WASHINGTON - October 30 - Amidst new reports that the armed forces are increasing their surveillance of online usage by military personnel, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today cautioned service members to be especially careful when using the internet or posting information online.
According to the Associated Press, military officials are now monitoring "official and unofficial blogs and other Web sites" and looking at websites military personnel may visit. "Now soldiers wishing to blog while deployed are required to register their sites with their commanding officers, who monitor the sites quarterly, according to a four-page document of guidelines published in April 2005 by Multi-National Corps-Iraq," the AP said.
"The military's stepped up surveillance of online activity also means an increasing risk to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members who use online communities," said Kathi S. Westcott, deputy director of law for SLDN. "Service members must be especially cautious about posting any information online which reveals their sexual orientation. While online communities can be an important communication tool for military personnel, they can also lead to investigations and dismissals under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"
SLDN has posted guidelines for LGBT military personnel using online communities at http://www.sldn.org. In addition, AP reports that service members who maintain blogs must now "register their sites with their commanding officers, who monitor the sites quarterly." Any information related to sexual orientation on a service member's private blog, SLDN cautioned, would be grounds for dismissal from the armed forces.
For more information, and SLDN's guidelines on using the internet, visit http://www.sldn.org. Service members may also contact SLDN for free, confidential legal counseling at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 202-328-FAIR.