Web company leaders want troops’ video use restored

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO – YouTube’s co-founders on Thursday challenged the Pentagon’s assertion that soldiers overseas were sapping too much bandwidth by watching online videos, the military’s principal rationale for blocking popular Web sites from Defense Department computers. “They said it might be a bandwidth issue, but they created the Internet, so I don’t know what the problem is,” Chief Executive Chad Hurley said with a hearty laugh during an interview with The Associated Press. Hurley, Chief Technology Officer Steve Chen and YouTube spokeswoman Julie Supan emphasized that the online video company is trying to work with the Pentagon in hope the military will reverse course or at least partially repeal the ban. “We’d like to explore what’s at issue here and talk about what we can do to sort out what’s the issue here,” Supan said. The Pentagon said this week that it was cutting off service members’ access to YouTube, MySpace and 11 other Web sites, some of which are used by soldiers on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan to post videos and journals for friends and family. In a Pentagon news conference Thursday, Defense Information Systems Agency Vice Director Rear Adm. Elizabeth Hight said the decision was primarily driven by concerns about bandwidth, or the capacity of the Pentagon network to handle data-heavy material such as video. Company officials said they were especially puzzled by the block because it came just days after the military launched its own channel on YouTube offering what it calls a “boots-on-the-ground” perspective of scenes of combat. Watching or uploading online video does use bandwidth and can slow or tie up a network, but Hurley expressed doubt that soldiers’ use of YouTube could have any real effect on the military’s massive network. Chen said YouTube was reaching out to the Pentagon, along with the other banned Web companies, to learn “what it’s going to take to keep the YouTube site up.” He said they were willing to work with the military to install controls on what type of content would be available. Other sites covered by the ban include video-sharing sites Metacafe, IFilm, StupidVideos and FileCabi; social networking sites MySpace, BlackPlanet and Hi5; music sites Pandora, MTV, 1.fm and live365; and the photo-sharing site Photobucket. The block does not affect the Internet cafes that soldiers in Iraq use that are not connected to the Defense Department’s network. YouTube itself removes images of graphic violence, such as attacks on U.S. soldiers or Iraqi civilians, from its site. The company executives said much of that material clearly falls under its policy banning violent, hateful or pornographic imagery. But they acknowledged that decisions over wartime video present some wrenching questions.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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