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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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  • Interesting. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GungaDan ( 195739 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:58PM (#15706794) Homepage
    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.

  • What about hackers? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by blindbug ( 979761 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:00PM (#15706809)
    Although a great system, I wonder how long it will take someone to hack [slashdot.org] this system and send out a shout out to his hacker buddies and their 295 million friends?
  • 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?
  • by McGiraf ( 196030 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:09PM (#15706882)
    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?
  • Indeed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by temojen ( 678985 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:26PM (#15707046) Journal
    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.
  • 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.

  • Re:what?! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:30PM (#15707077)
    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.)
  • 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.
  • By region (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:51PM (#15707274)
    I'm imagining that it's more like a "send to any phone listening in this region" kind of deal. They don't care what phone numebr you have, as long as it is communicating in a tower in a region they'd like to send a message to.
  • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:02PM (#15707367) Homepage Journal
    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 of voters and campaign contributors. It's not a big stretch to envision them doing something similar with the death of an adversary.

    I would love to a person run for office out of their own pocket, not taking any $$ for any groups or companies or even indiviudals. I'd like to see that person run Whitehouse like a freaking machine. Stop playing political games. Do you damned job. Do the job and get the hell out. Let their performance speak for itself. That would be nice. Of course it would never happen either.

  • by TheOtherChimeraTwin ( 697085 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:16PM (#15707489)
    Sounds like NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards [weather.gov] Established infrastructure, works, and isn't that expensive for the end user. But that is the rub -- people have to buy a compatible radio. If there were any kind of demand, that could be cheaply added to clock radios, TVs, etc.
  • I grew up with fear all around me. As the son of a naval officer I remember very clearly the day we were all told at (boarding) school not to use our parents military titles on letters addressed home because it was a terrorist threat. I also remember the mirror on a stick which was issued to my father to check for bombs under the wheel arches.

    Of course all this was back in the days before the USA thought that funding terrorist organisations was a bad thing. This was back in the days when America openly funded the IRA through a variety of front organisations in the same way that many of the countries they now bully also do.

    I am sick of hearing what homeland security is doing to make the US people more scared. By trying to put all these pointless measures in place they only serve to make the people feel more insecure and fearful. Rather than concentrating on these useless measures to defend yourself why not look at the reasons so many countries hate the US and address those problems first?

    It is a common misconception that Americans have that all the little brown people in far off lands hate the freedom of the USA and are anti democracy... this simply is not true. They are anti decades of US meddling in their area. They are anti globalised US corporations raping their natural resources and they are also anti CIA tinkering with their chosen government.

    I was in the US on 11/9 and witnessed a nation change in a way similar to watching the school bully get kicked in the shins by one of its victims and then go crying to the teacher. During July last year I saw Britain, and in particular London, deal with the aftermath in a more pragmatic way.

    There is currently more chance of being hit by a bus than being blown up by a terrorist, so you take reasonable precautions and get on with your life without banning buses. There is more change having a heart attack than being killed by a bomb, so you take reasonable precautions but don't live in fear. There is more chance of your daughter getting raped than being killed by a terrorist bomb (yes, that's one in three all you caring fathers) but I bet the government has not spent anywhere near as much money trying to safeguard people against that threat.

    In America the terrorists achieved a nation gripped with fear. The US is full of worried people. The government does not how to make them feel safe so it makes them feel even more scared by validating the threat.

    In Britain we live under a constant threat but do not let it upset our daily lives. I was on the tube a few days after the bombings last July and my little brother (11 years old) told me that he was a little scared and I explained that fear is the objective so we do not stop doing what we are doing and carry on with our lives regardless... that's the way to win the war on terror.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault