Army Regulation 530--1: Operations Security (OPSEC)
Region: Middle East and North America
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Medium: Electronic Media, Internet, Photography, Film Video
Artist: Various internet contributors
Confronting Bodies: U.S. Department of Defense
Dates of Action: May 14, 2007
Location: Iraq and Afghanistan
Description of Artwork: Various internet sights that provide U.S. soldiers access to video and photo sharing websites, for example MySpace and YouTube.
The Incident: On May 14, 2007, the United States Department of Defense [DOD] officially shutdown access to thirteen websites on government computers including: youtube.com, pandora.com, photobucket.com, myspace.com, live365.com, hi5.com, metacafe.com, mtv.com, ifilm.com, blackplanet.com, stupidvideos.com and filecabi.com. By limiting access to U.S. soldiers from these sites, the DOD has effectively cut off and deprived soldiers from reaching relatives and loved ones and blocked invaluable channels of communication both to the soldiers and public at large. These websites allow soldiers to keep updated on national and global developments. Furthermore, troops use these websites to provide the public with alternative and graphic insight into the challenges soldiers face in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only computers affected are those run by the DOD, which are part of the department's global information grid. The department has more than 15,000 local and regional networks and more than 5 million computers in the grid.
Under the policy, troops will still be allowed to access the sites from non-military computers. While soldiers will continue to have access to the sites through Internet cafes that are not on the military computer network, other than this alternative, no other measures have been proposed, leaving thousands of soldiers without access to the outside world.
This policy comes directly after a April 19th, 2007 directive [Army Regulation 530--1: Operations Security (OPSEC)] which ordered U.S. soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer. Therefore, even with a directive which controls the content of U.S. soldiers emailing and blogging, the DOD still feels it is necessary to restrict a list of sites, rather than enforce a directive which was passed a month earlier.
Results of Incident: This policy has limited U.S. soldiers' ability to communicate with friends or family.