back to article FCC builds giant text spam engine for terror warnings

The Federal Communications Commission is set to announce the launch of a national alert system, using text messaging and other mobile technologies to tell Americans when to panic. The system will be announced on Wednesday, according to both CNN and USA Today. Carriers will be asked to opt in, while customers can opt out if they …

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Happy

Invaision plans

1 get a job as a cleaner at the offices of this place

2 add a key logger to the network cables while everyone is out and I'm cleaning.

3 report a missing child

4 wait for alert to go out

5 remove key logger

6 use user name and password recorded to trigger alert.

7 move in to Washington DC and take over.

Grand Fenwick Forever.

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Coat

"Keep Calm and Carry On"

Surely spreading instant panic nationwide is just going to cause a lot of lootin' shootin' and high falootin' (whatever that is) even if the event is happening in another city or state?

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Alert

Broken

So when there's a big disaster, and people are trying to text their loved ones, the system will be jammed up with this official spam. Thought it through much?

Although I suppose the US probably doesn't have as much of a texting culture as Europe, as you can tell by the design of the iPhone.

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Silver badge

What's the point?

Why is this necessary?

For instance, you're in say, a giant high-rise office building that's just been hit by a commercial jetliner - do you need a text message to tell you about it? And if you're not in that building, then you don't really need to know anyway, as there is nothing you can do to help. Same goes for almost any disaster.

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Paris Hilton

Emergencies outrank personal contact

I learned from our cell carriers a long time ago during a hurricane that the cell system goes into a disaster mode during, well, disasters which reserves a large part of the system for emergency communications. And IMHO, rightly so. Emergency communications are essential before, during, and, in many cases, after a disaster. It is not as important for people to find out how loved ones are doing as it is for paramedics, law enforcement, and the like to communicate and coordinate. Although our ever-growing hunger for instant gratification tells us otherwise.

And I know, there could be situations in which a phone call to a loved one could discover an extraordinary situation. I would think that if that person can answer the phone, there is a good likelihood said person could also dial 911.

Paris, because of our ever-growing hunger for instance gratification.

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Bronze badge
Flame

Equivalent of amber alert already in France

For a year or two now. The "Alerte Enlèvement" (kidnap alert) has saved a couple of kids, and nailed a repeat kiddie fiddler just out of the clink.

Where is the "Put them up against the wall and shoot them party" when you need them?

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Anonymous Coward

All Clear - now

Threat warning text message sent

Danger, earthquake imminent, San Francisco Area

This danger message is brought to you by Pampers Diapers

All clear sent

All Clear.

This All Clear message is brought to you by Buzz Cola

It won't be long :(

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Coat

In the words of the late great Bill Hicks

They will probably send this message out "Go back to bed, America, your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed America, your government is in control. Here, here's American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up, go back to bed America, here is American Gladiators, here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on the living in the land of freedom. Here you go America - you are free to do what well tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!"

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Silver badge

Better than "web emergency services" though

At least this has more sense than "e-mail emergency warnings" like the ones sent in Virginia Tech last year. Then again, including Amber Alerts would probably put an unnecesary load on something that seems to be aimed for actual life-threatening issues.

That said, I just can't wait to read the following:

"Gigantic 30-foot wave detected, will hit the New York area in 5 minutes. To all of you about to drown, WE SALUTE YOU!!!"

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Anonymous Coward

I can hear Verizon etc. laughing already

They'll charge the FBI 10c per message

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Dead Vulture

Don't panic - All your base R belong to US

Let the count-down to the first hack begin...

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Paris Hilton

"One should be careful of any law named after a person"

I've always thought that, too. I find it a little cynical when names of children (always girls) are attached to anti-drinking or anti-drugs laws...

/wonders what 'Paris' Law' would be...

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Oh, I can hear Verizon laughing...

... but it's because they're going to charge ME 15 cents each time I receive one of these texts (and SMS is not an optional feature).

I don't suppose I can just go ahead and opt out now?

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Black Helicopters

Just another case ..

Just another case of the government not worrying too much about what we are scared about, just so long as we are scared. How else can they continue to rob us of our remaining civil liberties?

"Just keep on being scared folks, its your national duty."

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Alien

Crossing Paths....

Easy there, some people scare real easy, for real.

http://history1900s.about.com/od/1930s/a/warofworlds.htm

I hope nobody would think to abuse such a system.

ReAlliance on the Flashing GreenMan / RedMan traffic light control combo.

Others Stop Look and Listen, before they cross the Internet Super-Highway.

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Oh Save Me

Let's hope the intel for these alerts will be better then that for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

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Flame

You've got FAIL!

Thank goodness I already have Text Messaging totally removed from my phone service. The past 7+ years have been such a flaming failure in U.S. government leadership, that I can't take ANYTHING they have to say seriously. It's been nothing but fear-mongering, paranoia and chasing shadows.

It's as if they've never heard the tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

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Black Helicopters

Shades of Max Headroom ...

the dystopian future TV series in which it was illegal to have a TV with an off swiitch. Under what pretext would such a law be brought into being? Important national security information from your government, perhaps? After a while, what was annoying would become expected, then finally manditory.

After a few years, an argument could be made that some large proportion of the population, patriotic citizens, are accepting the messages without complaint, and therefore why shouldn't you (In Max Headroom, the important messages were advertising, critical to the national interest, but that detail was topical social commentary.)?

Hence, in this real world case, the requirement for the target to have to 'opt out', to actively resist the intentions of the security state.

This goofy idea likely won't fly, but it won't be because of the charge to the citizen for the text message.

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Anonymous Coward

Not that bad and Idea

Of course this will get butchered in implementation, but the ability to distribute these kinds of alerts could be quite usefull. You need to set aside cases like a hurricane or 9/11 by and large, but on smaller and more localized events (road closed due to fire, tornado alert etc) this would be a good alternative to the so-called reverse 911 systems that emergency services people have been putting in to high-risk areas.

The key is to be able to create a common frame work that is locally granular. I'm not sure how this would come together without alot of support from the mobile operators. I also fear that unless the goverment system simply notifies the carrier to broadcast a certain message to a given location, they may get grabby for data on who is near what cell tower at any given moment.

Uncle Sam doesn't need free access to exactly where I am every hour of the day, unless he can get a warrant. Preferably from a judge. (wishful thinking?)

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Anonymous Coward

re: Not that bad and Idea

>Of course this will get butchered in implementation

Optimist... <g>

I can see it being damn useful too. I can also see it being horribly abused.

I also can't see anyone who'd be involved in setting it or running it that I would trust as far as I could throw 'em.

Hell of a dilemma, eh?

anonymous because that's what practicing paranoids do.....

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Stop

Just the tip of the iceberg

Anyone who follows the history of the FCC and US Government knows that this is just the beginning. It doesn't matter if having the ability to text everyone in the country (or the world) is or is not a good idea "in an emergency." What matters is that it sets a precedent and provides a mechanism for global message delivery.

Ask yourself what's next? Daily terrorist status? Political commentary? Not for profit messages? Give anyone the ability to send one global text message and they will begin to work on "Phase II."

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