Soldier jailed for photos on Facebook

Crackdown comes after 'Post' report revealed hundreds of classified pictures posted on social site.

facebook 88 (photo credit: )
facebook 88
(photo credit: )
A soldier serving in the IDF's elite 8200 military intelligence unit was sentenced to 19 days in prison on Wednesday for uploading a picture onto the Facebook social networking site. The IDF would not comment on the exact nature of the photograph, but said the punishment was in proportion to the committed offense. Military sources said an IDF directive prohibits photography on bases without official approval. The sources said the soldier in question would be punished for taking pictures on a military base without permission. The IDF's field intelligence unit classifies photographs depicting advanced weapons, weapons storage, training with weapons, the interior of bases as well as their external layout, declaring the name and number unit a soldier is serving in, especially relating to sensitive units, and much more as "classified material." Unit 8200 is responsible for collecting signal intelligence and code decryption. It is also known in military publications as the Central Collection Unit of the Intelligence Corps. It is the largest unit in the IDF, comparable in its function to the United States's National Security Agency. The incident marks the first time that a soldier has been tried and sentenced for this kind of offense and comes after a recent slew of press reports pointing out the serious security nature of the problem. Last week, The Jerusalem Post publicized the fact that a special unit inside the IDF was working to remove hundreds of classified photos, documents and messages available on Facebook and that the Defense Ministry and the IDF, had issued a stern warning to anyone caught uploading this type of content onto the Internet. The Post probe revealed that soldiers had posted pictures of advanced weapons training, interiors and exteriors of bases - including the equipment inside them - and troop exercises and locations onto Facebook. The Defense Ministry said that anyone caught posting classified material onto the Internet would be court-martialed. The ministry said it had no information indicating that foreign intelligence services and terrorist groups were making use of the plethora of photographs and information on Facebook to gather intelligence on the IDF, but sources within the IDF confirmed that the army was racing against time to track down and remove classified information from the popular site. The IDF is currently reviewing its policy of not giving much attention to information security for field units operating outside of the intelligence corps. In response to the article, the IDF spokesperson told the Post that, "Regulations stipulate that it is not permissible to film or take pictures inside any IDF facility or during an IDF operation unless the photographer has express permission. These regulations are designed to prevent people without proper security clearance from accessing classified information and the appearance of such materials in the press or on the Internet. "The IDF is working to raise awareness among soldiers and reservists about operational and security dangers that maybe caused by classified information carelessly uploaded to the internet. The IDF is taking a broad response to the problem, which includes education, monitoring and disciplinary enforcement."