TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Defense Department Blocks Some Web Sites

Defense Department Blocks Some Web Sites

Robert Weller, AP (
Mon, 14 May 2007 13:14:56 -0500

Defense Department blocks some Web sites
By ROBERT WELLER, Associated Press Writer

Soldiers serving overseas will lose some of their online links to
friends and loved ones back home under a Department of Defense policy
that a high-ranking Army official said would take effect Monday.

The Defense Department will begin blocking access "worldwide" to
YouTube, MySpace and 11 other popular Web sites on its computers and
networks, according to a memo sent Friday by Gen. B.B. Bell, the U.S.
Forces Korea commander.

The policy is being implemented to protect information and reduce drag
on the department's networks, according to Bell.

"This recreational traffic impacts our official DoD network and
bandwidth ability, while posing a significant operational security
challenge," the memo said.

The armed services have long barred members of the military from
sharing information that could jeopardize their missions or safety,
whether electronically or by other means.

The new policy is different because it creates a blanket ban on
several sites used by military personnel to exchange messages,
pictures, video and audio with family and friends.

Members of the military can still access the sites on their own
computers and networks, but Defense Department computers and networks
are the only ones available to many soldiers and sailors in Iraq and

Iraqi insurgents or their supporters have been posting videos on
YouTube at least since last fall. The Army recently began posting
videos on YouTube showing soldiers defeating insurgents and
befriending Iraqis.

But the new rules mean many military personnel won't be able to watch
those achievements at least not on military computers.

If the restrictions are intended to prevent soldiers from giving or
receiving bad news, they could also prevent them from providing
positive reports from the field, said Noah Shachtman, who runs a
national security blog for Wired Magazine.

"This is as much an information war as it is bombs and bullets," he
said. "And they are muzzling their best voices."

The sites covered by the ban are the video-sharing sites YouTube,
Metacafe, IFilm, StupidVideos, and FileCabi, the social networking
sites MySpace, BlackPlanet and Hi5, music sites Pandora, MTV, and, and live365, and the photo-sharing site Photobucket.

Several companies have instituted similar bans, saying recreational
sites drain productivity.

Army memo:

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

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