YouTube has been blocked again. Not by a government regime intent on shutting down demonstrators, but by the United States military to free up bandwidth.
The U.S. Pacific Command requested 13 popular commercial Websites, including YouTube, ESPN, Amazon, eBay, and MTV, be blocked across the Department of Defense's .mil computer system, according to an e-mail obtained by CNN. The temporary measure would free up bandwidth for military operations as the U.S. helps in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11.
"This is a response to a time of extreme demand for networks," U.S. Strategic Command spokesperson Rodney Ellison told CNN.
[Technology companies are also lending a hand in their own way. Check out fellow eWEEK writer Clint Boulton's great piece on Google's crisis and response page.]
"We are doing this to facilitate the recovery efforts under way in Japan," Ellison said. "We are trying to make sure we are giving them as many avenues and as much support as we can."
The sites were chosen because of their popularity among military personnel and the bandwidth they consume, according to Ellison. Including YouTube on the list of blocked sites make sense, as videos consume significantly more bandwidth and text and images.
Some of the others raised a few eyebrows, such as DoubleClick and EyeWonder, two large third-party advertising networks. Ads are everywhere online, and some are animated or embedded videos, but I wouldn't have pegged them as being bandwidth hogs.
Perhaps, it was a way to ensure "malvertisements" don't accidentally get on the network at this critical time?
If this means military personnel and support staff can surf online with a dramatic decrease in the number of ads, that sounds like a positive thing. I wouldn't go as far as to say, "Sign me up!" though.
The Website blockage may increase or decrease in the size and scope as necessary, according to the e-mail message sent to members of the military announcing the site restrictions.
This move is not unusual, according to online comments on Slashdot. An Iraq veteran said that MySpace was often blocked to ensure critical network resources weren't being diverted for entertainment purposes.
Other blocked sites are: Googlevideo.com, Pandora, streamtheworld.com, Ifilm, MySpace and Metacafe.com. The block took effect on March 14.