Friday, August 10, 2007

Simon Says "Shut Up, Minions"

Simon M(a)cdowell (Ed: now confirmed as Mac) is Director (General) of Communications Planning at the MOD (no links available - only material on the Defence Internet is this, presumably about his predecessor - see Update 2). He is reprehensible for 2007 Defence Information Notice 2007 DIN 03-006 which apparently bans a whole lot of people, including me, from a whole lot of things. Including, probably, this very post. I have not yet read the full gagging order as it has not been made available to me. We'll just have to see what happens.

Thanks to Tim for bringing this to my attention (isn't it just peachy that new MOD rules about blogging are brought to my attention not by my chain of command, or even by email from an admin person in Brigade, but by a fellow blogger) and to "PartTimePongo" of ARRSE for the graphic.

Update: In my day job, I often deal with the interpretation of the Human Rights Act 1998. Article 10 of the Convention, brought in by this Act deals with freedom of expression:
This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
Unlike Article 4 (Freedom From Slavery and Forced Labour), there is no specific exemption for the Armed Services. So let us consider the national security exemption:
may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security ...
Got us there, haven't they? No. Disclosure, discussion or leaking of protectively marked (aka classified) information is already prohibited, quite rightly in nearly every case (where it possibly isn't prohibited). So we are not talking about material of interest to national security. We are talking about, for example, my uninformed opinions on the rights and wrongs of building the new carriers in sections and assembling them in Rosyth. Reading this interesting document from the European Court of Human Rights on how the court interprets these rights is very enlightening.

There is this, talking about the intelligence services, rather than the military:
Where faced with legislation providing for general and unconditional prohibition of dissemination of all information in the area of national security, the national courts must reject such a claim, be it criminal or civil.
And this, talking about the 1992 Hadjianastassiou case in Greece (where a conviction for disclosing classified information for pay was upheld):
The Hadjianastassiou judgment sends two important messages to the national courts. Firstly, that not all the (sic) military information is swept away from the public arena. Secondly, the Court held once again that it is for the national courts to establish in each particular case whether the respective information did pose a real and serious danger to the (sic) national security. Such an assessment based on the proportionality principle is the answer to the question whether or not an expression making public military information should or should not be prohibited or sanctioned.
Given the weight of this, I would really like to see a test case brought for breach of this regulation (and, still, would really like to see the text of the regulation) though, obviously, not with me in the dock.

Update 2: The full text of the gagging order, which isn't quite as severe as the Gruniad made out is available on the internet here. But I didn't tell you that because it is
Not to be communicated to anyone outside HM Service without authority
Google, clearly, are now an appropriate authority. See also Simon's response, tarted up as "MOD responds", rather than "shit, shit, if I was still at the DWP, nobody would have cared". ARRSE, obviously, have always been authority.


No comments:

HTTP Error 403: You are not authorised to access the file "\real_name_and_address.html" on this server.

(c) 'Surreptitious Evil' 2006 - 2017.