FCC builds giant text spam engine for terror warnings
jst 2 let u knw, there's an @ak pl& on d USA l8r 2day
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 wish. CNN reports that all the major US carriers are signed up to the plan, at least in concept.
The idea is that a federal agency, as yet unnamed, will be given the password to the biggest mobile spamming engine ever created, and told to only use it in an emergency. They will use the system to let people know when there's a terrorist attack, ideally beforehand but more likely just afterwards, or a natural disaster, with the same caveat.
If the system gets over-used then punters can opt out of receiving more messages, and carriers will also be able to withdraw from the system.
Assuming the agency responsible can be discouraged from false alarms then the idea makes some sense, though it could be susceptible to feature creep; CNN reports that the same agency will also pass on Amber Alerts.
The Amber Alert system operates across the US and serves to let local media, and interested citizens, know when a child has been abducted. A similar system is being considered for use across Europe, endorsed by the parents of Madeleine McCann. Despite the low number of abductions they are emotive events, even when the "abductee" turns out to be hiding at a relative's or friend's house.
Setting up such alert systems is expensive, and one should be careful of any law named after a person (as the Amber Alert system is), as its enactment may be driven emotionally rather than based on cool assessment of the benefits. ®
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."
re: Not that bad and Idea
>Of course this will get butchered in implementation
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.....
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?)