Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 10, 2006

Whistleblowing via YouTube?

Filed under: Business of HLS,DHS News — by Christian Beckner on August 10, 2006

The website YouTube and other sites like it are rapidly reshaping the playing field of information exchange in ways that people are only beginning to realize. The latest example of this phenomenon comes from a video posted on YouTube last Thursday, by a man who identifies himself as an engineer for Lockheed Martin and then proceeds to list flaws with the 123-Foot Cutter produced by Lockheed as part of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program. Over 3,000 people have watched the video since it was put online, and its posting led to an article in the Navy Times on Monday, which notes the Coast Guard’s reaction:

A spokeswoman for the Coast Guard’s Deepwater recapitalization program said the service is aware of the video and the allegations, and added that the Coast Guard is cooperating with an ongoing investigation into the matter by the Homeland Security Department’s Inspector General.

“The Coast Guard takes very seriously concerns of national security, and are fully cooperating with the IG’s investigation, and because of that ongoing investigation, [the service] will not discuss the details that appear in the video,” Deepwater spokeswoman Mary Elder said Monday.

The Coast Guard’s chief of media relations, Cmdr. Jeff Carter, said the service has requested that YouTube, Inc. remove the video.

“It contains material that is inappropriate for discussion in a public forum and could compromise the safety and security of Coast Guard cutters and their crews,” Carter said.

I have no personal insight into the substance of the allegations in the video, but I’m intrigued by its very existence. And I think that this not likely to be the last video of its kind. I wouldn’t be surprised to see people posting videos that test and expose flaws in the security of certain facilities or systems, as a way to draw public attention to vulnerabilities and get them fixed. This is the new reality on the Internet, and it’s something that homeland security officials need to begin to grasp today.

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