The D-Notice in the age of the internet.

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by EX_STAB, Jun 5, 2007.

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  1. The D-Notice system, or DA-Notice as it is now called, was originally introduced in 1912 in the interests of National Security. The intention was to ensure that the press did not deliberately or inadvertently publish information that was prejudicial to the National Interest. It is a voluntary system.

    A full history is available here:

    A summary of how the system works today is provided here from the DA-Notice website:


    The question I would put to fellow ARRSERS is:

    How much effect can such a system have in an age when worldwide communication is instantaneous and even the most meagrely equipped enemy can access news reports, satellite photographs and other sources irrespective of his location here or in an overseas country where the system would not apply?
  2. If this question is still being asked by 'professionals', 10 years after Bosnia, and 3-4 years after squaddies started posting op vids on YouTube, something is wrong.

    That something is indeed wrong witht e current M<oD/UK Gubmint policy on news coverage in Iraq + Afg (where we learn from the Torygraph that only 1 journo is currnetly embedded) is transparently obvious.

    Compared to B-H in '96, whwere ARRC were very careful to communicate well with the press, and to strive to ensure that all messages/actions across the Force and in cooperation with NGOs etc were (at least) sympatico, we seem to have taken a step back to - say - the Falklands war, where although reporters were embedded, their access to comms back home was entirely controlled by the Task Force (IRC, Max Hastings managed to 'scoop' other journos at least once, by having a good relationship with the SAS, who had the only independent SatCom link in the Theatre).

    These days, however, control cannot be exercised through the comms links 'cos journos are better kitted out than the MOD, so exclusion is the name of the game.

    Result - troops feel neglected by Joe Public, by the Gubmint and by their own CoC. Brilliant.

    Fuck knows what the gubmint think they are achieving.

    Burying bad news? But he bad news is that they are not resourcing or conducting their own ops properly: they are incompetent.

    If they were doing them properly, the bad news would be outweighed by the good.

    It is delusion.
  3. Remember this:
    The SIS lawyers were quick off the mark and censored it as far as possible.
    The Greek website published the pictures but later removed them probably as a result of the Greek ambassador getting summoned to the FCO.
    However, a quick search of Googles cached index rather than it's current index returned the pictures after they had been removed. :wink:
    Censorship on the internet is just a game of cat and mouse, China's great (fire)wall is good example. People get round it, the authorities learn from it and adapt accordingly.
  4. . . . and then the people get round it again . . .

    Control is no longer possible.
    In democracies (actually, in all forms of gubmint), the state exercises authority only with the assent of its people. To try to control information thru the D-notice (or similar) is to presume a degree of control that the state simply cannot exercise. So, in trying to do so, the gubmint shows itself to be incompetent and fearful of the decisions it has taken.

    Simple logic.
  5. But what about areas where civilian interests cross with those of the armed forces, especially w/regards to ops?

    You can scream OPSEC like a WO on a parade square at mil personnel but how do you keep a civvie shtum whose outside of OSA or D-notice?

    A polite tell no-one/shut up/boot-meet-testicle solution?
  6. News management - or "spin" - has descended to unforeseen depths. The days of the D-notice are numbered, as there is enormous public cynicism about the scruples of this government and its willingness to use "national security" or "the war on terror" to avoid releasing bad news, or to release propaganda.

    The D-notice simply doesn't work on the internet, with independent bloggers and the speed of the thing, and the printed-word press will soon realise that they need to keep up with the internet and that they can use the excuse that "the story is out now anyway".

    I reckon the OSA prosecution of the Labour researcher and civil servant over the Bush-Blair memo was to try and intimidate the Press as well as keeping the nasty little secret (presumably collusion over Fallujah) under wraps. Their main error was contacting an MP rather than a journalist or blogger, and I hope they reproduce the material when they are at liberty again. This government burnt its bridges long ago with regard to public trust.
  7. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Concur, utterly.

    At a recent meeting my mate Little Bird went to, the issue of military blogging came up.

    A lot of people will be aware of the blog written by a US Infanteer called Colby Buzzell during his time in Northern Iraq, later turned into a book.

    The US Mil have now, I understand, banned blogging by their serving military - the fabled US Constitution's First Amendment notwithstanding.
    ( musta come as a shock to some US servicemen to realise that they have less rights than an ordinary citizen :) )

    So what is MoD position ? The current fall back is a thing called DCI Gen 200 which states unequivocally:

    " .........Defence civil servants and members of the Armed Forces must not take part in any activity or make any public statement that might involve the disclosure of official information or draw upon experience gained in their official duties, without prior approval.

    6. Communication with the external media or the disclosure of information without authorisation is a serious disciplinary offence that could ultimately lead to dismissal or to civil or military legal proceedings.

    Hmmm.....all well and good - but I feel as an individual that it begs the question.

    In some instances, it may actually be in MoD's interest to sanction an individual blogging from theatre - but if it is an 'approved' blog, does it have any credibility with the key audience...the guys and gals down where the metal hits the meat ?

    Tricky area.

    Billy Bock