Thursday, May 17, 2007


DoD Ban

John Donovan, regularly of Castle Argghhh!, but posting at MILBLOGS, reports that he has first hand experience in the decision-making behind the recent Department of Defense (DoD) ban on accessing You Tube, MySpace, and other designated Internet sites via DoD computers and networks. Beyond making a statement to that effect, Donovan withholds further comment other than to say he agrees with the decision.

The official announcement yesterday that explained the ban identified concerns over network bandwidth utilization as the primary reason for the ban. Earlier reporting had indicated that Operations Security (OPSEC) concerns had been a secondary rationale for banning these high-bandwidth sites and applications.

Mainstream media (MSM) outlets such as Associated Press (AP), NPR, MSNBC, among others have reported in the You Tube ban, and at least one US Senator has criticized the ban publicly. I was contacted by the local Fox affiliate to comment on the ban. Previously I’ve made several appearances for them, to provide background on military and MILBLOG related stories.

I am among those MILBLOGGERS sharing concerns that the latest OPSEC update may provoke tighter control and even prohibitions against MILBLOGS and other soldier use of media in combat zones. However, I am very familiar with typical corporate PC and network usage policies, and I conclude that the military’s blocking of such sites from official PCs and networks to be completely consistent with very common business practice.

For those soldiers with regular access to Internet Cafes, or who can contract with private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in areas with commercial Internet availability, the DoD ban poses no impediment to their private access of such sites and media outlets. Of course, those soldiers who have regular access to the Internet for work purposes, they will be prevented from accessing YouTube, MySpace, or a host of related sites. That just brings them in line with 90% of their counterparts in the civilian business world.

Employees accessing the Internet, particularly streaming video and other high bandwidth sites, pose an increasingly heavy traffic burden on networks.

Corporations routinely impose restrictions on Internet usage at work, restrict or reserve the right to review employee email, and install blocking software such as Websense. This not only makes sense for businesses, but reflects their right to dictate how their computing and network resources are to be used by their employees. That the military intends to assert the same authority for their employees should not be surprising, at all. In fact, I am quite sure that ubiquitous critics of the military would find a way to find fault, if they did not.

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