The US army is blocking access to coverage of PRISM leaks on the Guardian and others news websites at its bases, following the newspaper’s publishing of leaks related to the US espionage program.
The Monterey Herald reports that an army spokesperson confirmed its some restrictions on the newspaper’s website are in place across all US army bases, although officers can access guardiannews.com freely. Initial reports told of a local ban at the Presidio of Monterey site only, but the block has since been confirmed as “army-wide”.
An email from spokesperson Gordon Van Vleet, of the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM), confirmed that the organization is restricting “some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks.”
That statement suggests that other media is being restricted too. The Washington Post broke news of the PRISM program alongside the Guardian, so it would be expected that filters cover its reporting. Likewise, details and images that were leaked by Edward Snowden have been picked up many different media across the Internet.
“We make every effort to balance the need to preserve information access with operational security,” Van Vleet added, “however there are strict policies and directives in place regarding protecting and handling classified information.”
Interestingly, Van Vleet told the Herald that the website had not been specifically targeted and manually blocked.
“[The blocking] relies on automated filters that restrict access based on content concerns or malware threats,” he said.
That would make sense, given the sheer breadth of coverage across the Internet, since blocking each URL or website manually would be a hugely time-intensive task.
Nonetheless, at this point it’s more than likely that most of the armed forces are well aware of the allegations, given that the government has filed espionage charges against Snowden. His claims — which include allegations of hacks against China, monitoring of G20 ministers, collecting US Internet data, and more — have made front page news across the world in recent weeks, it’s far fetched to believe it has escaped the attention of servicemen.
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