Pentagon Sued Over Milblog-Monitoring


armyblogs7_f.jpgThe digital rights crusaders over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation are suing the Department of Defense, "demanding expedited information on how the Army monitors soldiers' blogs," according to an EFF statement.

EFF filed its suit after the Department of Defense and Army failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests about the blog monitoring program...According to news reports [ahem, ahem], an Army unit called the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell (AWRAC) reviews hundreds of thousands of websites every month, notifying webmasters and bloggers when it sees information it finds inappropriate. Some bloggers have told reporters that they have cut back on their posts or shut down their sites altogether because of the activities of the AWRAC.
Well, not exactly. Most of the bloggers I've talked to dialed back their sites because of a more broad suspicion about blogging within the military community -- and unclear regulations about what can and can not be written online.Still, the EFF's suit should be useful. Because the AWRAC's blog-eying regimen seemed almost laughably loose, when it was announced in October. The Army team "uses several scanning tools to monitor [these] sites for OPSEC [operational security] violations," the Army notes. "The tools search for such key words as 'for official use only' or 'top secret,' and records the number of times they are used on a site. Analysts review the results to determine which, if any, need further investigation."
The most common OPSEC violations found on official sites are For Official Use Only (FOUO) documents and limited distribution documents, as well as home addresses, birthdates and home phone numbers.Unofficial blogs often show pictures with sensitive information in the background, including classified documents, entrances to camps or weapons. One Soldier showed his ammo belt, on which the tracer pattern was easily identifiable.
The EFF's suit "demands records on how the AWRAC conducts its monitoring, as well as any orders to soldiers about revision or deletion of web posts. It also demands expedited processing, as the information is urgently needed by the public.""Of course, a military effort requires some level of secrecy. But the public has a right to know if the Army is silencing soldiers' opinions as well. That's why the Department of Defense must release information on how this program works without delay," EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann said.ALSO:* Army "Big Brother" Unit Targets Bloggers* Another Milblogger Bows Out* Yet Another Milblogger Forced Out* Milblogger Clamp Down Blows Up* Pentagon's Iraq Message: T.B.D.* Army to Fake the News* Yon vs. Military Flacks* Aussie Military Bans Blogs(Big ups: Ward)
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