Pentagon ponders social-networking threats

The Pentagon has ordered a review of the armed forces’ use of social-networking sites, citing concerns that security could be compromised.

Pentagon ponders social-networking threats

Many branches of the military use the popular sites in an effort to connect with young people, as well as to counter the propaganda of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Back in May, the Air Force even held a press conferences over Twitter to denounce claims made about the GPS network.

However, this headlong rush may be coming to a screeching halt after William Lynn, the deputy defense secretary, ordered a department-wide review in a memo to military commanders and service branch chiefs.

“These tools are proving valuable in areas such as recruitment, public affairs, and quality of life for our military personnel, as well as sharing information with allies, coalition partners and military families,” says Lynn.

“However, as with any internet-based capabilities, there are implementation challenges and operational risks that must be understood and mitigated.”

Lynn asked the Pentagon’s chief information officer to present a threat assessment as well as policy guidelines “to ensure the responsible and effective use of emerging internet-based capabilities” to Defense Secretary Robert Gates by the end of August.

Lynn says a new policy would be developed by the end of September.

“It does highlight the tension between recognising these as important ways to communicate … and yet, on the other hand, the very real security concerns that the people that maintain our networks have with respect to using these sites,” say Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman

The Pentagon has not issued a department-wide ban on the use of social networking sites, but some services and departments have starting clamping down.

The Marine Corps, which has long prohibited its personnel from using the sites on work computers, issued a formal ban on Monday. The Marines will allow waivers for “operational needs”, such as for investigations, the distribution of news releases and for the recruitment of new personnel.

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