In the UK in 1912 there was a then deemed necessary censoring instrument introduced called a "D-Notice"
. It still exists in much the same form today, renamed as a "DA-Notice"
: Wikipedia DA-Notice
has some interesting background to this."DA"
stands for "Defence Advisory"
and relates to what is regarded as advisedly being "unpublishable" or unmentionable by news agencies, though not actually prohibited per se
The news agencies would generally always
comply with a DA-Notice. It is thus a deliberate and covert form of censorship, and to say that you are not
reporting on an unmentionable subject because of a DA-Notice is to mention it, so you cannot say that.
Strictly speaking, DA-Notices should relate to potential Defence issues, but I dimly recall reading somewhere (I think it might have been in back issues of Private Eye magazine) that they have been used in efforts to censor the British press reporting on what were otherwise open secrets - something like the sordid details of the apparently excessive lifestyle of the UK's Princess Margaret with her boyfriend(s) in some upmarket resort (or whatever), or in the case of the UK '70s Prime Minister Harold Wilson's alleged affair with his secretary in the Scillies Islands (I they said that she was later put on the Honours List and became "Lady Forkbender" in Private Eye's amusing nomenclature). Anyway, the Brit. press apparently could be thus gagged, but the foreign press weren't, so you could have read about such unmentionable
open secrets as these in rags like Le Figaro
or Le Monde
So, what has this to do with restriction of Internet Freedoms?
Well, though presumably DA-Notices can and would apply (and probably have been applied) to online blogs controlled by UK legal persons
reporting the news, we wouldn't necessarily know whether that was the case (QED).
However, I realised something else today, after reading a post on Guido's
blog (Leveson Effect: Can You See What It Is Yet?
) - i.e., that there seems to be a newly-mutated form of Internet censorship that has quietly evolved in the UK, but this time apparently operated/sanctioned by the judiciary rather than overtly driven by the State.
Guido talks about this new, surreptitious and judicial or pseudo-judicial form of censorship that has affected MSM media news agency reporting and his blog.
He calls it "the Leveson effect"
for good reason, and lawyers are apparently using it as an explicit threat, causing the news media to clam up on what would otherwise be open secrets through fear of retribution.
This apparently relates to reporting the open secrets that Max Clifford, Jim Davidson and now Rolf Harris have been questioned under caution
by police from Operation Yewtree (investigation into the Sa Vile scandal).
post is copied below sans
Leveson Effect: Can You See What It Is Yet?
Over the last few weeks the police Operation Yewtree has questioned a number of celebrities over allegations of sex crimes. Each time the papers have known the names of those arrested or questioned, each time the first the public knew about it was when this blog broke the story.
We scooped the press on the arrests of Max Clifford and Jim Davidson. Today we can report that Rolf Harris has also been questioned under caution by police from Operation Yewtree. This has been an open secret in media circles for weeks, journalists and newspaper editors alike have known about the story – yet none has published the news. Why?
No judge has ordered reporting restrictions in relation to Rolf Harris, no super-injunctions prevent the reporting of news concerning him, instead his lawyers Harbottle and Lewis are citing the Leveson Inquiry’s report in letters to editors of newspapers – cowing them into silence. The Leveson effect is real and curtailing the freedom of the press through fear.
In the case of Max Clifford a popular media commentator was our source, with Jim Davidson an ex-copper tipped us off and a local journalist gave us confirmation. This blog is nimble and prepared to take risks, so we are beating all the other news organisations who post-Leveson prefer to await for official police confirmation. This blog is in the news business, we want to beat the competition, we want to be first, we’re proud of breaking stories. We want our readers to be the first to know what is going on.
When the Leveson Inquiry began Guido upset the judge by publishing Alistair Campbell’s evidence before he gave it. Leveson responded by placing a restriction order on this blog. Neatly illustrating by example that the Leveson Inquiry could bring in an era of judicial censorship. It is more subtle than that currently, the chilling effect is that editors fear the prospect of a law rather than any actual new law.
This blog likes being the first to report the news, we would also like to win in a fair fight. The press has its hands tied. A free press ensures that the police do not go about their business in secret. A secret police is a dangerous thing, reporting the arrest of suspects is an important safeguard in a free society – for them and us. We are in danger of losing that safeguard.
See also: Post Leveson British Press Won’t Publish Naked Harry Pictures.
By way of illustration of the use/potential of the Leveson Effect, he has a link in there: Post Leveson British Press Won’t Publish Naked Harry Pictures
, suggesting a more-than-accidental connection to censorship, and that the Leveson Effect may be effectively gagging unmentonable reporting about the Royal Family.
If this sort of thing is a spreading outwards, or a replacement, of the DA-Notice, or if is otherwise being used to prevent the publication of details that could be moral or criminal embarrassments to either the Royal Family, or people with a high public profile employed by the BBC being questioned about (say) some paedophile ring they may have had knowledge of or involvement in, then the British public has a right to know.
It is the public that allows the continuation of the monarchy and funds the monarchy via taxation and through the Civil List and other means (e.g., tax relief), and it is the public that funds the BBC via general taxation and/or another tax in the form of compulsory licence fees.
Covering such matters up through State/judicial direct/indirect censorship is the thin end of a wedge which could potentially crack open the freedom of the Internet, attacking/eroding it as it goes. This could potentially be a loss of Internet freedoms for us all.