Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Military blogging comes into question with new Army OPSEC reg; blogs offer chronicles of war in Iraq

Nikki Schwab has a special to The Washington Post, May 2, 2007, “Blogs Chronicle War from Soldiers’ Perspective.” Blogs have provided a comprehensive, if piece-wise, record of the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan) and constitute an unprecedented source of detailed military history. The link is here.

However, the Army (along with other services) has issued a regulation requiring bloggers to register their blogs with a commander and OPSEC (operations security) officer before making postings in a public forum. This was established with Army Regulation 530-1 (PDF file link here), published April 19, 2007. Servicemembers' blogs must be reviewed at least quarterly.

Some soldiers have maintained that this will drive out the “good bloggers” and that others will violate security rules and go uncaught. For example, look at Blackfive 's article "The End of Military Blogging", here. Here is a nother story.

Of course, gay military bloggers may not discuss their sexual orientation or private lives, under “don’t ask don’t tell.”

There are numerous servicemember produced videos on Youtube, some of them discussed at this link.

There has been controversy in the business world about employee personal blogging and the recent trend for employers to check for social networking sites and personal blogs of job applicants or employees, and there has been some activity in “reputation management.” These problems have been covered extensively in my other blogs. The Army regulation could set an example that could be followed in civilian areas, DOD or not.

Update 5/14/2007:

On May 14, the Pentagon announced that it would block access to Myspace, YouTube, and from some other popular sites, at least from military computers overseas. I am not sure if my own sites are affected, as the volume of hits from .mil networks (probably soldiers concerned about "don't ask don't tell") has always been significant. Probably not, as I don't have user input (except for comments on the blogs). Here is a major story.

The Washington Post story on May 15 is by Alan Sipress and Sam Diaz, "A Casualty of War: My Space: U. S. Military Blocks Popular Web Sites, Cutting Ties to Home", here.

The list of blocked sites is (1) MySpace (2) YouTube (3) PhotoBucket (4) Metacafe (5) MTV (6) iFilm (7) Hi5 (8) Pandora (9) BlackPlanet (10) 1.FM (11) StupidViolence (12) FileCabi

Apparent DOD does not feel that the competing social networking sites (like Facebook) use as much bandwidth as Myspace. Questions are being raised as to why the military could not ration bandwidth, and as to whether soldiers in combat areas really would have Internet access (even in cares) with their own private accounts.

It would seem that this decision, coming under criticism, is likely to change again.

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