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Telecom Outages Now a State Secret

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the need-to-know-basis dept.

Communications 413

Saeed al-Sahaf writes "In the past, before negotiating important or large telecommunications contracts, you could check out the detailed network outage reports that large telecommunications carriers file with the FCC. By knowing where carriers had experienced problems, buyers can negotiate better service contracts and know where to plan on redundant services. As recently as last summer, the FCC championed the marketplace benefits of making outage data available to the public. But after more than a decade of making such carrier outage reports available to the public, the FCC in August ruled that the information will be kept secret, lest it fall into the hands of terrorists."

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413 comments

See also... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10434815)

Re:See also... (3, Funny)

TerminalInsanity (720167) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434929)

Just you wait... soon news channels/radio will be hit for aiding and abetting terrorists by reporting traffic jams

Re:See also... (2, Funny)

smclean (521851) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434960)

And here [slashdot.org] 's proof that life-imitates-sarcastic-slashdot-posts:

In Other News... (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434817)

Wholesalers are doing a booming business on orders of cloaks and daggers in Washington DC

Hello, information? I'd like the numbers for G. David Shine and Roy Cohn.

Important distinction (5, Informative)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434870)

The FCC is not prohibiting the dissemination of this information, they are not going to provide it themselves, though.

The fcc did not go so far as to prohibit all network vulnerability data from reaching the public--only that the information won't reach the public via the FCC.

Telco's are still free to provide the information and apparently they have competitive reasons to do so:

Lawyers who negotiate contracts for large enterprises agreed carriers that face meaningful competition will not be inclined to stop providing relevant data, including the cause of outages, to enterprises. Some said that even where competition is not robust, carriers have an interest in being candid with their largest customers.

I suggest we end the charade (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434894)

the FCC is becoming moot.

Re:I suggest we end the charade (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434989)

the FCC is becoming moot.

Is that "moot" as in "arguable or open to debate", "of no significance or relevance", or "a ring for gauging wooden pins"?

Re:I suggest we end the charade (2, Insightful)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435019)

I think he's using it a new "controlled by the very industry it was designed to regulate" sense.

Re:I suggest we end the charade (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435033)

"open to argument or debate; 'that is a moot question'"

"of no legal significance (as having been previously decided)"
www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn

It really sucks when two of a word's definitions are nearly opposites.

Re:Important distinction (3, Insightful)

DunbarTheInept (764) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435028)

If the data isn't fed through a third party, then what reason do you have to believe it is accurate? It would be as believable as a company's own press release, and have just as much lack of accountability.

Re:In Other News... (2, Informative)

rts008 (812749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434886)

Also in the news: Terrorists are using CO2 to cause GLOBAL WARMING in their diabolical scheme to flood the Earth. Citizens can help fight terrorism by HOLDING THEIR BREATH to deny terrorists with this deadly new gas!

Re:In Other News... (2, Insightful)

pcmanjon (735165) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435066)

How could a terrist terrorize us by knowing that SWBELL lost its backbone connection on Nov, 3, 2003?

I'm Micheal Powell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10435112)

And as the nation's top incompetent technology professional, I have but one thing to say. If I don't like it or understand it, there's no reason the government or monopolies should either tolerate or share it. It's a simple rule. One I live my life by when I'm not being dazzled by the functionality of common consumer electronics and crippling the market.

Thank you for your time, and vote Bush Cheney 2004. I've got some really fantastic blunders planned, you don't want to risk missing out.

Nothing (-1, Offtopic)

taylortbb (759869) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434818)

What is with /. and "Nothing to see" messages, more and more common.

Re:Nothing (0, Offtopic)

TommydCat (791543) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434841)

We'd tell you, but that would also tip off the net terrorists.

Re:Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10434991)

"Nothing to see" messages, 503 service not available messages, and flamebait articles.

Subscribers, this is what you pay for.

bulldust (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434825)

what are they going to use it for?

Re:bulldust (5, Funny)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434849)

Why negotiating lower prices on their evil global communication networks of course.

Re:bulldust (1)

skitz0 (89196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434876)

Beat me to it ;)

Re:bulldust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10435116)

Man, that one cracked me up.

Re:bulldust (2, Funny)

skitz0 (89196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434850)

To negoatiate a better price on their terrorist network, of course.

Re:bulldust (1)

Winkhorst (743546) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434858)

That was the first thing that occurred to me. On the contrary, one would think that building in redundancy where it's needed would be an important element in the overall security framework. I have to suspect this has more to do with W helping out his corporate buddies than anything else.

Re:bulldust (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434935)

sorry i was reffering to the terrorists. what the hell are they going to use error reports for? so they know whats not broken and go blow that up? it sounds like hystrics to me. those reports need to be publicly accessable. covering them up under the excuse terrorists might use it was thin 12 months ago. from now on i am not paying taxes because a terrorist might be employed in a government job and he'll use that money to finance his evil schemes. thats about how thin it is.

Re:bulldust (2, Insightful)

rts008 (812749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435038)

"from now on i am not paying taxes because a terrorist might be employed in a government job and he'll use that money to finance his evil schemes." That WILL increase the amount of TERRORISM, or have you never seen the IRS in action? BTW, I agree with you, but couldn't help myself....will go cut off my hands now...:)

Re:bulldust (3, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435060)

Not to mention that the reports are generally received post-mortem, unless its a *really* extended outage. By the time someone has written it up and mailed it to the FCC, the cell is back up.

Re:bulldust (3, Insightful)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435072)

I imagine the argument goes something like:

"Terrorists could find out what has caused outages in the past, use that to find a weakness in the telecommunications network, and then cause a communication outage that coincides with a 9/11-type attack, thereby aggravating the effects of the attack." An admittedly weak argument, but I bet that's the case.

Re:bulldust (1)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435144)

well, if the see that an area has shitty lines, and they do some terror creating act there, the lack of communication can severly hinder the rescue workers.

Repercussions on Verizon commercials. (5, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434834)

"Can you hear me now? What do you mean you can't tell me that?"

You can joke (2, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434889)

"Can you hear me now? What do you mean you can't tell me that?"

Sure you can joke about this, but I remember when this story first came to Slashdot [slashdot.org] and the comments ranged from angry people calling this move nothing but exploitation of the terror card [slashdot.org] , to Score: 5 OT posts about 9/11 with possible evidence that planes were shot down by the USAF [slashdot.org] .

My take is that these kinds of laws only prove that the USA is rapidly becoming fascist [wikipedia.org] .

We shall start a civil disobedience campaign! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10434952)

Whenever the phone stops working, phone your friends to tell them about it. Seriously though, this could be used to cover up if communications are intentionally cut to keep word of protests or other undesireable news events from spreading.

RIP USA (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10434836)

On July 31, 1932, Hitler's Nazi party won 230 out of 608 seats in the Reichstag, making it the majority party, but he was not yet in power. It was several years before Hitler became the cosmically evil war criminal. On January 30, 1933, Hitler was finally sworn in as Chancellor. Historian Alan Bullock describes it: "Hitler came to office in 1933 as the result, not of any irresistible revolutionary or national movement sweeping him into power, nor even of a popular victory at the polls, but as part of a shoddy political deal with the 'Old Gang' whom he had been attacking for months.... Hitler did not seize power; he was jobbed into office by a backstairs intrigue." At the time, most Germans couldn't imagine that Hitler would last long because his bombastic and swaggering manner and his overly simplistic speeches about Germany's social, economic, and political problems were a "joke." Politically sophisticated Germans dismissed Hitler as an inept caricature, but he and his accomplices consolidated their power by passing national security legislation supported by a stacked court. During these critical times of concentrating power, der Schutzstaffein (SS) made sure that Hitler's critics and opponents were kept far away and silenced so that it would appear as though he had complete national support and, indeed, a mandate. Thus peacefully began Nazi totalitarianism.

Re:RIP USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10435086)

Sadly, this is one of the most on topic comments in the whole thread.

Hands of the terrorists? (4, Insightful)

darth_MALL (657218) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434842)

Seems more like a scheme to keep the public in the dark should there be a successful attack on the telecom infrastructure... If the public doesn't know...it didn't happen.

Re:Hands of the terrorists? (5, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434868)

> Seems more like a scheme to keep the public in the dark should there be a successful attack on the telecom infrastructure... If the public doesn't know...it didn't happen.

Conversely, if the public doesn't know, then it wasn't a very successful attack on the telecom infrastructure, was it? :)

Re:Hands of the terrorists? (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434996)

I would award u MOD points for BEST "Wake the FFFK UP" post if it was in my power! Where do some of these people come from?

Hmph. (2, Insightful)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434844)

It strikes me as interesting that, as the article states, we are in an era of more information being collected and less returned. This applies to multiple issues, of course, not just the corporate angle - but what strikes me as odd is that none of the businesses being affected negatively by these changes are ones in which our great President Bush or his brains, VP Cheney have a hand unless their constituency specifically demands it.
A pox, I say. I've written my Senators and Representative in the past about protecting the freedom of information. Now more than ever vigilance is necessary.

Lets see (5, Insightful)

clenhart (452716) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434846)

Lets see..

Helps business. check
Hurts people. check
Has terrorist excuse. check

It must be from the Republican administration.

It doesn't always help business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10434863)

If you're the competing business of one with frequent outages, you can no longer use that to your advantage in advertising and negotiations.

Re:Lets see (2, Interesting)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434947)

Let's see...

Hurts business. Check.
Hurts people. Check.
Has terrorist excuse. Check.

Must be from the Democrat administration (SEE ALSO - Bosnia, Iraq, WTC I, etc.)

Re:Lets see (4, Insightful)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434999)

You're both missing the bigger point:

Hurts business. Check.
Hurts people. Check.
Has terrorist excuse. Check.

Must be the US of A
(Sadly, my own country's record)

While we're at it. (5, Funny)

pokeyburro (472024) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435042)

Hurts business. Check.
Hurts discourse. Check.
Has terrorist excuse. Check.

Must be another /. political thread.

Re:While we're at it. (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435077)

Hurts business. Check.
Hurts discourse. Check.
Has terrorist excuse. Check.
Must be another /. political thread.
Agreed :D

Re:Lets see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10435020)

Must be from the Democrat administration (SEE ALSO - Bosnia, Iraq, WTC I, etc.)

Yes, because it was the Democrats that armed Saddam in the '80s... Jackass

Re:Lets see (5, Insightful)

DunbarTheInept (764) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435014)

This does not help business. It helps previously established businesses. (Keeping the little guy from competeing is a form of harming business, in the long run.)

Yes, that is a hallmark of a republican administration, though - to act as if past business success gives you an entitlement to future business success indefinitely, and if your business model starts to fail because the world is a changing place, then pass laws to make the world change more slowly.

One day a federal employee will read Poe (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434864)

And realize that the best way to hide a secret is in plain sight [virginia.edu] surrounded by lots of other secrets that may or may not be true.

Re:One day a federal employee will read Poe (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434884)

"Je suis Marxiste, Tendance Groucho."

bizarre coincidence; back in the 70's I had a badge saying exactly that...

Frightening (5, Insightful)

mistersooreams (811324) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434872)

Isn't it scary that I thought the bit about terrorism was a joke? But no, I RTFA and sure enough, they really are putting this down to terrorism. Will future generations laugh at how easily the masses were seduced by this strawman? This is like the German Jews all over again...

Re:Frightening (5, Insightful)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435003)

"I HAVE IN MY HAND, A LIST OF 12 CARD HOLDING COMMUNIST PARTY MEMBERS, THAT WORK IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT..."

Yeah, we are so much wiser now, we would never fall for that old, 'red scare' paranoia that was rampant in the 1950s. What silly, foolish people our grandparents were to fall for such an obvious paranoid delusion. The real sad thing is, unlike the 1950's, there is no single vocal Joe McCarthy type to debunk. If compairing the current political situation to the 'Red Scare' is accurate, we will have to put up with this for a good ten years.

Re:Frightening (-1)

wankledot (712148) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435031)

Yes, not knowing if a phone is working in Podunk, WI is the same as 10s of Millions of people dying. Excellent analogy, you broke Godwin without even putting up a fight. You lose!

Re:Frightening (1)

jpetts (208163) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435048)

This is like the German Jews all over again...

s/ Jew//

Re:Frightening (2, Insightful)

rarkm (171698) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435128)

The obvious rationale of not posting telecom outage is to deny helpful feedback to those trying to hack the US telecom system from afar. Duh.
___________________
"Isn't it scary that I thought the bit about terrorism was a joke? But no, I RTFA and sure enough, they really are putting this down to terrorism. Will future generations laugh at how easily the masses were seduced by this strawman? This is like the German Jews all over again..."
_________________
This comment is an all-too-common trivialization of more than a decade of human tragedy.

Last week was the 63rd anniversary of the agony of city where nearly 40,000 Jews, mainly the elderly, women and children, were machine gunned in groups of ten by Einsatzgruppe C over two days, September 29th and 30th, 1941. Over that summer, more than 100,000 people, Jews, Ukrainians, Gypsies and resistance fighters were shot and their bodies thrown into a ravine. Two years later, the retreating Nazis frantically tried to dig up and burn the bodies to destroy the evidence.

You can still see the spot, it's about six subway stops from downtown Kiev and its name is Babi Yar. There were many thousands of similar massacres known and obscure during that period, big and small. Tens of millions of real people died, many of whom would be living today had it not been for the insane ambitions of the Nazis and the Communists.

I'm about done with Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10434875)

And "big" business. I'll take 100,000 "less efficient" businesses, if you please. With a side order of "social restructuring" and "class evaluation". And a super-sized engineering degree to go with that.

Thank you, drive-through.

I am completely at a loss for words . . . (3, Insightful)

achurch (201270) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434877)

I mean, stupidity seems to be the norm in politics, and this sounds like it was pushed through by the telecoms to avoid having to look bad to their customers, but still, this is just so ridiculous . . . *sigh*

Re:I am completely at a loss for words . . . (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10435138)

While I worked as a intern for a telephone company, it was common knowledge that more damage is done to telephone service due to cars hitting distributor boxes, flooding, farmers, construction crews, electrical storms (and presumably hurricanes) than any direct hit to a major switching centre would do.
The worst case scenerio would be a bolt of lightning hitting the one of the power supplies to an exchange.

Just Another Way That Bush Screws the Consumer (4, Insightful)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434887)

I'm always amazed at the creativity that the Bush administration shows. They just never stop thinking of new ways to screw the consumer. This is almost as good as making everyone pay to have their phone tapped.

Re:Just Another Way That Bush Screws the Consumer (2)

pnatural (59329) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435098)

I know what you mean. Just yesterday, someone (probably an evil Republican) ran over my cat. As I was sobbing, all I could thing was "it must be Bush's fault!"

I'm always amazed at the creativity that the Bush administration shows.

What's most amazing to me is how Bush went from a mere puppet of the VP to an evil mastermind in only 9 months. It just goes to show that the evil Republicans keep all the best schools for themselves.

Arguement for this? (2, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434890)

I remember on a previous article, it was argued that if terrorist communications were to be jammed, etc, but there was no given reason for outage - then terrorists would know they are being jammed.

That seemed like bullshit to me, and I really thought that something like this wouldn't pass. Really, what use could terrorists make of such outages, except for perhaps a very tentative prediction?

Even with the terrorist excuse, records released after-the-fact would still indicate which carriers suck repeatedly to the public, while negating the "exposive-of-jamming" arguement.

So, anyone know what the official excuse is for this?

Knowledge is power... (5, Insightful)

terraformer (617565) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434905)

Perfect markets (the ones conservatives crow about incessantly) require perfect information. Think about that the next time you hear them blather on about wonders of the free market. Anyone who truly believes in the true capitalist ideals and still votes republi-can't needs their head examined.

The FCC by its very nature is anti-free market (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10434921)

In a true free market, there would be no FCC at all, and thus no requirement for companies to report any outage data. Of course, customers could still collect outage data themselves and pool it publicly (ie on the internet).

Re:Knowledge is power... (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435094)

Anyone who truly believes in the "true capitalist ideals" and votes for _either_ of the two main parties and most of the third ones has been misled.

Just because... (4, Insightful)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434911)

Just because an insane thing happened (9/11), does the whole world have to go insane?

Apparently so...

Re:Just because... (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434931)

"does the whole world have to go insane?"

Well, no, not the whole world, just the USA and its allies who also feel terribly guilty and scared that someone that they pissed off will lash out at them.

Most of the world doesn't go around pissing off Moslems; when I was at school (in the UK) I learned never *ever* to piss a Moslem off when it came to matters of religion (which includes things like calling them 'son of a bitch' by the way (it implies that their mother is a dog and since dogs gave the Prophet away when he was trying to sneak into Mecca, dogs are bad)).

Re:Just because... (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434995)

Most of the world doesn't go around pissing off Moslems; when I was at school (in the UK) I learned never *ever* to piss a Moslem off when it came to matters of religion

Does that include misspelling the name of their religion?

Re:Just because... (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435034)

"Does that include misspelling the name of their religion?"

absolutely; I anticipate an fatua any time now.
And then another one for misspelling fatua.

(besides, anal retentive pedant, its a transliteration from the Arabic so its got to be phonetic spelling anyway and you can't misspell a phonetic spelling :-P )

Re:Just because... (2, Informative)

haluness (219661) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435035)

Maybe you should check out a dictionary first?


Fom dictionary.com:


Moslem: Variant of Muslim

Re:Just because... (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435059)

Never seen spelled that way and I stand corrected and apologize to the original poster.

Re:Just because... (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435055)

Because it is transliterated from Arabic there are multiple "correct" spellings. Also, different countries, the UK as the grandparent poster mentioned he came from, spell it differently.

I can sleep easier now... (1)

mcguyver (589810) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434914)

I would sooner believe the US invaded Iraq over innacurate reports of weapons of mass destruction than believe politics and money are behind removing telecom outage reports from the public.

American Paranoia (Tm) (2, Insightful)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434916)

subject line says it all.

Re:American Paranoia (Tm) (1)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435023)

It's not American paranoia. No one supports this or believes this bullshit justification. It's just that no one will report on it, no one will hear about it and given that the Republicans control the executive and both branches of Congress, there will be no debate on the matter. That's what's really sad. When absolute power rests in the hands of those who have no respect for liberty, this is the result.

And How? (2, Insightful)

minister of funk (123188) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434920)

While secrecy may make it less likely that the information falls into the hands of terrorists, it cannot guaranteed that it won't. Much like corporate code secrets somehow find their way to the public knowlege as exploits.

Free Market? (4, Insightful)

shirai (42309) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434922)

Ironically, by making this information secret, telcos need to worry less about the reliability of their networks since their reliability will be difficult to assess by the buying public. This exerts less pressure on the telcos for improving the reliability of their systems.

As usual, government intervention will bring about the opposite of what they intend to do. Prescious few things are more efficient than the free market.

Remember that it wasn't that long ago that government supported the idea that a Monopoly in the telco industry kept prices down. Anybody remember exhoribitant long distance prices in the era of the government mandated telco monopoly?

If the government wants to improve redundancy, they should seek to make this information more public and more easily accessible and I guarantee you that buyers will exert the necessary pressures to keep the telcos running.

Newton's law of politics? (2, Insightful)

daveb (4522) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434962)

As usual, government intervention will bring about the opposite of what they intend to do. Prescious few things are more efficient than the free market.

Newton's Law of Politics: Every force from a political body will have an equal but opposite result from that intended

yeah - I like that

Re:Free Market? (2, Informative)

DunbarTheInept (764) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435058)


Anybody remember exhoribitant long distance prices in the era of the government mandated telco monopoly?

I was too young to be the one paying the phone bills. But I *do* remember my parents complaining about having to lease the phone from Ma Bell and not being allowed to hook up a third-party telephone to the network. Thus the prices of physical phones was excessive, and the technology was stagnant.

Given the track record of most telecomms... (1)

innerweb (721995) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434925)

...This should be considered a major victory for their marketing. Now, we will need another commerical entity that can gather information from customers and correlate it to discover what kind of service level telecomms provide. Sounds like another source of funding for GW and co. ;-)

Why is it so much of this happens under the Bush watch? It happens under all presidents, but so much more so under this watch.

InnerWeb

Under every rock (5, Interesting)

Colonel Panic (15235) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434926)

Terrorists are hiding under every rock, and behind every Bush. It's the new excuse for taking away our rights - "We can't let you see that because the terrorists could use it!"

Recently on Now with Bill Moyers (PBS, Friday nights, great show) there was a story about a major natural gas pipeline that would be passing near towns and populated areas. Problem is that no one could find out exactly what the route would be because of terrorism concerns. So it could pass under a school and no one would be allowed to know that. It was a great deal for the company building the pipeline because they didn't have to fight any protests over it running too close to someone's house.

So much FUD.

Insane... (4, Interesting)

damu (575189) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434934)

So, the FCC gathered all this information, compiled it and then presented it to the public. Ok, we can assume that the FCC is a non-partisan entity. Well, this rule now says that the non-partisan entity will no longer provide this information, but the original owners of the information can still make it public. So, lets see, I am Verizon I have a huge outage in some region where I commonly have outages, why would I tell the customer this information? What forces me not to give it some spin?

Looks like the terrorists already know (4, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434945)

In September 2003, Qwest Communications International Inc. service was out for 4 hours and 38 minutes after vandals cut fiber-optic cables in Bellingham, Wash.

Seems like a good plot to me- kind of like crashing a truck into the compound in Salem, OR on the corner of Hawthorne and State St. would be the obvious first move of a terror attack in Oregon- by taking out the emergency communications center you'll hinder any response to anything else you do.

Re:Looks like the terrorists already know (1)

Frequanaut (135988) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435135)

Seriously...you really think terrorists are going to strike Oregon?

There's nothing wrong with Oregon, but really...

Terrorists? (4, Interesting)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434958)

Did they specify exactly how a terrorist would be at an advantage from an unplanned regional outage in the telecommunications system? If I am not mistaken, the emergency first responders are all equipped with radios and their own reserved frequencies. This sounds more like an excuse for telephone companies to conceal embarrassing information about quality of service from their customers.

Re:Terrorists? (4, Funny)

SQLz (564901) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435090)

Apparently the Terrorist were using the information to negotiate lower fees when building thier evil information infrastructure. Since terrorists should not be allowed to pay lower fees AND attack the USA, the FCC has decided to keep that information secret. Now, the terrorists will have to pay what everyone else pays.

STO (2, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434964)

Well of course security through obscurity is ridiculous. We already have more downtime due to management chintzing on paying people for uptime, this will contribute to that.

I am not well-familiar with the entire American "infrastucture" (water tunnels, electrical grid etc.), but from what I do know about it, it would be easy for a group of say four people who knew what they were doing to cause major disruptions. I mean, even when you have people working to keep things up, we still have had major blackouts on the West Coast and East Coast in the past few years.

On territory I'm more familiar with, telecommunications, there are chokepoints in the system. Fiber cuts at several specific points in a large city would take down a large percentage of the network. As far as the x.25 networks, or Internet, there are many such chokepoints as well. For the Internet, from the root name servers to core routers and their routing tables, there are chokepoints which are not difficult to DOS, never mind take over.

These things are very "vulnerable" as the corporate media nomenclature calls it. But vulnerable from whom? Saudi nationalists like Osama Bin Laden who (after the US helped Pakistan train him to drive the USSR out of Afghanistan) wanted the US military to leave Saudi Arabia? Perhaps disgruntled workers like those in Los Angeles in 1992 who had a short lived uprising until the army marched in? I myself sleep better knowing how "vulnerable" these things are, when anti-imperialists and workers go to the trouble to muck with these things, it's usually for a good reason.

Re:STO (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435022)

Perhaps disgruntled workers like those in Los Angeles in 1992 who had a short lived uprising until the army marched in?

Mass mayhem and looting != uprising.

Security: the new big excuse (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434973)

Last week I got an international package that got routed through the wrong country and took an extra 4 days to get here. When I queried this, I got told that this was done for "security reasons" that they were not at liberty to divulge. Security has becoome a nice smoke screen to hide service screw ups etc behind - just like people would always say "computer error" in the 90s.

What next: "No sir we didn't mess up your pizza order. We put those extra anchovies on and sent it to the wrong house and overcharged you for security reasons".

Re:Security: the new big excuse (3, Insightful)

Tim Doran (910) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435054)

...or maybe "security" really was the reason. Perhaps it was routed through a country that permits mail to be searched.

Kinda like sending "suspected terrorists" to other countries for the dirty work of torture.

Vulnerability detected in the wrong place (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434975)

It seems to me that if the national telecom system is so fragile that the info contained in those documents would make it easy to break, then the vulnerability doesn't lie with the documents. Instead, the government should be examining how to improve the reliability and redundancy of the telecom system.

Re:Vulnerability detected in the wrong place (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435069)

It's not just telecomm. Our vital infrastructures (electricity, phone, gas, transportation, etc.) were built with the assumption that they would not be the targets of calculated attacks.

The question is how do we harden those systems without further eroding consumers' rights?

YAIOSTO (1)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434977)

YAIOSTO

Yet Another Implementation Of Security Through Obscurity

denialogy (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434979)

In other news, security in Iraq requires that we are now officially at peace with Iraq. We have always been at peace with Iraq.

trom
Harry Tuttle [imdb.com] : "Listen, this old system of yours could be on fire and I couldn't even turn on the kitchen tap without filling out a 27b/6... Bloody paperwork."

to
"We don't care. We don't have to. (snort) [ablecomm.info] We're the Phone Company." - Lily (Ernestine) Tomlin

to
Friendster rep Lisa Kopp insists [wired.com] , "We have a policy that we are not being hacked."

These are the Pointy Haired Bushites who are protecting us from terrorists.

FCC?! (2, Funny)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434981)

For Corporate Concerns!

Deadlines to Register to Vote Approaching (4, Insightful)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434983)

The deadlines to register to vote are approaching in many states. If this kind of bullshit bothers you, then register, vote and do something about it. Register your friends too, at least those friends who haven't drunk the kool-aid.

Does this make ping a security risk? (2, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10434992)

Since anyone, anywhere can test the network's integrity with ping, anyone can do their own network outage surveillance. (OK, they can't test the old circuit switched telephone net, but once VOIP gets going, it won't mater). What if ping falls in the hand of terrorists? Seems like not only is the cat out of the bag, but anyone who can run ping owns some scissors.

Re:Does this make ping a security risk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10435026)

I don't reply to your pings.

Why stop there? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435004)

How about we also classify poverty and jobless statistics, so that terrorists won't know to what degree their actions are malaffecting our country?

I don't know about you, but I don't need a government report to tell me when my phone goes out, and neither do the terrorists.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing... (5, Insightful)

k98sven (324383) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435027)

Why is this necessary?

Can someone give an example of terrorists striking the phone system? Anywhere, ever?
(Need I remind people that terrorism isn't new or unique to the US.. )

Is there any indication that Al-Quaida even wants this information?

This is just ridiculous to the extreme, no matter how you look at it. Just to play devil's advocate, I'll go along with the fact that the US is engaged in a 'War on terror'.

Is this 'war on terror' a conventional war?

Is the goal of Al-Quaida (or whatever terror group you want) to disable the US military and its supporting infrastructure through strategic attacks? Why? Do they plan to invade?

Hell, no. The goal of terrorist organizations is to create terror. That is best done through spectacular things like hijackings, bombings and the slaughter of civilians.

Terrorists kill people. They don't bomb bridges, bust dams and destroy communications networks. They kill people, as many and as violently and as publicly as possible. The purpose is to create fear and publicitity. Actual military-strategic damage is far less important.

So why can't we know when our phone systems are down? Why are bridges being guarded? Why are people being harassed for photographing locks? [brownequalsterrorist.com]

The USA has managed to inflict more fear on itself than Osama ever could.

[/rant]

DOESN'T MATTER!!! (1)

extra the woos (601736) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435063)

This doesn't matter, the telcos never told anyone any worthwhile info about anything anyway.

customer who's phone is down: *picks up cell phone, calls phone company*

phone company: "hi, what can we do for you"

customer: "hi, I was wondering when my landline phone service would be up again, can you give me an estimate?"

phone company: "sir, it appears your phone line is down"

Standard of life? (5, Insightful)

kentmartin (244833) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435095)

I am not American, Australian actually and live primarily in the UK, but is seems to me that our countries (including the US) are missing the point!

What the hell is the point defending things, preventing information falling into the hands of terrorists etc if you are destroying the very way of life you are trying to protect.

Flame away, but, it does strike me that Sep 11 was a tremendously "successful" terrorist action in terms, not so much of the event itself (although, from the instigators perspective, that can hardly be seen as a failure), but in terms of our reaction to it. It is now almost a matter of routine that more and more of our public and private rights are taken away from us and information is restricted to us.

(The recent bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta has been used to refuel the flames in Aussie politics).

Who is doing the most damage to our way of life? Us or them?

These aren't of course unique ideas, but they are ones that should never be forgotten.

Small disclaimer: I of course abhor terrorism in all its forms, when I refer to "success" I simply refer to the level to which the instigators objectives have been met.

Small note on disclaimer: It does bother me the level of paranoia is such at the moment that I feel the need to have the write the last paragraph and basically declare myself to be a reasonable human being who wishes no harm to anyone lest anybody make the assumption otherwise.

It's about time! (5, Funny)

ArcticCelt (660351) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435118)

It's about time!

Now if they can just ban access to that nasty election and recount data, the terrorist will really be screwed.

//And that's why 1984 will not be 1984 because in fact 1984 will be in 2004.

Roadmaps to be made illegal (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10435140)

In a report from the newly appointed SPC (Scaring the Public Commision) it is stated that, due to the increased terrorist threat, all roadmaps are made illegal. "This way," senior spokesman G. Busk says, "we will make it harder for terrorists to find their way in our country." According to the ruling all, people in position of roadmaps should hand them in to their local government, who will arange for them to be burned. It is decided that all maps shal be burned on big bonfires in every city and town, on November 1. "This way we make it a happening. Something to lighten the mood, so to speak!" Mr. Busk exclaims. "We will encourage people to bring tables, chairs, snacks and drinks. Hot dogs will be grilled on the bonfires and sold. We belive this will be a great party!"

After this date, if you are caught in position of a roadmap, you can be sentenced to pay fines on up to $5000 or to prison in up to 2 years, depending on the size of the map.

Terrorists WTF? (3, Insightful)

__int64 (811345) | more than 9 years ago | (#10435147)

Terrorists have no power, unless we give it to them (through fear)...doing shit like this is just making it worse (unduly causing more public fear). Assuming for a moment that fighting terrorism was the real purpose of this...
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