The OpSec Blog

Security and privacy information and advice at home and abroad.

Blogging, the Foreign Service, and Security

with 2 comments

Anonymity on the internet is hard.  As anyone who has read a few posts of mine will know, I’m an SEO.  I’ve been in multiple years.  You might even surmise that I’ve served in multiple locations and in Washington.  I’ve also mentioned a few relatively minor operating procedures that might be deemed sensitive enough to warrant an e-mail asking me to remove or edit the passage in question.  Other than that, I like to think I’ve done a pretty good job maintaining anonymity in blogging about the Foreign Service and about the rather touchy issues of security, privacy, and safety.  Blogging has really matured as a source of information, and Foreign Service blogs give the public and especially prospective employees a unique portal into our little world.  In that sense it is quite a shame that recently a popular Foreign Service blogger decided to close up shop due to an official request.

The details of the blog’s shutdown and the exact circumstances of the incident are a private matter between the Department and the blogger, but I will say that when I saw the post I could smell trouble coming.  There are certain things you simply do not post, period- and this blogger crossed that line in the sand.  I won’t say they should have known better, but I fully support the justification I assumed was cited for removing the post, as it dealt with a rather serious overseas security issue.

When I started this blog I vowed to keep it as anonymous as possible.  I want my personal and professional identity completely separate from my online identity.  I do not want future colleagues and superiors to form opinions about me based on my online identity before they meet me in person (or before my corridor reputation precedes me).  I do not want people popping into my office and leading off with, “Hey, nice post yesterday!” because it makes me feel even geekier than I already am.  Anonymity, in a way, sets me free.

Numerous Foreign Service bloggers choose to put their names, cones, current assignments, even family details out in public.  I clearly do not agree with that approach, but fully support another’s right to do so provided their blog complies with the myriad of FAMs, USCs, FAHs, and EOs we operate under as State employees.  What you lose in anonymity you gain in exposure (perhaps?), possible credibility, and… well, what exactly?  This is the question I pose to my readers, and I hope you’ll take the time to answer (come on, don’t make me look like an even bigger fool!):

Do you blog anonymously?   Why or why not?  What advantages or disadvantages do you gain from your approach?  Where’s the balance?


2 Responses

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  1. I don’t blog anonymously. I considered it when I first started, but the blog I have is intended as a source that family, friends, or the hapenstance that wondered onto the site. The subject matter is wide open and quite frankly I’m not even sure what direction the blog will take. By nature, I like to think I’m funny… Well other people laugh at me so there has to be something funny about me right :P

    I can see the need to blog anonymously, and so do many others. My education is in Information Assurance so security is always for front in my mind when I am posting. Whether you blog anonymously or not, you should always consider the content of your post and realize that once it is posted it is out there for good.

    I look forward to reading this blog.



    28/03/2011 at 18:50

    • Mike,
      Thanks for your comment. Your statement about information posted on the internet as being permanent is very true. The offending post I mentioned in the article is cached by Google and can still be viewed that way. :-\


      29/03/2011 at 19:29

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