The Prince of Twitter, Andrew Malcolm, uncovers yet another brilliant idea coming from the FCC this week over at Investors’ Business Daily. US first responders have been struggling with the challenge of better tracking the location of 911 emergency calls coming from cell phones. Such calls now represent the majority of emergency contacts in the 911 system, given the ubiquitous nature of mobile technology. So what will the FCC do about it? Hey… here’s an idea.
Here’s a disturbing idea whose time is about to come:
Emergency first responders across the United States may soon be relying on Russian satellites to plot the location of the mobile American distress call.
This is not an Onion story.
The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to deliberate next week on a plan to use Russian satellites over other competing satellite systems for tracking the exact location of U.S. emergency 911 calls from mobile phones, the source of most emergency calls.
The plan is backed by major U.S. telecommunications giants like Verizon, Sprint, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA, along with the Association of Public Safety Communications.
So what could possibly go wrong? Actually, there’s the potential for quite a bit of mischief here. It’s possible that the Russians currently have satellites in place which might provide more accurate tracking data. That’s clearly desirable, but it comes with a downside. The Russians will have the location of every first responder in the country at any given time.
This is the same Russia which annexed Crimea, hosts Edward Snowden and generally sticks their thumb in the eye of the entire western world when and wherever they can manage it. So how, exactly, did this plan ever even make it to the table for the FCC to debate it? I’m sympathetic toward the FCC if there is a pressing need to improve the emergency location process, but wouldn’t that signal the need to invest a little of that highly touted infrastructure money into getting more and/or better satellites of our own in place? Failing that, plenty of countries have satellites in orbit. Surely there’s somebody a little more friendly to the interests of the United States who could be tapped for this task.
As Andrew notes in his article, Barack Obama still seems to be stuck in the same mindset which guided him during his 2012 debates with Mitt Romney. The cold war was over twenty years ago, right? Russia isn’t a problem. Heck, let’s just give them the keys to our emergency response system.