Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Cell phone service temporarily disabled in NYC for "security"

CNN.com - Cell phone service disabled in New York tunnels - Jul 12, 2005

Cell phone service was disabled inside the four tunnels leading into Manhattan after the terrorist bombings in London, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg questioned Monday whether the move "makes the most sense."

I'm with Mayor Bloomberg. I don't think it makes sense at all for at least four major reasons:

  1. Terrorists don't necessarily have to call a cellphone in order to use it to detonate a bomb. I have read about them using the built-in timer. And this article actually corroborates this.
    In the Madrid explosions, alarms in cells phones were set on vibration, which sent electric impulses to the copper detonators connected to the explosives, Spanish authorities said.
    So, this measure indicates that someone does not understand the threat.

  2. More importantly, suppressing cellular service only can serve to incite panic--especially if there were to be another bombing or similar terrorist attack. I remember on 9/11 how distracted and distraught everyone was who knew people from New York when they could not get through to anyone to make sure everyone was alright. Now, if that isn't terrorism, I don't know what is. So, shutting down cell phone service really is going to help the terrorists with their mission

  3. Cellphones on the front lines can be a great help in reporting attacks. Faster reporting and more accurate directions to authorities can save lives if there were to be another attack.

  4. The Department of Homeland Security said that this goes against their guidelines of keeping the cellphone system up and working for rescue authorities to use in the event of an emergency
    The Department of Homeland Security said the decision in New York to cut off cellular service was made without any recommendation by the federal government's National Communications System, which ensures communications are available during national emergencies.

And while we're on the subject of anti-terrorist governmental reactions that don't make any sense... (Bruce Schneier is really going to have a field day with these):

PCWorld.com - Feds Seek Wiretap Access for Mobile Calls on Planes

If cell phones and other handheld wireless devices are allowed to be used on aircraft by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice wants built-in terrorism-fighting capabilities to allow fast wiretaps and quick ways to disconnect conversations between terrorists.

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