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YouTube Wants to Meet With U.S. Military Over Web BanTim King Salem-News.com
Feedback from soldiers indicates that they are anything but happy about losing access to the sites, and the list may be longer than the government is admitting.
(SALEM, Ore.) - It looks like at least one video service that is being banned from U.S. government computers is going to fight back. MarketWatch in San Francisco says YouTube wants to hold a meeting with the U.S. military over a Web ban that would keep soldiers from not just YouTube, but also MySpace, PhotoBucket and several others.
An article on Salem-News.com yesterday, Op-Ed: Government Bans Soldiers From Internet Sites, that was also posted on MySpace, brought a number of interesting comments from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What they say is that the government has already removed access to MySpace at a number of bases. The DoD said that computers in base MWR, Morale, Wellness and Recreation rooms would not be affected by the ban, but soldiers and marines who wrote to Salem-News.com say the claim is bogus.
One soldier that I knew in Afghanistan, John Parsons, wrote this, "We lost myspace and several sites including any IM on the MWR computers a while ago. The only access we have to these is on a network that is operated and paid for by us through a local company".
At least that seems to be one option for the soldiers at war that the government hasn't removed yet.
Many people also wrote to Salem-News.com, expressing support for the government banning such sites, claiming that the soldiers are spending too much time watching videos and listening to music. One person who described himself as an active duty soldier with the nickname "Blackwolf" says, "The DOD is banning the sites because there are TOO many soldiers doing this during work - I know -I'm one of them - and so are all of my buds!"
The Defense Department says it is an issue of bandwidth and security.
But Jack Idema, a Special Forces soldier, says it isn't even the Department of Defense that is pressing this issue; it comes from an even higher source, "All of which emanate from State Department's actual control of how this war is waged. The last thing they want is a SGT in the 82nd Airborne putting up videos of what really happened and contradicting Rene Boucher on the 6 O'Clock News. And that's just the tip of the iceberg."
It seems the real issue may not be bandwidth and security. If it was a legitimate claim, why would that just be coming up now?
MarketWatch reports that YOUTUBE is chafing at being one of 13 Web sites now off limits on the computer networks used by U.S. military personnel.
A representative of YouTube, the world's most popular Internet video site, owned by Google, says they are looking forward to meeting with the Department of Defense on this issue.
She says a "vast" majority of YouTube videos posted by soldiers or their families and friends are personal messages.
BlackPlanet.com, a social networking site popular among African-Americans, is also being banned by the government, "but shouldn't be," according to Ben Sun, chief executive officer of Community Connect, the company operating the Internet site.
Sun said his site does get a "significant" amount of traffic from the DOD's network of computers, but certainly not to the degree of YouTube, or the 11 other sites on the hit list.
The majority of soldiers were not in support of the government ban, they see it as an attempt to reduce the flow of information they receive. One soldier who did not seek to be identified, says the government has even clamped down on a popular site that soldiers use to purchase equipment that helps them stay alive in the war, "you can't go onto eBay anymore at some sites across Afghanistan."
The soldier also said, "They want you to fight a war or do a job and you have to spend your own money to buy the equipment you need from eBay of all things to ensure that the job gets done." For him, that availability has ended, and Ebay is no longer an option for this soldier at war, or many others.
"They do not want us to have access to the media. I get better news about the region when I look up stories on yahoo or a generalized search for news on Afghanistan then being here. They treat you like a mushroom- feed you a lot of sh*t and keep you in the dark."
Ebay? Uncle Sam might just need to offer an explanation about that one.
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