Army clarifies blogging policy

The Army is backing off its regulation restricting the ability of servicemen and -women, their families and contractors to blog.

In a fact sheet released May 3, the Army said there is “no way every blog post/update a solider makes on his or her blog needs to be monitored or first approved by an immediate supervisor and operations security officer.” Instead, the Army wants soldiers to receive guidance and awareness training from a security officer before posting to a blog.

“This regulation places trust in the solider, civilian employee, family member and contractor that they will use proper judgment to ensure” operations security (OPSEC), the fact sheet states.

Originally, in Regulation 530-1, the Army decreed its personnel “will…consult with their immediate supervisor and their OPSEC officer for an OPSEC review prior to publishing or posting information in a public forum. … This includes, but is not limited to letters, resumes, articles for publication, electronic mail (e-mail), Web site postings, Web log (blog) postings, discussion in Internet information forums, discussion in Internet message boards or other forms of dissemination or documentation.” 

The Army had received a firestorm of criticism for the April 17 regulation, which was first reported by Wired News.

“The regulation was clumsily drafted, and it was not well thought out,” said Steven Aftergood, the Federation of American Scientists’ director of the Project on Government Secrecy. “The fact sheet is a much more moderate approach, and I think that is right way to go.”

Now service officials are trying to more clearly explain the regulation with the fact sheet.

“Much of the information contained in the 2007 version of AR 530-1 already was included in the 2005 version,” the fact sheet states. “For example, soldiers have been required since 2005 to report to their immediate supervisor or OPSEC officer about their wishes to publish military-related content in public forums.”

The fact sheet states that the new regulation “simply lays out measures to help ensure operations security issues are not published in public forums by Army personnel.”

The Army also said in the fact sheet that soldiers may blog without prior approval if their topic is not related to the military, doesn’t represent or act on the behalf of the Army and doesn’t use government equipment to publish the personal blog.

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