March Madness could get in the way of Defense Department relief efforts in Japan.
The Pentagon is blocking access to popular sites with streaming video – such as YouTube and ESPN.com – to preserve Internet bandwidth for the demands on the network after the Japan tsunami and earthquakes.
A Cyber Command official told Federal News Radio by email that the block is a “partial ban on access to commercial websites that use extraordinary bandwidth.” There is no word on how long the ban will last.
The Cyber Command Official said the block “is in response to the needs of the military in a time of extreme demand on all circuits and networks in a region of the world that has been devastated by geological activity.”
Although DoD has blocked social media sites in the past for security reasons, this is the “first crisis-driven blocking,” said Bob Brewin, DoD reporter for NextGov and writer for the What’s Brewin column.
The decision to block sites during March Madness was already considered prior to the Japan disaster, according to statements by Navy CIO Terry Halvorsen at a CIO conference in San Diego last month.
In addition to YouTube and ESPN.com, other sites that are part of the ban include: