It is a rare thing to find new technology that is not a double-edged sword. While it helps with one problem it often makes something else worse. We have seen it over and over again with social media and the Internet. And here may be another case.
Matt Chaban at the New York Observer tells us Internet sites that have cropped up in recent years to help New York’s Bravest get promoted may also be helping New York’s enemies do their dirty business. Chaban looks at sites like Lt.Questions.com, FireCaptainNYC.com and FireTestTaking.com and asks FDNY and terrorism experts about the information that people can get online:
While these sites are condoned by the Fire Department as useful study aides, all of them publish a number of sensitive documents that would be invaluable not only to would-be brass but also to anyone with the desire to do the city or its residents harm, from a terrorist cell to a disgruntled citizen. Among the documents the site makes available to anyone with an Internet connection are detailed plans and schematics for highly sensitive parts of the city’s infrastructure, the subway system, the airports, the electrical grid, and the sewer and gas systems, to name a few. There is an irony, perhaps, in the fact that such detailed intelligence enables an attacker to strike not only at innocent civilians but also the first responders rushing in to save them.
The Fire Department insists the materials are harmless, and that much of it has been available in various forms for decades. “I’ve asked around, and nobody seems to think there is anything very serious in there,” said FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbons.
Chaban reports that a second contact with the FDNY spokesman brought a different answer. This time Gribbons said department lawyers were asking the sites to take down the material.
Is this a real threat to the citizens of New York and the fireighters, police officers and EMS crews? I don’t know. The owners of the sites, all FDNY officers, believe that the information is out there anyway and that FDNY officials were informed before the websites began opertations.
Take the time to read the whole article and let me know what you think. I’m still digesting it all myself.