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DHS Says Cellular Outage Reporting is Terrorist Blueprint

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the situation-unknown dept.

United States 421

Tuxedo Jack writes "U.S. landline telephone companies have to file public reports when their networks have major outages, so you would think the same would hold true for cellular providers and ISPs, right? Not if the Department of Homeland Security gets its way. CNN/AP reports that the DHS wants to make cellphone outage reports secret, claiming that they could be used as 'blueprints for terrorists.' I don't know about you, but I'd kinda like to see public disclosure on what happened if my cellphone/Internet access is down for an extended period."

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Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702064)

This really smells like a case of the "terror card" being played so that information that otherwise would deserve to be public gets pulled back not just for protection from terrorists, but also to protect other interests... including:

- Protecting embarassing localized failures of a cell network from being reported as news, which would of course lower a company's stock price.
- Protecting the cell phone industry from consumer groups keeping stats on outages, which would actually cause companies to have to improve their service in poor areas.
- Allowing Tom Ridge and friends to ask that cell phone service be cut around areas where "National Security Events" are taking place and being able to claim that the tower simply went down rather than having own up to the fact that they interrupted service to the general public based on nothing more than a reasonless fear.
- Allowing the government to take down cell service around any incident that the government would rather not news spread quickly about. By ensuring that the people within the secured zone can't call or send pictures out, and reporters can't get in, they can assure a delay in the release of any account of what's going on in that zone... such jamming would be glaringly clear if all of the cell companies filed reports about the simultainous downtime without any equipment failures.

It is a whole lot easier to cover up a cell service downtime being caused by either company mistakes or government demand if nobody has to file a report on it. And that seems like a much more likely motivation.

GOD DAMMIT I LOST FP TO YOUR LOOSE ASS? (-1, Troll)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702078)

I might as well just cut my balls off now. I'd be a eunuch, but at least I'd have my dignity. You, on the other hand, are a peter-gazing shitstuffer with ass herpes.

LOSTCLUSTER = GAY FAGGOT HOMO TERRORIST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702107)

I hate to see such a patriotic individual like Sexual Asspussy get cheated out of a legitimate frosty by some Taco-slurping cum-monkey like LostCluster, with all his multiple users sucking off all the slashdolt "editors".

You have our love and support Sexual Asspussy. Keep spewing the truth, we'll keep jizzing on it.

- A True Believer

Re:GOD DAMMIT I LOST FP TO YOUR LOOSE ASS? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702108)

Oops, looks like someone forgot to check "Post Anonymously"!

OOPS, LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE FORGOT TO WIPE THE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702138)

CUM OFF OF YOUR CHIN!

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702142)

You know, I'd have told you to take off your tin foil hat at one point in time, but everything you say is ABSOLUTELY TRUE in this case! The government will use this to their advantage at every step. About the only thing better for preventing unwanted news would be a Deneuralizer from 'Men In Black'...

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (4, Interesting)

Mad Martigan (166976) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702167)

Those are good points. I am tired of Terrorism being used as a password to make us agree to stupid propositions the make life a little bit easier for the government *cough* patriot act *cough*.

Besides, what could terrorists do with the knowledge that cell overage was out? I could see how knowing that cell phones did work in an area could help in, for instance, planning an RF detonation of a bomb. Perhaps we should pre-emptively shut down all the cell networks? That's a bit of a trite over simplification, but I just can't see how not reporting cell outages does anything except ebb the market pressures that would force cell companies to improve service.

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (5, Insightful)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702266)

I think the crux of this issue is that on 9/11, cellphones from New York spread work quickly, and soon that flight in Pennsylvania went down because (presumably) the passengers knew their plane would be used as a missle and got up and did something about it.

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702356)

Why use a cell phone, which blabs itself back to the cell, when you could use a one-way pager, instead, as a remote control bomb detonation device?

Hack the pager to do something not only after being called, but by getting a specific page message...

It would be a lot harder to get the pager providers to supress service at the whim and fancy of the govment, because chances are, they would also be denying service to hospitals, etc...

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (4, Interesting)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702368)

Those are good points. I am tired of Terrorism being used as a password

I heard a wise soul on slashdot say "Terrorism, drugs, and kiddy porn is the root password to the constiuttion."

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (2, Insightful)

GlassHeart (579618) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702382)

Besides, what could terrorists do with the knowledge that cell overage was out?

Even if there was something they could do, what if we simply delay the publication of such outage data by three months? That way, the public still get the accountability, and the terrorists don't get "useful" data.

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (3, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702177)

This is why we need more amateur radio operators around. (I must admit I've been delinquent and not gotten a license, but I intend to in the near future... as soon as I have the cash.)

Decentralized communications are more reliable and flexible, albeit sometimes harder to make efficient.

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (4, Interesting)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702186)

- Allowing the government to take down cell service around any incident that the government would rather not news spread quickly about. By ensuring that the people within the secured zone can't call or send pictures out, and reporters can't get in, they can assure a delay in the release of any account of what's going on in that zone... such jamming would be glaringly clear if all of the cell companies filed reports about the simultainous downtime without any equipment failures.


I think this is the main reason. Anybody remember Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six? (the book, not the game.) If you were about to hit a bunch of suspected terrorist cells, and wanted to make sure they were completely isolated (communications-wise), you want to jam the cellular frequencies, or isolate the local towers to make sure that they couldn't warn their buddies when the men in black start kicking in the doors. Suddenly realizing that service in your area is out might be a good tip-off that the hammer is about to fall, and being able to visualize that on a global map would be a great way to figuring out what areas to avoid during an extended operation.

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (1)

dheltzel (558802) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702222)

Umm, LostCluster, it seems like your tinfoil hat is a little loose, we're getting some wierd readings. Could you please use some duct tape and make it a little tighter.

Thank you, your cooperation is appreciated.

Re:Claiming "terror" to justify other things... (1)

tonyr60 (32153) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702293)

Of course when the DHS recommends Mozilla over IE, that is not a conspiracy thing, it is a good thing???

SHIT SHOWER (0, Troll)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702065)

    • CLIT
    • POWER


eat my fucking diarrhea

Wow (2, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702067)

If terrorists figure out the pattern of outages, they could attack during a peak collapsing the cell networks, and that would be bad, IMHO. Chaos would ensue. For once, I don't believe it, I'm in agreement with Homeland Security.

Re:Wow (1)

Hex4def6 (538820) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702104)

If terrorists figure out the pattern of outages, they could attack during a peak collapsing the cell networks, and that would be bad, IMHO. Chaos would ensue. For once, I don't believe it, I'm in agreement with Homeland Security.

Lets think about this. In your opinion it seems that the most heinous thing a terrost organization could do to a country would be to cause its cell phone network to be overloaded. So in order to do this they have to create a disaster large enough that people are going to overload it. Is it just me, or wouldn't the disaster itself be far more important than the fact that cell coverage for an area became overloaded?

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702179)

> In your opinion it seems that the most heinous thing a terrost organization could do to a country would be to cause its cell phone network to be overloaded.

In case you didn't remember, during the September 11 attacks, cell networks were in chaos. Imagine if they attacked during outages or could cause outages.

It's not the network I'm worried about... it's people dying and unable to say they love their families before a ten ton cement block crushes their skulls. Or worse... what if they were buried and could tell the resuce guys where they are? They couldn't exactly do that if the networks were down, could they? Many people survived the World Trade centers *because* they had working cell phones, at least for a while.

Re:Wow (1)

Sean80 (567340) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702231)

I think this is a really interesting post, but I have to admit I disagree a little. I think it's a particularly edge-case scenario that we be able to keep the cell network up so that people can say goodbye to their loved ones in the case of a tragedy. Sure, it's a nice thought, but sometimes reality just sucks like a beyutch, and you don't get this sort of thing. It's just crushing reality.

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

smclean (521851) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702315)

Agreed, I thought that was a little of an odd line of reasoning. The talk of the use of cell phones for emergency purposes makes sense. However, to me, it is indeed strange that they wish to make cell phone outages secret, while keeping landline outages public. All emergency services are landline-based. If a landline outage occurs, it's far more of a 'terrorist blueprint' than a cell phone outage.

And CNN reports that the huge multinational conglomerate phone companies are *so concerned* for all our safety that they think Homeland Security is dead on. At least CNN does a good job of ripping that to shreds:

"What 9/11 produced for them is a windfall opportunity to rebake all of their old bogus arguments as to why we shouldn't have any of these (outage reports)," Moir said. "They've morphed all of their comments into post-9/11-ese."

Re:Wow (2, Interesting)

dnahelix (598670) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702317)

I wonder if the 16,000 that die every year in drunk driving accidents said goodbye to their loved ones...

Re:Wow (1)

Steve B (42864) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702323)

Imagine if they attacked during outages or could cause outages.

They can cause outages. They know that they can cause outages, because they have already done it. All they have to do is what they intend to do anyway -- cause large-scale mayhem.

Sheesh.

Re:Wow (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702343)

Think about it... this isn't really in a terrorist's best interest.

If I were going to try to spread terror, why would I cut off a country's means of communication? Terror spreads by making intentional disasters seem close to home. The only time I could see this being effective is if the terror being spread were pure FUD... Hmm... Who would be spreading terror through FUD? Not Al Qaeda.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702226)

Let me see if I follow the logic: terrorists cause massive cell phone outage. every cell phone addict age 15 to 30 instantly panics and dies. loss of the young generation cripples US civilization.

Frankly, there are bigger things to worry about.

Re:Wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702105)

holy crap if anyone has a lower slashdot id than this, please reply now, this is insane!

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

Metallic Matty (579124) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702113)

"If terrorists figure out the pattern of outages, they could attack during a peak collapsing the cell networks, and that would be bad, IMHO. Chaos would ensue. For once, I don't believe it, I'm in agreement with Homeland Security."

There are a lot of things that could happen. But I personally don't feel this justifies making everything a big secret. National (or Homeland) Security is important, but it shouldn't just be a magic make-anything-you-damn-well-please-a-secret card.

Are you afraid to leave the house during a storm because you might get struck by lightning?

Heh (4, Funny)

mfh (56) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702141)

> Are you afraid to leave the house during a storm because you might get struck by lightning?

This is Slashdot. Welcome. We rarely leave our parents' basement. So, yes, I am afraid to leave my house.

Re:Wow (3, Funny)

Dr Tall (685787) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702153)

Are you afraid to leave the house during a storm because you might get struck by lightning?

Absolutely. I also do not breathe because I am afraid free radicals will kill me.

Re:Wow (4, Funny)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702128)

all road signs to government buildings/hospitals/schools should be removed. If terrorists get hold of this information and attack it would be bad.

Rush hour is also an unacceptable risk. If terrorists attack during this time it could be disasterous. Consequently, as of next month all work times will be randomly generated. You will be informed when you are due to start working 15 minutes before the start of your shift via the newly secured cellular phone network. Anyone travelling on the roads without prior authorisation via cellular phone will be assumed to be a terrorist attempting to cripple our vital transportation infrastructure.

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702134)

If they wanted to, they could set off bombs at the telco's central office/exchange and cause similar problems for landlines too.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702140)

What exactly would be so bad about attacking during a peak time? Response agencies will be using radio, so its just the poor suckers trying to call for help that are sol...

Our dependency on those towers needs to stay in the inconvenience area, as opposed to critical need...

Heck, I could knock one over with my truck, and VOILA! CHAOS!

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

mr i want to go home (610257) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702209)

I don't think it's so much the pattern of outages they're worried about (BTW aren't outages supposed to be random? Do you know something we don't? ;-) ). They're more worried about specific information on easy targets being available....for example (from the FA):

SBC Communications Inc. reported in January that 43,224 customers lost service for three and a half hours because frozen water pipes burst in a central switching office in Stamford, Connecticut. Water seeped down two floors and "damaged the Symmetricom Digital Clock Distributor."

Who really cares though (except the people who want to know why their phones weren't working...). If you really want to disrupt cell phone networks you could just look for the building with all the antenna's sticking out the top and torch that one.

Any major service, public or private, should be accountable to it's customers - terrorists be damned.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

SpecBear (769433) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702296)

OK, consider a couple of things things:
First off, any terrorist attack will likely cause the local cell network to collapse. A network is most likely to be overloaded when it is in use by a large number of people in a small area. Guess where a terrorist is most likely to attack?
Secondly, hiding this information will not make us safer. In fact, it will put us more at risk. Here's why.
  • Having outage information publicly available is only useful for a terrorist if the outages show a pattern that can be used to predict a future outage.
  • If a cell phone provider is having regular, predictable outages, then the network is broken and needs to be fixed.
  • If the information is public and available, the cell provider is far more likely to fix the problem.
  • If the information can be kept secret and hidden, the problem will be of a lower priority.
  • If fixing regular outages is a low priority, then the overall reliability of the network will be lower.
  • A weak cell phone network will be much easier to overload and exploit regardless of whether the terrorists are even trying to do so.


Security by obscurity is a problem not just because it's ineffective, but because it can encourage bad/lazy practices in other areas of security.

I'm tired of losing rights.... (5, Insightful)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702069)

This is getting silly. I doubt seriously this is "Terrorist Roadmaps", more like Cell Companies want to keep exact details of outages secret.

This Patriot act is getting downright unpatriotic.

Re:I'm tired of losing rights.... (4, Insightful)

Exatron (124633) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702089)

Getting unpatriotic? It was unpatriotic from the start.

Re:I'm tired of losing rights.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702102)

When was it patriotic?

Republican Paradox? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702112)

Anyone who likes gay sex is unAmerican.
Yet anyone who bitches about taking it up the ass is a terrorist!

Did all the real Americans already recieve their Patriot packet containing one large cork, and one small tube of booty-bond? I haven't got mine, and I'm worried I might be on list somewhere because I once read an issue of The New Yorker in a doctors office....

Re:I'm tired of losing rights.... (1)

servoled (174239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702149)

Re: Title

I was unaware that access to cellular providers and ISPs outage information was a right. Where exactly was that right given to us again?

Re:I'm tired of losing rights.... (1)

perlchild (582235) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702290)

It's not technically a right, but this policy sure means the CERT and other responsible reporting groups better play the party line, or look for other employment.

This also means if an ISP or cellular provider is being incompetent, they can just blame it on the terrorists, and it won't be long before it's illegal for you to deny it's terrorists.

Re:I'm tired of losing rights.... (1)

Phragmen-Lindelof (246056) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702365)

Using the "public airways" (spectrum) carries responsibilities. If cell phone companies do not want to report outages, do not let them use any of the reserved cell phone frequencies.

Re:I'm tired of losing rights.... (2, Informative)

jaeson (563206) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702182)

This Patriot act is getting downright unpatriotic.

John Kerry voted for that Patriot Act. So it would seem the US of A is fucked no matter who wins the upcoming election.

Re:I'm tired of losing rights.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702268)

Congressmen sometimes have to vote for things they don't agree with in exchange for support on other bills. It's part of the horse-trading that goes on in Congress, but the majority of the public isn't going to be aware of this and it's gonna be a problem for any congressman that runs for President.

Re:I'm tired of losing rights.... (3, Informative)

blamanj (253811) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702405)

Well, at least he wants to scale it back [johnkerry.com] , rather than the current administration's intent to add more to it [eff.org] .

While voting for it was pretty much indefensible, only 1 (Feingold) out of 100 senators voted against it and it was passed only a month and a half after 9/11. Feingold may have been the only one who actually read the thing.

Re:I'm tired of losing rights.... (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702197)

"Patriot Act"? Who comes up with these names anyway? Back in the good old days, bills were given names that had to do with what they were about! Take the "Alien and Sedition Act": it covered aliens: ie. foreigners, and sedition: ie. calling the president names.

Nowadays, all we get are things like the "Induce Act", which covers the distribution of copyrighted material, and the "Patriot Act", which has nothing to do with patriotism, but rather covers things like spying on citizens, library books, and bridge repair.

</oldtimer rant>

Well, obviously... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702077)

[Classified]

I agree 100% but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702305)

[NO CARRIER]

Ummm.... (2, Interesting)

cloudkj (685320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702086)

...sure, it seems problematic. But think about the days when cell phones were not in widespread use? Are we really so dependent on mobile devices that simple outage alerts could potentially lead to planned attacks? Seems more like a drop in the bucket to me.

I work for a wireless carrier (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702091)

If you want to know if a specific area is down call your damned carrier and ask. We don't keep it secret.

Re:I work for a wireless carrier (1)

Leareth (25555) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702180)

Call them on what? My Cell phone that's out?

I don't even have a landline anymore.

Even then presuming I did have some service (magically) I seldom have an hour to spend (normal wait time here) on hold waiting to talk to the customer service rep (who won't know what's going on anyway.)

Re:I work for a wireless carrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702213)

Yes, but this would require them to explain why they were down, with details and such, which could 'possibly' be used to attack cell phone networks.

Re:I work for a wireless carrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702256)

But how long till carriers refuse to provide that information... "for the sake of national security".

"Sorry we cannot confirm nor deny an outage in your area, you must be doing something wrong. Pay your bill on time bitch!"

This is a follow-up story to another story... (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702097)

If you want to spin the headline a bit... you also can see that the FCC is actively considering making cellular service companies file downtime reports just like landline companies do, and that's something that has never been required before.

Of course, that'd be something that's only of geek interest. It becomes a whole lot more newsworthy when the Department of Homeland Security has come in to claim terror fears should be reason enough to not publish such reports along side the service providers who would be expected to grasp at any reason they'd have to object.

Re:This is a follow-up story to another story... (1)

raider_red (156642) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702198)

More than likely, if the Department of State^H^H^H^H Homeland Security had kept their mouths shut, they could have filed the reports and we (and the terrorists) would never have noticed

I hope you realize that it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702099)

Just a lot of noise on the part of the feds.

Lets just make everything but disinformation be a national secret. That way all the 'terrorist' have are lies to formulate thier 'evil' plans.

That is not what I think is the best plan, but the one that is the most likely outcome.

This just in.. (3, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702103)

Airline schedules are to be taken off all websites like Travelocity, Expedia, and the airlines' own websites to prevent terrorists from planning their next hijackings. Anyone wishing to book a flight will now have to go to an old-fashioned travel agent's office, prove that they are not of Middle-Eastern extraction, take a polygraph test to prove that they plan to stay on the plane until after it lands, and only then will a limited amount of scheduling information be dispensed.

Seriously folks, this is getting f@*&ing ridiculous. The word 'terrorist' is becoming the modern version of 'communist' and 'witch.'

Re:This just in.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702234)

Actually if you look like you're of Middle-Eastern extraction you probably won't get a second look. Look at the reports of who is being searched in airports and you'll see that it's mostly little kids (TSA hiring pedophiles? probably!), a few white men, a few more white women, and lots of old people. Oh yeah, if you're asked to fire up your laptop so the airport thugs^H^H^H^H^Hsecurity folks can make sure it's a real one, watch out. If you have any obviously encrypted stuff visible and they do a "test drive" you'll have to unencrypt it or they won't let you on the plane.

Tyranny comes in many flavors but they all taste like shit!

Re:This just in.. (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702299)

What you meant was "long ago became"

I just can't wait until... (-1, Offtopic)

ikewillis (586793) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702110)

PDTP [pdtp.org] usage outranks BitTorrent

Re:I just can't wait until... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702132)

Wrong story dumbass

Re:I just can't wait until... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702161)

^_^

Cell/mobile phones don't measure up in many ways (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702111)

This isn't the only way that they don't measure up. As I understand it, landlines have to guarantee 911 service in N. America. Batteries (I think) kept the land lines alive during last summer's outage here in the NE. The same can't be said for the cellular services. Are there any kinds of regulated service requirements?

Re:Cell/mobile phones don't measure up in many way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702230)

In short,no. Same for VoIP in most cases.

Re:Cell/mobile phones don't measure up in many way (1)

mgs1000 (583340) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702399)

Cell Providers have generators to keep their switches up. It's not a regulation, just good business. Every minute service is down is a minute they make no money.

It's true that... (5, Funny)

Arcanix (140337) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702115)

The cell phone networks will be the first target in any terrorist attack, why bother taking out a power plant or a skyscraper when you can mildly inconvenience a small region of people?

Re:It's true that... (2, Interesting)

freeduke (786783) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702183)

Think about what if data networks outage were reported, and if RIAA could put a hand on it...

No more Bitorrent, Kazaa or edonkey, and none could even report it on slashdot.

Better hoard your maps! (5, Insightful)

Dr Rick (588459) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702125)

Of course the same argument can be applied to maps. Knowing the locations of streets, rivers, libraries, or entire cities could provide terrorists with a major intelligence coup. Sooner we'll be just like the old Soviet Union where entire cities did not appear on maps due to National Security issues.

Secrets in a democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702265)

I'm starting to think that a democracy can't function properly if it allows its government to keep secrets.

I'm starting to think that *everything* a government does should be out in the open.

There has been too much abuse already and potential for more.

Re:Better hoard your maps! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702281)

Of course the same argument can be applied to maps. Knowing the locations of streets, rivers, libraries, or entire cities could provide terrorists with a major intelligence coup. Sooner we'll be just like the old Soviet Union where entire cities did not appear on maps due to National Security issues. You make an interesting point... I propose we also rid ourselves of street signs so only locals will know where they are. As an extension of this policy all traffic lights and signs should also be removed to prevent terrorists from attacking idle commuters... moving targets are harder to hit.

Re:Better hoard your maps! (2, Insightful)

KZigurs (638781) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702335)

I'm afraid you already are. I have experienced USSR and effects of cold war in it's full glory and now USA is very rapidly approaching just exactly the same state of things:

-- Stupid restrictions on anything.
-- Access to innocent information closed due to concern.
-- A lot of "Good" citizens that will gladly rip your head off as soon as you will do something "SUSPICIOUS" (like taking a photo of popular landmark) and even feel proud afterwards.
-- More and more power to absurd authorities that are supposed to deal with threats, but instead just bullies innocent people.
-- Government that considers that any mistake can be hidden by constantly advertising it as significant archievement or just hiding it.
-- Media that dances by government commands and looses jobs if tells truth.

There is just one difference though - in USSR the power was, at least, with patriotic (ok, sarcastic, but true) individuals that had some principles. In USA the power is in hands of greedy corporations and megalomaniacal president. Everything else is the same, even including people that gets missing, unjustified and aticonstitutional raids or arrests and so on, so on...

same as banning post-attack tv coverage (1)

clovercase (707041) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702129)

i dont see any difference between this proposed type of censorship and censoring media coverage after a more traditional terrorist attack. although there are clear benefits to the proposal, the public has a right and needs to know when it is being attacked.

Bush and Iraq (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702133)

""What 9/11 produced for them is a windfall opportunity to rebake all of their old bogus arguments as to why we shouldn't have any of these (outage reports)," Moir said. "They've morphed all of their comments into post-9/11-ese.""

I couldn't help but think this is basically what Bush did in regards to invading Iraq.

yes, (2, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702139)

I've also observed that actual blueprints can also serve as blueprints for terrorist attacks.

Therefore, I demand that all architectural project blueprints be destroyed immediately!

Also, this means that UML is a terrorist threat.

Re:yes, (1)

Engineer Andy (761400) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702316)

Heh.

I'm a structural Engineer.

Architectural blueprints will show you the layout of the rooms, the way that the windows have waterproofing, and the cladding system. They wont show you how the building is held up, or allow an intelligent mind to devise a way of bringing down the building beyond what a calibrated eyeballing of the building could not provide.

If you want to know how to pull down a building in an elegant manner, you'll be looking at the structural engineer's plans. There is some merit in limiting access to these for sensitive buildings (Joe six-pack or his engineer are not likely to need to look at pentagon structural plans to do alterations), but for the vast majority of buildings these plans are used after the building's completion to allow alterations to proceed more intelligently, knowing what the existing structure looks like without the concrete.

Heck. The standard weak points in a building are not that hard to find, not that secret, and if you were of that nasty disposition, exploit for nasty purposes.

I would not see merit in limiting access to building plans for buildings that are not used for sensitive government / diplomatic purposes.

However, common sense has never stopped the restriction of information once the magical "T" word gets bandied around

Bomb the towers! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702147)

It would be a fantastic win for us if the terrorists started blowing up random communications towers instead of buildings full of people. Unfortunately they aren't going to go after such low-drama targets and this is just so much bullshit to cover the fact that these companies don't want to have to publicly disclose their mistakes.

Michael

Thats fscked (1)

joey.dale (796383) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702155)

That just fsck up I think cell/ISP's should have to keep records also.

-Joey

There is only one proper and mature reply to this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702159)

Terrorist! Terrorist! Go back to Afghanistan, you Saddam-loving Frenchie!

Re:There is only one proper and mature reply to th (1)

neil.pearce (53830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702366)

Response to you: Man, you're one fucking retarded American twat

Vote! (3, Insightful)

Michael.Forman (169981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702172)


This November vote and put an end to this nonsense!

Unless of course the voting is postponed due to terrorist threats.

Michael. [michael-forman.com]

This is ridiculous. What next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702174)

Radio stations barred from reporting traffic congestion during rush hour?

MTAs prohibited from reporting undeliverable messages, e.g., that someone's mailbox is full?

Puhleeeeze stop the insanity.

i quit (5, Insightful)

isbhod (556556) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702187)

GAAAHHHHHRRRR that's it! i quit, they win, give me the flip'n Prozack II 2 pill, bar code my head, and implant the tracking chip, take away my cash adn give me an RFID card, and tell em what to think, feel, wear, eat, sit, sh!t, sleep, walk, run, and jump. I'm tired of all this crap, why not make everything illeagle that way you can arrest anyone at any time for anything. The system is broken, there are not Mr. Smith in washington, you can't fight city hall, the sky is falling we might as well give up and accept our fate now.

Screw you homeland security, why not cover the county with soft fluffy pillows so when we (or at least "the children") fall down they don't get hurt. Look damit, terrorist are not backwater ignorant bucktoothed country folk, there are eductated (usually in the U.S.) religious zelots or crackpots or both. They do not need to use these reports to generate a blue print, they already have one. Security through obscurity has nor, does not, nor will it ever work. Go ask Microsoft if you don't believe me. Besides i would love to see real time reports so that way we can send in a team of heavily armed drunken red necks in their 57 chevy to all the big outages just incase the outage was due to a terriost attack, be casue no matter how much of the religious zelot they may be, no one can stop Zek and Earl after they've downed a case of Highlife.

The first rule... (1)

richmaine (128733) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702189)

The first rule of the DHS is that you don't talk about the DHS. :-)

Re:The first rule... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702403)

The second rule of DHS is you *DO NOT* talk about DHS

The larger picture (2, Insightful)

Sean80 (567340) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702196)

I think a whole bunch of people will argue one way or the other as to which way this thing should go. What's interesting to me is the larger picture here.

Presumably, one of the concerns here is that terrorists would be able to determine the locations of vital cell-phone network equipment and thereby disrupt that network. This made me think of the other news we've seen lately, particularly the concept of a P2P cell network, where cell-phones participate on a swarm-like network. Potential of disrupting such a network? Very, very low.

It's easy to leap to other conclusions here as well. Telecommuting is another example of a technology where it would be difficult to kill a large number of people working in an office building simply because they're suddenly geographically distributed over a large area.

So yeah, a little offtopic, admittedly (that ought to attract the mods), but an interesting future for what may or may not be an actual problem in the present, don't you think?

Let the public do the dirty work. (1)

xplenumx (703804) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702212)

Seems to me that everytime we have some sort of a disaster (earthquake, bombing, etc), the networks get so clogged from everyone calling their family and friends that they're essentially out of service anyway.

Why would a terrorist group attack a telecommunications network when they could simply create a stir and let the public do it for them?

New slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702214)

You're not not hearing me now!

The Fuhrer at Homeland Security (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702243)

What bothers me is that if we question some edict from The Fuhrer at Homeland Security (we are automatically labels terrorist sympathizers or some such bullshit. Publicly question them and risk having your phone tapped...

Re:The Fuhrer at Homeland Security (1)

momerath2003 (606823) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702401)

some edict from The Fuhrer at Homeland Security

May I refer you to Godwin's Law [astrian.net] ?

I don't understand the logistics... (3, Insightful)

Mitleid (734193) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702262)

...to such a proposal. Is the implication that when "terrorists" see a widespread cellphone outage caused by a single location that they now have knowledge of a vulnerable spot in the communication infrastructure?

Personally I think people give "terrorists" too much credit, and the DHS makes them out to be more resourceful than they really are. If terrorism relied on such precise and surgical strikes as the DHS would like us to believe, then we wouldn't need an absurd Terror Alert Level to tell us when we've got something to worry about; if the U.S. had as much to fear as the government tries to proclaim, I'm sure we'd all be feeling the effects firsthand. The attack on the WTC happened nearly 3 years ago, and to this day we have seen how many more massive "terrorist" attacks on US soil? It seems to me that the most damage we've suffered is the extreme paranoia and collective uncertainty fostered by a government that continually proclaims to be keeping us safe with it's "expertise".

This proposal by the DHS just seems like another two-pronged attack to feed a self-inflicted sense of fear and victimization. Make people feel like the DHS can actually do something about those few terrorist groups who can actually get their shit together and carry out something as horrific as the WTC, and at the same time put some more power in government hands. Ya know, just in case...

The primary difference is... (2, Insightful)

!ramirez (106823) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702269)

...that cellular telephone companies are NOT the holders of a monopoly on wireless telephone service in their areas, whereas for the past 50-75 years, RBOCs (and AT&T before them) have had monopolies granted by the government (and regulated by FCC/PUCs/PSCs). Buildout of the public telephone network was partially done at taxpayer expense - I cannot see how major (commercial) ISPs or wireless phone providers that owe nothing to the government for funding for their networks should even have to disclose such information.

(But, if they did, it should definitely be public :)

Shut down Slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702274)

Always the same stories....
Always "Linux vs Microsoft".

Get a life.

Reminds me of... (3, Insightful)

Spaceman40 (565797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702279)

...the "bug reports causing vulnerabilities" argument.

'Nuff said.

The Picture Caption Tells It All... (1)

bfg9000 (726447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702286)

Wireless phone companies and Homeland Security officials have been resistant to an FCC proposal to require outage reports.

EXACTLY. Wireless phone companies and Homeland Security officials. It sounds like another case of the "Bush Inner Circle" doing what big business wants despite the fact that other branches of government want to do the "right thing".

There have been many examples of this recently. The Bush Administration really seems to be "open for business", and they make no apologies for it.

Among other things... (2, Insightful)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702289)

This, combined with the fact that the president wants the ability to reschedule elections in the event of a terrorist attack is making me rather paranoid, and I have never been a member of the 'tin foil hat' birgade.

Why should any company providing a service vital to the country not be subject to the same rules about information disclosure as the government? (I intended to say that without irony, but considering how Jr. has been trying to hide everything lately...)

What do you think of the new google look? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702295)

Sponsored links to the right ,,, nah. Might get used to it though.

We've gone way beyond 'ridiculous' now. (4, Interesting)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702324)

' I don't know about you, but I'd kinda like to see public disclosure on what happened if my cellphone/Internet access is down for an extended period."


That sounds like something a terrorist would say! Quick! Call John Ashcroft, this man is hiding something! What exactly would you do with this information you Amurrika hatin' terrorist you!


Actually though if you want to see how useless, stupid and ridiculous our "war on terrorism" has become (hope this one goes better than the "war on drugs" cuz last time I checked drugs were winning big time), check out the story of Ian Spiers. Here is the link [brownequalsterrorist.com] to his website describing his run-in with Homeland Security types or you can read this story [nwsource.com] from the Seattle Times or this column [nwsource.com] from the Seattle Post Intelligencer. For those of you who don't want to read the articles Spiers was harrassed by the local police and Homeland Security types because he was taking pictures of the Ballard Locks, oh, and he's kind of not-white looking, but that never figures into the actions of our Homeland Security Overlords.

sooo let me get this right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9702337)

Some people report outages out of courtesy or custom (for example a ISP), that's fine. SBCingular don't want to do that? All they gota do is have a cheesy tracking graph that might have minimal info showing cell activity. I think what the DHS meant to say was mabile Celle's are a problem not Mobile Cellphones. I get it it now the DHS want's to reduce public panick about a mobile agent of doom, by making that secretive info...I get it now! Ok well THAT makes sense so the blue print for the Agent Smith virus is [removed clasified]

Patriots Unite! (0, Troll)

kin242 (789922) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702364)

These peole who complain abot such removal of civil liberties are just no-good communist terrorist pinkos, who should be shipped to Guatanamo Bay for torture and reeducation immediately! Lets all get ready for the next big push- to get Newspeak officialized through parlementation by our great fuhrer G Dubya Busch!

Reason (2, Interesting)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702370)

The security problem is not with the network. The real problem is there is a security procedure for VIP transportation activity in all countries, which dictates switching off a local pieces of the cell networks when a VIP car is going nearby. It helps to prevent phone activation of boobytraps.

If the outage is reported by civilians, in case of public access to these reports there is a possibility to analyze and reconstruct path and timing patterns of such security procedures, without need of a large grid of measure equipment or observation.

Of course, real terrorists will probably resort to real measure equipment, because of public database could be easily falsified by spooks, but for government a more useful effect of such denial of information is keeping population in fear.

in related news (2, Funny)

Fratz (630746) | more than 10 years ago | (#9702398)

Street maps are considered to be a terrorist aid, since they enable terrorists to find buildings.

Street maps will be banned, and to render older street maps obsolete (and therefore ineffective), existing street names will be randomly shuffled around.

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