The Army is reportedly restricting staff members’ internal access to The Guardian UK’s NSA related news coverage. Officials say automatic content filters are responsible.

From the Monterey Herald:

Gordon Van Vleet, an Arizona-based spokesman for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, said in an email the Army is filtering “some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks.”

He wrote it is routine for the Department of Defense to take preventative “network hygiene” measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

“We make every effort to balance the need to preserve information access with operational security,” he wrote, “however, there are strict policies and directives in place regarding protecting and handling classified information.”

In a later phone call, Van Vleet said the filter of classified information on public websites was “Armywide” and did not originate at the Presidio.

Presidio employees described how they could access the U.S. site,, but were blocked from articles, such as those about the NSA, that redirected to the British site.

Spencer Ackerman, U.S. national security editor at the Guardian, tweeted earlier that the Department of Defense indicated it is not selectively blocking Guardian content, rather, automatic content filters are responsible.

Indeed, an email from Van Fleet embedded in the Monterey Herald article goes on to elaborate:

The department does not determine what sites its personnel can choose to visit while on a DoD system, but instead relies on automated filters that restrict access based on content concerns or malware threats. The DoD is also not going to block websites from the American public in general, and to do so would violate our highest-held principle of upholding and defending the Constitution and respecting civil liberties and privacy.

The Monterey Herald said that Jose Campos, the Presidio’s information assurance security officer, sent an email to employees explaining that the automatic content restriction is done so as a protective measure “in order to prevent an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.”

Campos wrote if an employee accidentally downloaded classified information, it would result in “labor intensive” work, such as the wipe or destruction of the computer’s hard drive.

The Guardian of course has been leading coverage of the NSA surveillance programs leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.  The news outlet has included classified documents in some of its coverage.


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