The Cabinet Office has demanded that the author of the Preparing for Emergencies parody site remove it from the Net immediately, and not put it up again in another guise.
The government launched an advertising and leafleting campaign yesterday, advising us all of what to do in the event of a national emergency. The idea is that because we live in a faster, 24-hour world, we are unlikely to have a stockpile of tinned food in our cupboards like our WWII surviving grannies, and are so less well-prepared for any terrorist strike.
Naturally, the campaign has an associated website, and as we all know, it doesn't take long for things to happen in Internet-Land. The parody site went up almost immediately at the remarkably similar address www.preparingforemergencies.CO.uk, as opposed to GOV.uk.
It is run by one Thomas Scott, student and sometime Internet funny man.
"In the event of an emergency," visitors to the site are advised, "Run. Really, really fast." It really is much funnier than the original site. Although, in mitigation, HM Gov was probably not going for laughs when they put the campaign together.
Demonstrating a clear lack of a sense of humour, the folks behind the official Preparing for Emergencies website - GICS Operations Web Team - wrote to Scott, demanding that the offending material be removed from the Web:
Dear Mr Scott,
Regarding your website, www.preparingforemergencies.co.uk
We run the Government website for the Preparing for Emergencies public information campaign, on www.preparingforemergencies.gov.uk, and are very concerned that the material on your site will confuse people about the sensitive advice and information that we are giving to the public.
This is a very is [sic] serious campaign that should not be trivialised. In the interests of helping people to cope in the event of a crisis or a disaster we would ask that you to take down the site, immediately, and not put it up again in another guise.
Scott says he won't take the site down, but has made it clearer that the site is a joke. He told El Reg: "More than anything, I'm amazed that a silly joke's gone so far so quickly. I'm also rather suspicious about the British Gas van that's been parked across the street not doing anything for the last few hours..."
We contacted the Cabinet Office, but they were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press. ®