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The Internet

If This Had Been An Actual Emergency 298

saridder writes "In an increasing attempt to regulate the Internet like the current PSTN, the US Government has asked the IETF to come up with a system to prioritize government and emergency worker traffic in the event of another disaster, much like the GETS system already in place for the PSTN. It's interesting to follow, because it's only an RFC, so you don't have to follow it. I probably won't be prioritizing government traffic on any of my routers." The story has a link to the ieprep working group if you want to get involved or comment. Perhaps this is a better way than GOVNET.
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If This Had Been An Actual Emergency

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  • Freenet (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by jdavidb ( 449077 )

    Why don't they put out their data on freenet and then if people want to see it it will be replicated on nodes close to the people who want it?

  • However . . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cjpez ( 148000 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:41PM (#3196439) Homepage Journal
    . . . wasn't most of the problem just with the major news sites? When all hell broke loose last September, the majority of the "net" seemed to be functioning basically as usual, and it was just the news websites that were being hit.

    Were there other problems I just didn't notice? I'm guessing that the government won't need to have priority access to cnn.com if something like that happens again.

    Heck, even then, the servers themselves seemed to be the bottleneck. Load levels were pegged beyond comprehension, but I was under the impression that the infrastructure itself held up well. Once again, I could be entirely mistaken about that.

    • Re:However . . . (Score:4, Insightful)

      by .sig ( 180877 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:45PM (#3196469)
      Actually, if you believe the popular idea, the government actually does get a lot of it's information from sources such as cnn. It makes sense, as the only time they would need their own news-gathering source would be for classified issues. After all, more often than not the media is the first group on the scene for any occurance.

    • Re:However . . . (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:55PM (#3196541)
      Actually, even the intelligence agencies get a lot of their information from civilian agencies. For example, one NIMA installation I know of used to have/has televisions mounted out in the halls tuned to things like CNN so people can get quick updates to things going on in the world. Conspiracy theories aside, the intelligence agencies don't know everything that is going on in the world (or else the planes wouldn't have hit the Towers in the first place).
    • They get everything from CNN.

      How else can you explain all the "Turn on CNN" scenes in all those Government TV shows and movies.

      :)
    • Re:However . . . (Score:3, Informative)

      by CrackElf ( 318113 )
      I was able to get streaming video from bbc, but could not hit cnn's website, implying to me that the bottleneck was @ cnn, not with the infrastructure.
    • I'm guessing that the government won't need to have priority access to cnn.com if something like that happens again.

      But where else would they get their intelligence data from?

  • Some kind of flag? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MonkeyBot ( 545313 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:42PM (#3196442)
    So there would have to be some kind of flag on government traffic so it could be placed in a higher priority, right? Does that mean it would be possible to set this flag with some sort of hack so I could get a better ping rate in Quake 3?
  • by Alizarin Erythrosin ( 457981 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:43PM (#3196456)
    But I don't think it would really work well in practice, unless it becomes government mandatory. Seems to me that it's like blocking spammers or virus spreading, you actually have to make the sysadmin care to do this.

    The problem I forsee is how are they going to identify these high priority packets and data transmissions? If they just flag it with a special flag, how long before some haxor figures it out and suddenly everybody has high priority /. reading or pr0n surfing?

    • by glrotate ( 300695 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:37PM (#3196781) Homepage
      Following Internet protocol. Asking for an RFC from the IETF instead of congress passing an unworkable law.
      • And this is something we really SHOULD implement, and I am very pro-freedom, skeptical of government, etc.

        But if a tornado, or epidemic or something really bad hit - I'd want something like this - it could save lives.

        GETS is a good idea, the Internet equivalent is also.

        Emergency communications SHOUD take priority over your Quake session or FTP of the latest kernel or whatever.

        The purpose of this is for emergencies, not so they can make fast Internet a perk for gov't employees.

        There is the chance the gov't packets could actually be slowed down - if the priority system uses enough resources - they'd just get slowed down less than the rest of us. :)

        Of course, that would be bad.

        • Just exactly why are emergency communications using IRC or Instant Messages as their primary method?

          Internet always goes down long before the phone, and phone long before shortwave cuts out.
          • You use whatever is handy (and working).

            Wireless TCP/IP networks might be one of the last things left standing.

            Also, TCP/IP networks with too many users will give slow service (until it gets so slow it breaks), whereas phones will completely block any calls above 100% load.

            On the flip side, if you have a phone connection and the switches/lines aren't damaged and you aren't preempted (which GETS doesn't do, although it probably should *) you have a much more reliable connection than you would on a TCP/IP network.

            *) If all circuits are busy, a GETS call won't get through until someone terminates one of their calls. Granted call terminations happen very often (whenever anyone on or through that switch hangs up) on a large switch - but it is still a delay.
    • Actually all the flags needed to support precedence were defined in RFC 791 many years ago. See http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc0791.txt "Type of Service" on page 12.

      In theory, packets with non-zero precedence bits would jump to the head of transmission queues for each hop. As far as I know, TOS support has never been implemented in any network -- not even those belonging to the U.S. military.
      • Not true, most routing protocls run a high TOS, usually level 6. Pull out a sniffer like Ethereal and chsck it out. Also with DIffServ in place, most VoIP networks run with a high leve, usually EF (46).
  • by PolyDwarf ( 156355 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:43PM (#3196457)
    From the article...

    Among the applications required by emergency management agencies are voice, video, instant messaging, e-mail, database services and Web browsing.

    Good to know that web browsing is an essential service. Can't have the congress-critters missing out on slashdot, right?!
    Oh wait, that would require them to have a clue..... Can't have them missing out on msn.com, right?!
    • by cassandy ( 557648 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:58PM (#3196559)
      During Operation Sandstorm in Iraq, CNN was one of the quickest, most reliable sources of intelligence that the American military had. Reporters can go where government employees can't, and generally have sources that the government doesn't. Also, most government intelligence has to go through and review, briefing, debriefing, etc. before it can be used. Seeing it live on CNN is much more efficient, and helps to back up intelligence already going thru the ranks

      Web-browsing is an essential part of much government intelligence activity now. Using some random example, if some terrorist group has a website, and they put information about themselves and their activities on that website, then that's a bona fide use for web browsing. Checking news sites in other countries is exteremly usefull as well.

      In an emergancy, I would want the government ( I'm Canadian btw) to have priority checking updates on CNN over me checking updates on /.
      • During Operation Sandstorm in Iraq, CNN was one of the quickest, most reliable sources of intelligence that the American military had.
        Now THAT is scary! I have watched CNN and their blatant USA-centric propaganda and plain lies, just made me sick. This was apparent in the gulf war, Genoa summit and others. I will rather depend on BBC, thank you.
        • > > During Operation Sandstorm in Iraq, CNN was one of the quickest, most reliable sources of intelligence that the American military had.
          >
          > Now THAT is scary! I have watched CNN and their blatant USA-centric propaganda and plain lies, just made me sick. This was apparent in the gulf war, Genoa summit and others. I will rather depend on BBC, thank you.

          Hey, who says you need to listen to the commentators on CNN? Just watch the pretty pictures!

          Consider the value of seeing, as broadcast in real time, the view from outside 20 hotels scattered throughout the city as the bombs fell, and the value of seeing the streaks of anti-aircraft fire.

          As just one example I can think of, how about writing software to take a set of known camera locations providing live video feeds of anti-aircraft fire and triangulate by matching up each burst of fire. You now know where each gun is located, when it was fired, and in which direction. From that, and your pilots' data, it'd be easy to figure out if the gunners were randomly firing into the sky, or if they were still getting targeting information.

          If the fire is random, you know that your countermeasures (and strikes on radars) were successful, and your pilots are safe.

          If the fire is targeted, but misses your aircraft, you can guess that (a) he can aim, but (b) your countermeasures are effective. If you know the position of his bullets and your planes, the degree (and direction) to which the bad guys are missing your planes can tell you (c) how effective your countermeasures are.

          Knowing that lets you decide whether you need to target more radars, or can go after other targets, and it also gives you a good idea of whether you need to send an F-117 (hard to come by, stealthy, fragile) or an A-10 (plentiful, radar cross section the size of a barn, but who cares 'cuz it's more durable than the tanks it kills :) to take out that $FOO in tomorrow night's sortie.

      • Also, most government intelligence has to go through and review, briefing, debriefing, etc. before it can be used

        Well, yes, but there's a point to some of that -- there's a higher need for accuracy at the White House than at the Weekly World News [weeklyworldnews.com] (although the "Stop Feeling Guilty the OJ Way" is great stuff.)

        I'd be upset if the government didn't watch the news, of course, but I'd be equally upset if they didn't also use their own sources, and yes, review the data before acting on it. Reporters have been fooled too.

      • ... if some terrorist group has a website, and they put information about themselves and their activities on that website, then that's a bona fide use for web browsing. Checking news sites in other countries is exteremly usefull as well.

        In an emergancy, I would want the government ( I'm Canadian btw) to have priority checking updates on CNN over me checking updates on /.


        And if the government DOES flag their packets for priority handling, the web sites can identify whether they're feeding a government op or the general public.

        Just what you need: Your spy has footwear with treads that leave "SPY!" in the sand with every step.

        How long until "terrorist groups" start hacking their servers, to substitute bogus information when the government surfs in and to track the IP addresses that originate government priority packets.

        The opportunities for information-warfare conutermeasures are astounding.

        The "old crows" will fly again!
    • Come on, you're being gratuitously cynical. Why wouldn't we want our emergency agencies to have access to the latest and greatest information, regardless of the source?

      During 1992, I was involved with building the LA Fire Department's new 911 system (uh, that was a debacle but that's another story). The Emergency Operations Center had three or four 12 foot across big screen TVs that could be used to display maps, computer displays, CNN or the local media.

      During last week's 9/11 special on CBS, it was commented on how TV viewers and web surfers around the world knew more about what was going on in and around the towers than the firemen in the lobby.

      And then consider how many devices, sensors, or applications these folks have to get to that may only have web interfaces....
  • If I'm right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:43PM (#3196458) Homepage
    ...doesn't TCP/IP already have a system for prioritizing packets? Which no one (especially no router) uses for the obvious reason: It's too unregulated and too easy to exploit, especially if you let just anyone onto the net like today.

    If this system goes through, all that will happen is that every single packet on the net is a priority-one red-alert packet and the routers will just start ignoring the priorities (again). There is no honor on a completely public medium, don't forget what happened to the idea of open relays.
    • TCP/IP has IP Prec and DIffServ values(both in the TOS field). They are both used right now. Most routing protocols use IP Prec 6, and a lot of VoIP networks use DiffServ, which is part of what this system will be beased on.
    • Provided the 'edge' of the network, e.g. your ISP checks that you don't have too many high priority packets (i.e. traffic shapes your prioritised packets), then I believe that this is probably fairly workable in fact.

      There are some issues if the ISP is crooked of course, but hopefully the ISPs around them would notice that, and take steps to limit the damage. Still, as a rule ISPs are a bit better behaved than users I suspect, because if they lose their reputation then they can lose everything.
  • Among the applications required by emergency management agencies are voice, video, instant messaging, e-mail, database services and Web browsing.

    Ya, just what I want emergency workers to have! AIM and streaming videos! (pr0n?)

    Shouldn't they be trying to restrict internet access [slashdot.org] for workers?
  • sounds like.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raindog151 ( 157588 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:45PM (#3196472) Homepage
    sounds like they should just build their own damn secure network. considering this is a resource (not yet) 'owned' by one person, why the hell should they get priority?

    sorry, awful things happen. get carrier pigeons.

    • oh they have one.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LinuxHam ( 52232 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:39PM (#3196791) Homepage Journal
      I took a tour of a major defense contractor a couple years ago. They have two separate PCs on each desk, with two separate cable runs -- one to the company network and the Internet and the other to a private military network. They have two separate phone networks, too. The guy took me through *three* swipe card doors to show me their kerberos keyserver. I saw Wargames-like status boards showing link states to various bases across the country and around the world. Over lunch I asked about secret networks, and he says there are at least 4 "Internets, if you will" that he knew of, and was pretty sure there were a few more. They gave the the crappiest one to the general public to play with.

      I asked him what would happen if an email intended for the "dark side inbox" somehow landed in the "light side inbox" (his words, not mine). He said guys in dark sunglasses would be there shortly thereafter. :)
    • Re:sounds like.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mpe ( 36238 )
      sounds like they should just build their own damn secure network. considering this is a resource (not yet) 'owned' by one person, why the hell should they get priority?

      The US government already has plenty of private voice and data networks, with various level's of security.
      The problem, on September 11th, was tha lack of appropriate use of the communication systems available. In other words a failure of people rather than technology. Better technology won't do much when the problem is relevent information not being communicated when it needs communicating. Technology is only an issue when lack or failure of the technology is preventing communication. AFAIK the entire telephone system in the US was working perfectly. A further example of such failure was someone calling the "all clear" in WTC2.
  • Essentially, the U.S. government wants the ability to mark packets going through the Internet as emergency communications and then develop a plan to ensure these packets get preferential treatment by all the ISPs that carry them.

    I hope they are not thinking about setting a special bit in the Tcp/IP packet header. Or actually it might be fun; get out of the way, emergency packet coming through!
    Might get those files a bit faster =)
  • then minimize it ?? Seems like I would just use it to do the oppsite and give government traffic MUCH less priority on a normal basis and save badwidth :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'd have gotten First Post, but the goddamn government got here first. :)
  • by darnellmc ( 524699 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @05:47PM (#3196488)
    On 9/11 the Emergency Broadcast System here in the USA was not used AT ALL. WHY?? Because the news channels knew what was going on before the government.

    All this talk of emergency communication networks is bogus. They just need to feed information to the news outlets like they always do.

    • Besides the National Weather Service issuing storm warnings, EBS is there for pretty much one reason - the missles are coming.

      As terrible as 9/11 was, it was not an emergency large enough to invoke the EBS.

      • I live near several refineries..The EBS system has been invoked to good use on 3 occasions that I can remeber due to refinery fire, chemical spill, and a vapor release from some chemical plant as well. The alarms went off and the people in the AREA were alerted to go to radio or TV for more info..worked well and as designed. To my knowledge the EBS was never designed for National emergencies, irregardless of what the politicos spouted.
    • <god-forbid>The next big terror group thinks American media is the New World Order, and nukes Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta.</god-forbid>

      I'm over-simplifying by picking on the home cities of the big 5 news networks, but it illustrates the point of having an emergency network: A series of contingencies to route around damage to the communications infrastructure.

      Also, the purpose of the EBS is to quickly preempt regular programming to deliver news. Do you really think the government needed it on 9/11, when every network that had an affiliated news channel switched to that channel, even if it wasn't American? I spent that evening switching between CBS, BBC (on Discovery) and CBC (on Home Shopping Network, of all places). And I watched the CBS coverage on my local (Pittsburgh) UPN station, since the CBS affiliate was staying local to concentrate on the crash in Shanksville. The infrastructure did it's job without government intervention.

    • On 9/11 the Emergency Broadcast System here in the USA was not used AT ALL. WHY??

      That's an easy question. Focus group, which of the following would you rather watch...

      click A. "This.... Is CNN.... We continue our continual camera pointing at the burning building while people kerfuffle about not knowing what's going on. But watch that building Burn..."

      click B. "beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep This is the emergency broadcast system on a blue screen - Please stay home, more information will be available soon beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep"

  • Now all I need to do is reflag all my packets like that, and I'll get priority over the other game players!
  • This may have an interesting interaction with the various types of work being done on QoS (Quality-Of-Service) [qos.net].

    Perhaps we'll see certain emergency sites get high-ranking QoS for these reasons.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • I probably won't be prioritizing government traffic on any of my routers.

    Definitely his/her perogative. But it's such a common sentiment (not trusting the government) I wonder...at what point *would* you voluntarily help out the government to a good end?

    What would it take for the government to gain the trust necessary for you to say "Hey, I trust you to really only use this in an emergency, and will implement the procedures necessary to allow you to prioritize your traffic in the case of an emergency"?

    • Keep the system open, and have checks and balances in place. When I noticed it being abused, I want someone to take action immediatly.
    • > I probably won't be prioritizing government traffic on any of my routers.

      Definitely his/her perogative. But it's such a common sentiment (not trusting the government) I wonder...at what point *would* you voluntarily help out the government to a good end?

      When I read the above quotation, I thought the poster meant, that none of his routers are Internet backbone routers, and therefore the proposals are very unlikely to affect his equipment, since prioritized goverment traffic won't pass through them anyway.

      Anyway, most sysadmins would probably be very veary about implementing and open up, any new protocols /features on their routers, unless they really had to.
      Eg. ECN (congestion control) is probably a good idea, but since so many routers /firewalls /sites still doesn't understand the ECN bit, you can lock yourself out, from perhaps 8-10% (*) of the net, if you enable it.
      (* quote from some site, doesn't know whether they area good estimate or not)
  • by Rev Snow ( 21340 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:00PM (#3196579)
    On 9/11, the most important communications did not come from the government. They were the cell phone calls to/from the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. I'd hate to think that those lifesaving phone calls among private citizens might get squeezed out because giving the governor an update on resuce efforts took priority.
  • But if this RFC was followed it would probably mean I'd get all these emails with the subject "I Love You" before any others...

    -- Dan =)
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:01PM (#3196586)
    > US Government has asked the IETF to come up with a system to prioritize government and emergency worker traffic in the event of another disaster

    When I first read this, I was thinking of the application of routing theory to the movement of vehicles such as would be required in an emergency, which naturally led to...

    If you thought TCP/IP over carrier pigeon had huge-azz latency, wait'll you try TCP/IP over government bureaucrat!

    First, the IP datagram is printed on a form I-TCPIP by the former acting deputy chief. The scroll of paper is inserted into his briefcase and he's reassigned to acting director for international affairs.

    At each hop, the source address is taken by the executive associate commissioner for field operations, and filed according to procedure. After he becomes regional director for the western region, he looks up the address of the next hop.

    The next hop's address is glommed onto the datagram by the assistant commissioner for inspections, formerly the acting executive associate commissioner in the office of programs.

    Finally, the router, upon receipt of the datagram, forwards it to the special counsel to the commissioner, who herself is then reassigned to assistant deputy executive associate commissioner for immigration services.

    Six months after the hijackers initiate transmission via a high-delay, low-throughput, and low-altitude service, the router at the flight school gets the packet containing the 9/11 hijackers' visa approval notifications [msnbc.com].

    Security is not only a problem in a normal operation, as special measures (such as the firing of the incompetent) cannot be taken even when government bureaucrats are used in a tactical environment.

    • ... special measures (such as the firing of the incompetent) cannot be taken even when government bureaucrats are used in a tactical environment.

      But in such a tactical environment can you fire AT the incompetent?
  • by Seth Finkelstein ( 90154 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:02PM (#3196588) Homepage Journal
    I can just see it ... an obnoxious pop-up ad takes over your whole screen, and reads:
    This is a test. This is a test of the emergency IP routing system. If this were an actual emergency this message would be followed by instructions on what to do in the case of an actual emergency.

    The ISP's in your area, in voluntary cooperation with federal, state, and local authorities, have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. Had this been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to surf in your area for official news, information, or instructions.

    On the other hand, how much of an emergency could it be if your biggest problem is that your Net connection is down? :-)

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • I probably won't be prioritizing government traffic on any of my routers

    Damn Terrorists...
  • Why don't they put out their data on freenet and then if people want to see it it will be replicated on nodes close to the people who want it? Or if no one needs the data it will just drop out.

  • I can't believe how many people are saying something along the lines of:

    golly gee willackers (sic), I think I'll just turn on the "no really, I'm important" flag in my packets ...

    Lets have just a modicum of creativity and problem solving here shall we? If you were going to try to setup a system to allow prioritzed traffic over a system that does not currently facilitate it (ignoring the ip flag since it's useless as is), you sure wouldn't have such a lame simplistic approach as simply marking a packet with a flag.

    One way off the top of my head would be to send an encrpyted packet that has some type of auth flag, and a stream identifier. Routers would see the packet, decrypt it, check it, what ever, and then any other packets that are a part of the stream would also be given priority. Now admitidly, almost any scheme would appear to be vulnerable to hacking no matter what you do (unles we're starting to talk changes to router hardware and weird packets that can't be formed "normally"). But my point is that you'd think that as a group, /.'ers could be a bit more constructive, vs just kindergarten thinking.

    Oh wait, I just read that last sentence again, what the hell was I thinking, this is how /.'ers think, my bad.
    • The time taken to decrypt or check the auth would be enough to lag it quite a bit.

      Packets don't spend alot of time hanging around routers. Even less time based on the work required.

      Whatever method thats created will be more complicated than my plain old packets -- especially if it's not to be abused. As such, I bet my packets go through first anyway.
  • Couldn't they setup a system on Internet2 for emergencys. It would be simpler because they wouldn't have to deal with so many routers and traffic will be lower anyway.
  • by mlknowle ( 175506 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:14PM (#3196657) Homepage Journal
    A broadcast technology like TV or Radio will ALWAYS scale better than a point-to-point technology like Telephone, TCP/IP, SMS, etc.

    The best information distribution would be if there was a way to send a message to every phone in the country - to make them all ring at the same time - but that isn't possible with the way switches work.

    This technology will never be useful for 'breaking' news distribution, like "GET OUT OF TOWN - TORNADO!" but rather could be useful for managing the long term (i.e., several days - weeks) effect of a massive attack (terrorist, military, or otherwise) on the nation's information systems.
  • ...because it's only an RFC, so you don't have to follow it.

    That's not what RFC means [rfc-editor.org], even though I know you're thinking "Request For Comments."

    See the Status of this Memo section at the top of each RFC to determine whether it's an "Internet Standard" or "Internet standards track protocol" or "Experimental Standard" or "Historic" or some other category.

    RFC 793 [isi.edu] is "only an RFC" but your packets won't be routed if you don't follow it.

    • Of course, as of this writing there is no "RFC" for this, although the group has published a few Internet Drafts. They are probably worth reading if you are interested in the issue, but they don't even have the authority of an "informational" RFC--they require no consesus from the IETF community.
  • There is a good chance that this will either
    a) Have no effect because everyone ignores the BCP
    b) Will get suitably dropped under due consideration because it isn't a smart thing to do

    What I want to know is if the government wants this put in, why doesn't it just pay for a given SLA like everyone else that wants expedited traffic does. Then it is just a simple matter for the ISPs that service this traffic to engineer it correctly to meet the SLAs that have been negotiated/paid for...

    (Cynically note: These kind of SLAs tend to be rather expensive, wonder if that is why the government doesn't want to pay for them, but to require them because of a "civic duty")
  • by phr2 ( 545169 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:25PM (#3196715)
    then ISP's would be common carriers and many the crazy threats to internet reliability would go away. If someone thinks the song on our outgoing answering machine tape infringes their copyright, they can't get our phone disconnected without a goddamn court order, so they shouldn't be able to make our ISP's censor content without a court order either. And we'd be able to get long-term permanent IP addresses like phone numbers, that couldn't be reassigned at an ISP's whim. Those might be harder to remember than domain names, but they'd be immune to trademark disputes and in general very hard to take away from us, so we could include the numbers in our publications in case something happened to our domain names. All that would be left to screw up is the transport layer, and as the world gets covered with wireless network fabric accessed by low powered devices, transport (at least of low bandwidth, important data) gets extremely hard to disrupt.
  • IPv6 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:25PM (#3196717) Journal
    Good excuse to push forward the rollout of IPv6. Gov't grants to ISPs to get new, IPv6 capable, equipment.

    IPv6 has better QoS than IPv4.
  • I remember, a long, long, time ago, something called milnet, separate from the arpanet, for purposes like this.

    Sheeh, the state throws a few pennies into the research on packet-switched networks, and then thinks they ()jn the result.

    Perhaps I should throw a quarter at the POTUS and ()jn him. Oh, wait, that's already been done, and I'm too late.

  • by harborpirate ( 267124 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:28PM (#3196726)
    Please, there weren't enough obscure acronyms in this piece for your average government agency. We need more. Have someone get on this ASAP. We need more acronyms PDQ. We need to assign a DOAP and make sure they PATFT. That way we'll all be MHIB. Clearly LIAP for posts or we'd have LODT. So lets KUTGW with OAP and we'll all be VAFWWH.

    I consider myself a tech-head, and if I can't make sense of a tech article at a glance after getting a Bachelors in Computer Science, something is wrong. I don't even know if I'm interested in this article. It has something to do with the internet, emergencies, and 9/11; and the rest is friggen jibberish. To add insult to injury, michael the slashdot moderator adds an unrecognizable acronym of his own!

    PSTN? GETS? IEPREP? Not to mention the slightly better known RFC and IETF? This is crazy. IMHO, I shouldn't have to follow a link just to find out WTF the article is about. These kind of posters need to STFU or slashdot will be a FUBAR POS that just wastes my time.

    DOAP: Designated Obscure Acronym Poster
    PATFT: Post All The Friggen Time
    MHIB: Much Happier I Bet
    LIAP: Length Is A Priority
    LODT: Lots Of Descriptive Terms
    KUTGW: Keep Up The Good Work
    OAP: Obscure Acronym Posts
    VAFWWH: Very Appreciative For What We Had
  • by gdyas ( 240438 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @06:28PM (#3196731) Homepage

    As I see it, preserving the end to end, nondiscriminatory nature of the internet backbone is more important than any current concern about national security or natural disaster response. Creating preferences for any group, no matter how worthy the group or the motive, undermines the essence of what makes the internet a good network and creates opportunities for abuse. Just to touch on a couple points & questions:

    • Is There Even A Problem? After our most recent large-scale disaster, 9/11, the internet was one of the networks that had absolutely no problem coping with increased data traffic. Both the POTS and wireless phone systems were overloaded quickly, but the 'net kept chugging along with all due speed. So if everyone's being served quickly even during that large disaster, what's the problem you're providing this solution for? Also, what has been the magnitude increase in state & federal government internet traffic during 9/11 and previous disasters? Is the internet even a minor source of emergency communications? In the face of existing priority access to the phone network, is it even necessary?
    • Potential For Abuse. Nevermind the local/state/federal flunkies who suddenly realize their goatsec.x is too precious to travel on the non-expedited internet. What I'm worried about are the 3133t HAXX04S out there who're going to have this preferred network busted in a matter of days. All this internet Red Phone system would do is create a federally funded cracking competition, grand prize being superfast uploads.
    • Feature Creep. It starts out being just for emergencies. Then it's just so damn convenient, the state/local gov't uses it all the time. Next, it gets to where everyone down to your city alderman has preferential net access, for no other reason than they've got a gov't job. I know, it sounds funny, but I don't doubt the possibility of it occuring. It eventually becomes one connection speed for important people (as determined by your friendly neighborhood Federal Bureaucrat) and one speed for the rest of us. And why? Refer to point 1 above.


    In the future we'll see lots of this. We'll see people coming to us or to the gov't with lots of good reasons for discriminating content on the net. National security. Preserving copyright. Stopping kiddie porn. All putatively good motives, but nobody's seeing that the cure, perfect network control, is worse than the disease. It puts innovation in a box and lets our current interests and concerns block what can be done with the internet in the future, and in return all we get is a network that's little more than a fancy mail-order catalog.

    if face == spite (nose = 0);

    • I bet you are one of those people that goes out on the road when there's 3 feet of snow on it, when they specifically told you it was a level 99 snow alert or something, and that you can be ticketed for driving, or if your car gets stuck, you'll be towed and fined. Afterall, you getting to your buddies to play PS2 is a lot more important than an EMS getting somewhere, but they couldn't since you blocked the snowplow.

      I think this has a similar aspect to it. Consider the case where the doctor was performing surgery over the Internet or something (I forget the specifics of that case.) But I sure hope to hell that in an emergency something like that would have priority over your pr0n. They have the same systems set up on all public transportation and communication mediums, why should the Internet be any different?

      • Peyna bloviated:

        I bet you are one of those people that goes out on the road when there's 3 feet of snow on it, when they specifically told you it was a level 99 snow alert or something, and that you can be ticketed for driving, or if your car gets stuck, you'll be towed and fined. Afterall, you getting to your buddies to play PS2 is a lot more important than an EMS getting somewhere, but they couldn't since you blocked the snowplow.

        No, I'm not. And your point, analogizing the net to a snow-blocked street, is a poor one for many reasons. A better one would be the government being able to allow select people to ignore all traffic rules to get from one place to another for certain emergencies. This is certainly allowed for gov't officials/police/fire, but in limited cases, and the reason being that the streets get clogged alot easier than the network we're really talking about. And if the police/fire/gov't aren't currently using the network like that or if the network's never really clogged when they do use it, why create a special privelege?

        Consider the case where the doctor was performing surgery over the Internet or something (I forget the specifics of that case.) But I sure hope to hell that in an emergency something like that would have priority over your pr0n. They have the same systems set up on all public transportation and communication mediums, why should the Internet be any different?

        As opposed to your theoretical case of a doctor doing surgery over the internet, let's look at what happens in real-time videoconferencing, which we could argue is much less important. For such a situation, companies contract through a provider like Quest or (previously) Global Crossing. They guarantee secure, consistent high-speed networking for these sorts of purposes over proprietary high-speed fiber networks. Any medical work being done, even just real-time advice during surgery, would have to be provided over these sorts of networks to truly be reliable. If I were going under the knife, I wouldn't want my innerds subject to the vagaries of the internet. I'd want a tightly controlled, proprietary connection that can't suffer from a DoS attack. Your theoretical surgery case, a common one seen, presupposes that the net should be all things to all people when that's simply not the case. For true life & death situations like surgery, or situations where security is paramount like corporate conferences or military communications, owned and controlled solutions are still the best answer. This is why proprietary fiber and MILnet exist - because for some purposes the internet is simply not appropriate, or not yet ready.

        I'm simply arguing that before we start creating "important people only" lanes on our information superhighway, we consider how that closes off other avenues of innovation for the network.

        • Not theoretical, read here [go.com].
          here. [umds.ac.uk]
          and here. [hoise.com]
          as well as many others. Just because there aren't currently widely deployed applications for things like these, doesn't mean that there won't be in the future. It makes sense to prepare for such situations now.

          And just so I can be a troll, you need to capitalize 'Internet'.
          • Damn, thanks for proving my point. As I said in my previous post and if you'll choose to read what you linked, those doctors used the Qwest high-speed network, not the internet, and it was only an assist (advice given while watching an actual doctor perform the procedure), not real surgery being done by robotics over a high-speed connection, no matter how much ABC news wants to hype it as "internet surgery". Such a thing is still so distant as to be well ignorable for quite a while.

            And I'll capitalize internet when we start capitalizing dog & cat.

      • Why are you assuming that the doctor would have any improved right-of-way? Certainly the level of support of health services now doesn't indicate that this shoud be expected.

        The thing is, everyone has some categories of communication that they feel should be expedited, but the ones who write the rules are the ones who choose what will be choosen. Perhaps we're better off just improving the general level of service than trying to descriminate between the worthy and the unworthy. I will admit that a cost per KB transmitted might be reasonable (not per KB received, because I receive many things I don't ask for [despite what they claim]). But transmission itself, once paid for, should be non-descriminatory. Also reception.

        One cheap way of improving service: Cacheing servers, should be a part of the standard, with some standardized way to distribute the costs/benefits. This would allow the load to be balanced among frequently requested pages. They should be a part of the standards so that any ****ing scripting "improvment" that disables them could be considered non-standard. And that means that company xxx probably won't be able to collect the address of everyone who looks at their page, but only the count of views. And that the 1-pixel image will loose it's value [boo-hoo].)
        .
  • uhhhhhh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by ceethree ( 567810 )
    well .... if i had a router i would ... but i dont soo .. heh
  • Please, stop thinking about the media web sites and such. They cause the problem, but the real communications goes on in the background.

    Email can be used for communication between those involved in the response and recovery effort - where appropriate. Web surfing is not so we can surf pr0n or the news sites. There are a number of incident management systems that can be used via web browsers as it provides one of the easiest forms of network access. Not to mention sharing GIS data over the network.

    Emergency management professionals know a lot more than what the media does. The media works with the EM professionals, and one of the first rules of media relations in emergency management is to keep feeding the media information, but trust me it is still carefully controlled. This was implemented very well during the 11/9 events. Note how the only people you ever saw rescuing were NY personnel? After a 2-3 days, there were many out-of-state Task Forces there, but you never saw them on TV did you?

    The issue with Internet traffic is exactly the same as cell sites. If an event happens, it is possible for the cell sites to be reconfigured to only accept authorised traffic, those involved in the response and recovery to an event. Otherwise the cell phone network is overloaded and no-one can use it. Better to kick off the public, and have the service (if it is capable of working) be used towards the common good of the people. The same with the Internet, it is possible that local use of the Internet may constrain emergency management professionals ability to respond and recover.

    Then again, I don't think that having a public priority system is the way to go. I think Govnet is an appropriate solution, and access is provided to organisations as required. It could have better support for running in an emergency, and even public companies, such as power and comms, could gain access as they are heavily involved in the response effort.

    Additionally, in emergency management you cannot rely on having any form of communications, and work is going into setting up ad hoc communications network, such as the military uses, in areas where there is no power or communication cabling.

    Here endeth my rant :)
  • Yes, there is a way to set the priority flags in packets, supported under linux, [as long as you have Config_IP_NF_MANGLE and Config_IP_NF_TARGET_ROS configured into your current kernel].

    Then, just run something like

    "iptables -t mangle -A OUTPUT -j TOS --set-tos Maximize-Throughput"

    To activate it. Note that this works fine in 2.4.17 and before, but is currently broken in 2.4.18.
    • The router dosen't have to believe your IP ToS value, so it would still treat it as a regular packet, (although WFQ will automatically protorize it under Cisco).

      Actually the router could just as easily strip you IP TOS value back to zero if it wants (as can some Catalysts).
  • .. broadcast from the hackers of the planet...

    Hmm if they implement something like this and it gets hacked, which I am sure it eventually will, then I can see some hackers taking over the internet by using this.

    There will always be security holes in software and there will always be someone interested in exploiting them. If this is in a RFC then anyone will know how it works.

    Maybe they should set up some IRC channels instead and have them closed except in a disaster. Then allow people to access them in the event of a disasster. /join #usa_emergency, or #asia_emergency, etc...

    If you specify that something is added to the header of the packet then what is to stop anyone wanting their data from being prioritized? It needs a hard wired switch IMHO.

  • (1) This plan violates the e2e principle, which has made the internet what it is: that intelligence should be at the ends of a network, not within it. Of course, many things the proprietary pigs are doing also violates e2e, and we should fight that to. At the very most, any "prioritizing" of packets should be done to ensure the overall net efficiency of the net, not to benefit any one group/individual/gov't which thinks they "deserve" more than everyone else despite the fact that they don't have any more right to bandwidth than anyone else. In a paradigm consisent with e2e, any "prioritizing" would only be to optimize the overall performance of the network. A simple shopping analogy here: its better overall (in that as few people as possible are held up) if the 10 people with 1 item go through the line before the one person with 10 items.

    (2) Things like this, where the government might want to force me to give THEM priority, violate MY RIGHTS. If I own a server, its MY server/router, MY uploading bandwidth, and MY computer resources, not the government's. The government doesn't have the right to force me to give them priority to use MY resources. (on the other hand, a "resource-sharing" plan as proposed by Lessig, where other people use "my" resources when I'm not using them, is fine).

    (3) I noticed some imbecile said, "If you don't set your servers/routers to prioritize for the government in emergency situations, and someone dies because of it, you can be sued for not helping them." This is bullshit. Good-summaritan laws don't exist, and would be unconstitutional if they did. I have no obligation to help anyone with MY resources. If there's a blizzard outside, and some straggler comes into my property, I have no obligation to take him into my home, and am well within my rights to kick him off my property. And if I do let him in my home, I can certainly kick him out if I please.
  • The government should probably concede defeat to the free market on this one. In the 60s, when students were climbing under desks during air raids, the EBS seemed like a good idea. After 9/11 we know the free market handles civilian emergency communications better.

    This frees the government to focus specifically on NON-civilian communication issues: military communications, and where do we put Dick Cheney this week? That's an appropriate thing for the government to be working on then.

    Of course they'd lose polling points if they just ignored civilian emergency communication, even though doing so would probably leave us civilians better off. We're left with the possibility that some day, the government might lock down CNN et al. in response to an emergency, and as a result we suffer avoidable civilian losses. That'll suck.

  • In a related NPR broadcast they talked about taking control of people's cell phones to broadcast emergency warnings

    http://search1.npr.org/opt/collections/torched/a tc /data_atc/seg_136975.htm

    Its all part of the Partnership for Public Warning [partnershi...arning.org]'s big plan.
  • by thanq ( 321486 )
    I probably won't be prioritizing government traffic on any of my routers

    Anyone else thinks that their load of pr0n, warez, mp3s and slashdot news less important than some kind of government agency?

    I bet that those that would will never be the ones with power to change it: "Who cares if they are bombing NYC again, i wanna get the whole music album and read that Jon Katz article. Hell with everything else."

    Maybe that is taken to the extreme, but there is some truth to it.

  • Acronyms (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rbruels ( 253523 )
    I really despise people who seek to make themselves look more intelligent by tossing acronyms out into their writing. It's terribly obvious and degrades from the content of the submission. For example:

    ...much like the GETS system already in place for the PSTN. It's interesting to follow, because it's only an RFC, so you don't have to follow it...

    Always, always, always write for your readers! Understand that most readers will have no idea what the terms GETS, PSTN, and RFC mean, and thus will have no idea if the article is relevant to their world. Worse, from the tone of your submission ("it's interesting to follow, because it's only an RFC, so you don't have to follow it..." was an attempt at being insightful (+1!) tells me that you were doing this to seem intelligent, and not just because you were ignorant of your audience.

    If you truly wish to seem intelligent, then write so everyone understands you. That in itself is a very difficult, unique, and powerful skill.

    Ryan

  • UnCool (Score:2, Insightful)

    I probably won't be prioritizing government traffic on any of my routers.

    When you consider the increasing pervasiveness of the internet as a communications medium in the wireless arena, its not hard to imagine a firefighter trying to locate a building exit using a GPS and blueprints via a wireless handheld.

    OOPS. He didn't have priority access through your router.

    The fact is that the government is not a monolith; it is often individuals who are risking their lives to serve and protect the public, as we found out with vivid clarity six months ago.

  • Oh I see... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by El Camino SS ( 264212 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2002 @09:03PM (#3197598)
    The govenment wants the instantaneous communication in case of emergency... instead of the damn near instantaneous communication that all people on the internet have today.

    Are their concerns that specialized? First rule, don't put the DOD on the net! Just a bad idea all around. Most everything they would be trafficking is standard office files stuff, right?
    Would it kill them to not instant message with sub-20 pings?

    I really don't see the concern here. If you can sit on top of a mountain and get your E-mail in a few seconds... then I suppose that I am misundrestanding the information needs that the government has. I don't suppose that they ALL need to have streaming video for their government purposes. Government decisions are not made in nanoseconds... and if they are, they are automated and definitely need not be automated on an open system.

    So what is the real concern here? Do the Senators want to less lossy streaming prOn? Does the DoD want to really stream war footage back to the continent over the net? That is what their super expensive sattelites are for. Once again... why the speed when the net is almost instantaneous?

    Besides, wouldn't any #1 priority packet get automatically sniffed by whoever was sitting a "listener" next to the routers, knowing that the US Gov't would be the only ones trafficking in #1 packets?

    Just a bad idea all around, IMHO.
  • I probably won't be prioritizing government traffic on any of my routers.

    Yeah, those gov't packets are mostly overhead. The "gov" layer header is 512 Bytes alone. It's too much bloat.


  • Prioritising traffic for whose government precisely?

  • "The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. It is open to any interested individual."

    I sincerely doubt the IETF would be looking after the interests of all parties, if they were considering the prioritisation of the data for a the government of a specific country, albeit the US, over and above everyone else.

    If the functionality was built into routers for instance, would there be an option to turn that prioritisation off for routing technology exported to other countries?

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