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[infowar.de] Wartime wireless worries Pentagon
Wartime Wireless Worries Pentagon
By Xeni Jardin
02:00 AM May. 26, 2004 PT
The rapid proliferation of digital cameras, phonecams and wireless
among soldiers and military contractors is giving senior military
concern, in the wake of images that showed abuse in an Iraqi prison and
snapshots that showed rows of coffins of American soldiers.
The Defense Department said it hasn't banned the devices and doesn't
-- as the Business Times of London and two wire services have reported.
the Pentagon is telling commanders in the field to strictly monitor the
of consumer wireless technology through Directive 8100.2 -- Use of
Commercial Wireless Devices, Services and Technologies in the Department
Defense Global Information Grid -- issued last month.
"We're in the situation today where everyone is using a cell phone,
BlackBerry or some sort of wireless device that can be carrying voice,
imagery or text -- and we either need that to be highly encrypted, or
DOD systems altogether," said Department of Defense spokesman Lt. Col.
McClellan. "We don't want to be in a situation where anyone with a
can figure what we're about to do."
In a nutshell, the directive tells all soldiers, contractors and
Defense Department facilities that they can only carry wireless devices
conform to the military's security standards. These specify that the
use strong authentication and encryption technologies whenever possible.
addition, the devices cannot be used for storing or transmitting
information. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz signed it in April
after two years of internal debate.
McClellan said commanders in the field haven't been told to use the
directive to stamp out the use of the gadgets in Iraq. Instead, the
directive is "general guidance" passed "along to the theater commanders,
they decide how to implement it in their own commands."
While Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may not have signed a ban on
consumer digital-imaging technologies, he did express clear concern
the unforeseen impact of such technologies during the Senate Armed
Committee hearing on May 7.
"People are running around with digital cameras and taking these
unbelievable photographs and passing them off, against the law, to the
media, to our surprise, when they had not even arrived in the Pentagon,"
According to McClellan, some Defense Department lawyers may be reviewing
the spread of consumer digital-imaging technology among military
and enlisted personnel affects the military's obligation to abide by a
Geneva Convention article against holding prisoners up to public
"Lawyers may have looked at that and said, 'It's probably a good idea to
these things out of the prisons.' There's no Pentagon-induced rule in
theater at this time ... but there may or may not be some discussion
place as to how the directive might be supplemented in Iraq to prevent
things we saw at Abu Ghraib."
Regardless, bloggers and media commentators perceive the directive as
wringing by the administration, worried that someone else will expose
another scandal. Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page chided the
military's concern and called the devices "Weapons of Mass Photography"
recent editorial, saying he believed every soldier should have a digital
Blogger and media critic Jeff Jarvis called for the Pentagon to "ban
stupidity, don't ban exposing it."
Apart from the debate around digital cameras in the battle zone, one
significant item in the directive requires all branches of the military
encrypt unclassified data sent wirelessly by using FIPS 140-2-approved
encryption, a tough-to-crack standard.
Other items in the April directive include mandatory implementation of
antivirus software on PDAs and smartphones, a move likely to please
like McAfee and Symantec, both of which have military supplier
And the directive recommends (but doesn't mandate) that all voice
communication be encrypted.
Mizuko Ito, a cultural anthropologist who researches phonecams, culture
law, said that while authorities can -- and probably will -- attempt to
restrict the use of handheld digital-imaging devices in specific
the technology is too ubiquitous for any broad attempts at prohibition
"The cat's already out of the bag, but what's striking about what we're
seeing now is that it's very unlike the top-down, Big Brother
we normally associate with the idea of other people watching you," he
"This is a bottom-up, 'little brother,' peer-to-peer type of
"My hope is that this will ultimately be a positive development, because
powerful top-down institutions, like corporations or governments, won't
the only ones controlling the circulation of information."
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