Net Effect

Three sneezes and you are out

If, like many Americans, you’ve got H1N1 and are reading this at home, turn off your computer NOW. Even better, take a pair of scissors and cause irreparable damage to your Internet cable. If you are really addicted to the Web and can’t even contempate doing this, well, try to ration your daily surfing: turn ...

If, like many Americans, you’ve got H1N1 and are reading this at home, turn off your computer NOW. Even better, take a pair of scissors and cause irreparable damage to your Internet cable. If you are really addicted to the Web and can’t even contempate doing this, well, try to ration your daily surfing: turn off loading of images in your browser and don’t even think of downloading that new episode of your favorite soap-opera.

Why? Because you may be one of those stay-at-home H1N1 victims who are causing our Internet networks to OVERLOAD. Government Accountability Office already hates you:

Adults working from home, children accessing video files and playing games online and families logging on for information about the illness would overwhelm residential Internet networks that were never built to have a majority of users on the Web at the same time, according to an October report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

The federal government is in disarray when it comes to dealing with such a scenario, the GAO reported. The Department of Homeland Security is in charge of communications networks during times of national emergency. But it says it doesn’t have a plan to deal with overloaded Internet networks — an essential resource to keep the economy humming and residents informed and connected during a pandemic. And the DHS hasn’t coordinated with agencies like the Federal Communications Commission to create clear guidelines for how telecom, cable and satellite providers can minimize congestion.

Such confusion "would increase the risk that the federal government will not be able to respond rapidly or effectively if a pandemic quickly emerges," the GAO reported.

While Europeans are considering introducing "three strikes and you are out" law that would disconnect Internet pirates from the Internet, I propose that the US government should consider a "three sneezes and you are out" variation on this theme. Why disconnect all sneezers from the Web? For once, it will help us deal with both online rumors and computer viruses. Besides, don’t they need to be in bed and all, to recover faster?

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