The Pentagon is supporting the use of social media through the easing of its policy for using social networking and other Web 2.0 sites according to an article in Government Technology. The Department of Defense (DOD) recently released a new policy statement “for responsible and effective use of Internet-based capabilities.” It basically lifts existing bans on access to social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. Prior to this policy change, most social media sites were essentially banned due to potential national security concerns.
The policy doesn’t completely open up the Internet, however. Pornography, gambling and other assorted “vice” sites will remain inaccessible. The policy also allows for the temporary suspension of access in order to “safeguard missions” by “temporarily limiting access to the Internet to preserve operations security or to address bandwidth restraints”.
One interesting reason for allowing access: lack of media coverage. The policy will help the DOD press office distribute stories typically overlooked by the mainstream media. Examples cited include the building of schools and hospitals in Iraq.
While the news may not have a direct effect on many government contractors, it is nevertheless interesting to see the government–particularly the DoD–struggle with issues of open access, privacy, connectedness and potential conflicts with national security. It’s also interesting to see how government is embracing these technologies to communicate its own messages, a testament to their power. Products and services that help solve this problem will get attention and funding. Look for more examples of loosening reigns on technology (and possibly more examples of problems this creates).
All the best,