Army Restricts Soldier Bloggers: Can Face Court Martials

Army Squeezes Soldier Blogs, Maybe to Death

Lt. Adam Tiffen (Left), Author of Military Blog, The Replacements 

First Lt. Jeffrey D. Barnett: Award Winning Iraq Soldier-Blogger

At the same time as the issue of internet freedom erupted in the Digg censoring incident, Wired Magazine has revealed that the U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mal messages without prior approval.

From today’s issue of Wired Magazine:

“The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops’ online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.

Military officials have been wrestling for years with how to handle troops who publish blogs. Officers have weighed the need for wartime discretion against the opportunities for the public to personally connect with some of the most effective advocates for the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq — the troops themselves. The secret-keepers have generally won the argument, and the once-permissive atmosphere has slowly grown more tightly regulated. Soldier-bloggers have dropped offline as a result.

The new rules (.pdf) obtained by Wired News require a commander be consulted before every blog update.

“This is the final nail in the coffin for combat blogging,” said retired paratrooper Matthew Burden, editor of The Blog of War anthology. “No more military bloggers writing about their experiences in the combat zone. This is the best PR the military has — it’s most honest voice out of the war zone. And it’s being silenced.”

Army Regulation 530–1: Operations Security (OPSEC) (.pdf) restricts more than just blogs, however. Previous editions of the rules asked Army personnel to “consult with their immediate supervisor” before posting a document “that might contain sensitive and/or critical information in a public forum.” The new version, in contrast, requires “an OPSEC review prior to publishing” anything — from “web log (blog) postings” to comments on internet message boards, from resumes to letters home.

Failure to do so, the document adds, could result in a court-martial, or “administrative, disciplinary, contractual, or criminal action.”

You can read more here: Link.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) had filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense in February, “demanding expedited information on how the Army monitors soldiers’ blogs,” according to an announcement from the digital rights group. Here is a PDF copy of the EFF complaint about the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell: Link. Noah Shachtman at Defensetech has been diligently covering this story, long before anyone else was aware of it. He provides more on this legal battle here: Link.

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Digg Caves in to User Protest: Risks Company to Support Web 2.0 Freedom

HD-DVD Code Now Immortalized in Music:

Digg.com: Official Statement

What’s Happening with HD-DVD Stories?
Kevin Rose
Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0
by Kevin Rose at 9pm, May 1st, 2007 in Digg Website

Today was an insane day. And as the founder of Digg, I just wanted to post my thoughts…

In building and shaping the site I’ve always tried to stay as hands on as possible. We’ve always given site moderation (digging/burying) power to the community. Occasionally we step in to remove stories that violate our terms of use (eg. linking to pornography, illegal downloads, racial hate sites, etc.). So today was a difficult day for us. We had to decide whether to remove stories containing a single code based on a cease and desist declaration. We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code.

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

Digg on,

Kevin
digg this story

Digg is among the most prominent of hundreds of websites that rely on users to provide content, which attracts audiences and advertising revenue. Similarly designed sites include YouTube, the user-generated video company that was bought by Google last year for $1.65bn.

When justifying its initial action that censored posts containing the copyrighted security code, Digg had said that, to survive, it had to respect demands of the intellectual property holders. Jay Adelson, co-founder and chief executive of Digg, said it had not consulted with its investors, which include Pierre Omidyar, an Ebay founder, and Greylock Partners, a Silicon Valley venture capital group, about the about-face change announced by Kevin Rose.

Investors in Digg have really empowered management to make those sorts of decisions,” he said. “We understand there is a risk of a suit that’s out there but…there is a pretty strong argument that this information is in the public domain. At this point what we’re going to do is get back to work, get back to democratising media and empowering our users,” he stated.

The corporate founders of AACS, the group backing the secority code, include Microsoft, Intel, IBM and Walt Disney. So far, they have declined comment.

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