Some transparency at least

The Cabinet Office official who left top-secret documents on a train in June is to be charged under the Official Secrets Act, the BBC reports.

[…] BBC defence correspondent Frank Gardner said the move would have come as a surprise to many in Whitehall.

"They will have thought this was being dealt with internally at the MoD and Cabinet Office," he said.

The Crown Prosecution Service recommended the official should be charged by the Metropolitan Police due to the highly sensitive nature of his work on the Joint Intelligence Committee.

The documents the individual, who cannot be named, misplaced contained classified assessments about al-Qaeda and the capabilities of Iraq’s security forces.

This is but one of many instances of government departments losing sensitive data during the past year.

You hear all sorts of apologies from various officials – this one, for instance, from Alistair Darling last November – and often attempts by those officials to pass the blame on to some low-ranking government employee. And then you don’t hear much more.

This case seems a bit more clear cut with some transparency in its progress.

But I don’t have much confidence in the government’s ability to safeguard sensitive information, whether it’s state secrets like this or individuals’ personal data.

I see little or no no evidence to show why anyone should trust the government in this regard.

No wonder there isn’t a great deal of support for the national ID card idea – which, by the way, I think is an inevitability in the UK and which I don’t have a major problem with (until the next major data loss, that is).

But that’s another story.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Chris

    It’s about time. I used to work for the ONS and signed the Official Secrets Act and took the confidentiality very seriously – because it was my job.

    I fully support this move.

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