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Internet Probably Couldn't Handle a Flu Pandemic 341

Several readers including mikael and gclef noted a report from the General Accountability Office suggesting that it should be Homeland Security's job to make sure the nation's business can flow during a pandemic. In particular, if H1N1 sends workers and schoolchildren home in large numbers, GAO thinks it might be a good idea for ISPs to prioritize traffic (favoring commerce over games, say), to reduce network speeds, and possibly to shut down high-traffic Web sites. DHS retorts that not only isn't it their job to control the Internet in this way, but the GAO is naive to believe it's even possible: "An expectation of unlimited Internet access during a pandemic is not realistic." "[DHS] does not even have a plan to start work on the issue, the General Accountability Office said. But the Homeland Security Department accused the GAO of having unrealistic expectations of how the Internet could be managed if millions began to telework from home at the same time as bored or sick schoolchildren were playing online, sucking up valuable bandwidth. Experts have for years pointed to the potential problem of Internet access during a severe pandemic, which would be a unique kind of emergency. It would be global, affecting many areas at once, and would last for weeks or months... Many companies and government offices hope to keep operations going as much as possible with teleworking using the Internet. Among the many problems posed by this idea, however, is the issue of bandwidth..."
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Internet Probably Couldn't Handle a Flu Pandemic

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  • PDFs are delicious (Score:4, Informative)

    by Foobar_ ( 120869 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @04:29PM (#29888597)

    The actual report from the GAO is available here: []

  • Re:sigh (Score:4, Informative)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @04:32PM (#29888677)

    Seriously? Not even the IRS?

  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Informative)

    by cabjf ( 710106 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @04:34PM (#29888727)
    This is the GAO instigating. DHS slapped them down saying that not only is it not their job, it's probably not even possible.
  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr 44 ( 180750 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @04:36PM (#29888749)

    Hello, did you RTFS? I'm no fan of DHS, but they ARE the ones saying that the GAO is on crack for even thinking about this idea, and that they aren't planning on doing anything.

  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @04:54PM (#29889035)

    For shame.
    Neglecting your relationship like that.
    You should be downloading porn together!

  • by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:08PM (#29889217)

    I would best describe my first-hand experience as a "laughably mild cold, without the annoyance of a stuffy nose"

    You got lucky. I had it over the summer. Even having started Tamiflu within 24 hours of the first symptoms, it was a solid week of awfulness, followed by another week and a half of suckiness. I lost 8 pounds in the first four days. Extremely unpleasant. By far, the sickest I've been since scarlet fever.

  • Re:sigh (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:27PM (#29889493)

    The War Department was renamed Defense Department.

    Not quite. The Department of Defense was made up from a merger of the Department of War (which was split into the Army and the Air Force) and Department of the Navy (Navy and Marine Core).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:47PM (#29889843)

    I stated they have the power to do it. Then I explained there's legislation pending that would allow them to use that power.

    I thought it was clear.

  • Re:sigh (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:49PM (#29889877)
    The film was "Lord of War," I think.
  • Re:sigh (Score:2, Informative)

    by Thanatos81 ( 1305243 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:08PM (#29890131)

    [...] sounds like something out of the Bundeswehr Handbook (copyright 1933)[...]

    Certainly not. The Bundeswehr was formed in 1955, several years after the end of WW2. In 1933 there was the Wehrmacht

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) * on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:16PM (#29890253) Homepage Journal

    This is propaganda, disinfo, lies and bullshit.

    They will take the net down to prevent uncontrolled information sharing and disclosure. They are prepping this under the framework established in The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 [], introduced by Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), last April. This gives the president the ability to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any "critical" information network "in the interest of national security." The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president, according to a Mother Jones report. []

    Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, dismissed the entire premise of the Cybersecurity Act when she pointed out the fact that granting centralized power to the government to control networks would in fact make the stability of the Internet less safe, because allowing one person to access all information on a network "makes it more vulnerable to intruders," she said. "You've basically established a path for the bad guys to skip down."

    enator John Rockefeller betrayed the true intent behind the legislation when he stated, "Would it have been better if we'd have never invented the Internet," while fearmongering about cyber attacks on the U.S. government and how the country could be shut down.

    See him rave: []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:40PM (#29890599)

    Please mod this troll down. The H1N1 (at least in the united states) has a mortality rate between 0.007% and 0.045%. This is a HUGE difference between this and 1 or 2% (a difference in the tens of thousands per million).

    Compare to 0.01% for seasonal flu.

    He is fear mongering.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:49PM (#29890701)

    Multiple times every year, a big percentage of the people get some strain of the flu. The normal flu had way bigger "pandemics" than any H1N1. Nothing happened. It's just the flu. We know it. We can handle it. Done.

    What this is really about, is the media, blowing stuff up, creating "contoversies", until any communications medium bursts, shutting themselves off.
    Well, there's a simple solution for that one: Stop being such greedy bastards! Which means: Stop creating so much drama, just to get more viewers and make more money. Or in other words: Stop stuffing youself over what the mechanism can hold.

    On the other hand, seeing the "traditional" (money4drama) media break completely down, would be a really cool thing to happen.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @07:00PM (#29890829)

    I bet, the "laughably mild" refers to a normal, healty person of a good age.

    The "More children have died from it in the last 3 months then die all year from seasonal flu." is an outright lie. I have seen the statistics. And H1N1 does not even come close! Normal flu kills more than 10 times the number of people.

    H1N1 is dispropotionally bad for fat and weak (young,old,otherwise unhealty) people. Especially combinations of those.
    I am also pretty round. And I still think, that it's actually even a good thing, that it creates a disadvantage for those types.
    It's the same as a lion, endangering those who are weakest the most, and through that, being essential for the long-term health of the species he eats.

    You see right now, how the lack of natural selection affects a species. With human ability to reproduce falling more and more. And people needing more and more "healthcare" to even be able to live a normal life. Soon we won't be able to reproduce and live at all, without tons of machines and pills keeping us alive at every second.

  • by oatworm ( 969674 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @07:15PM (#29891021) Homepage
    Actually, the reason people were so concerned with H1N1 initially was because highly virulent strains of flu cause higher mortality rates among otherwise healthy people since their immune systems overreact to the virus (cytokine storms [] are fun!). That's what made the so-called "Spanish Influenza" epidemic in 1918 so deadly. If H1N1 triggered something similar, it would be extremely dangerous.

    Fortunately, it doesn't.
  • Re:sigh (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @07:27PM (#29891159) Homepage Journal

    There is NO SS Trust Fund! Never has been one.

    False. []

    The SS taxes go into the general fund, and IOU's are written to cover it.

    Those "IOU's" are also known as Treasury bonds. They're just as real when held by Social Security as when held by private investors. If Treasury bonds ever become "just scraps of paper" with no real value, we'll have much, much bigger problems to worry about than a Social Security shortfall.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein