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DHS to Send Widespread Alerts

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the ripe-for-exploits dept.

265

MarsGov writes "The Department of Homeland Security is gearing up to be able to periodic test 'alerts' to cable television stations, satellite radio, as well as any text-capable device — PDAs, cell phones, and web sites." From the article: Some glitches remain as telephone companies and other networks grapple with potentially trying to alert all of their customers at the same time without jamming their systems, Lawson said. But the alerts could be transmitted by text messages, audio recordings, video or graphics, he said, opening the possibility of sending out additional detailed information to specific sectors, like hospitals or emergency responders."

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Invasion? (5, Funny)

cb8100 (682693) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706763)

So, if the U.S. gets invaded I'll get an SMS saying "All our base are belong to them?"

Re:Invasion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706841)

Invaded? Nah... All Your Base Are Belong To Us will be flashed across the nation after a 13 year old hacks into the system. Oh! And then he'll use it to DoS re-runs of Friends! ;)

Re:Invasion? (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706959)

More like "You belong to all our base" -- so much catchier than "Greetings from your Local Draft Board"...

Re:Invasion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15707184)

Possibly, "All your base to us". Anyone else need another verb in the summary?

kind of scary (4, Insightful)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706776)

As much as I think this could help in the event of disaster, I hope that some legislation is passed to limit it's use. It would be very easy to abuse it for propogand purposes.

Re:kind of scary (4, Insightful)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706847)

Not to mention possibly clogging up vital pieces of infrastructure that would be most needed in an emergency...

"We're sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed, this cell node is currently attempting to send 104,000 SMS messages..."

Re:kind of scary (5, Insightful)

mrxak (727974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706902)

I can only seeing something like this causing panic. "UR IN DANGER RUN 4 LIFE" getting sent to thousands of people all at once can't possibly be a great way of alerting people to an emergency. At least with television alerts they give you a decent amount of information, but text messenging, especially at this large a scale, any message sent would probably not be able to include a lot of information.

Re:kind of scary (5, Funny)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707100)

and 5 minutes later a 2nd SMS saying:

No, the OTHER way!


what?! (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706848)

That's never happened before, why would they start doing it now?

I mean, it's not like the terror alerts shifted up and down during the run-up to the 2004 elections.

Oh, wait.

Re:what?! (2, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707077)

Hopefully it will be an extension of the current Emergency Broadcast System [wikipedia.org] - you know, the one that makes annoying noises on your TV you get your attention. I've only ever seen that used for occasional tests, and for weather storm warnings. EBS doesn't seem politicized to me. In fact, I think having an established way to notify "everybody" of something is a very reasonable idea. (Though I doubt it will be useful for terrorism, which typically strikes with even less warning than an ICBM.)

Re:what?! (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707124)

Here you are mistaken.

Go and ask your grandpa.

This is a repeat of what was going on in the UK, US and USSRin the late 40-es and early 50-es when they had the idea that they fight a nuclear war and win it. There were casual tests of mass broadcast systems, nuclear fallout shelters being built, contingency procedures put in place, etc.

This illusion soon faded as it became clear that there will be no winners and no losers if a nuclear conflict really breaks out. So the silly exercises stopped. First in the US and UK. USSR stopped a bit later around Hrushev's time.

damn my unclear posting (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707168)

I meant the system abused for political means has never happened before, and it was (poor) sarcasm.

Re:kind of scary (0, Flamebait)

wondafucka (621502) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706856)

Wait. I thought that propaganda was DHS's job.

Re:kind of scary (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15707038)

As much as I think this could help in the event of disaster, I hope that some legislation is passed to limit it's use. It would be very easy to abuse it for propogand purposes.


And legislation will stop this... how?

Indeed (2, Interesting)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707046)

I've long wondered how many amber alerts are not for missing children. Train everyone to go "omg think of the children", and you can use it to find political dissidents at the drop of a hat.

It reminds me of a scene, I think from 1984, "Attention all citizens, there is a criminal running through the streets..."

Maybe this has happened; maybe it will happen; maybe it's just the muscle relaxants talking.

Re:kind of scary (4, Insightful)

dougman (908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707125)

Clearly you did not RTFA. It states, "Only the president can order a national emergency alert" and "The new digital system will update the emergency alerts planned -- but never used -- during the Cold War in the event of a nuclear strike". More legislation...uggh.

While you can pretend to predict what will happen, over 55 years of history (this program started in 1951) shows that it is unlikely to be used. Only the President can issue the alert and the current President didn't on 9/11 or any other time since. Other than your own FUD, what reason do you have to believe that it will suddenly be used for evil?

Again, DHS is updating the technology to deliver the same old message (which they apparently have yet to send).

Re:kind of scary (3, Informative)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707163)

I'm on a couple of these kinds of lists already.

I've been on the the CERT [us-cert.gov] lists (and the Old system [cert.org] for 9 years now, and they have never abused the system to my knowledge. Granted, CERT is only for computers, but it is similar to some of the new proposed lists.

I also signed up for the Safe Community Alert Network [scanusa.com] , which is some sort of private-public partnership between SBC/ATT & various other organizations. Various government State, County & City agencies in California have referred me to ScanUSA.

ScanUSA does send me Amber Alerts, notifications about nearby fires, etc. However some of those Amber Alerts & Fire Alerts are from San Diego, which is 500 miles from me. Not very relevant.

The vast majority of the messages have been spam-ish -- I got notifications about the COPS [www.cops.cc] program (COPS uses *very* agressive fundraising techniques), non-urgent warnings regardiing West Nile Virus, reminding me to wear sunscreen, and notifications about upcoming meeting for the County Health Department.

Here's the kicker: I'm only signed up for "Critical" alerts. I shouldn't be getting any of these--- but I do.

I would never sign up for SMS alerts from this organization. Way too much Spam.

Re:kind of scary (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707199)

And I forgot to mention something--

Each of these email alerts looks something like this:


Subject: ALERT: Something bad happened

Something bad happend. This is a short 1 line message.

To see this alert, please click on the following URL:

http://www.scanusa.com/alert/something/something [scanusa.com]


So, they send you an email regarding the alert, but don't describe any DETAILS about the alert. Instead, they ask you to click on a URL. Often, the URL doesn't work, because the server crashed under heavy load --thousands of people all clicked on the URL at the same time!

Why not just put the details inside the body of the email message.

Re:kind of scary (4, Insightful)

geobeck (924637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707234)

It would be very easy to abuse it for propogand[a] purposes.

Unlike the regular news media, which has never been used for propaganda purposes, of course.

Just in time for the fall election season (4, Insightful)

BroncoInCalifornia (605476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706777)

They have to push the fear buttons before the fall election. It will make the difference between winning and losing.

Re:Just in time for the fall election season (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706842)

re: fear buttons. isn't that obvious?

wasn't it also obvious that they stopped right about AFTER the last elections?

gwb has NOTHING going for him (that's any good) except fear, uncertainty (and to those that can see thru him) doubt.

the monkey-boy cried wolf once too many times, I think...

Re:Just in time for the fall election season (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706900)

Yes, the made up fear button. Have you been to Bombay lately? (or whatever they renamed it to)

Re:Just in time for the fall election season (3, Insightful)

dougman (908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706999)

The difference between winning and losing for whom? Again, everything is about "the timing" and has to have an agenda.

First off, if you RTFA, it says, "The Homeland Security Department, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, expects to have the system working by the end of next year." Furthermore, this is extending 1950's policy (President Truman, Democrat) to 21st centrury devices. Lastly, it has never been used and only the president can issue its usage. But hey, feel free to don your tinfoil hat. I guess only time will tell - we should follow up on this after the elections.

What I find unfortunate is that DHS can't win. If they send out any kind of alert and nothing happens, they overreacted (even if there was a real threat and the perps simply scratched their mission once they were exposed.). If they don't send an alert and something happens, they take the blame for that. If they use it to send out emergency information on a hurricane bearing down on New Orleans... well, they won't do that right, because you believe this tech will only be used for political gain (though TFA says it may be used for natural disasters).

Again, this is a case where the technology can be used for good or evil. Looking back at how things unfolded on 9/11, it would have been highly beneficial to have system in place to alert officials of what was happening. It is amazing how much lag there was between the time we suspected we were under attack and when all the airlines found out and began issuing orders to their pilots.

Re:Just in time for the fall election season (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707057)

It is amazing isn't it? Now look at who benefited from that delay and draw your own conclusions.

Re:Just in time for the fall election season (5, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707136)

"What I find unfortunate is that DHS can't win. "

I think it's a little early for you to come to this conclusion.

"If they send out any kind of alert and nothing happens, they overreacted (even if there was a real threat and the perps simply scratched their mission once they were exposed.). "

If you look at a timeline of terror alerts [mac.com] , they all seem to coincide with the release of news that was damaging to the Bush administration.

"If they don't send an alert and something happens, they take the blame for that. "

Has that actually happened (yet)? That's why I say it is perhaps too early for you to say that they can't win.

"If they use it to send out emergency information on a hurricane bearing down on New Orleans... well, they won't do that right, because you believe this tech will only be used for political gain (though TFA says it may be used for natural disasters)."

Did they issue such a warning for hurricane Katrina? I honestly don't recall if they did. If they did, kudos to them.

If this is a tech that can be used for good or evil, based on historical evidence, I think the Bush administration will use it for evil.

Re:Just in time for the fall election season (2, Funny)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707260)

If you look at a timeline of terror alerts, they all seem to coincide with the release of news that was damaging to the Bush administration.


To be fair, pretty much any news is damaging to the Bush administration.

Re:Just in time for the fall election season (1)

Varitek (210013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707152)

What I find unfortunate is that DHS can't win. If they send out any kind of alert and nothing happens, they overreacted (even if there was a real threat and the perps simply scratched their mission once they were exposed.). If they don't send an alert and something happens, they take the blame for that.
Government has lost the trust of anyone who has been paying attention for the last few years. If they can't win, it's their own fault for their 'everything is political' tactics.

Re:Just in time for the fall election season (2, Insightful)

Unlikely_Hero (900172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707177)

Your statement makes an argument for the pointlessness of DHS. Simple fact, there is no such thing as homeland security. All it takes for a terrorist to blow up a mid-large sized building is a bunch of crap he could buy over a small period of time at home depot and other various places. Hell, there are recipes for explosives all over the net, RDX, C4, fuck, even Astrolite. It doesn't take some kind of a "terror network" to do something that would cause a ton of carnage and damage. It takes one individual with maybe $1000 and who is REALLY pissed.

I can see where this goes... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706778)

Great, all we need now is gov't spamming of cell phones...

Re:I can see where this goes... (1)

winnabago (949419) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706797)

It should be opt-in, not the other way.

Re:I can see where this goes... (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706914)

in-opt?

Just what we need... (1, Insightful)

JurassicPizza (972175) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706787)

Homeland Security Spam!

Interesting. (2, Interesting)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706794)

There was an unusual "statewide administrative alert" broadcast to the TVs at the bar during lunch yesterday, and nobody knew what in the hell it meant. So much for my theory that DHS was buying the next round.

Re:Interesting. (3, Funny)

FLEB (312391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706995)

It means we go into Emergency Bureaucracy. May God help us all.

now this is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706804)

We all know these networks aren't built for 100% simultaneous utilization, so how do they decide who gets told first? The largest campaign contributors to the next president?

Eh, sort of cool actually (1)

Vokkyt (739289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706805)

I wouldn't worry too much about this. It's nothing new really, just a few more devices added to the warning network. Plus, think of it this way; once the warning is over, all of those cell-phone folk who's conversation got interupted will have something new to talk about for hours on end...OMG, it's a money making scheme!11!

What about hackers? (1, Interesting)

blindbug (979761) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706809)

Although a great system, I wonder how long it will take someone to hack [slashdot.org] this system and send out a shout out to his hacker buddies and their 295 million friends?

Good for Disaster Preparedness. (5, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706812)

A standard message format for disaster warning would be useful when prompt response could save lives. Tornado warnings come to mind as an ideal use for this. Not everyone is watching the boob tube or listening to conventional radio these days.

Re:Good for Disaster Preparedness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706858)

What's this whole obsession with "saving lives"? $DIETY/$God/Mother_Nature/$var/$const/Evolution made us immortal so we would cease to exist some day or the other. And die all of us will, if not sooner, then later.

The sooner we come to terms with this unfortunate fact, the better.

Cool, but... (1)

Skynet (37427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706819)

Who is going to willingly upload their cell num/SMS to the Department of Homeland Security?

Or do they plan to get the numbers directly from the cell providers?

Re:Cool, but... (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706859)

Or do they plan to get the numbers directly from the cell providers?
Well, they already have your phone number [usatoday.com] .

Re:Cool, but... (1)

Skynet (37427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706875)

Tru dat. I guess I should have asked if they plan to get the numbers from NSA. :)

Re:Cool, but... (1)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706873)

I'd think they would just send the message to the actual cell provider who would then send it to all their subscribers. It would make sense for the cell provider to have a list of all the phone numbers on their service. ;-)

Re:Cool, but... (2, Informative)

Infoport (935541) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706950)

SURPRISE! The DHS & NSA (& CIA, FBI, DEA) already have your phone numbers!

Read the previous Slashdot articles
http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/11/12 16245 [slashdot.org]
http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/20/13 42211 [slashdot.org]
http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/02/15 15252 [slashdot.org]

-- phone companies have been giving over records and access to logs to the NSA, if not access stream of converstion itself, and acc. to the agencies, they routinely SHARE all secret intelligence information that they can with each other-- FBI, DEA, etc. It doesn't really matter WHAT the first agency used as a justification once info is SHARED with another agency either.

Infoport

Re:Cool, but... (1)

cb8100 (682693) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707076)

I'm sure cell providers have some kind of "SendMessage(msg, *@provider.net)" functionality.

By region (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707274)

I'm imagining that it's more like a "send to any phone listening in this region" kind of deal. They don't care what phone numebr you have, as long as it is communicating in a tower in a region they'd like to send a message to.

"Test Alerts" My Ass (5, Insightful)

Chagatai (524580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706823)

The real reason for these alerts is to keep people as scared as possible. A building blew up in New York two days ago? Must be scary terrorists. Your flight was delayed? Be scared--it may be terrorists. Flat Coca-Cola, small puppies getting kicked, and cable rates being raised? Be terrified, because these were likely caused by terrorists.

The truth is that these events will continue during the 2006 elections and we should start seeing a few Orange Alerts or even a planned attack here in the next several months. No, wait, I got it. There will be an attack immediately followed by news of Osama bin Laden's death. Yeah, that will do it.

Re:"Test Alerts" My Ass (2, Insightful)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706870)

There are already emergency alert systems, and the government has not abused them. The new SECDHS does a good job of not elevating alerts when not needed.


And to be fair, the federal government was very quick to say that the NYC building explosion the other day was not terrorism.

Re:"Test Alerts" My Ass (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707099)

Wait a second, do you know where you are? This is /., my friend, not some place to go wildly publishing your calm, rational ravings!

WRONG - they have been abused. (3, Informative)

JetScootr (319545) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707101)

When Hurricane FEMA^H^H^H^HRita was due to hit the Texas coast, I received 3-4 phone calls in a 15-minute span telling me to leave. Forced evacuations mean the gov't won't allow individuals to plan for themselves. I've lived within 15 miles of the Gulf since 1967, and have never needed to leave for any hurricane. I could tell that Rita was going to weaken, from experience. Hurricanes that start up quickly in the Gulf also weaken quickly as they approach Houston.
I spent 5 days on the road for no good f******* reason.
That's abuse of power.

Re:WRONG - they have been abused. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15707266)

And so when the storm doesn't weaken one day, and you didn't leave... I'm not going to run around in a boat and pick your stupid ass up.

Re:"Test Alerts" My Ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706919)

You come off as the one who is scared

Re:"Test Alerts" My Ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706987)

Your train blew up? Be scared--it may be terrorists.

Was that a planed attack to?

SMS charges? (3, Interesting)

yellowbkpk (890493) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706826)

So does this mean that when I get an SMS pushed to me by the DHS via my cell carrier that I'll get charged $0.10 for the feature, or will it be a free-of-charge alert?

I don't get it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706829)

If this is supposed to be a war on terror, then why is it that all they seem to be doing is looking for new ways to make people terrified?

Re:I don't get it (1, Insightful)

swtaarrs (640506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707179)

Because people are easy to manipulate when they're afraid. 9/11, as terrible as it was, was the best thing to happen to Bush's presidency. It gave him the ability to justify any of his actions with "it's for the war on terror" and most people are afraid enough to take it. Hopefully he won't cause too much more damage before he's done in 08...

Strategic terror alerts (1)

Nijika (525558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706832)

As others stated it should indeed be opt-in. Although if it's "global", that being everyone in the US, or specific states could be alerted all at once, it'd be mighty convenient to issue terror alerts to blue states (or red states, depending on who's in power) right as people are going to the polls. "Stay away! Terror! Don't vote!"

We have always been at war with Eurasia.... (0, Flamebait)

Dr_Bootygrabber (982849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706839)

This is our land. A land of peace and of plenty. A land of harmony and hope. This is our land. The United States of America. These are our people. The workers, the strivers, the builders. These are our people. The builders of our world, struggling, fighting, bleeding, dying. On the streets of our cities and on the far-flung battlefields. Fighting against the mutilation of our hopes and dreams.

FLASH! (2, Funny)

bk4u (682315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706849)

So when you get a text, remember to duck and cover. Hiding under desks also helps.

That could be annoying.... (1)

ShyGuy91284 (701108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706866)

A disaster happens (I wonder if they would have used such a thing during 9|11 even to tell people who were not directly at risk?), and I find my pda beeping, cell phone vibrating, TV sirening, computer flashing, and maybe even my fax maching faxing. And to anyone who dares make fun of me having all these devices active at once, I'd imagine quite a few people here would too....

In case of apathy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706879)

Break all electronic devices nearbly, lest you be innunadated with hyped-up warnings. Hell, I don't even pay attention to tornado sirens--at least, I don't due so in the usual sense--my incessent curiousity as to how turbulent the weather is causes me to 'hang out' and watch the storm outside until it subsides. So, now people might rush out to possible terrorism targets and 'wait' for something novel to occur? Hmm...

Who are the terrorists? (3, Interesting)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706882)

The terrorists' goal is to spread fear to help them get to their political goals. They are going to be very happy everytime this alert system is used, they're going to reach a lot more people to scare them now. And with this no need to plan expensive real terrorist acts, you just have to convince the USA intelligences services that something big is going to happen. But who is spreading the most fear? Who's political agenda is pushed by this? Who are the terrorists?

Re:Who are the terrorists? (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706934)

Something big and credible like trying to flood lower Manhatten that is 10 feet above sea level.

great, more spam (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706894)

just what I need, more spam.
can i opt-out??

You have 1 unread message (1)

Tyrsenus (858934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706896)

From:DHS
To:555-564-5930
Txt msg body:

There's nothing to see here. Please move along.

End msg body.

Eurasia Armies Have Broken Through Enemy Lines! (2)

Pizaz (594643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706909)

We have always been at war with Eurasia.

Re:Eurasia Armies Have Broken Through Enemy Lines! (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707194)

Nobody reads George Orwell anymore. Documentaries are boring, you see.

Wooo... (1)

Attis_The_Bunneh (960066) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706915)

Alert The Internets!

-- Bridget

DHS reserves right to INTERRUPT speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706921)

And corrupt the first amendment.

What will happen is they will interrupt your show with some irrelevent crap exactly when you are telling the public that there is electronic election fraud.

ask the DHS what exactly is the status of the security of our country.

Fuck the DHS

~phil

Re:DHS reserves right to INTERRUPT speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15707089)

Good input. Thanks for your contribution to the discussion.

You dip shit.

the sky is falling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706922)

Warning Warning Warning!
Fear Alert -- You should be scared now!
Please run and hide.
All is not how it should be.

I am the Great Oz!

Whatever happened to. . . (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706925)

that wonderful color-coded scale that was touted to alert people to the current state of readiness? You do remember that chart, don't you?

Me neither.

So tell me again how sending the entire nation into a tizzy everytime bin Laden sneezes is going to be any better? Don't we have enough dumbasses living in a swamp coming on tv and telling everyone how afraid they are that their double-wide will be bombed whenever they see someone whose skin isn't white?

Do we really need this crap other than to keep people in a state of panic?

Re:Whatever happened to. . . (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707024)

I have a cheap phone with a monochrome screen. I'm in a constant state of outright terror.

Re:Whatever happened to. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15707096)

So tell me again how sending the entire nation into a tizzy everytime bin Laden sneezes is going to be any better?

By making sure that everyone is constantly afraid, the politicians/powers that be can continually grab more power - "Hey, we're keeping the Muslims from killing all of you! You NEED to keep us in power! Want proof?!? Why, there hasn't been a terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11! Yes siree! It's obvious proof that OUR policies are working!"

And you know what? The American folks who seem to have ALL of the political power these days (AM Radio Listening Christian Fundalmentalist Kooks) buy into this horseshit Hook line and sinker! AND, if you throw in that you're against Gay marriage, abortion, and buring the flag..you are home free and keeping your really cushy $150,000+ job (House) or $200,000+ (Senate) or $400,000 + the millions when you leave office (Executive)!

They should just issue everyone a TV (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706927)

In order to not miss any alerts, you could just leave it on all the time (hey, the government's paying for it, right?). The government could broadcast alerts or educational content (maybe some exercise shows?) and of course programs with patriotic themes. They could even make it interactive! Of course, there might be problems getting enough people to be "interactivity monitors", but I bet if they tried they could do it!

"Tonight on Airstrip One Reports...."

Re:They should just issue everyone a TV (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707065)

And, of course, it'll be illegal to turn it off. [maxheadroom.com]

Can't wait... (4, Funny)

ph43thon (619990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706931)

...until some guy hacks that system to send out "Test Alerts" about his large penis.

Re:Can't wait... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707084)

These terrorists wouldn't be attacking us if we all had larger penises. It's your patriotic duty to buy this pill...

Great. more wasted $$$ (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706942)

Back in the cold war they started the EBS, "Emergency Broadcast System", so if the Russians fired their nukes, you'd have a good half hour to "duck and cover" and tremble in fear before you were vaporized in an atomic holocaust.

This was more intelligently re-worked as the "EAS", or Emergency Alert System, where they actually had a real use for it: it would sound when a tornado or other dangerous weather was coming. Anyone remember the hilarious episode of WKRP where there was a tornado about to hit Cincinnatti, and the radio station only had warnings for nukes, and Les Nessman had to substutite "tornado" for "communist" (warning of the "Godless Tornados")?

WTF is this damned pork? There is already as system in place. The EAS could warn you of a terror attack just as easily as a tornado... except they can't see terrorists on radar, or 9-11 wouldn't have happened! WTF is this actually supposed to DO? I mean, besides coddle the cowardly?

Speaking of weather vs Osama, we had two tornados rip through our town this year, no loss of human life (lots of dead animals) but incredible infrastructure destruction- houses, trailers, businesses, roofs, electricity, roads. Bin Laden couldn't DREAM of making a mess anywhere near as catastrophic. I can't imagine anyone here (or moreso New Orleans where a thousand people died) being the least bit scared of terrorists.

Is anybody else sick of our incredibly cowardly government? What can we do to get these yellow bellied chickenshits to grow a spine?

Keeping Americans scared... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15706948)

The Department of Homeland Security... keeping Americans scared for a double plus good future.

*text msg chime* (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706962)

FROM: DHS
SUBJECT: omgwtfbbq
BODY: big missls cmg oshit run awy now pls kthx

Another option (1)

imarsman (305818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706966)

They're also working on a way to put a fear-inducing drug in beer and getting Max von Sydow to distribute it at Octoberfest.

What they don't tell you is.. (1)

bigtimepie (947401) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706975)

What they don't tell you is that all your outgoing data will be inversely read and/or filtered for "security reasons."

I always hated this (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15706986)

"This has been a test of the emergency broadcast system" - CBC.
When in fact it was just a test of my patience. Can we please limit this to commercial time?

Oh I guess it wouldn't be very effective unless it was able to intterupt everyone in what they were doing. Welcome to the new and improved "in your face" politics. Next they will be legislating mandatory PVR passthrough, telephone interrupt, and server pushed popups, just to make they have our attention for the weekly test.

Ok, it probably wont be that bad. It might even be a good thing when we really need it. But I am skeptical.It just seems like it has a huge potential to waste a truck load of time over the years.

this of this as an upgrade (1)

beta-guy (715984) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707026)

this is mearly the color coded system 2.0 now when it goes to orange everyone will know :P

Government sponsered SPAM. (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707036)

Just a thought.

Bass Ackwards (3, Interesting)

955301 (209856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707070)


This is exactly the type of information broadcasting was intended for now we're going to try to distribute it on systems that are intended to reach single devices? WTF?!

They would be better off requiring all computers and phones to have a built in emergency broadcast radio receiver permanently fixed on the channel and on at all times. At least then they won't bog down general bandwidth.

Use Firefox Homeland Insecurity Idiocy Level! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15707085)

That's all I need - it says "Scared" on my browser now in a yellow box.

When it changes for the worse I'll pop a beer and kiss my butt goodbye.

Homeland Security Office - that's a contradiction in the USA

False alarm (1)

freaktheclown (826263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707092)

What happens when there's a false alarm?

Um Europe (1)

MSDos-486 (779223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707094)

I remember reading somewere about a system like this in Europe. One of the features was you would get a txt message welcomeing you when you entered another country.

Bigass waste of money (1)

Unlikely_Hero (900172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707138)

Hmm...disaster prepardness...being able to tell people where to evacuate...didnt DHS already get an absolute ton of money to implement all this crap? What did they do with that money?
Ohhhh that's right, they pissed it away and then we saw them utterly fail against something we KNEW was coming (Katrina).
And their solution to their shitty management and inability to run anything properly is to...give...them...more...money?
Yep, they're a government agency allright. Oh, and of course we won't have a choice as to whether to give them more money or that. That's the beauty of it, they pretty much get the money by fiat. Of course, we could vote out all the louts in congress etc who administer this nightmare, but hell...if you think you can actually change anything in the US Government by votes alone, and without massive amounts of cash to bribe politicians with, then I have a bridge in brooklyn you might be interested in

Urgent Message (1)

27,000 (987534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707149)

Sent: Today, 11:28AM
From: kimjongil@****.nk
ZERG RUSH KEKEKEKEKE ^___________^

Urgent Message
Sent: Today, 11:36AM
From: gwbush@****.gov
STFU I SAID NO RUSH
Uh, that aside... what could they possibly send that would be of use? 'We expect a terror attack in your vicinity, please move in an orderly fashion to the marked panic zones' - the police should present for this. 'America is under attack from terrorist forces, stay calm' - probably not much use to us right now. 'Your downtown district has been closed off due to a severe attack' - if a message could get through after a major event, I'd be impressed. Emergency warnings are good in the event of severe weather, as people living in areas at risk know what tornadoes and hurricanes do, and have prepared. Americans have historically prepared for nuclear attack and air raids, as we know what those do and how to shelter ourselves. Brief emergency warnings simply won't work in the face of a real terrorist attack. We don't know how they'll attack, where, or how we should seek shelter, and brief cellular messages do not seem to be the way to spread that information.

Noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15707150)

Can you imagine the cacophony of an office or theater full of cell phones, pagers, and other devices when a test is sent through this system?

a good thing, or FEMA's job? (3, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707156)

I don't know about you, but this system actually has some appeal to me.

I wouldn't want to be receiving messages everytime Osama Bin Laden sneezes, or some vague insubstantial threat warning is released, but some type of good, reliable system for distributing information when there is a clear and present danger would be immensely helpful to our country.

An effective information distribution system would have done wonders for getting people out of New Orleans ahead of time, rather than at the very last minute.

Likewise, if such a system were activated during the big NYC blackout a few years ago, it would done a lot to let people know that there was no sort of terrorist attack or other emergency.

As long as such a system is kept under tight control to only be used in *extreme* emergencies, I have no problem with it, although I do agree that such a system could very easily be used for propoganda purposes...

opt out? (1)

chmod a+x mojo (965286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707171)

They better have an opt out for this "service" because if i start getting charged for the text messages i receive i will look into starting a class action suit.... for a lot, my time is quite valuable.

Amber Alert (1)

blacknblu (988181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707186)

Why would DHS need this ability? Is there something wrong with the media alerts currently used? I would imagine that since this is a government agency, the bureaucracy involved to send an alert would pale in comparison to other news sources. If anything, this would be a glorified Amber Alert [wikipedia.org]

Ugh (1)

Cryssen (959305) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707210)

So I'd get a bill from Cingular for said text message...I already get enough unsolicited text messages that cost me money.

Government Spam (1)

darcling (987237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15707212)

I'm glad I have SMS messages blocked on my cell, that way I don't have to hear about it every time the security level changes from yellow to orange to periwinkle. (unless the evil overlords have already planned for this and override it somehow : / ) -d

Text message warning in stages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15707217)

> Some glitches remain as telephone companies and other networks grapple with potentially trying to
> alert all of their customers at the same time without jamming their systems, Lawson said.

That's easy enough to figure out. Send out the text messages in waves, from least annoying customers to the most.

"I'm sorry to hear about your injury Mister Donovan. Yes, it did take ten minutes for you to get the message, that is because you are a "Tier five" customer. Yes, yes, it seems that Ted in activations flagged your account as a five after you ridiculed his manhood."
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