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Legal Issues?

August 17, 2010

After searching the web for various case studies on legal issues relating to organizations and their social networking policies, I came across several documents about the military, now everyone would remember watching the news reports about soldiers leaking information onto sites such as Facebook,twitter,blogs  etc. The Military has always had issues with SNS

Obviously leaking military information is on a scale of its own,  the effect it could have on the military and its operations throughout the world, potentially millions of lives could be at risk depending on the type of information leaked, there is no other sector in the world that could be damaged as much as the military could if documents were leaked. you simply cannot compare leaking military secrets with say leaking some confidential document from an insurance company.

As such, the Military has strict laws governing the use and distribution of information information in the Military is ranked as either Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret and leaking any of these classified documents will result in you being imprisoned

The military has used several methods to stop classified documents being leaked via social media sites such as Facebook/MySpace and twitter, in 2009 the military ordered a military wide ban on social network sites in an effort to stop classified information being leaked.

Due to the nature of social networking sites, no longer can the military simply request the classified documents back, as many of the social networking sites are hosted outside their jurisdiction, in another country.

An example of this is WikiLeaks, Wikileaks holds hundreds of classified military documents that they obtained, since then has had an ongoing battle with the military as the military attempts to get them to remove the information.

Earlier this year in February, The Pentagon released its new Social Media Policy which reinstated the use of social media sites within its military. July this year an intelligence analyst with the United States Army in Baghdad was charged with leaking this video.

leaking this sort of information damages the public image of the military and also shows misconduct of its solders. obviously in cases such as these the misconduct of the solders was directly related to their job an as such would warrant their discharge from the military and imprisonment.

there is no perfect method for handling how employee’s access SNS, in many cases it has shown that their productivity has increased, whereas in other cases it has shown that they have used this to  distribute classified information.

Obviously within the armed forces the ability to use SNS to connect with family and friends is of high importance, not just for the solders, but also the mission, as mentioned earlier, using SNS can increase productivity in an office environment, the same can be said for solders, and will in my opinion allow the solders to be more focused on their mission.

But it also makes leaking information far to easy.


From → Enterprise 2.0

  1. Great case study. It just goes to show that even with clear policies stating imprisonment, if someone thinks that leaking information is worth it there’s no stopping it. The only way I see these policies working is when we take out human opportunity all together, but if the army can’t achieve this it’s not looking good for the average organization.

    • Thanks, I totally agree with you, its a very hard thing to manage, normally in an old enterprise everything would be locked down, and limited time would be allowed for internet, and most websites would be blocked. that old system did as much as possible to stop employee’s leaking information. but now that businesses are taking on a new approch they are opening themselves up to a whole new world of technology which can be used to leak information through. obviously if they are able to access the websites there will be a leak sometime by someone.

  2. Matt Johnstone permalink

    It’s interesting to see how difficult it is to control information in wartime – particularly since the advent of phone cameras and media sharing platforms. Even youtube has a huge repository of videos from soldiers. I wonder how much people can learn from watching those videos alone. It seems like the world structure we live in with country-specific laws really doesn’t work with the ubiquitous nature of online data and making it so difficult to remove information. The combination of these things is an information security recipe for disaster. And if the information isn’t secure, information could even be doctored by anyone wishing to push an agenda.

    • This is so true, it’s hard to tell the lines between what is real and what is fake these days, we have gone from a structured approach as a planet in terms of information content and delivery methods, to a de structured approach where information can be pushed through hundreds of different delivery methods, such as SNS. Its an obviously a serious security threat that needs to be investigated and taken care of.

  3. I agree with Shaun – as long as there’s the opportunity for people to share confidential information I think it’s likely that they will, whether through misunderstanding what should and shouldn’t be shared or through malicious intent.

    But in whether authorities ban social media or not, I think there should be a lot more done to educate people about boundaries and what information should be kept private. Young people in particular need to learn about the dangers and consequences of putting out information that cannot be retracted.

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