Monday, May 14, 2007

Pentagon Blocks MySpace & YouTube

The Defense Department has decided to make it impossible to reach 13 Web sites from its network, citing an overabundance of “recreational traffic.”

The ban also includes Metacafe, IFilm, StupidVideos, FileCabi, BlackPlanet, Hi5, Pandora, MTV,, live365 and Photobucket.

The NY Times reports:
In the policy released today, General B.B. Bell, commander in South Korea, said use of those sites “impacts our official DoD network and bandwidth ability, while posing a significant operational security challenge.” The memo is available in pdf format.

A spokeswoman for the United States Strategic Command was more specific in framing the issue as a technical limitation. “We’ve got to have the networks open to do our mission. They have to be reliable, timely and secure,” Julie Ziegenhorn said in an interview with Stars & Stripes, an independent newspaper published for the American military.

Private internet connections still have access, but most troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are limited to Pentagon service, Stars and Stripes notes.

Today’s Web site ban and last month’s revision of military blogging policy were partly justified by operational security concerns. Both also prompted questions about whether leaders were trying to reduce the voices of individual soldiers by making it more difficult to publish their own material.

The ban also arrived as the American military started to increase its profile on YouTube, posting official footage that aimed “to show another side of operations in Iraq beyond news reports of ‘the car bomb of the day,’” the BBC said.

A writer for Wired Magazine told The Associated Press that individual soldiers were also helping to present a more positive picture of the situation in Iraq. “They are muzzling their best voices,” Noah Shachtman said.