D-notice

A DA-Notice or Defence Advisory Notice (called a Defence Notice or D-Notice until 1993) is an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security. The system is still in use in the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom

In the UK the original D-Notice system was introduced in 1912 and run as a voluntary system by a joint committee headed by an Assistant Secretary of the War Office and a representative of the Press Association.

Any D-Notices or DA-notices are only advisory requests so are not legally enforceable and hence news editors can choose not to abide by them. However, they are generally complied with by the media.[1]

In 1971, all existing D-Notices were cancelled and replaced by standing D-Notices, which gave general guidance on what could be published and what could not, and what would require further advice from the secretary of the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC).

In 1993, the notices were renamed DA-Notices.

As of 2008, there are five standing DA-Notices:[2]

  • DA-Notice 01: Military Operations, Plans & Capabilities
  • DA-Notice 02: Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Weapons and Equipment
  • DA-Notice 03: Ciphers and Secure Communications
  • DA-Notice 04: Sensitive Installations and Home Addresses
  • DA-Notice 05: United Kingdom Security & Intelligence Special Services

On 8 April 2009, the Committee issued a DA-Notice in relation to sensitive anti-terror documents photographed when Assistant-Commissioner Bob Quick arrived at Downing Street for talks about current intelligence.[3]

On 25 November 2010, the Committee issued a note to editors drawing attention to standing DA-Notices 1 and 5 in relation to sensitive documents expected to be imminently released on the website WikiLeaks.[4][5][6]

In June 2013 a DA-Notice was issued asking the media to refrain from running further stories related to the US PRISM programme, and British involvement therein.[7]

Australia

A voluntary system of D-Notices was also used in Australia starting in 1952 during the Cold War period and were issued by the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Committee. At the first meeting of the Committee, eight D-Notices were issued covering atomic tests in Australia, aspects of naval shipbuilding, official ciphering, the number and deployment of Centurion tanks, troop movements in the Korean War, weapons and equipment information not officially released, aspects of air defence and certain aerial photographs.[8]

In 1974 the number of D-Notices was reduced to four, covering:[8]

  1. Technical information regarding navy, army and air force weapons, weapons systems, equipment and communications systems;
  2. Air operational capability and air defences;
  3. Whereabouts of Mr and Mrs Vladimir Petrov; and
  4. Ciphering and monitoring activities.

A fifth D-Notice relating to the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) was issued in 1977.[8]

In 1982 D-Notices were again revised to four.[9]

  • D Notice 1: Capabilities of the Australian Defence Force, Including Aircraft, Ships, Weapons, and Other Equipment;
  • D Notice 2: Whereabouts of Mr and Mrs Vladimir Petrov;
  • D Notice 3: Signals Intelligence and Communications Security; and
  • D Notice 4: Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS).

The Defence, Press and Broadcasting Committee has not met since 1982 although the D-Notice system remains the administrative responsibility of the Minister for Defence.[8]

The D-Notice system fell out of common use at the end of the Cold War but remained in force. The 1995 Commission of Inquiry into the Australian Secret Intelligence Service reported that newspapers confessed ignorance that the D-Notice system was still operating when it was drawn to their attention in 1993 and 1994.[10]

On 26 November 2010, Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland sent a letter to heads of Australian media and other organisations proposing the creation of a new system similar to the D-Notice system.[11]

See also

References

Further reading

  • Nicholas Wilkinson, Secrecy and the Media. The Official History of the United Kingdom's D-Notice System, (London: Routledge, 2009).

External links

  • National Archives of Australia
  • Dr. Pauline Sadler, "The D-Notice System", on the Australian Press Council News website
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