So far this week, I’ve mused about police states, dictators, UK government over-reaching and UK government ineptitude.
So, what to write about this morning, eh? I dunno, how about UK government censorship. That should do the trick…
Britain’s security agencies and police would be given unprecedented and legally binding powers to ban the media from reporting matters of national security, under proposals being discussed in Whitehall.
The Intelligence and Security Committee, the parliamentary watchdog of the intelligence and security agencies which has a cross-party membership from both Houses, wants to press ministers to introduce legislation that would prevent news outlets from reporting stories deemed by the Government to be against the interests of national security.
The committee also wants to censor reporting of police operations that are deemed to have implications for national security. The ISC is to recommend in its next report, out at the end of the year, that a commission be set up to look into its plans, according to senior Whitehall sources.
Now, you might expect that I’d go off on a foul mouth rant about this. Legalised censorship, I might say, at the whim of a nameless, faceless bureaucrat; I might ask why justice would need to be done in secret; almost by definition justice carried out secretly is less just than that carried out in the open. Hell, I might even ponder the possibility of abuse by people wanting to cover up mistakes.
However, I don’t think I’ll do that.
Instead, I think I’ll mention the simple fact that all the above is happening now anyway; nameless and faceless bureaucrats are ‘asking’ newspapers and TV stations not to cover certain things, and those certain things aren’t covered. There’s no oversight, and there’s no accountability. There’s little in the way of consistency either; I suspect the application of a DA-notice is as dependent on who is manning a certain shift as it is on any official guidance.
Given that, you might expect that I’d actually be for this proposed commission1. It could possibly tighten up the rules, and make the system less open to abuse.
However, you’d be wrong on that front. If I had any faith at all that any change
would could be for the better, then I might support it. But every law that this government has brought in to tighten up rules, lessen opportunities for abuse and all that, it’s actually made more loopholes, more generalisations, and more opportunities for abuse.
So we’re being let down by the current system. But I fear that any new system would be much worse, and much harder to get rid of…
1 – How very New Labour – when in doubt as to how something will be received by the public, instigate a commission to look into it. And the slip a law doing exactly what you wanted to do in the first place through parliament, if precedent is anything to go by…
Dad once told me a story about how an RAF bomber, I think, accidentally dumped a load of aluminium foil over the South West’s powerlines, knocking out the grid. Just an operational SNAFU, someone pulled the wrong lever by accident.
They didn’t, in fact, put a D-notice on it, but quietly asked the Editors of the various papers not to publish the story. The implication being, “We’ll D-notice it if we have to, and next time you want a favour, screw you.”
Apparently there was quite a “I’ll scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine” culture. Editors would keep things quiet when asked, and in return they’d get good information and access.
But to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure there’s any way to prevent that sort of thing. It’s the perceived need for “access” that’s turning the MSM into such patsies these days. Maybe it’s just a nice dose of creative destruction that’s needed.
This comment is now far too long. I finish.