December 16, 2006

Cell phote outages only help terrorists.

Via Farber’s IP list, the news that the FCC has a complete database of cell outages going back for years. This would be an excellent source of information for consumers deciding who to patronize, wouldn’t you think?

Well, you can’t have it. Why? Because telling you when Verizon, say, lost east bay coverage would help the terrorists.

We can’t have that! How, precisely, this helps terrorists is a trifle unclear to this humble blogger, but maybe I just don’t have the big picture.

MSNBC explains:

The same outage data that can be so useful … to identify and remedy critical vulnerabilities and make the network infrastructure stronger can, in hostile hands, be used to exploit those vulnerabilities to undermine or attack networks,” DHS said.

and

What use would wireless outage reports have to would-be terrorists? Not much, said NBC terrorism analyst Roger Cressey, the former chief of staff of the President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

There is nothing mysterious behind it, it is corporate competition protection,” said Cressey, now a partner in Good Harbor Consulting. The only reason for the government to not let these records get out is then one telco provider could run a full-page ad saying the government says we’re more reliable.’”

Cressey added that he couldn’t imagine a scenario where the reports would be valuable to terrorists.

In October, MSNBC.com filed an administrative appeal of the FCCs rejection of its FOIA request. The FCC has not yet responded to the appeal.

In its initial answer to MSNBC.com’s FOIA request, FCC officials cited only one reason for the denial: competitive harm” to companies involved.

I believe this matches criterion #9, Power of corporations protected.

I recommend reading the entire story on MSNBC, it’s very well done if more than a little outrageous.


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