WASHINGTON - January 31 - The FLAG Project at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Defense today, demanding expedited information on how the Army monitors soldiers' blogs.
According to news reports, an Army unit called the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell (AWRAC) reviews hundreds of thousands of websites every month, notifying webmasters and bloggers when it sees information it finds inappropriate. Some bloggers have told reporters that they have cut back on their posts or shut down their sites altogether because of the activities of the AWRAC. EFF filed its suit after the Department of Defense and Army failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests about the blog monitoring program.
"Soldiers should be free to blog their thoughts at this critical point in the national debate on the war in Iraq," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "If the Army is coloring or curtailing soldiers' published opinions, Americans need to know about that interference."
EFF's suit demands records on how the AWRAC conducts its monitoring, as well as any orders to soldiers about revision or deletion of web posts. It also demands expedited processing, as the information is urgently needed by the public.
"Of course, a military effort requires some level of secrecy. But the public has a right to know if the Army is silencing soldiers' opinions as well. That's why the Department of Defense must release information on how this program works without delay," Hofmann said.
EFF's FLAG Project uses FOIA requests and litigation to expose the government's expanding use of technologies that invade privacy. Previous lawsuits have demanded information about the FBI's huge database of personal information and the Department of Homeland Security's program to assign secret "risk assessment" scores to American travelers.
For the FOIA complaint filed against the Department of Defense:
For more on the FLAG Project: