predict what will happen, over 55 years of history (this program started in 1951) shows that it is unlikely to be used. Only the President can issue the alert and the current President didn't on 9/11 or any other time since. Other than your own FUD, what reason do you have to believe that it will suddenly be used for evil?

      Again, DHS is updating the technology to deliver the same old message (which they apparently have yet to send).
      • Only the President can issue the alert and the current President didn't on 9/11 or any other time since. Other than your own FUD, what reason do you have to believe that it will suddenly be used for evil?

        You have to ask yourself "it they never use it, why do they need the power to send data to every phone/tv/swiss army knife in the country?"
        • Re:kind of scary (Score:5, Informative)

          by dougman (908) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:25PM (#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 (http://www.fcc.gov/eb/eas/FCC-94-288.pdf). 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 [fcc.gov]
          National Alert System In Disarray [cbsnews.com]
          The Partnership for Public Warning [ppw.us]

          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.
      • Only the President can issue the alert and the current President didn't on 9/11 or any other time since.

        I'm sure if "My Pet Goat" wasn't such a gripping tale, he could have torn himself away from the book and actually, you know.. done his job.
    • Re:kind of scary (Score:4, Informative)

      by stefanlasiewski (63134) <slashdot AT stefanco DOT com> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:40PM (#15707163) Homepage Journal
      I'm on a couple of these kinds of lists already.

      I've been on the the CERT [us-cert.gov] lists (and the Old system [cert.org] 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 [scanusa.com], 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 [www.cops.cc] 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.
      • And I forgot to mention something--

        Each of these email alerts looks something like this:

        Subject: ALERT: Something bad happened

        Something bad happend. This is a short 1 line message.

        To see this alert, please click on the following URL:

        http://www.scanusa.com/alert/something/something [scanusa.com]

        So, they send you an email regarding the alert, but don't describe any DETAILS about the alert. Instead, they ask you to click on a URL. Often, the URL doesn't work, because the server crashed under heavy load --thousands of people

    • Re:kind of scary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geobeck (924637) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:48PM (#15707234) Homepage

      It would be very easy to abuse it for propogand[a] purposes.

      Unlike the regular news media, which has never been used for propaganda purposes, of course.

    • This just sounds like part of the recent Executive Order on Emergency Alert System [whitehouse.gov] updates. Will they now interrupt your tivo realtime? Is this a bad thing?
  • by BroncoInCalifornia (605476) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:57PM (#15706777)
    They have to push the fear buttons before the fall election. It will make the difference between winning and losing.
    • The difference between winning and losing for whom? Again, everything is about "the timing" and has to have an agenda.

      First off, if you RTFA, it says, "The Homeland Security Department, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, expects to have the system working by the end of next year." Furthermore, this is extending 1950's policy (President Truman, Democrat) to 21st centrury devices. Lastly, it has never been used and only the president can issue its usage. But hey, feel free to don your tinfoil ha
      • by lawpoop (604919) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:37PM (#15707136) Homepage Journal
        "What I find unfortunate is that DHS can't win. "

        I think it's a little early for you to come to this conclusion.

        "If they send out any kind of alert and nothing happens, they overreacted (even if there was a real threat and the perps simply scratched their mission once they were exposed.). "

        If you look at a timeline of terror alerts [mac.com], they all seem to coincide with the release of news that was damaging to the Bush administration.

        "If they don't send an alert and something happens, they take the blame for that. "

        Has that actually happened (yet)? That's why I say it is perhaps too early for you to say that they can't win.

        "If they use it to send out emergency information on a hurricane bearing down on New Orleans... well, they won't do that right, because you believe this tech will only be used for political gain (though TFA says it may be used for natural disasters)."

        Did they issue such a warning for hurricane Katrina? I honestly don't recall if they did. If they did, kudos to them.

        If this is a tech that can be used for good or evil, based on historical evidence, I think the Bush administration will use it for evil.
        • If you look at a timeline of terror alerts, they all seem to coincide with the release of news that was damaging to the Bush administration.


          To be fair, pretty much any news is damaging to the Bush administration.
        • by dougman (908) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:03PM (#15707376)
          If you look at a timeline of terror alerts, they all seem to coincide with the release of news that was damaging to the Bush administration.

          Something "damaging" is headlined about the Administration every week, if not daily. It takes no skill to "correlate" these alerts.

          If this is a tech that can be used for good or evil, based on historical evidence, I think the Bush administration will use it for evil.

          Again, FUD. This tech *has* been available to the President during his entire term. The fact that it is being extended beyond 20th century technology (tv, radio) is a natural evolution. In fact based on historical evidence, there is no reason to believe they will use it now.

          Anyhow... showing any signs of conservatism is bad for karma these days, so I'll stop now.
        • 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 [wikipedia.org].)

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

      • What I find unfortunate is that DHS can't win. If they send out any kind of alert and nothing happens, they overreacted (even if there was a real threat and the perps simply scratched their mission once they were exposed.). If they don't send an alert and something happens, they take the blame for that.

        Government has lost the trust of anyone who has been paying attention for the last few years. If they can't win, it's their own fault for their 'everything is political' tactics.

      • Your statement makes an argument for the pointlessness of DHS. Simple fact, there is no such thing as homeland security. All it takes for a terrorist to blow up a mid-large sized building is a bunch of crap he could buy over a small period of time at home depot and other various places. Hell, there are recipes for explosives all over the net, RDX, C4, fuck, even Astrolite. It doesn't take some kind of a "terror network" to do something that would cause a ton of carnage and damage. It takes one individual wi
      • Looking back at how things unfolded on 9/11, it would have been highly beneficial to have system in place to alert officials of what was happening

        I don't think that would have helped in the slighest, or for any future terrorist attacks. By the time the first event happens, everything else has already been set. Take the two big ones recently:

        9/11: planes were already in the sky. Not enough aircraft/missiles to shoot them down even if they wanted.

        London trains: bombs already on the trains. People ca
      • Looking back at how things unfolded on 9/11, it would have been highly beneficial to have system in place to alert officials of what was happening. It is amazing how much lag there was between the time we suspected we were under attack and when all the airlines found out and began issuing orders to their pilots.

        Wow!!! Where to begin. Perhaps you should just join the military, then work in a classified government (before all those jobs have been outsourced to BushCO, of course) agency to understand that

    • DHS is about protection and security. That includes a lot more than just terrorism, this would be awesome for alerts about regional problems where you'd like to alert a lot of people at once about a problem - like reverse 911 only to communication devices that people actually use today. Shouldn't we be happy that something actually useful and of value might come out of DHS instead of meaningless color coded alerts that everyone ignores?

      Are you also claiming reverse 911 is just a tool to scare us all?

      To pa
      • reverse 911

        That would be totally freaky. Skyscrapes being built all by themselves, followed by people madly jumping hundreds of feet off the ground in order to get to work. I'd run the fuck away from anything that scary.
        • reverse 911

          That would be totally freaky. Skyscrapes being built all by themselves,


          I think you may want to re-read my comment, and notice that no-where did I use a slash between "9" and "11". Instead I am referring to the number you dial when you need an ambulance... authorities can use the 911 system in reverse to dial everyone in a certain area to warn them if they need to evacuate, as in the case of flood or hurricane or forest fire.

          My apologies if you were just trying to make a joke and actually knew
      • DHS is about protection and security.

        No, DHS is about making "white people feel safe."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Great, all we need now is gov't spamming of cell phones...
  • Interesting. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GungaDan (195739)
    There was an unusual "statewide administrative alert" broadcast to the TVs at the bar during lunch yesterday, and nobody knew what in the hell it meant. So much for my theory that DHS was buying the next round.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:01PM (#15706812)
    A standard message format for disaster warning would be useful when prompt response could save lives. Tornado warnings come to mind as an ideal use for this. Not everyone is watching the boob tube or listening to conventional radio these days.
  • Who is going to willingly upload their cell num/SMS to the Department of Homeland Security?

    Or do they plan to get the numbers directly from the cell providers?
  • by Chagatai (524580) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:02PM (#15706823) Homepage
    The real reason for these alerts is to keep people as scared as possible. A building blew up in New York two days ago? Must be scary terrorists. Your flight was delayed? Be scared--it may be terrorists. Flat Coca-Cola, small puppies getting kicked, and cable rates being raised? Be terrified, because these were likely caused by terrorists.

    The truth is that these events will continue during the 2006 elections and we should start seeing a few Orange Alerts or even a planned attack here in the next several months. No, wait, I got it. There will be an attack immediately followed by news of Osama bin Laden's death. Yeah, that will do it.

    • There are already emergency alert systems, and the government has not abused them. The new SECDHS does a good job of not elevating alerts when not needed.


      And to be fair, the federal government was very quick to say that the NYC building explosion the other day was not terrorism.

      • by JetScootr (319545) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:32PM (#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.
        • This is not really an abuse of the alert system, per se. The decision was made to force an evacuation, and that decision was later relayed to you through this system. I understand that 5 days on the road must have royally sucked, but don't blame the messenger.
    • by macdaddy (38372)
      He's already dead. Didn't you get the memo? I heard they got a big-wig in Hollywood (Bollywood?) to shoot the scene and toss in some nice special effects. I hear that the moaning and gurgling soundtrack is awesome. They're saving this for the week before the elections.

      Seriously though, we all know that they time the release of certain material or their actions to be in their best favor. They don't announce good news on a Friday. They'll sit on it until Monday when they can reach a broader audience o

    • Terrorists? Nah! As any Quebecois knows, c'est la faute du federal [republiquelibre.org].
    • by geobeck (924637) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:07PM (#15707412) Homepage

      There will be an attack immediately followed by news of Osama bin Laden's death.

      They can't kill off Osama! He's the goose that lays the exploding eggs! After all, 'terror' is just an abstract concept. But when you have such a charismatic poster child, it becomes a war on "that guy with the turban".

      And that creates even more terror, as the resulting xenophobia makes people see 'terrorists' around every corner. Your cab driver? He wears a turban just like Osama! He must be a terrorist! (Actually, the stereotypical Sikh cab driver's turban looks nothing like Osama's, but who pays attention when they're whipped into a xenophobic frenzy?) That engineer at X-TechCo looks kind of like Osama--he must be stealing technical secrets for terrorists! And that airline pilot doesn't look 'American'--ohnoes, we're all going to die!

      Without Osama's pretty face in the news every day, the war on terror would fizzle into a war on apathy.

    • Whenever someone writes 'the truth is' without providing evidence to back up his claim or theory, I have a hard time believing it.

      The Emergency Broadcast System which interrupts television and radio is much older than the Bush Administration.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Broadcast_S ystem [wikipedia.org]
      From the article, it sounds like this is an expansion of the EBS (now EAS) to give focused, targeted information to appropriate parties. Your claim that it is a propaganda tool to scare citizens and/or influence el
  • SMS charges? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yellowbkpk (890493) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:04PM (#15706826)
    So does this mean that when I get an SMS pushed to me by the DHS via my cell carrier that I'll get charged $0.10 for the feature, or will it be a free-of-charge alert?
  • I don't get it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If this is supposed to be a war on terror, then why is it that all they seem to be doing is looking for new ways to make people terrified?
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:2, Insightful)

      by swtaarrs (640506)
      Because people are easy to manipulate when they're afraid. 9/11, as terrible as it was, was the best thing to happen to Bush's presidency. It gave him the ability to justify any of his actions with "it's for the war on terror" and most people are afraid enough to take it. Hopefully he won't cause too much more damage before he's done in 08...
    • It depends on what the meaning of the word "on" is. When you see "war on terror" it's like "he's on drugs" or "girl on girl."
  • As others stated it should indeed be opt-in. Although if it's "global", that being everyone in the US, or specific states could be alerted all at once, it'd be mighty convenient to issue terror alerts to blue states (or red states, depending on who's in power) right as people are going to the polls. "Stay away! Terror! Don't vote!"
  • FLASH! (Score:2, Funny)

    by bk4u (682315)
    So when you get a text, remember to duck and cover. Hiding under desks also helps.
    • I'm still going to teach my kids to duck and cover.

      Sure the bert the turtle [archive.org] cartoon was over-simplified, but it was directed at 6-7 year old children.

      It's not just aplicable to nuclear incidents.
      Near-by transformer shorts out?
      There's a big flash. The split second it takes to duck and cover may save a child from being hit by debris
      Near-by lighning strike?
      Ducking may reduce the chance of the child being struck (more applicable on the prairies than where I live)
      SWAT team raiding the crack-house up
  • A disaster happens (I wonder if they would have used such a thing during 9|11 even to tell people who were not directly at risk?), and I find my pda beeping, cell phone vibrating, TV sirening, computer flashing, and maybe even my fax maching faxing. And to anyone who dares make fun of me having all these devices active at once, I'd imagine quite a few people here would too....
  • by McGiraf (196030) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:09PM (#15706882) Homepage
    The terrorists' goal is to spread fear to help them get to their political goals. They are going to be very happy everytime this alert system is used, they're going to reach a lot more people to scare them now. And with this no need to plan expensive real terrorist acts, you just have to convince the USA intelligences services that something big is going to happen. But who is spreading the most fear? Who's political agenda is pushed by this? Who are the terrorists?
  • We have always been at war with Eurasia.
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:13PM (#15706925) Homepage Journal
    that wonderful color-coded scale that was touted to alert people to the current state of readiness? You do remember that chart, don't you?

    Me neither.

    So tell me again how sending the entire nation into a tizzy everytime bin Laden sneezes is going to be any better? Don't we have enough dumbasses living in a swamp coming on tv and telling everyone how afraid they are that their double-wide will be bombed whenever they see someone whose skin isn't white?

    Do we really need this crap other than to keep people in a state of panic?
    • Do we really need this crap other than to keep people in a state of panic?

      Well, it does keep LEtterman and Leno in material...

      Seriously, I think it's safe to say there's only one terror level, and it hasn't changed, ever. Before 9/11, the Twin Towers were bombed in '93, Tim McVeigh took out the Murrah Federal Building in OK City in '95, and there was of course the Unabomber. Just look at events like the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, the Iranian Hostage crisis, the Munich Olympics massacre, Pearl

  • In order to not miss any alerts, you could just leave it on all the time (hey, the government's paying for it, right?). The government could broadcast alerts or educational content (maybe some exercise shows?) and of course programs with patriotic themes. They could even make it interactive! Of course, there might be problems getting enough people to be "interactivity monitors", but I bet if they tried they could do it!

    "Tonight on Airstrip One Reports...."
  • by ph43thon (619990) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:14PM (#15706931) Journal
    ...until some guy hacks that system to send out "Test Alerts" about his large penis.
    • These terrorists wouldn't be attacking us if we all had larger penises. It's your patriotic duty to buy this pill...
    • This has been a test of the emergency alert system. The broadcasters in your area, in voluntary cooperation with FCC, state, and local authorities, have developed this system to keep you informed of Bob's gigantic penis. Had this been an actual emergency, the attention signal you just heard would be followed by official measurements, photos, and directions for available women.

      This concludes this test of the emergency alert system.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Back in the cold war they started the EBS, "Emergency Broadcast System", so if the Russians fired their nukes, you'd have a good half hour to "duck and cover" and tremble in fear before you were vaporized in an atomic holocaust.

    This was more intelligently re-worked as the "EAS", or Emergency Alert System, where they actually had a real use for it: it would sound when a tornado or other dangerous weather was coming. Anyone remember the hilarious episode of WKRP where there was a tornado about to hit Cincinna
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:17PM (#15706962) Homepage Journal
    FROM: DHS
    SUBJECT: omgwtfbbq
    BODY: big missls cmg oshit run awy now pls kthx
  • "This has been a test of the emergency broadcast system" - CBC.
    When in fact it was just a test of my patience. Can we please limit this to commercial time?

    Oh I guess it wouldn't be very effective unless it was able to intterupt everyone in what they were doing. Welcome to the new and improved "in your face" politics. Next they will be legislating mandatory PVR passthrough, telephone interrupt, and server pushed popups, just to make they have our attention for the weekly test.

    Ok, it probably wont be that bad
  • Bass Ackwards (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 955301 (209856) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:29PM (#15707070) Journal

    This is exactly the type of information broadcasting was intended for now we're going to try to distribute it on systems that are intended to reach single devices? WTF?!

    They would be better off requiring all computers and phones to have a built in emergency broadcast radio receiver permanently fixed on the channel and on at all times. At least then they won't bog down general bandwidth.

  • What happens when there's a false alarm?
  • Hmm...disaster prepardness...being able to tell people where to evacuate...didnt DHS already get an absolute ton of money to implement all this crap? What did they do with that money?
    Ohhhh that's right, they pissed it away and then we saw them utterly fail against something we KNEW was coming (Katrina).
    And their solution to their shitty management and inability to run anything properly is to...give...them...more...money?
    Yep, they're a government agency allright. Oh, and of course we won't have a choice as t
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:39PM (#15707156) Homepage
    I don't know about you, but this system actually has some appeal to me.

    I wouldn't want to be receiving messages everytime Osama Bin Laden sneezes, or some vague insubstantial threat warning is released, but some type of good, reliable system for distributing information when there is a clear and present danger would be immensely helpful to our country.

    An effective information distribution system would have done wonders for getting people out of New Orleans ahead of time, rather than at the very last minute.

    Likewise, if such a system were activated during the big NYC blackout a few years ago, it would done a lot to let people know that there was no sort of terrorist attack or other emergency.

    As long as such a system is kept under tight control to only be used in *extreme* emergencies, I have no problem with it, although I do agree that such a system could very easily be used for propoganda purposes...

    • Likewise, if such a system were activated during the big NYC blackout a few years ago, it would done a lot to let people know that there was no sort of terrorist attack or other emergency.


      That is, if there was electricity to transmit it with.
      • most cell networks and radio transmitters were working fine. the cell networks were overloaded to the point of being unusable, but it wouldn't have killed them to temporarily suspend all traffic for an emergency broadcast.
  • Will the system be used the same way the color-coded terror-level was used? Put out continuous "terror-warnings" just before the 2006 elections, maybe ending with a "your safety depends on a tough-on-terrorist administration" signature? I'm not saying the system is necessarily politically-motivated, it just seems like election-time sharpens the administration's focus on terrorism.
  • Someone needs to tell the DHS that telephone companies NEVER have enough equipment to handle all of the subscribers at once, because they bank on the fact that not everyone uses the phone at the same time!
  • This is all just more simcurity bullshit. On 9/11/2001, the US was under direct major attack in NYC and DC. For hours no one knew whether there would be more attacks, whether escalated with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, missiles, or anything.

    The Emergency Broadcast System, which generations of Americans have been drilled in for precisely that scenario, was silent.

    And no one even noticed it was missing. The first notice I heard of it was last year, when some obscure TV comedian's standup routine m

Those who do things in a noble spirit of self-sacrifice are to be avoided at all costs. -- N. Alexander.

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