US army cut access to MySpace and YouTube

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US soldiers serving overseas will lose some of their online links to friends and loved ones back home under a department of defence policy that a high-ranking army official said would take effect today.

The defence department will begin blocking access worldwide to YouTube, MySpace and 11 other popular websites on its computers and networks, according to a memo sent Friday by General BB Bell, the US Forces Korea commander.

The policy is being implemented to protect information and improve security as well as reduce drag on the department’s networks. “This recreational traffic impacts our official DoD network and bandwidth ability, while posing a significant operational security challenge,” Bell said in the memo.

The armed services have long barred members of the military from sharing information that could jeopardise their missions or safety, whether electronically or by other means. The new policy is different because it creates a blanket ban on several sites used by military personnel to exchange messages, pictures, video and audio with family and friends.

Members of the military can still access the sites on their own computers and networks – but defence department computers and networks are the only ones available to many soldiers and sailors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iraqi insurgents or their supporters have been posting videos on YouTube at least since last autumn. The army recently began posting videos on YouTube showing soldiers defeating insurgents and befriending Iraqis.
[Submitted by Imran Asad]

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