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DHS Says Cellular Outage Reporting is Terrorist Blueprint 421

Posted by simoniker
from the situation-unknown dept.
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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DHS Says Cellular Outage Reporting is Terrorist Blueprint

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:52PM (#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.
    • by Mad Martigan (166976) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:04PM (#9702167) Homepage
      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.
      • by GreyWolf3000 (468618) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:15PM (#9702266) Journal
        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.
        • by synaptic (4599) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:47PM (#9702486) Homepage
          Except that the government has never come out and said "the people on the airplane crashed it". People who live in that area, however, report several other planes in the area, including fighter jets such as f-16s.

          Face it, we shot down that airliner. Everyone was focusing on New York City and little attention was paid to the Pennsylvania field. Cheney and Rumsfeld had already authorized shooting down any of the hijacked airplanes and there was plenty of time for armed fighter jets to intercept it from Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, or Kentucky.
          • by Martin Blank (154261) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @08:02PM (#9702590) Journal
            Families that listened to the cockpit voice recording in April 2002 said that the recording, while not completely clear, did clearly indicate that there was a struggle in the cockpit shortly before the plane crashed. In addition, had the plane been shot down by a missile, there would have been debris scattered for miles before the impact site along the flight path -- Sidewinder, Sparrow, or AMRAAM, those things will blow a lot of pieces off of a large plane.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @08:22PM (#9702707)
              umm, there WAS debris found 8 miles or so from the main impact site, backwards from the line of flight, and roughly near where the eyewitnesses claim they saw the shootdown occur. Of course, you knew that from research, correct, about the debris and the mostly ignored eyewitnesses?

              It's on the net, just not on the 6 o clock news.

              Here's another one. That stewardess who allegedly called her husband had to use a phone built into the plane, because her cellphone was in her purse, which she couldn't get to because the terrorists were in the way and stuff....

              Well, hooo-kay then, how did she activate it without her credit card, which was presumably back in her purse as well?

              If you want more, there are more than a hundred unanswered questions and quite strange incongruities and even stranger coincidences with the governments story about all the events surrounding 9-11. Those above are just two of them.

              Happy _legitimate_ researching!
              • It's on the net, just not on the 6 o clock news.

                Wow! Its on the "net"? Damn! It must be true then! The "net" would never lie to us!
              • by BlueStrat (756137) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:31AM (#9704569)
                "umm, there WAS debris found 8 miles or so from the main impact site, backwards from the line of flight,[...]"

                One thing to take into consideration, is that if there was a struggle in the cockpit, and the aircraft went out of control, it is quite likely that pieces were ripped from the aircraft by the extreme loads placed on the airframe. An airliner is no fighter jet, one can rip the wings, horizontal/vertical stabilizers off quite easily under extreme maneuvers/speed, or in an uncontrolled dive. As far as accounting for the debris field being so far away, the aircraft could have sustained damage, but actually travelled some distance before impact, as we're talking starting at an altitude of around 30,000-35,000 ft, which means that the aircraft could have been in a fairly steep dive, losing more and more pieces, and still cover 8 miles ground distance. Although not an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) mechanic or crash investigator, I am a retired senior avionics technician, and have helped in crash investigations before, including black-box voice/data extraction from damaged recorders, and have also worked helping to repair crashed aircraft that were salvageable, so have some experience from which to speak.

                Strat
              • Here's another one. That stewardess who allegedly called her husband had to use a phone built into the plane, because her cellphone was in her purse, which she couldn't get to because the terrorists were in the way and stuff....

                Well, hooo-kay then, how did she activate it without her credit card, which was presumably back in her purse as well?

                This is the problem with many conspiracy theories--they ask such simple, obvious questions, that clearly point to no rational explanation besides conspiracy.

                Er, no. First of all, you're begging the question of whether or not the stewardess in question actually had no access to her credit card. How about this--if I were a steward(ess), I'd realize that carrying a purse or backpack while I worked was impractical. I'd also realize that I was travelling all over the country, and that I might end up staying in a strange city on any given night (weather diversion, mechanical trouble, etc.). Lastly, I might realize that my purse/bag/backpack could be stolen while I'm off at the other end of the plane, and I might not know about it until after the passengers were long gone.

                What would I do in such a situation? I'd stuff my driver's license, a credit card, and (especially for international flights) my passport into the pocket of my uniform where they would be easy for me to keep track of. I wouldn't carry my phone on me, because a)it's bulkier than the cards, and b)I'm not allowed to use it on the plane anyway.

                For that matter, the stewardess could have just borrowed a card from someone seated near the phones. If the plane I was on was hijacked, I wouldn't begrudge someone a few minutes of toll charges.

                The question of debris is addressed by a well-written sibling post. Briefly, a struggle for control in the cockpit could easily result in deliberate or accidental rapid maneouvres that result in greater-than-design stresses on the airframe. Consequently, bits shake loose. If you stomp on the rudder pedal of an airliner while flying at anything close to cruising speed, you're going to rip stuff off. (Think about what would happen to your car if you turned the steering wheel abruptly all the way to the right while on the Interstate.)

                If those are the best of the 'hundred unanswered questions' and 'strange incongruities', then I'm afraid it's a pretty weak conspiracy. Hint: lack of information does not necessarily mean conspiracy--sometimes it just means that we can't get all of the information.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        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...
      • 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."

      • 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.

      • by Xyrus (755017) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @09:18PM (#9703039) Journal
        Well with all those terrorists out there...

        Terrorist 1: So do I get to suicide bomb today? Do I?!? Do I?!?!

        Terrorist 2: No. The cellular service isn't down.

        Terrorist 1: Awwwwwww I never get to be the bomb!

        Terrorist 2: Cheer up, little guy! You never know...Hey Look!

        Terrorist 1: What?!?! What's going on?

        Terrorist 2: The cellular service just went down! You see? Now you can blow yourself up in the name of !

        Terrorist 1: Hoooray! Hooray!

        The Department of Homeland Stupidity is the biggest friggin' joke going in America. At least Hitler's SS had some creative reason's to start trampling rights.

        How the hell is this information going to help a terrorist? Terrorist are not spur of the moment. They plan. Just like any other paramilitary self-righteous group of assholes on the planet.

        Knowing that cell coverage is out in an area would only be useful to them if they did it themselves.

        Conversely, knowing where cell coverage is operational would be good for them if they wanted to detonate a bomb from afar.

        I can't believe grown human beings are making these decisions...and people go along with it!

        This is almost as silly as not letting homosexuals have equal rights....oh....yeah.

        ~X~

        I support Bush as much as I support terrorism.
    • by Entropius (188861) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:05PM (#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.
      • by smnolde (209197) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @08:01PM (#9702583) Homepage
        Get your amateur license. It's extremely simple to do. I got mine last October. Amateur radio is fun as much as it is rewarding. Even if you aren't on the air every day you'll appreciate when you can communicate during a power outage or national emergency.

        For a little studying and $12 you can get your technician's license which affords you a lot of bandwidth above 50MHz. Check ww.arrl.org for your nearest radio club and get in touch with someone.

        KD5ZEF
    • by silentbozo (542534) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:06PM (#9702186) Journal
      - 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.
    • 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.

    • by twitter (104583) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @08:13PM (#9702661) Homepage Journal
      The BBC's Washington correspondent has a story about a "web of terrorism" [bbc.co.uk] today. It's a clear call for internet censorship, which will clearly benefit incumbent service providers at the expense of the web and freedom of speech.

      People in Washington and elsewhere have noticed that terrorists use the internet in much the same way they do. They point to web sites and even combat games used as "online training camps".

      Words like that are usually followed by bombs and at least one person [talkleft.com] has been to jail over it already [samiomar.com] and speech has not been free everywhere forever [prisonplanet.com]. The EFF has a nice list of sites already shut down [eff.org].

      More stupid laws can't be far behind a propaganda ramp up like that. The only way to implement the censorship that would be to continue to centralize telecommunications further. The only way to kill free speech is to kill free enterprise.

      The pattern is clear. The government is augmenting it's own power by proping up favorites in industry. It's so unAmerican that I want to throw up.

  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mfh (56)
    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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Metallic Matty (579124) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:58PM (#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 (Score:5, Funny)

        by mfh (56) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:01PM (#9702141) Journal
        > 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 (Score:3, Funny)

        by Dr Tall (685787)
        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 (Score:5, Funny)

      by rokzy (687636) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:00PM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Malc (1751) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:00PM (#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 (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 Symmetr

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpecBear (769433) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:21PM (#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.
  • by Kid Zero (4866) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:52PM (#9702069) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by Exatron (124633) <Exatron.hotmail@com> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:56PM (#9702089) Homepage
      Getting unpatriotic? It was unpatriotic from the start.
    • 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?
      • 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.
      • Well, the cell phone providers are leasing the public airwaves in order to send their signals. Accountability for how these public assets are being used SHOULD be part of that agreement, though it may not have been written that way.

      • Two issues here. It's not the cellular company refusing to give out info... the free market would eventually correct that if it were a problem. It's the federal government prohibiting it. Which brings us to the second part...

        Strangely, in the USA (well, pre-Dubya USA), we basically have all rights that aren't specifically disallowed. Not the other way around. You see, they can only list non-rights, in theory. So, until the Constitution is ammended so that we don't have the right of outtage reports, by defa
    • 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.
    • "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 brid
      • Patriot Act"? Who comes up with these names anyway?

        I don't know when it started -- but at some point the conservatives/Republican party decided to use *words* against their enemies. They've been able to insert phrases into the political lexicon which are inflamitory; "tax and spend democrats", "liberal" (said with disgust), "Clinton recession", "Activist Judges" ... There's a million others but I can't think of them at the moment.

        They aren't the only ones to do this, but they sure are the most active.

      • Believe it or not, it's an acronym.

        "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" = USA PATRIOT.
      • "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!

        It's an acronym for the descriptive name:

        Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001

        So, not only does the name of the act describe it, but it one ups other lesser acts by being an acronym!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:54PM (#9702077)
    [Classified]
  • Ummm.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cloudkj (685320)
    ...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.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:57PM (#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.
    • 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

    • it would be nice if cellphones didn't have to file downtime reports, not because of terrorist threats, but that would mean that cellular phones are less regulated by the FCC. Personally, I think the FCC is an overgrown monster that forces communications companies to jump through hundred of hoops to even consider being a successful business. this drives up startup costs and means that national/largess companies end up running things, and rely on government to keep the other guys out.

      The reason why cellphone
  • This just in.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:57PM (#9702103) Journal
    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.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by owlstead (636356)
      This is getting ridiculous?

      Since Bush has been in power the Geneva convention is more or less void, a country has been overrun (ok, with a wrong leadership), the country is spending billions (more) on weapons, Israel gets a "do whatever you like" card, rights have been taken away from citizens, corporate america has been placed above the law, the VN was almost invalidated, money for good causes is being withdrawn and you think it is _getting_ ridiculous?

      America, get yourself another president, _please_.
  • 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?
  • by Arcanix (140337) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:58PM (#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... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by freeduke (786783)
      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.

  • by Dr Rick (588459) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @06:59PM (#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.
    • 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
      • USA - USSR (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wyatt Earp (1029)
        Ho boy, the United States has a long way to go to get to the best day in the Soviet Union level of governmental controls.

        1. Where are the Gulags? I know some consider the prison system to be gulags, but honestly they aren't. There are no Federal or State prisons or jails

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulag
        "After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 Lenin announced that any "class enemy" could not be trusted and should be treated worse than an ordinary criminal. The Gulag was a reformed extension of earlier labo
        • Re:USA - USSR (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @08:47PM (#9702841)
          1. We have millions of people in our prisons; a higher percentage than any other nation on Earh. You're right, people in our prisons aren't dying, they are just getting raped. And all the LOL PRISON RAPE jokes that come up whenever incarceration is mentioned in casual conversation show it's considered acceptable and just punishment in our culture for just about any crime.

          2. You said "so where is that closed information" -- find out anything about that plane yet? Yeah. And just because guys didn't come knocking on your door in this one case doesn't make all the cases [uncletaz.com] of "homeland security" gone wrong that have happened over the last few years go away.

          3. Let's take your example: You said "Would news about casualties in Iraq even make it out?" Did you miss the story about the government trying to block pictures of coffins from making it into the media? During the Vietnam war, the nightly news on all major networks showed the body bags, gave the casualty count, showed graphic footage of the war, every day. The US government learned its lesson from this and has had policies in place ever since to hide the ugly side of war to keep support from eroding. Until Fahrenheit 9/11 came out, many people had never seen photos of the dead and wounded from the Iraq war!

          Besides, the guy's point is that major media is require to act like lapdogs to whomever is in power at the moment, or they will get their "access" taken away. No more interviews, press passes, or anything. Bye-bye business. Do a little research on this -- it's been going on for quite a while now.

  • yes, (Score:2, Funny)

    by B3ryllium (571199)
    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.
    • 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 lim
  • Vote! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Michael.Forman (169981) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:04PM (#9702172) Homepage Journal

    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]
  • i quit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by isbhod (556556) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:06PM (#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 of the DHS is that you don't talk about the DHS. :-)
  • The larger picture (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sean80 (567340) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:07PM (#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?

  • 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...
  • by Mitleid (734193) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:15PM (#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...
  • by !ramirez (106823) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:16PM (#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 :)

  • Reminds me of... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spaceman40 (565797) <blinks@acm.oCOLArg minus caffeine> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:18PM (#9702279) Homepage Journal
    ...the "bug reports causing vulnerabilities" argument.

    'Nuff said.
  • 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.
  • 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...)
  • by multiplexo (27356) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:25PM (#9702324) Journal
    ' 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.

  • Reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maljin Jolt (746064) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:30PM (#9702370) Journal
    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.
  • by Fratz (630746) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:33PM (#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.

  • allowing the Cell providers to report service outages is stupid anways. Do you really trust them to be prompt, about the only thing you can count on the phone company to do is send you a bill, often, and cram it when ever possible. What would stop an indepent group from gathering their own data and publishing it? It would take a few guys lets call them uhmmmm a CELL. This Cell would buy Cell Phones, most likly from diffiernt carries and monitor them for outages and other service changes. The CELL would
  • Pointless response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by warm sushi (168223) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @07:38PM (#9702433)
    My understanding from all of the news coverage thus far is that fairly significant knowledge of terrorist plans are available before the fact - the problem seems to be not in alerting the terrorists, but in alerting OUR OWN FREAKING GOVERNMENTS TO THE INFORMATION HELD BY THEIR OWN INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATIONS!

  • The cops know that everyone is listening to their frequencies on scanners. Also, their towers are in well-known locations. Take that out and the police are paralized. Well, they were. Once cell phones were pocket-sized, local EMS realized that they were not only a good "private" way to communicate but also that they were a reliable backup in case of emergency.
  • by max born (739948) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @09:40PM (#9703205)
    I hope the Department of Homeland Security is spending an equal amount of its resources on developing more reliable networks.

    Maybe they should propose more competition and diversity as a way of ensuring redundancy.
  • by SmoothTom (455688) <Tomas@TiJiL.org> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @10:01PM (#9703328) Homepage
    After-the-fact reports on cellular outages, explaining the CAUSE OF THE OUTAGE could be used, in part, as a simple training manual on how to disrupt cellular service...

    The same, of course, applies to landline services, and anyone with experience on the technical side of the 'outside plant' world can probably tell you a half dozen low-risk ways to disrupt service over selected areas...

    I dislike the idea of 'hiding' the root cause of cellular outages, but I can also understand a part of the desire to do so for security.

    *adjusts tinfoil propellor beanie*

    Tomas
  • by Grail (18233) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:21AM (#9705136) Journal

    The brunt of the argument is that

    1. Public outage reports include details of what went wrong and how the carrier fixed it
    2. Public outage reports come out long after the event.

    DHS is not concerned about "the network is currently down" notifications being "blueprints for terrorists". DHS is concerned about the ones like this:

    "the CDMA cell at 33N 37W went down due to a fault in the non-redundant power feed - an overhead powerline that runs 1km from the nearest substation. We plan to install a second feed from another nearby substation within 6 months. Overhead lines to be installed as per attached plans."

    That's what the DHS means by "blueprints for terrorists" - they're concerned that the level of detail in the fault analysis would be enough for someone to cause an outage on purpose, thus preventing people calling in or out of that mobile coverage area.

    So please just read the damned article before harping on about "how could a network outage possibly benefit a terrorist"?

    As it stands, a network outage could be of great benefit to terrorists, if they can cause the outage at will.

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