FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Association committed acts of browser discrimination by only allowing people with Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer 6.0 to file electronic claims in response to Hurricane Katrina. This means that if I was an affected citizen of the US, and had my Mac laptop with me and a valid internet connection, I could not file a claim. Nor could my friend running Linux who uses Firefox, or perhaps Konquerer.

According to FEMA's website, at http://www.fema.gov/help/registration_faq.shtm the minimum computer is a Windows unit with IE 6. No other OS / browser combination will be supported / available. If you try to register with different combination, you are directed to either download the combination, or dial a telephone number to complete the transaction.

This is completely unacceptable! I can understand not supporting *every* browser on the planet, but insisting on Microsoft as the sole monopoly is a huge mistake, and this blatant discrimination against modern operating systems such as Macintosh and Linux, and the variety of common browsers Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, really points a finger at design stupidity.

In a day and age where job postings are in multiple languages, and we have bi-lingual police officers, you would think that the US Federal Government would be forced by law to use open standards for maximum exposure.

Guess not.

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it's all about money. And a lot of people will take huge advantages regarding what happen now. That's the way thing works and they allways work like this. Is sad but that is the way it is.

dr Steven Dale

Quite simple. They set up a site in no time and targeted that site at the largest possible market.
They didn't have time to test whether it worked according to expectations anywhere else so can't support that.
That's not to say they deliberately wrote it to not work on other browsers, just that they didn't have the time to make sure it worked.

Personally I'm sick of the constant battering against the people trying to help out in disaster relief.
If you want to blame someone for the disaster unfolding in Louisiana, blame the state government and the city council of New Orleans.

Has anyone tested to see whether or not other browsers actually work on the FEMA site? Maybe those requirements were simply provided by the contractor who did the work for FEMA as a liability issue -- even though other browsers may work fine.

I have a hard time understanding how other browsers would not work, unless there is code to deny access to non-IE user agents.

I have a hard time understanding how other browsers would not work, unless there is code to deny access to non-IE user agents.

That's exactly what they're doing. First I used firefox to see which page did the check. I then used IE to get to the page just passed the check. I pasted that link into firefox and the page displayed fine, for about 2 seconds. I was then redirected to a page that said I need Windows and IE. Well, the page works with other browers but they[FEMA] won't allow it. Maybe the Deus Ex game had it right about FEMA?

well if you are a strong firefox user on windows and hate having to switch browsers every time it wont allow you to view a page than you should get the user-agent switch plugin. This plugin tricks the web site into thinking you are using IE, Opera, or Netscape. In some cases it wont work but for the most part it will. For this filing thing i think it is ridiculous just to limit it to windows os and even more to a specific browser. It should work for both i dont get why things always want you to use IE it is inferior browser.

There is no inferior browser or operating system, you're just repeating the anti-Microsoft party line.
And this isn't the time or place for religious wars.

Like I stated they most likely didn't have the time and/or resources to test the application for proper functionality on other platforms and don't want to have to face massive liability lawsuits (which are the favourite American passtime, even more fun than flaming Microsoft or the president it seems) if someone does use another browser and sees something in the wrong place on her screen causing severe mental distress (or however the lawyers would describe it).

I think this is called laziness. Whoever set the site up probably used some kind of ActiveX controls, or something similar, and did not even think to include other browsers.

I guess you could call it discrimination by default, but I really doubt that any thoughtful descrimination was being perpetrated.

If they did not even think of other browsers they'd not have included a browsercheck...
So they did think of other browsers and decided it was either not worth the effort or they didn't have the time to make the effort to allow for them.
The latter is the more likely explanation though of course the anti-Microsoft and anti-Bush fanatics will argue otherwise.

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