Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fighting Common Sense

I just read in the US News and World Report - my old neighbors in DC at the 2400 N Street Building - that the ban I talked about earlier today on US military personnel accessing Internet sites YouTube.com, iFilm.com, and MySpace.com is not really that much of a big deal.

According to the PR folks quoted in this report, the talk of censorship is "overblown" and for most of the military it is business - and blogging - as usual, via Internet cafes and calling centers at all of the larger US bases.

Soldiers, the magazine reports, can log on to Internet services provided by private contractors for just $70 per month.

This is somewhat surprising news - because I recently encountered an article on a DOD policy change instructing soldiers to run any blogs, videos, emails, etc past their commanding officers. This excerpt is from Noah Shachtman, writing in Wired:

...an alert came down from highest levels of the Pentagon that "effective immediately, no information may be placed on websites … unless it has been reviewed for security concerns," and the Army announced it was activating a team, the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell, to scan blogs for information breaches. An official Army dispatch told milbloggers, "Big Brother is not watching you, but 10 members of a Virginia National Guard unit might be."

Like I said earlier, I'm all for enabling URL filtering if bandwidth cost reduction, workday productivity, and family environment are the drivers, but the censorship of adults using the Internet on their own free time - while on break from active duty supporting the rest of us in the free world - just isn't right.

The DOD should restore access to the video upload and download sites immediately. South Korea, one of the affected zones, leads the world in broadband access - getting the network interconnects upgraded shouldn't be too tough in that neighborhood.

As for security, it certainly sounds from the above Wired extract that they have the policing capabilities to figure out the security issues.

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