DOD blocks employees from video sites in wake of Japan crisis

Interest following quake, tsunami, nuclear plant explosions taxes bandwidth

Defense Department employees who are drawn to video-streaming sites to check on the latest images of the crisis in Japan will now have to wait until they are home to look. DOD’s Cyber Command has shuttered access to YouTube, Amazon and Google video for its workers, reports the Associated Press.

Employees' appetite to view the destruction in Japan -- following an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant explosions -- is eating up the bandwidth that is already plagued with problems in that region of the globe, the AP report said.

The military has had a lukewarm relationship with social media. Defense Systems has reported that DOD considered banning Twitter, Facebook and other social-networking sites in the summer of 2009 for security reasons. Then earlier this year, with DOD social media guidelines about to expire on March 1, and no formal announcement of a follow-up policy, many feared the expiration could curb access to popular websites, Defense Systems reported. Finally officials reauthorized the rules for another year.

The U.S. Pacific Command requested to have the sites blocked to meet the needs of U.S. troops because “its networking and circuits in the region are facing extreme demands,” the AP article states.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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Reader Comments

Thu, Mar 17, 2011

I recognize a type of double-think going on here. It goes something like this: (1) I have vague misgivings about this type of capability, (2) Accessing it could conceivably use up bandwidth, (3) Therefore I have a good excuse to cut it off. It's more an issue of control and bureaucratic angst than a real technical imperative. We are hearing the concerns of bureaucratic angst rather than any thought of effectively getting the job done. By allowing these workers access to the direct feeds from the disaster, one can increase thinking about problems and solutions and build better empathy with the affected population. The technical cost of allowing this access could also be greatly decreased by use of mirror sites and other techniques to reduce demand on key links. The draconian approach reported here does not reflect a thoughtful, balanced approach to the issue -- just a lazy, knee-jerk reaction to what is probably a non-problem.

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