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Protect What We’ve All Earned in Cyberspace

20 Mar 2017 | Lance Cpl. Timothy M. Courtney Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

  In response to the recent revelations with regard to the online conduct of active duty service members and veterans, the following guidance and reminders pertaining to posting online are provided by the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.

  Marines are responsible for all content they publish on social networking sites. Therefore, we need to be thoughtful about the material we post online, especially since the lines between personal and professional life often blur in cyberspace. We are Marines 24/7, whether in formation or on Facebook, and anything we post online is a direct representation of ourselves, our unit, and the uniform we all proudly wear. Malicious and even careless posting online can harm more than the subject of the post. There are serious consequences that can affect both your military and post-military career.

  Violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Article 120c. The distribution of photography or any recording of the private area of another person, without that other person’s consent while that person has the reasonable expectation of privacy comes with a maximum punishment of a dishonorable discharge, seven years confinement, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. In most states you will also be required to register as a sex offender.

  Violation of the UCMJ, Article 92. Marine Corps Order (MCO) 1000.9A makes sexual harassment a crime that comes with a maximum punishment of a dishonorable discharge, two years confinement and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. Online commentary on lewd photos of fellow Marines can interfere with that Marine’s work performance. It will also create a hostile or offensive work environment. As a Marine, you are expected to conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times and treat others with dignity and respect.

  Violation of 5 U.S.C. § 552, Privacy Act. Additionally, it is a crime to post personal identifiable information about other Marines online. For example, if a Marine has access to a roster and uses that information to post the names, ranks, units, or contact info of another Marine online, then the poster has not only committed a criminal act, he has also breeched the trust the Marine Corps placed in him. This criminal breach can be punished by a court-martial or a federal court with a maximum fine of $5,000.

  Failure to Report an Offense. Both MCO 1000.9A and Navy Regulation 1137 require members of the naval service to report all offenses that they personally observe as soon as possible. Standing by is not an option! We have a duty to protect the Marines with whom we serve. We all have a duty to report the above violations whether we see them online or in the workplace. Failure to perform that duty is a violation of the UCMJ, Article 92. If you see it and don’t report it, the same maximum punishment applies to you as the person who might be sexually harassing a fellow Marine.

  We are all on the same team. We take care of our fellow Marines, not because it would be a violation of some rule if we didn’t; we take care of each other because that is who we are. That is what we do as Marines. We never leave anyone behind on the battlefield and we won’t do it in garrison either. If you see something, say something.

  If anyone feels like he or she may be the victim of sexual assault or harassment, please do not hesitate to report it to any of the following: chain of command, UVA at (843)228-6344, chaplain at 843- 228-7775/7121, NCIS at (843)228-7215, or the office of the victims’ legal counsel at (843)321-6009.