Colonel Panic

NYPD Wants to Jam Cell Phones During Terror Attacks

12 posts in this topic

NYPD Wants to Jam Cell Phones During Terror Attack

By Noah Shachtman | January 08, 2009 | 5:35:22 PM Categories: Gadgets and Gear, Homeland Security

The New York Police Department wants to be able to shut down cell phones, in case of a terrorist attack.

During last month's massacre in Mumbai, terrorist handlers over micromanaged via mobile phone the assaults on the hotels, train stations, and Jewish center that killed more than 170 people.

In testimony today before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (pictured) said he wanted to take out that "formidable capacity to adjust tactics while attacks are underway."

amdraykellyzk2.jpg

We also discussed the complications of media coverage that could disclose law enforcement tactics in real time. This phenomenon is not new. In the past, police were able to defeat any advantage it might give hostage takers by cutting off power to the location they were in. However, the proliferation of handheld devices would appear to trump that solution. When lives are at stake, law enforcement needs to find ways to disrupt cell phones and other communications in a pinpointed way against terrorists who are using them.

For now, Kelly said, the NYPD is taking a whole range of measures to stop another Mumbai-style spree -- from working with private businesses to interdicting boats to training recruits in heavy weapons to installing a spycam network across downtown Manhattan.But Charles Allen, the Department of Homeland Security's top intelligence official, confessed to the Senate panel that "response to a similar terrorist attack in a major U.S. urban city would be complicated and difficult."

The chaos the attacks created magnified the difficulty of mounting an appropriate response. First responders, in order to deal with such a crisis, must first and foremost have adequate information on what is occurring as well as the capability to mount a rapid and effective response that minimizes the impact of the attack. In Mumbai it was not immediately clear to authorities whether there were multiple attack groups or a single group. The attackers were able to exploit the initial confusion because of the indiscriminate firings to move on to new targets. While preparedness training for this type of attack may not have prevented it, the effects likely could have been mitigated and reduced if authorities had been prepared and had exercised responses to terrorist attacks across all levels of government. Within the United States, our national exercises incorporate not only federal interagency participants, but also include regional, state, and local authorities, in order to identify potential gaps in our responses.

[Photo: NY Daily News]

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/01/nypd-eyes-disru.html
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is not unreasonable as long as it's only used when needed. Like a lot of law enforcement tools that could possibly cross lines, it's only wrong if the lines have been crossed.

This is just about disrupting communications in the event of an attack. This is something you want law enforcement to be able to do. Would you object if they shut down highways, trains, etc in the event of an attack, epidemic or the like? Probably not, as it serves the public interest. You can be as skeptical of law enforcement as you want, but to deny them the tools they need in major situations just because they could be misused is irresponsible.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Take that! Now you big terrorists can't use your cell phones to order a pizza. Are you fucking kidding me? Don't they have better things to do with their time? And when will it be okay to use such a tactic? When they decide I'm a terrorist as well? Or maybe even you? Forgive me for being blasphemous against the good ole' US of A, but jesus christ.

And who the hell runs homeland security? Our current condition is "elevated". And since it's "elevated" or yellow, I would like to ask you all to buy a pile of first aid kits, because we all know that's what you'll need when terrorist's come a knockin'.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see how it could be useful, I'm obviously no bomb expert but many bombs have been known to have been tied to a cellphone call, one call and boom. The only problem is you're also cutting the lines of communication for people who may need help during these situations, no 911 calls for your son dieing from the shrapnel in the side, or if you're being held hostage. Wouldn't terrorist just raise the bar and use other means of communication such as different types of radios?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I see how it could be useful, I'm obviously no bomb expert but many bombs have been known to have been tied to a cellphone call, one call and boom. The only problem is you're also cutting the lines of communication for people who may need help during these situations, no 911 calls for your son dieing from the shrapnel in the side, or if you're being held hostage. Wouldn't terrorist just raise the bar and use other means of communication such as different types of radios?

Yeah, I would imagine. They would plan in advance (You blow yourself up here, and I'll blow myself up there. Sound good? Okay let's go.").

Back in the day bombs worked just fine without cell phones.

This idea of shutting down communication isn't a tool, it's a failure. You're right in the fact that other's phones would also go out. Which is a great cause for alarm, because even during a crisis other people have things to do and people to see. If you shut their cells down, because so and so is a terrorist, or some building is going to be blown sky high, how fast do you think they'll be sued to oblivion when something bad happens to someone who could have dialed out on a cell, but couldn't?

The thing that people need to understand is that there is no big bad group of terrorists coming after us at all. And shutting down a bunch of cell phones isn't going to stop anyone from blowing a building up, or communicating with someone else. It's just another way Mr. Government will be able to fuck with us, if and when he want to.

EDIT: BTW, the current threat level of the "terrorists" at six pm tonight went from "Elevated" to "High".

Edited by isolationx
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They'll just kill a few cops and steal their equipment before hand.. Then use the police force's own radios as the remote control with maybe a DTMF decoder circuit added to tell each bomb when to go boom.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's just another way Mr. Government will be able to fuck with us, if and when he want to.

Did you bother reading the article? This proposal is in response to the Mumbai attacks, not a bombing. The terrorists carrying out the attack kept in close contact with people on the outside, who fed them information (including from news broadcasts). Without cell phones, they wouldn't have been nearly as effective. This is a response to a new tactic being used by the terrorists. Would you rather law enforcement do nothing and not have this tool when it's needed?

You also don't think terrorists are real. Kindly remove your head from your ass. It's not all threat levels and pictures on a screen of horrible acts in some place you've never been. They are our enemy, they do want to kill us and they will given the opportunity. It happened in New York and Washington, London, Madrid, Beirut, Jordan, to the USS Cole, the two embassies in Africa and now in Mumbai. And that's just what I can remember off the top of my head.

And everyone seems to assume that law enforcement will use this illegitimately. Yes, that can happen. If and when it does happen, then we can deal with it.

even during a crisis other people have things to do and people to see.

I'm sorry if being under attack is having an impact on your social life. In the future, perhaps they can schedule terrorist attacks around your schedule. We apologize for the inconvenience.

They also don't say how they want to "jam" cell phones. It might be an agreement with the phone companies to shut cell towers down in an area, or only people in the area to call 911. I'm also not saying this is a great idea, but it is an idea. We need to react to new tactics being used by the terrorists, else we'll be completely blindsided and caught with our pants down.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Think about all the people in danger from secondary terrorrist attacks. Would you really want them not to be able to call the police?

Blanket blockage of cellphones is a bad idea. Terrorists would manage to inflict damage - with or without cellphones. Cellphones are not a requirement in order to be an effective terrorist.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know, terrorists need light to be able to see, so why don't they just cut all the electricity to the entire city while they're at it? That would really show those pesky terrorists who's boss!

It's insane. Cutting off all cellular communications in a crisis situation would heighten the panic. Imagine if some kind of an attack happened, yet nobody in danger could call the police or ambulances for help, or to apprise them of the situation, or even be able to call their loved ones to let them know they're all right.

This is really short-sighted and stupid. The possible benefits would be extremely negligible and the possible complications could have severe ramifications.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Short answer, it's a legitimate tactic, but the implementation, both technical and legal, needs to be well thought out. So, it's a good idea that our government will likely mess up and\or abuse if they actually try it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ohm, shutting down cell phones to prevent terrorists from talking isn't equivalent to closing down a road during an epidemic or something. That has definite value and is necessary to deal with the problem. The side-effects and costs are also acceptable from the beginning, considering the situation. This proposed security plan doesn't stop the problem (terrorists), it just fights one tactic they use. This tactic will just be replaced by many other communication techniques. These will be more or less effective, but massive security measures that just result in a change of tactics on the part of the bad guys are a waste of time and money.

Additionally, like Colonel Panic said, people need to communicate in a crisis. The ability to use cell phones was important in 9/11 and many other historic tragedies. Cell phones may also be the only way for communication between the good guys, who unlike the terrorists were not planning for their cells being terminated. The final, and one of the most important issues, is that the communication helps to calm the victims during a crisis. This can keep them from going crazy, and prevent a bad situation from becoming worse. Bruce Schneier echo's these same points on his security blog when discussing this. Personally, I would like to be able to make a phone call during a crisis from any location, such as a janitorial supply closet when lead suddenly starts flying down hallways.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's exactly my point. The terrorists will undoubtedly find out about this (hell, we found out about it, didn't we?), so they'll just use 2-way radios or some other communication channel instead of phones. Meanwhile, innocent people in real danger will have no means of communication to call for help.

I don't mean to diminish the threat of terrorism or deny the authorities any legitimate tactical advantage, but I think this idea is very poorly conceived.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now