U.S. European Command locks down Internet Access

HEIDELBERG, Germany—To bolster the amount of communications bandwidth, the U.S. Army and Air Force have significantly curtailed the personal use of the Internet by servicemen under the European Command, including those deployed in the Balkans.

The Defense Information Systems Agency's European field office began an effort to increase by 30 percent the available communications services of the Defense Information Systems Network throughout the European theater to support NATO's humanitarian and combat missions in Yugoslavia. Hoping to free up needed bandwidth, the Army and Air Force on April 18 issued the policy, which canceled all limited peacetime privileges granted to government and military employees to use government computer systems, particularly e-mail and the Internet, for personal use. The policy will remain in effect for up to one year from the date it was issued.

"Our ability to support and sustain classified and unclassified e-mail capability for current operations...is affected by the available bandwidth on the" European Command's Common User Data Network (CUDN), according to the memorandum. "For that reason, it is imperative that [U.S. Army Europe] establish a minimize order immediately to all secure and non-secure network subscribers. Effective immediately, no unofficial Internet traffic may occur on the CUDN until [the] minimize [order] is lifted."

The memo specifically directs the Army's 5th Signal Command to actively monitor the network for violations of the policy. It also calls on local unit commanders to brief all their personnel and to "routinely check on user activity" for evidence of inappropriate use of government computers. One civilian government employee has been dismissed based on evidence that he had visited inappropriate Web sites on two separate occasions, totaling up to 13 hours of Web surfing. The military services also have curtailed the use of "push" technologies for continuous news feeds and the attachment of large files to e-mails.

The policy allows, however, some leeway for appropriate use of the Internet in support of morale, welfare and recreational activities, such as providing soldiers and airmen deployed in Albania, Macedonia and elsewhere with links to family members in the United States.

In addition to slowing down the network, "personal use of Internet services provides a conduit through which information assurance and security can be compromised," according to a spokesman for the Army's European Command. "Our information dominance depends on it, and we are running out of pipes."

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