Combat troops already blocked from YouTube

May 14, 2007 at 10:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- A new Pentagon policy blocking access to popular Web sites does not affect U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, a defense official said.

That's because troops in Iraq have never been able to access Web sites like or directly from Defense Department computer networks, the official said Monday.

Those Web sites are heavy users of bandwidth and can't be supported on the limited and slow satellite linkups that give troops access to the Internet, e-mail and video-phones home.

The 13 targeted Web sites will be blocked beginning Monday, according to a memo issued last week by the commander of U.S. Forces Korea.

Bandwidth is not the only concern. Social networking Web sites also pose security challenges, according to defense officials. Soldiers may unwittingly share operational information that can endanger missions in the casual atmosphere that reigns on the web.

The blocked sites include YouTube, Metacafe, IFilm, StupidVideos, and FileCabi -- all video-sharing sites; MySpace, BlackPlanet and Hi5, all social networking sites; MTV, Pandora, and live365, all music sites; and Photobucket, a photo-sharing site.

Troops who want to post videos can presumably e-mail files to friends to upload for them.

Military personnel are not prohibited from using the Web sites on their own computers or at commercial Internet cafes. Even in Iraq there are a handful of privately owned Internet cafes available on bases for troops who don't want to wait through often long lines to access Pentagon-provided computers or who want to communicate over private networks. All Defense Department networks can be monitored.

Last month the military issued new rules for military bloggers, requiring them to clear their weblog updates with their superiors before posting, ostensibly to scrub them for potentially damaging operational information.

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