Army admits restricting soldiers' access to NSA coverage

Netcom spokesperson tells the Monterey Herald that the Defense Department routinely takes preventative "network hygiene" measures to prevent unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

The U.S. Army has apparently opted to restrict Army personnel access to The Guardian's Web site after the newspaper broke stories about the National Security Agency's confidential surveillance activities.

The Army is filtering "some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks," Gordon Van Vleet, a spokesman for the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command, told the Monterey Herald. Netcom is charged with operating and defending the Army's computer networks.

Van Vleet told the Herald that the Department of Defense routinely takes preventative "network hygiene" measures to prevent unauthorized disclosure 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."

Despite earlier reports that the restrictions were limited to the Presidio in Monterey, Van Vleet confirmed that the censorship was "Armywide." Presidio sources told the Herald that the base's information assurance security officer had informed employees that The Guardian's site had been blocked and any accidental download of classified information would result in "labor intensive" hard drive cleansing.

CNET has contacted Netcom for comment and additional information and will update this report when we learn more.

A pair of articles published earlier this month by The Guardian and Washington Post alleged that several Internet companies, including Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Facebook, provided the NSA with "direct access" to their servers through a so-called PRISM program. Subsequent reporting by CNET revealed that this was not the case, and the Washington Post backtracked from its original story on PRISM.

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