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Telecom Outages Now a State Secret 413

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the need-to-know-basis dept.
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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Telecom Outages Now a State Secret

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  • See also... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:23PM (#10434815)
    • Just you wait... soon news channels/radio will be hit for aiding and abetting terrorists by reporting traffic jams
    • by smclean (521851)
      And here [slashdot.org]'s proof that life-imitates-sarcastic-slashdot-posts:
    • It's one thing to be unable to get information about your phone company or their outages, and it's annoying as a consumer, but it's not life-threatening (disclaimer - I work for a large telecomm company, and own stock in several others, and this is just my opinion, not the official opinion of any of them.)

      But Terrorists-Under-The-Bed have been used as an excuse for blocking public access to lots of critical safety information, particularly in industries like oil refining, chemical manufacturing, and anyth

  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:23PM (#10434817) Homepage Journal
    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.

    • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:28PM (#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.

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

      by rts008 (812749)
      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!
  • bulldust (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:24PM (#10434825)
    what are they going to use it for?
    • Re:bulldust (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ingolfke (515826) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:26PM (#10434849) Journal
      Why negotiating lower prices on their evil global communication networks of course.
    • 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 (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436)
        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 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Qzukk (229616) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:51PM (#10435060) Journal
          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 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by KevinKnSC (744603) * on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:53PM (#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 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iabervon (1971)
      A massive data mining project to determine what events are likely to take down infrastructure and try to cause those or similar events. They could also use the information to determine how widespread events they caused were, in order to refine future plans.

      It's not an entirely stupid thing to what the terrorists not to know. On the other hand, the terrorists are likely to be able to get the information if it's at all important to them. The government knows essentially nothing about Al Queda's operations in
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:25PM (#10434834)
    "Can you hear me now? What do you mean you can't tell me that?"
    • You can joke (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mfh (56)
      "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].
  • RIP USA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:25PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mangu (126918) on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:28PM (#10435744)
      I haven't checked in detail your numbers and dates, bu t they seem more or less correct. However, to resume the rise of the Third Reich to power in one paragraph seems rather simplistic. I have in my shelf a 1600 page book by William Shirer that barely touches on the highlights of the whole thing. Shirer, who was a journalist in Germany in the 1930's, mentions in his preface how many thousands of documents, several hundreds tons of paper, he researched.


      To affirm that Hitler came to power as a result of a "political deal" seems to me the mother of all simplifications. Sure, there were many political deals as part of a process that included much more. The total failure of the Weimar republic, the lack of any credible alternative, also have to be taken into account. And at least two other facts must also be taken into account. First, Hitler was elected legally. Second, the imposition of a dictatorship was in the Nazi party program from the start.


      The German people willingly and knowingly chose Hitler as their dictator. It seemed to be the right thing at the time.


      Although I do not approve of the Bush government, by any means, I believe that putting him in the same cathegory as Hitler is a wild exaggeration. A common internet debating tactic, compare someone to Hitler. I admit to having used that same tactic, I don't miss a chance to post "Hitler was a vegetarian" comments.


      But that's a counterproductive tactic. Despite this being Slashdot, the best policy would be to mention in clear and well-balanced arguments why Bush is so dangerous. He's no Hitler himself, but he may well be tending the garden where the seeds of a future Hitler will be planted. The number of anti-liberty laws that are being implemented now in the USA is what really worries me. All in the name of what would be otherwise perfectly acceptable principles.


      We must fight terrorism. Protect the artists. We must defend life. At all costs.


      Hey, wait a second, at "all" costs? Even if the result is giving up basic personal freedom, stifling creativity in arts and science, squashing research and development, and exporting inellectual jobs to other countries?

      • Re:RIP USA (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tony-A (29931)
        Hey, wait a second, at "all" costs?
        Right. If the threat of terror, or more accurately the reaction to the threat of terror, does more damage than the terror itself, then the terrorists have won.
  • by darth_MALL (657218) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:25PM (#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.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:28PM (#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? :)

  • Hmph. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Southpaw018 (793465) *
    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
  • Lets see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clenhart (452716) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:25PM (#10434846) Homepage
    Lets see..

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

    It must be from the Republican administration.
  • 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.
  • Frightening (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mistersooreams (811324) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:29PM (#10434872) Homepage
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TiggertheMad (556308) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:43PM (#10435003) Homepage Journal
      "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 (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Colonel Panic (15235)
        Yeah, but it turns out that McCarthy was partially right about Communists in the state department (and other parts of the US gov including the Treasury dept). See the Venona Papers [wikipedia.org] on Wikipedia as well as the entry for Alger Hiss [wikipedia.org].

        This is not to excuse McCarthy's tactics. If you accuse enough people (and McCarthy certainly accused a lot of people) you're bound to get a few of them right.
      • Re:Frightening (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Random_Goblin (781985)
        I seem to recall a fairly convincing documentry (probably BBC) regarding a former KGB controller who took large numbers of records with him with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The files demonstrated that where as much of the millitary might of the Soviet empire was bluff, their intelligence work was first rate. The thing I found darkly funny and quite ironic was that the files showed there WERE large numbers of communist agents in the state department. (although probably not the ones Joe "mad st
  • by achurch (201270) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:29PM (#10434877) Homepage
    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*
  • by ortcutt (711694) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:30PM (#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.
    • 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.
  • by phorm (591458) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:30PM (#10434890) Journal
    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?
  • by terraformer (617565) <tpb@pervici.com> on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:32PM (#10434905) Journal
    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.
    • by BetaJim (140649) on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:28PM (#10435750)
      This reminds me of one of my favorite email sigs:

      "Any conservative who claims to be in favor of capitalism -- the
      unrestricted exchange of goods and services between consenting
      persons -- but is in favor of the drug war, is a hypocrite."

      I don't know the author, but I approve of the sentiment.

  • Just because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rewt66 (738525) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:32PM (#10434911)
    Just because an insane thing happened (9/11), does the whole world have to go insane?

    Apparently so...
    • "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 awa
      • 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... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DunbarTheInept (764) on Monday October 04, 2004 @07:07PM (#10435168) Homepage
        I don't think it's a good idea to give out extra tolerance to people as a reward for them being oversensitive intolerent people themselves - just like it's a bad idea to give in to the demands of a hijacker - because it teaches the lesson that being a bad person is a "winning" strategy.

        The day a major popular television show is made in the middle east that can make jokes about Islam that are as raunchy and irreverent as the kinds of things you see about Christianity on the Simpsons or Family Guy over here, without fear, then maybe I'll have more empathy for them.

        As an atheist, I've often wished that people around the world would just give up religious styles of thought (which exist in things other than just religions - the way some people approach politics have the same sorts of problems), but I don't think that's ever going to happen. Now I'd just be happy if people would be more tolerant of opposing viewpoints. The splintering of Christianity into many different little factions really helped transform it into mostly being the religion of peace and tolerance it claims to be (when it really wasn't before that, with major church doctrine being tied to political machinations). My only hope for Islam is that it ends up having the same sort of thing happen to it soon. The biggest concern I have over it is that it is a religious tenet in Islam that religion must rule over government - so it would be hard to have a secular government in an islamic country like the many secular democratic governments that exist in christian countries. Turkey has managed to pull it off, but I can't think of any other good examples. (Pakistan would have been but it's still operating from the results of a military coup).

    • Re:Just because... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HunterZ (20035) on Monday October 04, 2004 @07:32PM (#10435361) Journal
      Just because an insane thing happened (9/11), does the whole world have to go insane?

      I think it's more along the lines of the U.S. government and corporations using the constantly news-media-fanned flames of mass hysteria to push their own agendas, which normally would be met with much resistance by the people (who, reasonably, don't want to give up their freedoms without sufficient cause). I don't know which is the worst:

      - The government and corporations taking advantage of the sheeple's ignorance and mass hysteria,
      - The media stoking the hysteria to keep people watching the news instead of pro wrestling and reality shows, or
      - The fact that people really are stupid enough to buy into all these scare tactics used by the government, corporations, and the news media to take advantage of us.

      I've heard multiple people recently talk about how they're afraid to fly or work in the air transportation industry because of "all the terrorists in airports and on airplanes these days."
  • subject line says it all.
    • 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? (Score:2, Insightful)

    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? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shirai (42309) * on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:34PM (#10434922) Homepage
    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.
    • by daveb (4522)
      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? (Score:3, Informative)

      by DunbarTheInept (764)

      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.

  • ...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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Colonel Panic (15235) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:35PM (#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.
    • by ballpoint (192660)
      Some months ago we had a major explosion disaster in Belgium involving a natural gas line. 23 people were killed, tens of others severely burned and still recovering.

      Slideshow here, picture 8 has the fireball:
      http://www.rtl.nl/(/actueel/rtlnieuws/)/component s /actueel/rtlnieuws/2004/07_juli/30/buitenland/slid eshow_belgische_fabriek.xml [www.rtl.nl]

      First investigations revealed that the gas pipeline had been damaged by construction work for a service road to a new industrial building; the investigation and the leg
  • Insane... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by damu (575189) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:36PM (#10434934) Journal
    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?
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:37PM (#10434945) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Terrorists? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:38PM (#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.
    • by SQLz (564901) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:55PM (#10435090) Homepage Journal
      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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by br00tus (528477) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:39PM (#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.

    • 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.

  • 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 overcharg

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:40PM (#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.

  • YAIOSTO

    Yet Another Implementation Of Security Through Obscurity

  • denialogy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:41PM (#10434979) Homepage Journal
    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?! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:41PM (#10434981) Homepage
    For Corporate Concerns!

  • by ortcutt (711694) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:41PM (#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.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:42PM (#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.
  • Why stop there? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:44PM (#10435004) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by k98sven (324383) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:48PM (#10435027) Journal
    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]
    • When I lived in Peru in the late 80's Sendero Luminoso used to target Peru's sorry excuse for a phone system quite frequently. They tended to prefer to destroy the high tension power lines, but they would settle for the phone lines in a pinch. There was also quite a few instances of terrorists attacks on the public water system while I lived in Lima (including *gasp* the destruction of at least one smallish dam).

      I don't really see why outages should be Top Secret information, other than it may show terr

  • Standard of life? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kentmartin (244833) * on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:56PM (#10435095) Homepage
    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.
  • by ArcticCelt (660351) on Monday October 04, 2004 @06:58PM (#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.

  • Terrorists WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by __int64 (811345) on Monday October 04, 2004 @07:04PM (#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...
  • by discogravy (455376) on Monday October 04, 2004 @07:11PM (#10435204) Homepage
    how will I know how long we've been at war with Oceania?
  • Time to move (Score:4, Informative)

    by krray (605395) * on Monday October 04, 2004 @07:16PM (#10435233)
    Time to move -- but where? Really...

    I can't get this information if I wanted it for a good business reason? My name is: My birthday is: I am who I am, born here as my father, his father, and well back many a generation. I have to sign a non-disclosure agreement and pass a security check? Fine. I had to to legally carry a gun as well -- which is in itself understandable, but another bothersome issue that existed well before 9/11... (my concern would be war, invasion, and if _I_ was invading the first list to round up would be the gun carriers).

    I thought it was also ridiculous that the phone company tries to hide and doesn't want to give me a list show all area codes and prefix and which band (A, B, C, or D) they're in. 15 years ago I could request a NAMP list (I think it was) and get it. 5 years ago they simply refused. I have VoIP now, which is tapped I'm sure, but I digress...
  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Monday October 04, 2004 @07:31PM (#10435344) Homepage Journal
    TEH TERRISTS R CUMMING, TEH TERRISTS R CUMMING
    QUICK -- GRAB ANKLES, BEND N INSERT HED INTO ASSSSSS!!!@#@#!~!!!

    Ohhhh fux0r -- it's so dark -- there must be black ops in here!!!!

    This story is yet another prime example of why I am seriously considering expatrioting myself from this fear mongering society of irrational and doctrines of hysteria enfored by skittle colored terror alerts.

    I had a conspiracy theory that I made as a "joke" back in the 9/11 days that the twin towers attack was "allowed" in the same way that the British allowed Nazi airstrikes because they didn't want the Nazi's to know that they could see them coming via a new tech called "radar" Only this time, instead of strategizing against an outernationalist enemy, they are strategizing against US citizens by inciting a state of controlled panic to leverage measures to restrict our liberties and nullify the constition.
    You see... the constitution has loopholes that allow for secrecy of public information and "temporary" revocation of rights in the event of "war time" needs. So the obvious exploit is to start a never ending war and exploit those holes in our national charter to rootkit the entirity of the constitution.

    At the time I considered it an item that would make you laugh then make you think... but as time has gone on, I'm laughing less and thinking more.

  • infowars.com (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stock (129999) <stock@stokkie.net> on Monday October 04, 2004 @07:52PM (#10435508) Homepage
    I fear that this guy, Alex Jones, and his websites are gaining credibility in a very rapid pace. His latest interview (with audio) is on http://www.prisonplanet.tv/audio/092704buchanan.ht m [prisonplanet.tv]

    Robert

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 2004 @07:59PM (#10435558)
    ... federal election results!

    That'd make sure these pesky terrorists won't target our fearless leaders.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:00PM (#10435559) Journal
    isn't big brother supposed to be monitoring all cell phone calls?

    Point being, are they admitting a failure?

    Or who ever believed the government is capable of such widescope privacy invasion?

  • by sinator (7980) on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:30PM (#10435766)
    Would this affect data/VoIP carriers?
  • by syousef (465911) on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:41PM (#10435821) Journal
    Shhhhhh! Don't tell them where the airports are!
  • by Packet Fish (450451) on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:41PM (#10435822)
    I can understand why these politicians what to protect this sensitive and important data, but lets get our priorities strait! There is a whole host of public data that must be protected before it falls into the wrong hands. Please refer to the following list.
    • My Credit Report - The terrorist might try and deny me a new credit-card as part of their nefarious plan to prevent US citizens from purchasing top notch 3d hardware.
    • Station ID Badges - If we allow the terrorist to see what channel they are watching while a program is on, then they will know which TV stations to attack.
    • Web Page Advertising Links - If we provide hyperlinks to some of Americas most important companies on our unrelated web page, then it is far too easy for the terrorist to find their way to the companies' web sites. To be on the safe side, we should probably ban company websites all together.
    • The Words on the Karaoke Screen - By simply providing the terrorist with the lyrics to Americas treasure trove of musical tallent, we make it that much easer for them to learn the ways of our culture and blend into our society.
    • Magazine Subscription Inserts - Each magazine contains a card listing not only the address and content of the magazine, but how much it costs!?! And formatted into a pocket sized card that is easily removable and constructed of heavy durable paper! What are we thingking? These cards are practically treason.
    • Political Advertising - By broadcasting to the public the names, faces, and issue positions of each political candidate, we are only making them targets for the terrorists.
    • Spinach - By providing this vitamin laden vegetable to the general public, we are practically inviting the terrorists to obtain it in large quantities and become big and strong so that they can overpower our military. Spinach must be tightly controlled by the government.
    • Reality TV Shows - These programs describe step by step for the terrorists dangerous skills such as wilderness survival, business tactics, how to run casinos, build or renovate buildings, and how to convince weak people to do things they don't what to for no reason.
    • My Grades - By providing ready access to my educational records to all potential employers and parental garidans, the government is divulging information about this country's youth's readiness to serve and protect the country and level of expertise in important national security fields such as calculus, african american studies, and spelling. This information must be protected at all costs.
    • News Crawls / Stock Tickers - The national security value of protecting J-Lo's latest breakup is unquestionably paramount.
    • Spam E-Mail - Providing the terrorist with information on cheep home loans and ready pharmaceuticals access is tantamount to handing them the keys to Congress.
  • by Kanasta (70274) on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:59PM (#10435922)
    By knowing where carriers had experienced problems, terrorists could avoid shoddy services and choose more reliable telecommunications carriers. Those evil evil...

    Haa, we'll fix that. Now, terrorists will get shoddy services like the rest of us!
  • by irokin (697722) on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:59PM (#10435926)
    I dunno about you guys but Im getting mighty sick of this terrorist bullshit

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