New MOD Online Engagement Guidelines - ARRSE views sought

Service and MOD personnel are being encouraged to talk about themselves and their work online within new guidelines which give advice on how they can protect their security, reputation and privacy.

New "Online Engagement Guidelines", published by the MOD today, 6 August 2009, make clear that Forces and MOD personnel can make full use of websites such as Facebook and YouTube as long as they: follow the same high standards of conduct and behaviour online as would be expected elsewhere; always maintain personal information and operational security and be careful about the information they share online; and, get authorisation from their chain of command when appropriate.

Under the new Guidelines, Armed Forces and MOD staff can talk about their work online without prior authorisation from their chain of command, as long as they stay within the advice. This is an important change over earlier rules, under which personnel always needed to seek authorisation before publishing any work-related material.

Service and MOD staff are also being asked to volunteer to operate social media presences as part of their official duties, to help explain their work to the public.

Read the new MOD Online Engagement Guidelines at:

The new guidelines are aimed primarily at Commanding Officers and Line Managers, but will be incrementally worked into the various training for all Forces and MOD personnel.

The existing MOD rules on contact with the media and communicating in public (2008DIN03-020) will be updated to reflect the new Guidelines.

MOD is actively seeking feedback on how the new Guidelines can be improved. If you have a comment or suggestion concerning the MOD's Online Engagement Guidelines, please feel free to leave a comment below, or on the Defence News Blog, or send a message via the MOD website.

Yours in ARRSE,

Robin Riley
DMC-PR Asst Hd (Internal and Online)

This was posted by the Ministry of Defence. You can find a copy at


Book Reviewer
Firstly, this is a positive step towards making a progressive, sensible policy regarding the outflow of information from the MoD.

It is, nevertheless, extremely challenging.

As I have stated in another thread (USMC bans soldiers using Facebook, Twitter etc) the greatest vulnerability for the MoD is now cyberspace.

The proliferation of capability has meant that policies such as JSP 440 & 480 are automatically broken purely by a soldier who owns an iPhone and switches it on in camp. It is how we mitigate the loss of data (which is inevitable) that is key.

Let us take another scenario. You can have a barracks located in the centre of a city or near a housing estate. Outside of the wire there are literally hundreds of people that have N+ Wireless Routers without protection or encryption on them and I am willing to wager than many indivduals will use the opportunity to lodge on them without the bill payer even knowing. By that very fact alone, the nature of information held on the portable device of the soldier whether they are lodging on the wireless capability or not (or indeed if it is switched on or not!!) is at risk.

We are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea here. You will never stop members of the Armed Forces using social networking sites (like this one!) but you can educate them as to the value of data. You will not stop singlies in the block buying iPhones, netbooks and laptops so you will have a threat there, therefore you have to mitigate against your organic IS solutions. So we have to educate.

You cannot stop the boys taking this stuff out on operations either and that is a very real issue and a huge risk. Again, you can't stop people doing it. It is like telling people they cannot take booze on ops (and it was stuffed into armoured vehicles on both gulf conflicts) - you can legislate but not enforce. So don't try and legislate - making people aware as to the dangers it brings to them and their mates is far more powerful than any PIN / DIN issued.

Speciffically about Social Networking sites - why doesn't the official press corp of the MoD join and publicise. A method of mitigation and denial of data loss when it is inevitable is to swamp the electromagnetic spectrum with it!! It is not hard to say when people are deploying on operations - it is in the papers, internet, TV, etc enough.

The boys will say so themselves on a Facebook statement of "Off on exercise for 6 weeks :-( " 3 months to deployment, then say "Off on leave :) " 1 month before deploying and finally, "Gutted, back in 6 months and we can have big beers ;-) ".

So go on an offensive campaign rather than passive acceptance. use this as a way to promote us by making positive noise supporting those deployong and capture the current spirit that supports the Armed Forces.

Long post - apologies for that. For those that can't read sentences - here is the elevator brief:

You can't stop them doing it - so educate the boys on the risks.
You can't stop leakage of data so swamp the spectrum to make it harder to find.
Use current environement supporting HM Armed Forces to do point 2.

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