LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, ARIZONA — With the surge of social media and blogging capability, every Airman has not only become a communicator, but they are also nearly all in the digital publishing business.
The fundamental principles of the United States’ freedom of expression are now shared with most of the world, and it has had stunning impact, from the fall of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a Colombian terrorist organization, to the toppling of dictatorships throughout the Middle East, as detailed in a Secretary of State speech on Internet freedom. Exciting though these developments may be, this new digital publishing capability has also provided the means to leak controlled information, perhaps unwittingly.
It is critical to the safety and security of our Air Force that every Airman understand exactly what should and should not be published on social media or blogs. There are three main elements that should never be published on public facing websites, which includes social media and blogs. Three examples of controlled information that should never be publically published without proper clearance are information from any controlled access websites such as the Air Force Portal, information from unit and career field SharePoint sites and internal email strings.
One question that well-read and intelligent Airmen might ask is: Given the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and Transparency in Governance, which requires an open government, why isn’t information more widely available?
There are limits to what we can share. All formal FOIA requests go through a detailed vetting process. Additionally, Air Force professionals must always ensure there are no concerns regarding operational security with the release of information.
Information on unit and career field SharePoint sites is intended for specific internal audiences. A conscientious Airman might reason that the information on his unit’s SharePoint site is not classified. As such, it doesn’t require protection.
At the bottom of the AFNet SharePoint collection is a privacy notice. Upon clicking that notice, users will see the following message: “This site is intended for the use of United States government agencies. Do not reproduce or distribute the content of this site to a wider audience without coordination with the information owner and your unit public affairs office.”
Information from controlled access websites must be carefully vetted before being published on publicly available digital platforms.
With recent events in the news highlighting the Global War on Terror, it is critically important that every Airman help protect our controlled information.