Tech Companies Line Up To Fill Gap Left By Military MySpace Ban - InformationWeek

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5/17/2007
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Tech Companies Line Up To Fill Gap Left By Military MySpace Ban

The move follows the Pentagon's edict, which bars its soldiers from using its networks to access to YouTube, MySpace and other social networking sites.

Almost as soon as the military banned soldiers from using its networks to access to YouTube, MySpace and other social networking sites, tech companies lined up to offer their services, sites and software as alternatives.

Since the military banned specific photo and video sharing sites, its likely soldiers will be able to work around the ban, unless the military broadens its regulation. The military cited limited bandwidth and operational security as the reasons for the ban, which took effect Monday.

TubesNow is one of several companies promising private social networks that not even the makers can access. Its file-sharing software allows content to be sent in "dribs and drabs during idle computer time" so bandwidth isn't strained, said Steve Chazin, vice president of marketing for TubesNow-maker Adesso Systems. Users can also choose an on-demand feature which allows them to click one item at a time for delivery, instead of unzipping one large file all at once.

"It's a really simple, elegant solution," Chazin said during an interview Thursday.

Users simply download the software, invite friends through e-mail, then drag and drop files they want to share onto an icon on their desktop. Everything is encrypted before being pushed to TubesNow servers and scanned for viruses, he said.

"If I dragged 50 photos into the tube on my desktop and I'm sharing with person in Iraq, they'll see one at a time, and a couple of minutes or seconds later, another, then another," Chazin said. "They can see a video of a baby they haven't seen yet."

Chazin said that the software designers made sure that the software itself cannot scan for anything else on the users' desktops. He said that users do not have to log in, use a Web site or know anything about file-sharing.

"It's dummy-proof," he said.

Adesso provides 2 Gbytes of free space and charges for premium accounts, while reserving the right to advertise through the free service. The software is in its second public beta version, which was released January 16.

An upcoming version will allow users to press a single button to put their network on a Web site for public viewing. Users can have more than one tube, if they want to keep some information private, Chazin said.

Not to be outdone, MemoryBunker.com is another service touting its ability to circumvent the new military rules.

MemoryBunker.com released a statement saying it just may be the "silver bullet" to the U.S. Department of Defense ban on 13 social networking sites.

Memory.com also claims that it will not hog bandwidth. It was originally established to be an "electronic scrapbook" where soldiers could leave "sealed envelope messages" for their children or loved ones to be read years from now.

In allows soldiers with young children to write messages that wouldn't be appropriate until the children are older -- such as when they enter high school, get their driver's license, get married, or have children of their own, the company said in a prepared statement. Users can also opt to share information immediately. Access is limited to registered users.

The company said the features are ideal for complying with restrictions and bandwidth concerns announced last week.

Service men and women, family members and friends can post messages, videos and photos on completely private and secured accounts.

"With DoD's new ban, our site will be a nice alternative for soldiers who are now cut off from how they used to communicate with family and friends, while also providing the opportunity to create messages to be read in years to come," David Ryan, president and creator of MemoryBunker.com, said in a prepared statement.

MemoryBunker.com is the first site from the beta version of ElectonicTimeCapsule.com. Ryan sold his insurance business and at the same time began a journal for his young daughter Zoe. He said he realized that many of the stories, thoughts, feelings and revelations he wanted to record and share with his daughter were too mature for her when she first learned to read. After extensive research, he discovered that there were no services allowing multiple users to leave messages with prescribed release dates specific to each message.

Ryan has donated free Web accounts to the children and families of all U.S. fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The service costs $14.95 annually for other soldiers' families.

Jeff Stibel, CEO of Web-hosting company Web.com, is among those saying that personal Web sites are now a critical communication channel as a result of the new policy.

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