When "Ma Bell," and particularly cellular phones, failed to function properly on the day terrorists struck Washington and New York, everybody from the nation's leaders concerned about more attacks to mothers worried about the safety of their children relied on the Internet to communicate.
As a result, the president and CEO of the Internet's technical coordination body, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), tells this column that ICANN's annual meeting in November will now focus on pressing Internet stability and security issues. "The events of September 11 have caused institutions worldwide to rethink their plans and priorities," says M. Stuart Lynn, whose corporation was created in 1998 to assume responsibility for Internet technical functions previously performed under U.S. government contract.
"The Internet is global in reach, as are the threats of terrorism," he notes. "September 11 offered a stark and tragic reminder of the incalculable importance to support emergency response, personal and other communications, and information sharing; e-mail, instant messaging, and the Web, for example, all played essential roles."
President Bush went to great lengths Thursday - flying all the way to Chicago - to assure Americans that it's safe to fly again.
Among his guarantees: the federal government bolstering and managing private security employees at all commercial airports, and purchasing and maintaining all security equipment. Let's hope that happens soon. One well-known Washington corporate lobbyist - a "million-mile" flier with United Airlines who was en route Thursday to New England to give a speech to the World Affairs Conference - says it's "business as usual" at one of the Washington area's two operating airports.
"I see nothing different than before the 11th," says the lobbyist, who asks not to be identified. "I went through security at Dulles airport this morning and there were no extra questions, and even though I carried an electric razor, personal computer, transistor radio and Palm Pilot, I was asked to turn nothing on. In Europe, I have to turn these items on all the time. Nobody asked me anything, as if nothing had happened."
There was no added security?
"There were three U.S. marshals standing over by a table talking to each other," says the lobbyist, "but they were not even looking at people like me passing through security. The regular 'blue sportcoat' folks just waved me through."
NATION'S OTHER DISASTER
"Lost in all of this, of course, is the real problem in Washington. (Redskins) Owner Daniel Snyder wrought all this chaos with his impatience and hubris in 2000, and now he gets to sit back and watch the disaster unfold, knowing no one in power can point the finger his way." -- Sports Illustrated, after the Washington Redskins cut quarterback Jeff George in light of the team's dismal start.
"The friendliest country in the world, possibly the universe." -- lead sentence of the Web site Afghanistan Online (www.afghan-web.com)