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CPSR Y2K Rumor Central

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Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
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Misinformation regarding Y2K is rampant. Rumors, assertions, predictions, demagoguery, FUD, bluster,  cover-up, and denial abound.   For the layman, it is almost impossible to sort fact from fiction.

In an effort to help untangle the truth from the rumors, the working group has assembled the table below and has attempted to categorize the relative fact/fiction content of each. We are not attempting to be knowledgable in all these subject areas. We are only trying to stimulate people to dig up the facts of the situation and pass them on to us to incorporate in this page. If you have a rumor to submit, or you have a source to confirm a rumor as fact, goto our submissions page.

Note that the same information is on each of two different pages (with considerable "hyperlinking" between the two):


Category Issue Source/Comments
Contradicted Credit cards will not work Numerous instances (1998-06-19 )
Prediction 38% of IT professionals will withdraw personal assets from banks and investment companies before the year 2000. Information Week Copyright 1997, 1998,-11-10
There will be a 750% chance of a world wide recession on the order of an OPEC sized event as in the seventies (1998-06-19 )
The Dow Jones average will dip to 4000   (1998-01-25 )
The U.S. equity market will decline by 25% to 30% by the end of calendar 1998 Millennium Investment Corporation (1998-01-25 )
Failure to deal immediately with the millennium bug could throw Canada into a recession in the first half of 2000 Conference Board of Canada - (1998-06-19 )
Y2K could cut half a perecentage point off growth in 2000 and early 2001. Business Week - 1998-03-17 (1998-06-19 )
Rumor Banks may be shut down. Three banks in Georgia shut down.  
Speculation Insurance claims will go unpaid to more than 1 million people Information Week Copyright 1997, 1998,-11-10
Unconfirmed Contracts may be 99 years delinquent comp.risks Digest 18.90
A Toys-R-Us outlet in Albany had its entire check-out system knocked out when someone used a credit card with a 00 expiration date. Chashiiers used calculators and handwrote receipts. eyewitness Brian Laslow, Digital
Finnish banking cards fail. Camillo Sars ( (1998-01-25 )


Category Issue Source/Comments
Contradicted Elevators will fail Quotation from Otis, "Engineering reviews at Otis have determined that neither the operation of Otis manufactured and maintained elevator and escalator systems nor the use of Otis manufactured diagnostic equipment will be adversely affected after December 31, 1999. Moreover, Otis' maintenance system is usage based and not date dependent." However, others have noted that the elevator operation is often tied in with security and/or fire control systems which may rendor them inoperable. (1998-06-19 )
Nuclear power plants will explode
Fire sprinklers won't turn off or will turn on after 1/1/2000. Dennis Hassell - Year/2000 Consultant and former burglar/fire alarm designer. (1998-06-19 )
The World Trade Center elevators failed a Y2K test. Toni Savage report from talking to person in charge of elevators at WTC. (1998-06-19 )
Rumor We have already lost a few satellites with Y2K glitches  
When clocks on an oil rig were advanced, the rig immediately shut down and they can't get it started up again. Urban Myth (1998-06-19 )
Speculation Atomic clocks will stop working comp.risks Digest 18.96
Production plants will shut down because of embedded date controls  
Land mines will explode  
Unconfirmed 50% of control systems could fail if not corrected  
12% failure rate on North Sea gas plants if not corrected  
Of 74 systems assessed, 3 will fail, 2 will cause shutdown if not corrected BP Refinery, Grangemouth, UK report
Minolta Camera won't date pictures after 12/31/99 (1998-06-19 )
We just finished checking out our VCRs for Y2K compliance. The good news - they roll and record just fine. The bad news - the clock logic will fail in 2006 and will roll back 15 years. Year2000 discussion group comment (1998-06-19 )
Hamilton ventilator failed rollover. Rick A. Smith of PCMH (1998-06-19 )


Category Issue Source/Comments
Fit To Print The Governor of New York State has banned all non-essential IT projects to minimise the disruption caused by the year 2000 bomb. ComputerWorld - Sept 12, 1997 (1998-06-19 )
Prediction More than 40% of European authorities that rely on information technology are likely to fall down on their responsibilities Reuters Copyright 1997, 1998,-11-04
It is already too late for the government to solve its year 2000 problem, even if it commits significant resources tomorrow Gartner Group
Rumor The date-dependent IRS could implode (1998-01-25 )
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is working around the clock and is shoveling billions of dollars into banks into anticipation of a bank run. Yourdon discussion list. (1998-06-19 )
Speculation The US Department of Defense will shut down
Copyright 1997, 1998,-10-27
Unconfirmed The GAO warns that the Social Security Administration faces a possible computer crash in the year 2000 because the agency has not started analyzing or fixing several crucial systems affected by the year 2000 software glitch Washington Post
Copyright 1997, 1998,-11-05

Health Care

Category Issue Source/Comments
Contradicted Pacemakers will fail. (1998-06-19 )
Rumor A hospital VP told his staff, "We're going to kill patients on 12/31/99 and we can't fix our systems in time. . ." Simply a myth (1998-06-19 )
Speculation There are possibilities for loss of life through the failure of cancer screening programs to recall patients for treatment in the next century Peter Miller, City University
Wrong diagnoses could occur due to confusing date information, instruments uncalibrated BBC program - Copyright 1997, 1998,-11-09
Unconfirmed The year 2000 bug is already affecting safety and could, in extreme cases, be life-threatening Alan Langlands, executive of the National Health Service
Australia's hospitals are grappling with the year 2000 problem -- some concluding that as many as 60 percent of their machines might not work properly. (1998-06-19 )


Category Issue Source/Comments
Contradicted The internet will die on 1/1/2000. Tush Nikollaj and Dan Lorusso -- ISP providers (1998-06-19 )
All computer systems will crash. Most of the Y2K problem is that the applications WON'T crash but will process data incorrectly (1998-06-19 )
Everything will go back to normal a few days after 1/1/00. Some applications run daily, others run weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. (1998-06-19 )
The problem begins on 1/1/00. The problem has already happened in applications that calculate into the future. (1998-06-19 )
It's a COBOL/mainframe problem. While there are many problems in this environment, there are also non-compliant PC BIOS, embedded systems, Java Scripts, etc. (1998-06-19 )
Prediction The biggest problem is a shortage of manpower that will worsen as the year 2000 approaches  
Stores will run out of food  
65% chance of a national emergency being declared. Jim Lord presentation (1998-06-19 )
Rumor Nuclear weapons will be accidentally launched  
More than 30 percent of companies will be exposed to a millennium bomb threat  
A large food distribution center in the UK (Mark's & Spencer) trashed "expired" tins of food which had expiration dates past 99 comp.risks Digest 19.47
The NY Mafia has set up a Y2K consulting firm and used it as a fascade to infiltrate the payment system. They proceded to wire checks to themselves. NY Post (1998-06-12) (1998-06-12 )
Speculation Networks will crash comp.risks Digest 18.90
The building security system won't let anyone in  
Unconfirmed Digital watches will go blank Paul A Gigl Jr ( (1998-01-25 )
Australia's emergency services have been pur on alert over possible life threatening situations arising from breakdowns of essential services (water contamination, looting resulting from prolonged power loss). (1998-06-19 )

Personal Computers

Category Issue Source/Comments
Contradicted Just resetting the date on your PC will fix the problem  
Unconfirmed PC Clocks will race ahead  


Category Issue Source/Comments
Contradicted Automobiles will stop Iowa Dept. of Transportation, but contradicted by Bruce Hevner (, an ASE certified technician and reported in Note however a statement from Saturn, "The year 2000 will pose no difficulties for the computer or Powertrain Control Module (PCM) in your Saturn. The need to adapt to the turn of the century was taken into account by Saturn engineers," which indictes that there may be some "date awareness" in automobiles. (1998-01-25 )
Fit To Print Failures of some cockpit equipment on Boeing jets would result in being unable to complete preflight procedures (if not corrected). NY Times quotation from Mary Jean Olsen, Boeing spokesperson (1998-06-19 )
Prediction GPS Receivers will fail comp.risks Digest 18.96
Rumor Highway Patrols are issuing tickets to drivers whose licenses "expired" in "00"  
Automobiles with advanced Engine Management Systems may not start  
Airbags may be activated or permanently disabled because of fuses which are not compliant and require recalibration   (1998-01-25 )
Some GPS receivers may lose the ability to warm start  
Speculation The FAA may order computers shut down Dallas radio station WRR, but Dallas Morning News (1998/01/12) quotes someone from the FAA who indicates the agency does not have the money to replace their 40 mainframe computers (1998-01-25 )
Some fire engines may not start. Apparently an urban myth with no basis in fact (1998-06-19 )
Since the FAA's computers are not year 2000 compliant, there are many pilots will be refusing to fly on 01/01/2000. Dennis (1998-06-19 )
Unconfirmed Electronic intoximeters used by police could give out the wrong date on every test in the year 2000 Milton Keynes Copyright 1997, 1998,-11-09
Airplanes may stop flying Report on KLM in Reuters Copyright 1997, 1998,-11-08
Airplanes may stop flying (1998-01-25 )
Flights from Britain will suffer severe disruptions and cancellations at the end of 1999 and lasting several months because British air traffic control computers suffer from the millennium bug. (1998-01-25 )
Note from New Zealand: A company tested a major building complex lighting system by setting the date forward to 2000 and then back to today. They found that the lights were now unable to be controlled. (1998-06-19 )


Category Issue Source/Comments
Contradicted Callers could be billed for 100 year phone calls ComputerWorld Copyright 1997, 1998,-10-27, contradicted by Michael Harris, phone industry, "The North American standard message format does not have a year in it, only month and day." (1998-01-25 )
People may receive zillion dollar invoices from their utility resulting in service being shut off for months Time Bomb 2000, ISBN: 0130952842
Rebutted at (1998-01-25 )
Coffs Harbour (Australia) chemical holdings will all be dumped in one instance, enough to kill the entire town. Refuted in ComputerWorld in Australia. (1998-06-19 )
Prediction there is a 100% chance that a major portion of the domestic electrical infrastructure will be lost as a result of the Year 2000 computer and embedded systems problem Rick Cowles (1998-06-19 )
15-20% of fossil fuel plants will be shut down. Jim Lord presentation (1998-06-19 )
Rumor Power plants MAY shut down  
There may be planned blackouts/brownouts the first month or so of 2000 to fix things  

Tallies by Category and Sector

  RumorSpeculationPredictionUnconfirmedFit To PrintContradictedTotals
Business1163 112
Embedded23 6 415
Government21211 7
Health Care12 2 16
Miscellaneous4232 516
Personal Computers   1 12
Utilities2 2  37

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