21 January 2009

Time for policy to catch up ...

Milblogs are no longer some fringe idea. Nor are they proving to be a source of security violations. So says a recent Stars and Stripes story on the topic. A few pertinent quotes:

Soldiers who grew up in the information-sharing digital age suddenly faced very old traditions of operational secrecy. But today’s blog analysts say the idea of stifling online content, even in battle zones, may be futile. Milbogs, they say, are as enmeshed into the fabric of military life as any other facet of society.
In 2006, the Army’s Web Risk Assessment Cell, or AWRAC, which didn’t exist when Bush took office, scanned 1,200 military Web sites and blogs, or milblogs, for potential security leaks. Immediately, bloggers flagged it as a Soviet-style purge against digital freedom.
The audit’s results, obtained a year later by the Electronic Frontier Foundation via a Freedom of Information Act request, showed nearly 2,000 cases of operational security breaches on the military’s own Web sites, but "at most, 28," breaches on nearly 600 personal blogs reviewed.
So, it's time for our policies about new media catch up. We need to make better use of our Soldiers blogs to help us tell the Army story, to get more information about activities on the ground around the world into the public forum, and to better share with our public what life is like as a Soldier today. We need to acknowledge that what we've done so far is act in fear by disallowing certain engagement with new media rather than embracing it and figuring out how to maximize its value.

There are several folks out there who are determining ways the military can do this more effectively, but generally, this is being done by rather low-ranking folks (the USAF new media office is headed by a Captain). Nothing against these people - in fact they're generating awesome ideas - but it certainly doesn't send a message that the military is truly embracing it when it's treated as a small aside.

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