Further restrictions on soldiers’ Internet usage

Starting today, the Department of Defense will begin blocking soldiers from accessing some of the most popular websites on the Internet, including YouTube and MySpace.

The increasing use of such sites compromises the security of the DoD’s unclassified Internet known as NIPRNET, according to a newsletter put out by the Commander of US Forces in Korea. The newsletter also warns soldiers to be alert against identity theft and the sharing of sensitive information.

The website blocking comes less than two weeks after the military imposed new restrictions on soldiers’ blogging.

The May 11 “Bell Sends” newsletter from Commander B.B. Bell describing the new restrictions says,

To maximize the availability of DoD network resources for official government usage, the Commander, JTF-GNO, [Joint Task Force, Global Network Operations] with the approval of the Department of Defense, will block worldwide access to the following internet sites beginning on or about 14 May 2007: youtube.com, 1.fm, pandora.com, photobucket.com, myspace.com, live365.com, hi5.com, metacafe.com, mtv.com, ifilm,com, blackplanet.com, stupidvideos.com, filecabi.com”

(You can see the full newsletter from this website here or from the original military website here. From what I gather, this journalist broke the story.)

The banned websites all promote online interaction based on the sharing of photos, videos, music, musical tastes, or personal information. Some, like MySpace offer the opportunity for soldiers to blog their experiences. The Pentagon operates a channel on YouTube.

Last year, the then-Republican House of Representatives passed legislation that would bar access to such sites for minors using government-funded Internet access, for example in schools or libraries. The “Deleting Online Predators Act” (DOPA) died in the Senate.

The bill would have forced libraries and schools to bar minors from accessing any websites or chatrooms where they “may easily access or be presented with obscene or indecent material; may easily be subject to unlawful sexual advances, unlawful requests for sexual favors, or repeated offensive comments of a sexual nature from adults; or may easily access other material that is harmful to minors.”

I’m with Seth Johnson and the Dynamic Platform Standards
Project
on this one, that you can’t block such sites and still honestly call it the Internet.

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