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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On YouTube, Charges of Security Flaws

Washington Post

Michael De Kort was frustrated.

The 41-year-old Lockheed Martin engineer had complained to his bosses. He had told his story to government investigators. He had called congressmen.

But when no one seemed to be stepping up to correct what he saw as critical security flaws in a fleet of refurbished Coast Guard patrol boats, De Kort did just about the only thing left he could think of to get action: He made a video and posted it on YouTube.com.

"What I am going to tell you is going to seem preposterous," De Kort solemnly tells viewers near the outset of the 10-minute clip. Posted three weeks ago, the video describes what De Kort says are blind spots in the ship's security cameras, equipment that malfunctions in cold weather and other problems. "It may be very hard for you to believe that our government and the largest defense contractor in the world [are] capable of such alarming incompetence and can make ethical compromises as glaring as what I am going to describe." In response to De Kort's charges, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said the service has "taken the appropriate level of action." A spokeswoman for the contractors said the allegations were without merit.

A Web site normally reserved for goofy home-movie outtakes and Paris Hilton parodies may seem an odd place to blow the whistle on potential national security lapses that require complex technical explanations. But receiving millions of hits a day and carrying the intimacy of video, YouTube.com and other sites have become an alluring venue for insiders like De Kort who want to go directly to the public when they think no one within the system is listening.

"This is an excellent example of the democratization of the media, where everyone has access to the printing press of the 21st century," said Dina Kaplan, co-founder of Blip.tv, a site that hosts grass-roots television programming.

---- i say it's an excellent example of someone who should be charged with some kind of treason, etc... he's assisting drug smugglers and terrorists maybe? What happens if someone dies because of this knowledge? Wasn't he a government contractor? don't they have agreements?
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