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U.S. Military Restricts E-mail From Soldiers and Sailors, Citing Risk of Leaks

Concerned that sensitive information might leak out, some units of the United States military are starting to clamp down on e-mail communication from their soldiers and sailors, who have been using it from ships, major bases and even desert outposts around Iraq to stay in touch with family and friends. The uncertainty underscores the double-edged nature of a technology that is giving an unprecedented opportunity for instantaneous interaction from the most remote locations, a development the Pentagon believes is helping to improve the morale in the field and at home. At the moment, much of the electronic communication is going unmonitored by the military, providing an opportunity for what some fear could be inadvertent leaks from the potential battlefield. The air force warned last week that it might limit or start blocking electronic messages because some people had sent home sensitive information, including digital images that might have compromised unit safety. The navy has said that on submarines, it is monitoring all e-mail traffic. And the army, while generally maintaining open access to e-mail, is restricting some Internet connections from certain bases. Across the military, individual soldiers have been instructed not to send sensitive information. But the policy about what Internet access to allow and what material to monitor or censor has been largely left to division and unit commanders on the theory that they are best able to judge what constitutes a real threat to security. Full Story

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