ICE is not a hoax

In the wake of the recent London bombings, the ICE idea was widely circulated by email

ICE stands for ‘In Case of Emergency’: it’s what the emergency services will look for if you’re involved in an accident and have your mobile phone with you. This straightforward idea was developed by the East Anglian Ambulance Trust and is supported by Vodafone.

Then – red faces all round – a second email claiming it was a hoax.

Be very careful with this one – although the intention is great it is unfortunately phase one of a phone based virus that is laying a path for propagating very quickly. Passing it on is part of the virus interestingly, such is the deviousness of the people who write these things.

We have already seen the “second phase” where a program is sent as part of a ring-tone download that goes into your address book and looks for something it recognises – you’ve guessed it, an address book entry marked “ICE or I.C.E.” or whatever. It then sends itself to the “ICE list”, charging you for the privilege.

It now turns out that the hoax claim itself was the hoax. Here are your authoritative references:

Mainly I’m just very unamused that someone would seek to sabotage this excellent initiative. It’s like throwing stones at fire engines; one of those things that leaves even the wettest of liberals longing for a more disciplined society.

But I’m also fascinated by the way that an asynchronous medium like email can get stuck in this kind of feedback loop. I’d predict that you’ll see a ‘standing wave’ of accusation and counter-accusation hitting your inbox for a few days now, before the damping effect of static reference sources kicks in.

Meanwhile, my phone now has an ICE entry in the contact list. Does yours?

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