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Internet Probably Couldn't Handle a Flu Pandemic

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the opposing-fingers-pointing dept.

Government 341

Several readers including mikael and gclef noted a report from the General Accountability Office suggesting that it should be Homeland Security's job to make sure the nation's business can flow during a pandemic. In particular, if H1N1 sends workers and schoolchildren home in large numbers, GAO thinks it might be a good idea for ISPs to prioritize traffic (favoring commerce over games, say), to reduce network speeds, and possibly to shut down high-traffic Web sites. DHS retorts that not only isn't it their job to control the Internet in this way, but the GAO is naive to believe it's even possible: "An expectation of unlimited Internet access during a pandemic is not realistic." "[DHS] does not even have a plan to start work on the issue, the General Accountability Office said. But the Homeland Security Department accused the GAO of having unrealistic expectations of how the Internet could be managed if millions began to telework from home at the same time as bored or sick schoolchildren were playing online, sucking up valuable bandwidth. Experts have for years pointed to the potential problem of Internet access during a severe pandemic, which would be a unique kind of emergency. It would be global, affecting many areas at once, and would last for weeks or months... Many companies and government offices hope to keep operations going as much as possible with teleworking using the Internet. Among the many problems posed by this idea, however, is the issue of bandwidth..."

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341 comments

This makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888501)

They're already jerking around on the internet while at work anyway, what difference will it make?

I will say it again (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889263)

My employer really should allow me to set up a wireless link to my house. Dedicated link=no internet traffic=no competition=no congestion. Oh, and 20mbit symmetrical access to the internet from home means that my employer won't be the sole beneficiary of such an arrangement.

Go to your room and no video games! (4, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888533)

In event of contagious diseases, we will quarantine everyone to their houses. Then we will shut off all your ability to play online games.

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888547)

They can already turn off the internet at-will. Didn't you see the bill proposed that would give the President the power to shurt down the net in the event of a cyber emergency?

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (1)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889109)

A proposed bill doesn't give anybody the power to do anything except debate the bill in Congress. You might need to watch this [youtube.com] again.

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888681)

In event of contagious diseases, we will quarantine everyone to their houses. Then we will shut off all your ability to play online games.

If you play online video games, you're supporting terrorism.

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (5, Insightful)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888893)

Actually,

If you are causing a domestic panic and threatening to not only revoke many of the liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights, but also threatening to shut down communication lines, funneling billions into lobbying interests, while using fear tactics surrounding an illness that I would best describe my first-hand experience as a "laughably mild cold, without the annoyance of a stuffy nose" you're not supporting terrorism, you are practicing the definition of it.

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888937)

If you are causing a domestic panic and threatening to not only revoke many of the liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights, but also threatening to shut down communication lines, funneling billions into lobbying interests, while using fear tactics surrounding an illness that I would best describe my first-hand experience as a "laughably mild cold, without the annoyance of a stuffy nose" you're not supporting terrorism, you are practicing the definition of it.

Somebody arrest this unpatriotic and overly-serious person!

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29889025)

I drove drunk once. I made it home fine. HOW DARE YOU tell me when I can and cant drive. YOURE the terrorist! Pull over!!@@? PULL yourself over! I never killd anyone! YOURE ALL terrorists!!! I have the RIGHT to DRIVE whenever I WANT however I WANT TIL I KILL SOMEONE then you can lock me up BUT TIL THEN i'm gonna DRIVE HOW I WANT!

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29889129)

Wow - what a craptastic mind you must have - just because your symptoms were on the mild side you characterize the illness with mocking derision. After all it doesn't matter that in some cases it has killed relatively healthy children in as little as two days.

In less than polite terms F#ck your research skills very very much and stop being a self-centred jerk off.

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (4, Informative)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889217)

I would best describe my first-hand experience as a "laughably mild cold, without the annoyance of a stuffy nose"

You got lucky. I had it over the summer. Even having started Tamiflu within 24 hours of the first symptoms, it was a solid week of awfulness, followed by another week and a half of suckiness. I lost 8 pounds in the first four days. Extremely unpleasant. By far, the sickest I've been since scarlet fever.

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (5, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888921)

As someone who is still recovering from H1N1, I think I can safely say that playing video games was not even on my list of things I had any desire to do.

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29889163)

Well, let's not play dumb. The argument is that people will stay home to prevent further infections when H1N1 becomes a pandemic. The proposal is still a thinly veiled jab at network neutrality.

Re:Go to your room and no video games! (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889275)

Does anyone else believe this is just an attempt of the General Accountability Office to shutoff slashdot?

sigh (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888549)

Can't we get rid of the DHS yet? I don't think there's one government organization I like less.

Re:sigh (3, Informative)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888677)

Seriously? Not even the IRS?

Re:sigh (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888855)

I hate the Social Security Administration more.

I already know that I'll get back about HALF the money I paid in (unless I live to see 110 which seems unlikely). Even if I stored my money in a simple interest savings account I'd get a better return on my retirement fund.

Re:sigh (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889207)

For myself, I'd rather that the FICA deductions were completely removed, added as a revenue neutral addition to the general income tax, and considered Social Security payments to be simply a form of social welfare instead of an entitlement.

That pretty much is how the U.S. Congress has been treating the Social Security trust funds anyway since Tip O'Neil was speaker and Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Why not just make it official?

Of course that would make it too easy to cut benefits.... how dare I suggest such an evil and horrible thing.

Re:sigh (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888739)

Once the government gains new useful powers like those granted to the DHS, it is extremely difficult to dislodge them. Once the power is there, there's no reason for them to ever think of giving it up.

Re:sigh (2, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889229)

Of course isn't is strange that the DHS doesn't even want this authority.... presuming that it was even possible to distinguish "legitimate" network traffic from video games without checking the "evil" bit.

Re:sigh (4, Informative)

Mr 44 (180750) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888749)

Hello, did you RTFS? I'm no fan of DHS, but they ARE the ones saying that the GAO is on crack for even thinking about this idea, and that they aren't planning on doing anything.

Re:sigh (2, Insightful)

RY (98479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888771)

It is the only government agency who's main drive for its survival of the organization is fear. Once people have nothing to fear then the agency becomes obsolete.

Re:sigh (4, Insightful)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888775)

Well, in this case, they (DHS) are saying it's irrational to expect the government to be able to regulate the internet in the event of a public health emergency, which I happen to agree with.

As to getting rid of DHS, that's would likely entail just breaking the DHS back into the separate agencies from which it was formed. [wikipedia.org] There could be some benefit, but based on what I can discern, I'm not sure what would be gained in making that change. Any thoughts?

Re:sigh (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889047)

Consolidation of all those agencies seems logical to me. Might be the only good think Dubya did. However I hate that name "Homeland"..... sounds like something out of the Bundeswehr Handbook (copyright 1933). The War Department was renamed Defense Department. How about DHS became just the Department of Domestic Security, to echo the words of the constitution ("from enemies foreign and domestic").

For that matter we should have some kind of Constitutional Council, to be made-up of the 50 state legislatures (and 2-3 delegates of their chusing), whose task is to nullify any Congressional acts they consider unconstitutional. The U.S. Court can have its opinion, but ultimately it was the 50 States that formed the original contract and they should have the right to ignore non-contractual grabs for power.

Re:sigh (2, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889137)

Criticism. [wikipedia.org]

The size and mission creep of the behemoth comes to mind. Data-mining, bloat, glorified security-guard hiring practices, over-reaching harassment databases. It was created as a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11, 'nuff said.

It's purely business. Consolidate everything, hire cheaply, waste a-plenty. Morale goes through the toilet. I'm from a border town, and there have been articles in the paper spanning a few years describing the scumbags working the borders, to include widespread recent complaints of catcalls and groping crossing women. There is also a high turnover rate, low morale, and excessive overtime described in my hometown paper (sorry, won't tell 'ya).

It seems that the DHS has been created with the same mentality of the proliferation of the ultra-powerful California prison system, and their famous border abuses of detainees are well-known. My personal favorite is forced injections of psychotropic drugs. Those can be found on GOOG, by the way.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888851)

Sorry, having a hard time wrapping my head around this "government organization" phrase.

Re:sigh (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888877)

I don't know, the DEA ranks up there. Lets work on getting that abomination gone, as well as the stupid laws that justify its existance. Let the dope tax go to the IRS instead of to Columbia and Mexiso.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888999)

really? what about the IRS, or the DEA?

Re:sigh (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889111)

Can't we just get rid of all non-Constitutionally mandated agencies (then amend the Constitution to add anything that is truly needed)?

Oh wait, I forgot that we found "implied powers" secretly weaved into the Constitution and have since found more secret messages left by the founders that allow everything we deem neccesarry, reasonable and proper.

This seems to be another FUD report by some agency in order to justify taking over, regulating and destroying a free internet. Sadly, as much as I like most of the provisions of net neutrality, it'll be used to justify more rules, regulations, taxes and control over the internet in the future.

Re:sigh (1)

aaandre (526056) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889277)

Can't we get rid of the DHS yet? I don't think there's one government organization I like less.

In Capitalist U.S. of A. DHS get rid of YOU!

ISOLATION! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888551)

But my entire "Survive the Pandemic" strategy involves HOOAH bars and downloading a lot of HD pr0n!

prioritize traffic? (1, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888553)

The internet will work just fine when everyone is home sick: It'll be sunday for a few weeks in a row. Big deal. This is just an excuse to try and tack demands for government control onto the latest media-sponsored thing to fear, and once they have it, "prioritization of traffic" will become code for "override the FCC's mandate on network neutrality". Fortunately, the deluge of flu pandemic stories already out there has desensitized people to the point that this will fizzle and go nowhere because it can't get above the noise of a thousand other demands for government control and funding for other things.

The headline confuses me, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888757)

Internet probably couldn't handle a flu pandemic?

Swine flu is a pandemic by definition (a quick, global outburst of a disease that can spread from human to human) and it's pretty safe to say it is a flu pandemic at that.

So, we have a flu pandemic going on. Is the headline trying to imply that internet will collapse any day now, then?

I think that this is the first time ever that the actual headline has been so stupid that I have chosen not to RTFS.

Re:prioritize traffic? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888831)

The FCC's statements on net neutrality clearly leave an exception for government. It's overriding net neutrality but not the FCC's stance on net neutrality.

Re:prioritize traffic? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888995)

The FCC's statements on net neutrality clearly leave an exception for government. It's overriding net neutrality but not the FCC's stance on net neutrality.

I'd like to think when they made that exception, they assumed those using it would be sane and in the best interests of the citizens... like for a true national emergency. But maybe the internet needs to be more like how view our financial engagements: Like our protecting the gold of other countries. We have treaties signed that even if we go to war, their gold will remain safe in our vaults. The reason for this is economic stability. Maybe we need to think about digital stability as well.

Re:prioritize traffic? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889105)

I'd like to think when they made that exception, they assumed those using it would be sane and in the best interests of the citizens...

I think that it is incredibly naive to believe that the FCC or the DHS has anything other than their own interests in mind when making decisions. History has unfortunately, shown this to be largely true.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888561)

Maybe I'm just selfish, but I can't think of any event that should restrict my internet access. I fail to see why this is any different from other emergencies that have benefited from the free flow of information concerning problems, rescue efforts, etc.

Re:Anonymous Coward (3, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888917)

I fail to see why this is any different from other emergencies that have benefited from the free flow of information concerning problems

The free flow of information in emergencies is a problem if you're a totalitarian government or, say, Iran. As of this moment it's hyperbole to apply that to the U.S., but the effective building of repressive regimes takes away liberties piecewise. H1N1 a national emergency?!

The sun of our liberty won't just fall into the ocean, it'll gradually fade away through a twilight which has already begun.

Traffic is usually higher during business days (4, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888563)

Isn't traffic usually higher during business days than during the weekends? If so, during a pandemic I'd expect lower traffic, not higher. Especially since people, you know, being sick don't really feel like browsing...

Re:Traffic is usually higher during business days (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888933)

I agree with you. I see zero reason for traffic to increase in a pandemic. Yes, more people will work from home via the internet, but at the same time, more people will be watching TV instead of using their work computer. This is total speculation. In a theoretical, unknown pandemic, with unknown number of people not going to work, and unknown number working (instead of pretending to), etc etc.

Re:Traffic is usually higher during business days (2, Insightful)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888939)

Not everyone will be sick, but people will be expected/told to/required to stay home to avoid spreading the flu. Naturally, businesses whose employees can work from home will expect people who are home but not sick to work while they're home -- and that's what the GAO is worried about.

Re:Traffic is usually higher during business days (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889001)

Especially since people, you know, being sick don't really feel like browsing porn ...

Fixed that for ya...

Another crisis casualty (1)

adolphism (322613) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888565)

This country is losing itself to a series of crisis expedited statutes and/or policies. Will H1N1 be the end of the net neutrality debate? I can hear it now. "We can't afford NOT to institute traffic shaping in light of this impending crisis!"

Re:Another crisis casualty (2, Interesting)

Mendoksou (1480261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888953)

No, what will end Net Neutrality will be a criminal debate (priotitize traffic to limit piracy or child porn! It's for the children) or national security debate of some kind (those Korean Haxors will kill us all! PANIC!). The H1N1 thing will pass over too quickly (and I believe that Markey prsnts that bill every year... just this time he might finally get it through). But seriously... never waste a good crisis, right? If you do, people might think logically, and that's bad for policy.

I use more bandwidth at work (4, Funny)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888571)

Really, I do. Between flash games, surfing blogs, spamming "random page" on Wikipedia, and actual honest-to-goodness work, I use far more bandwidth at work than I do at home, where I mostly just play WoW and read a few blogs.

Unless the wife isn't home. Then I burn a hole in my wall downloading porn.

Re:I use more bandwidth at work (4, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889035)

For shame.
Neglecting your relationship like that.
You should be downloading porn together!

Lets vote (4, Insightful)

the_weasel (323320) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888575)

Raise your hand if this sounds like something you WANT the department of homeland security to be worrying about.

[crickets]

That's what I thought.

Re:Lets vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888981)

More than that, the GAO obviously doesn't have a fucking clue how the Internet works.

Honestly, this just sunds like a recently promoted Business grad. is trying to impress his new masters. STFU and GBT investigating no-bid contracts monkey!!!!!

Re:Lets vote (4, Funny)

TarrVetus (597895) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889077)

You know you're becoming a control freak when Homeland Security tells you that you're going too far.

Regulate trade between the States (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888585)

We gave Congress the power to regulate trade between the States. If you want to find the guilty party, look in a mirror.

Re:Regulate trade between the States (2, Insightful)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888703)

Its a hell of a stretch defining data as "trade".

Are US servers violating a trade embargo if they serve a page to someone in Cuba?

And Joe Lieberman Is A Democrat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888595)

"make sure the nation's business can flow during a pandemic" to the company that wrote the report on Chinese cyberspying:
Northrup Grumman [slashdot.org].

Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Yours In Yaznogorsk,
Kilgore T.

Playing games .. (3, Insightful)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888601)

.. on the Internet IS commerce. Those telecommuting could very well be employee of game companies. Games is a multi-billion dollar industry that is moving more and more toward the Internet infra-structure.

Re:Playing games .. (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888979)

Plus, what about all those tens of thousands of people suddenly demanding their monthly fee back from Blizzard and the like because they couldn't connect and play WoW, Eve, Mario Kart, or whatever for a few weeks.

That'll do a lot of good for online commerce.

        -dZ.

Wow, just Wow (3, Insightful)

Drummergeek0 (1513771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888635)

That is such an idiotic idea that whoever came up with it at the GAO should be fired. The idea of what should and should not be allowed would be very arbitrary. Take sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. They make money from traffic to their site. If they shut down/slowed access to such sites nationwide it would financially cripple them. Companies will have to have their own contingencies for such incidents, it is not the government's responsibility to ensure they can keep operating the way they prefer, it is the companies responsibility to ensure they can continue to operate however necessary.

Oh FFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888645)

Now the flu is going to kill network neutrality? Fuck you. I'm going to build my own Internet and you're not invited.

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888651)

Is it just me or have people totally lost their sense of the internet truly is?!

OK, the solution for this is easy... (3, Interesting)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888657)

Provide tax incentives to large companies to encourage as many of their workers as possible to telecommute as often as possible. This would accomplish a number of things:
  • It would alter the bandwidth landscape such that a pandemic would have a less significant sudden effect on the amount of dependency on home Internet connections.
  • It would reduce vehicle traffic on the roads during peak commute hours.
  • Per the previous item, it would reduce the amount of carbon emissions going into the air due to tens of thousands of cars sitting idle in traffic jams twice a day.
  • Per the previous items, it would also cut down on the volume of fossil fuels burned during commute hours and may assist in reducing our dependency on foreign oil sources.
  • It would reduce the volume of physical interactions between employees, reducing the likelihood of a pandemic spreading throughout an entire organization, and also reducing the flow of such a virus through society at large.

I am sure there would be negative implications as well, but I think there is a lot to be said for encouraging an environment where there are more people working from home.

Re:OK, the solution for this is easy... (1)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888879)

it doesn't matter how productive I am, my employer doesn't think I'm working unless he can see me working.

Re:OK, the solution for this is easy... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888955)

You have just pissed off everyone who rents business buildings, cleans offices, sells food (prepared and packaged) in convenience shops, and just about anyone who sells anything in a downtown district. The biggest problem with modern society is that it is very efficient (where money changing hands = efficiency) for the status quo. Any major changes will hurt someone, and they're going to cry bloody murder at any attempt to move away from their optimized business cycle.

It's a great idea - though with some kinks to work out interactions - but there's so much built on centralized business it's mind boggling. You may as well suggest that everyone move out of silicon valley and New York to the "rest of the US" where cost of living is a small fraction. It's just not going to happen.

Wow (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888659)

I thought everyone learned their lesson about the "tubes" already.

There is some other bullshit afoot and it has fuck all to do with games, pandemics or teleworking.

Internet Probably Couldn't Handle a Flu Pandemic (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888661)

The tubes will become clogged with mucus.

Somewhat optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888667)

We just need an army of robots to implement all the traffic shaping rules and clear up the messes the inevitably follows.

Or implement secure remote management, maybe through a safety clearing house of some sort.

Favor "Commerce" over "Games"? (3, Insightful)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888679)

What about companies whose "commerce" is games? I'm sure Blizzard would love to hear that the vast majority of their revenue is specifically targeted for termination should a pandemic occur.

Is this how it starts? (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888683)

Is this how it starts, or is this just another bad, never to materialize idea that somehow got press?

Limit all traffic for the sake of national security or at least national commerce? At what point do you give up said power once you have it? At what point do you drop all filters and say a situation is no longer present?

Once you grab power and control, there is no reason to _want_ to give it up.

Then again, this is probably nothing more than a bad idea written on paper. Hopefully.

Wouldn't happen anyway... (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888691)

The "Internet" still works remarkably well under load, and there is a self limiting factor: So much of the traffic is youtube etc by volume that if you DID get slowdowns, once those drop below real time people will just turn off anyway.

sigh... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888701)

So much for net neutrality... Every time something like the Swine flu comes around they'll use it as an excuse to intervene. Perhaps even use it as an excuse to buy a few billion $$ of equipment to facilitate their meddling.

This might suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29888729)

High-traffic Web sites, online games, and anything that these people apparently don't think are "real" commerce are actually commerce and involve dollars being moved around, usually in advertising. How is it fair to steamroll over certain businesses' sites and reduce their ad revenue to make room for other, apparently more important sites? If the goal is preserving commerce, how do they decide which businesses get choked and which get the bandwidth?

Bandwidth problems (3, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888753)

Maybe they should look at how telecommunications companies are connecting people as the problem instead of how people are using the Internet.

Anyway, to my mind, there are a clear set of traffic shaping policies that satisfy net neutrality and make sure the network is still usable by everyone. And that's to shape by physical connection, not application. I have an 8 megabit DSL line, but I think my ISP has about 450-600 mbits of bandwidth to the Internet. The aggregate bandwidth of all of their DSL customers is likely at least 10 times their available bandwidth to the Internet, and that's a perfectly normal and reasonable situation.

If ever any given connection they have to the Internet becomes saturated, they should prioritize traffic in such a way as to make sure everybody trying to use that connection gets their fair share. That means customers that only burst traffic and aren't using their max for hours get priority over the people who are using as much bandwidth as they can for hours. As the bandwidth becomes more constrained, the criteria for what counts as a burst should become shorter and the max burst bandwidth should be lowered.

Trying to kill off all your bittorrent customers, especially since you think they're competing with your more profitable centralized video distribution business sure seems attractive, but it's evil and all the wrong approach. Just allocate bandwidth fairly to your customers and the bittorrent people will be punished for using all their bandwidth by having molasses web surfing compared to everybody else.

If bittorrent customers don't like this, they can agree to start marking the traffic they want to have as low priority and then that traffic will be the first to go when there's a bandwidth crunch.

Re:Bandwidth problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29889297)

The problem with your idea (even though it seems reasonable) is the simple fact that some coders are bastards (see the utorrent decision to use UDP to avoid shaping): they'll simply alter their applications to mark their packets as high priority and then you are back to square one.

Conspiracy against network neutrality (4, Funny)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888787)

So H1N1 is really a genetically-engineered virus made by Lucent Technologies at the behest of the big telecom/cable cabal to be not quite deadly, but bad enough to send everyone at home for a couple weeks. When everyone fires up their connections for torrents, MMOs, and "internet research" (porn), it gives the bought-and-paid-for congress the perfect excuse to shoot down FCC network neutrality rules and allow telcom/cable to throttle connections and shape traffic, thus ensuring people can order their fleshlights and Sex and the City box sets at the expense of WOW players and pirates looking for movies to watch while they're laying in bed for days at a time. It's so simple it's brilliant!

I'll be too sick to surf (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888811)

I'll be too sick to do much more than email my boss, email my family, and go to my doctor's and medical insurer's web sites to get their phone numbers and fill out paperwork.

I certainly won't have the energy to be playing the latest online game or reading Slashdot.

Re:I'll be too sick to surf (1)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889017)

Amen to this - why are they assuming that we're all going to keep working even though we've got H1N1?

If I stay home sick, I feel like shit and I'm not doing any work. Or has the state of labor affairs gotten so bad that we're still expected to work when we're sick?

Re:I'll be too sick to surf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29889309)

I think they are referring to forcing everyone to go home, not just the sick people, to prevent further spread of the disease. These people would be perfectly able to telecommute.

specific web sites (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888813)

Shutting down specific high-traffic web sites would IMO not be a good idea; people would simply surf elsewhere. In fact, when those heavily loaded sites start lagging, many people will wait for them to load rather than jump elsewhere, reducing the total load.

sinus congestion,network congestion & brain fr (1)

virchull (963203) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888853)

Lets hope the GAO's nightmare pandemic does not happen, and this is just a bureaucratic CYA report. But if it does happen, we will see Congress and the FCC crack the monopoly positions of phone and cable companies and unleash a torrent of competition that will deliver 100 gig bandwidth to users for a few bucks a month. The rest of the developed world has this already. It would be truly tragic if it takes a pandemic to get the US over the brain freeze it has about protecting monopolies in the telecom industry.

A Great Excuse For Bad Programmers (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888897)

Slashdot programmers should now wait until H1N1 really builds up momentum now before they unleash the latest AJAX-ified, Web2.0ish, Javascripted mayhem on us. Then when the site goes down in a cloud of its own unusability they can instead claim

Itz teh guvmint! Teh POTUS shutz down teh slashdot! Our code iz setz up teh bomb!

And then the following day when they go back to the (better, but not really fully) working previous version we might even consider believing them...

The problem will work itself out (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888901)

I think the problem will work itself out when local ISP IT staff get the flu as well.

Is the Internet's main goal commerce? (1)

mrnick (108356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888959)

To, me the answer is it depends.

It depends on what the subscribes want to use it for. When I pay for Internet I do so because it provides some functionality that I value.

If the functionality that I value the most is playing games then there should be no restrictions on me doing that. This goes for whatever you value. If masses of people get sick and go home and start playing WOW (also Internet commerce, just ask Blizzard) so much so that others cannot log into their banks website then the majority has spoken.

If I ever find out that my ISP is filtering content like this then that's the day I switch to another ISP. If I wanted my Internet filtered then I might as well move to China.

The Internet is not a utility and therefore there should not have any governmental control in place whatsoever. It seems like more and more since 911 that people are willing to hand over their rights to the government in hopes that this false sense of security will help them sleep better at night. Many people forget that the Internet is a no man's land, as it was designed to be, its only function is to move bits around regardless of the nature of those bits.

If any government, specifically the US government, wants a data network that is treated like a utility which they can control / police then they should build it. The Internet is not a single network that anyone owns. Every ISP that connects to the Internet or specifically adds to it, such as tier-1 Internet providers, owns a piece of the Internet. As a former ISP I would never provide any information to any 3rd party without a court order to do so nor would I provide any kind of filtering or bandwidth shaping.

How dare someone think they can control the Internet it is owned by the people!

Nick Powers

It would probably self-regulate (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29888967)

For one thing, games don't consume very much bandwidth compared to streaming or downloading media. For another, High lag gaming sucks, it would essentially stop once network latencies went much above the norm. Youtube might see an increase, but an increase large enough to threaten the internet would surely take out even the mighty Youtube servers.

If such an enormous demand on file and streaming servers were made, surely the concentrated data requests would take down those servers before ISPs started to have problems. I doubt that Youtube, Ninjavideo and a few other large scale media servers can't pump out sufficient data to bring down the internet. Torrents may in fact decrease as people actually want to use their bandwidth while at home rather than let their Torrent client hog it all.

it's 'business' as useyouall 'til death do us part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29889003)

they're dropping like flies out there, sure hope it doesn't interfere with the 'business' of the greed/fear/ego based illuminati billionerror glowbull warmongers et al. their disempowerment is at hand, the 'hand' of the creators' newclear powered planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. there's no where left to hide.

the lights are coming up all over now. can you not feel it? tell 'em robbIE? 0, we forgot, never mind.

They're worried about biological viruses? (1)

dacut (243842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889075)

The most this will do is alter people's behavior. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the bandwidth needs of the new applications being developed (Torrent, Skype, video services, etc.) and malware -- and those will happen independently of H1N1.

Of those, malware is the most worrisome to me. Imagine a network-clogging virus spreading through Windows Update servers, using Skype-like techniques to effectively mask its packets from firewalls and traffic shaping systems. Even if you're running Linux or Mac OS, you'll be affected if you're trying to get any bits through them tubes...

Defining priority traffic is not easy (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889099)

The definition of traffic to give priority to is usually - mine is important. The other guys is not.

--
What about a large bunch of coders working at home who all need to download the latest build. To be nice they have set up a torrent site. Opps that gets downgrade so they decide to ship it all as email attachements because that has higher priority.

--
What about people that play games for a living. Yes the gold farmers. Who says there work is less work than the executive who remote desktops in to read email rather than using a remote email client.

--
What about the movie reviewer who needs to download and review the latest movie.

--
Yes some of these are stretching it but defining work/play and priority vs not priority needs to read the minds of the end user not look at the traffic type.

Re:Defining priority traffic is not easy (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889161)

What about people that play games for a living. Yes the gold farmers.

probably not the best example since gold farming is typically against the rules for most MMOs.... however there are certainly plenty of people who game for their job, such as GMs and testers for said MMOs.

check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29889143)

read article: check
have flu: check
blow load: check

They'll use whatever is the current hot topic.... (5, Insightful)

nilbog (732352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889145)

The people trying to push anti-net-neutrality agendas will use whatever scare tactic is currently in the media. In 2001 it would have been "we need to prioritize traffic to aid rescue workers," during Katrina it would have been "We don't have bandwidth to reliably allow everyone free access while still being able to coordinate aid in Lousiana," now it's this, and tomorrow it will be "we can't reliably fight aliens/robot armies unless people are taxed for visiting sites that we don't approve of."

Easy solution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29889223)

If there aren't enough tubes, then build more tubes! That wasn't hard.

Another case of the "rights" of business... (2, Insightful)

endus (698588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889261)

...triumphing over the rights of citizens. I don't see any reason why business' commerce should supersede the leisure activities of people who are home sick. Obviously this recommendation is asinine in the extreme and completely impossible to implement, but I don't think its the government's business to implement it anyway. If you want to talk about emergency services then, OK, maybe there is an argument there.

I also agree with the comment saying...well what about game companies' commerce? It's just another case of big business having the money to bribe politicians into prioritizing their interests over citizens'.

...Besides...everyone already surfs the web all day at work. I don't see where there is any difference.

Blame (1)

Ardaen (1099611) | more than 4 years ago | (#29889281)

It seems to me this would be much less of a problem if ISPs didn't massively oversell their networks and cheap out on upgrades. I hear complaints about cost and questions of who will pay for the upgrades, then I go look at profit reports...
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