BAFF: 'You can't treat service personnel like children'

British Armed Forces Federation spokesman Adrian Weale said: “You can’t treat service personnel like children. They are in the front-line of the war against terrorism but the MoD doesn’t trust them to behave responsibly online.”

from The Sun, 16 February 2009, by Defence Editor Tom Newton Dunn:

Squaddies hit by online chat ban

ARMY chiefs have sparked a mutiny by banning soldiers from networking websites like MySpace.

Angry squaddies told The Sun last night they will defy the ruling.

Online chats are now branded “public disclosure of information” — a potential security breach.

Soldiers are also barred from blogging, joining in forum discussions or taking part in online multiplayer games.

But troops are upset because they use MySpace and other sites like Facebook when abroad to keep in touch with loved ones.

An NCO in Afghanistan said: “The fun police have taken over. I can’t talk to my wife and kids or even play Call of Duty 5. Do they really think we’re going to give away secrets?”

Another soldier said: “It’s the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard. We’re prepared to die for the country and are treated like children.
“I am going to ignore it. A lot of the lads are going to do the same.”

Not even top brass are exempt. Any general who wants to talk to the media must now ask permission of a Government minister.

The order — leaked to The Sun — is titled Contact With The Media and Communicating In Public.

It was issued on February 4. The clampdown has been blamed on Government control freaks, worried after a series of leaked videos appeared on websites recently.

It is also believed that officials want to stop criticism of defence policy on military chat forums like the Army Rumour Service.

Trust

British Armed Forces Federation spokesman Adrian Weale said: “You can’t treat service personnel like children. They are in the front-line of the war against terrorism but the MoD doesn’t trust them to behave responsibly online.”

The MoD last night tried to water down the rule when confronted by The Sun.

A spokesman insisted: “Of course soldiers are allowed to go on Facebook and contribute to blogs.

“But we need to ensure sensitive information is not inadvertently placed in the public domain. A routine instruction has merely been refreshed and reissued.”

Armed Forces Federation

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Welcome to British Armed Forces Federation - BAFF - independent all-ranks staff association for members of any branch of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army and Royal Air Force, including the reserves. All current UK service personnel of any rank are eligible to join and, as BAFF is not a political organisation, to take an active part in its activities if they wish. Former regular or reserve forces personnel are also very welcome.