The U.S. military has launched its own online video sharing site, a year and a half after banning access to YouTube from its networks.
The new TroopTube, developed in conjunction with Seattle startup Delve Networks, is a familiar enough concept. It’s basically “YouTube Light,” with restrictions. You have to create an account in order to see most of the content, and — according to published reports — the Pentagon “screens each [submission] for taste, copyright violations, and national security issues.”
You might think, then, that access would be limited to only members of the military and perhaps their families — and if that were the case, I could see the justification for the service. But no. Anyone can sign up, and the only verification required is a standard e-mailed activation link.
The official Defense Department reason for banning YouTube was bandwidth primarily, with security cited as a secondary consideration. YouTube at one point questioned the bandwidth claims, suggesting the military should be able to manage heavy traffic if it were so inclined. As for the security side, one could see its merits in the fact that officials will now screen anything a soldier uploads before it goes live — so, any leak of sensitive information would be stopped.
Was this a big problem before, though? Were troops uploading tons of classified data onto YouTube that I never heard about? Were there a lot of attempted attacks occurring as a result of the bandwidth from video sharing sites?
Justifications aside, Delve seems to have done a decent job with the service. The software automatically detects your speed and plays the video in a size that best matches your connection, and it also converts all videos into text so you can search for specific content with ease. That’s a pretty cool feature.
Of course, the question that remains is what scope of content will be permitted. I’d be curious to hear how any active members of the military feel about the move, and whether the decision to replace YouTube with TroopTube in their lives is seen as okay or problematic.