Mil­i­tary seek­ing new ways to pun­ish bad on­line be­hav­ior

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Lolita C. Bal­dor

wash­ing­ton» Skep­ti­cal mem­bers of Congress on Tues­day pressed se­nior mil­i­tary lead­ers to take more ag­gres­sive ac­tion to pre­vent and pun­ish in­ap­pro­pri­ate on­line ac­tiv­ity by ser­vice mem­bers, in­clud­ing posts of “in­ti­mate” im­ages on so­cial me­dia sites.

And the mil­i­tary of­fi­cers said a weeks-old in­ves­ti­ga­tion into nude photo-shar­ing by Marines on­line now in­volves all the ser­vices and has ex­panded to other web­sites, in­clud­ing a Tum­blr page that has porno­graphic pho­tos of peo­ple in var­i­ous mil­i­tary uni­forms.

“It’s time to get se­ri­ous about this,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told the mil­i­tary of­fi­cers dur­ing a hear­ing of the House Armed Ser­vices per­son­nel sub­com­mit­tee Tues­day. They out­lined what is be­ing done to im­prove so­cial me­dia poli­cies.

Speier said a so­cial me­dia pol­icy isn’t enough, be­cause the prob­lem is “cul­tural rot” that has spread and thrived within the mil­i­tary. “This is about ser­vice mem­bers de­lib­er­ately try­ing to de­grade, hu­mil­i­ate and threaten fel­low ser­vice mem­bers. They en­cour­aged stalk­ing, dis­trib­uted stolen in­ti­mate pho­tos, and have re­duced their com­rades to a col­lec­tion of parts,” she said.

Rep. Mike Coff­man, RColo., the sub­com­mit­tee chair­man, said it’s clear that the so­cial me­dia poli­cies haven’t been ef­fec­tive. And the panel asked that the mil­i­tary ser­vices come back in four months with an up­date on their progress.

The Navy and the Ma­rine Corps told the panel they are con­sid­er­ing new ways to pun­ish in­ap­pro­pri­ate on­line ac­tiv­ity by ser­vice mem­bers, in­clud­ing posts of in­ti­mate im­ages on so­cial me­dia sites.

Ma­rine Lt. Gen. Mark Bri­lakis, deputy com­man­dant for man­power af­fairs, said they are weigh­ing reg­u­la­tions to pro­hibit the know­ing and wrongful dis­clo­sure of an in­ti­mate im­age. He said they are look­ing at ex­panded ways to dis­charge ser­vice mem­bers guilty of on­line mis­con­duct.

Law­mak­ers also ques­tioned whether the so­cial me­dia poli­cies can be used to pros­e­cute some­one for what is con­sid­ered re­venge porn. That is when an in­ti­mate photo is taken and shared will­ingly with a part­ner or spouse but later is dis­trib­uted on­line by that part­ner with­out the sub­ject’s per­mis­sion. More than 30 states have laws against re­venge porn.

Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for per­son­nel, said that in a pre­vi­ous case an air­man was charged with re­venge porn un­der the cur­rent Uni­form Code of Mil­i­tary Jus­tice.

The Tues­day hear­ing is the lat­est re­sponse to for­mer and cur­rent fe­male Marines re­port­ing that their pho­to­graphs and those of other women ser­vice mem­bers were posted on­line with­out their con­sent.

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