RealTime IT News

FTC Site Conks Out

The Web site of the Federal Trade Commission -- the government agency that in some ways regulates e-commerce -- was back up about noon EDT today after a power failure at the building in Washington, DC knocked it off-line for hours.

A spokesperson for the FTC told InternetNews.com that the ftc.gov Web site was down because of a power disruption at the main FTC building at 600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

It was unclear when the site went down, but the power apparently failed sometime during the night.

A spokesperson for Potomac Electric Power Co. said crews were on the scene and investigating the outage.

In addition to the FTC site, the agency's internal network, including e-mail systems, were also affected, leaving the satellite offices without e-mail and network services.

The spokesperson said PEPCO was doing switch maintenance work in the area Wednesday evening, but that work should not have affected the FTC building. Other government sites apparently were unaffected.

The power failure appeared to be an isolated incident and unrelated to the kind of rolling blackouts that have been plaguing Silicon Valley and the rest of California as prices for electricity have soared on the West Coast.

Still, this sort of spot power failure is not all that uncommon. Last week about 50 companies, including several dot coms, that rely on Exodus Communications Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif. for uninterrupted power lost electricity when Exodus suffered a power disruption of its own.

A spokesperson for WorldCom/Uunet, which provides Internet connectivity services to the FTC, said that the government Web site is not co-located at a WorldCom facility. If it were, the site would have been protected by uninterruptable power supply systems (UPS), the spokesperson said.

The FTC monitors complaints about Internet retailers, and just yesterday it was disclosed that online retailer Egghead.com Inc. may face a fine for allegedly failing to inform some customers that their orders would be delayed during the December holiday shopping season, according to published reports.