back to article Planned Espionage Act could jail journos and whistleblowers as spies

Proposals in the UK for a swingeing new Espionage Act that could jail journalists as spies have been developed in haste by legal advisors, The Register has learned. The proposed law update is an attempt to ban reporting of future big data leaks. The British government has received recommendations for a "future-proofed" new …


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Staggering

      would be a fair point, John 104, but don't forget we didn't actually vote in the facist / nazi /stasi / nomenklatura in question.

      Nor do our government spokespeople act as mouthpieces talking down a specific retailer, or pick on specific countries for their blatant disregard of human life - they're equal opportunity despots, perhaps.

      1. John 104

        Re: Staggering


        Not familiar with how your government functions. Are you saying you don't elect your MPs?

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Staggering

        "would be a fair point, John 104, but don't forget we didn't actually vote in the facist / nazi /stasi / nomenklatura in question."

        Um... yes, you did. The electorate elects the parliament. Parliament elects the PM.

        Pro tip: time to get a constitution.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Staggering

          Why have the replies to this message so failed to understand the point.

          John 104 is correct - The MP's are elected, but not neccesarily actually representing the voice of the people who elected them.

          As for the PM bit, John104 is right again and you are wrong.

          The Tory party chooses it's own leader, the Labour party chooses it's own leader, all parties choose their own leader.

          If they have the majority then the party leader becomes PM. They are not elected by the people or parliament.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Staggering

          "Pro tip: time to get a constitution."

          We have one. It's just not all on one page.

  1. fidodogbreath Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Is this really the government we deserve?

    De Tocqueville (allegedly) said that democracy can only survive until the people discover that they can vote themselves money from the public till.

    Well, freedom can only survive until the government discovers that it can get away with using the unbridled power of the state against its citizenry, to protect and perpetuate itself.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't the mere publishing of this article, constitute a violation? It's over for El Reg. That would explain why the Android app suddenly stopped connecting to the articles and downloading them, a couple of days ago.

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
  4. Conundrum1885

    Dear Rt Hon Theresa May (PM)

    Are you trying to use "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell as an instruction manual?

    If so, please desist. This was never intended and will only end badly.

    Kind regards, Andre de Guerin.

  5. SVV

    Hasty and bodged legislation?

    I doubt it somehow. Must have been lying around in some Whitehall office for some time, fully worked out and waiting for a PM whp is authoritarian enough to want to implement it.

    Seeing as her recent overseas trips were to Trump's USA and Erdogan's Turkey, no wonder this would be a good time for the Sir Humphreys to dig this out. How many journalists are in prison in Turkey right now? The new friends she is picking for Britain, after we've flounced off from our near neighbours are not a promising replacement in my opinion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hasty and bodged legislation?

      "lying around in some Whitehall office for some time, fully worked out and waiting"

      The office of someone like this already-mentioned sound chap, for example:

      He's definitely "one of us", right?

      Check out the connection between him and anohter of May's senior staff e.g.

      "a fascinating tale of two Home Office civil servants who are having an affair together.

      One of those involved is a no-nonsense Scottish divorcee, Fiona Cunningham, 40, who is Home Secretary Theresa May’s devoted spin doctor. For two years, she has been in a close relationship with her colleague Charles Farr, 54, a former spy chief who runs the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office."

      warning: unreliable source:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fiona Cunningham => Fiona Hill

        Fiona Cunningham is now Theresa May's joint chief of staff, and goes by the name Fiona Hill:

        Small world.

  6. Esme

    You know the drill

    Write to your MP's and get your friends, families and significant others to write to their MPs protesting against this NOW.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Write to your MPs

      "Write to your MP's and get your friends, families and significant others to write to their MPs protesting against this NOW."

      Why? MPs are not going to do anything for anyone except their paymasters, and that isn't their constituents. People doing what you suggest can be first against the wall, they volunteered to be re-educated.

      Organise, by all means necessary. But keep it underground. Remember, there's a war against terror to be fought.

      Is there a November 5th this year?

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Write to your MPs

        My MP will pen a very polite letter back telling me not to bother my fuzzy head as it is clearly all in a very deserving cause and nothing to worry about...... I know this because he does this every time and then goes off and votes as he is told by his best buddy the chief whip who makes sure he climbs another well paid step up the greasy pole.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You know the drill

      I don't regard my MP as a decent human being. He stood up in Parliament and invoked god during the debate on same sex marriage, praying that it would be struck down in the other house. He is pro fox hunting. His speech on the Brexit bill in the House described robbing of my EU citizenship rights and harming my business, which relies on the free movement of my expertise and equipment, as "the culmination of a political lifetime’s ambition." His personal values don't align with mine or with the well being of my business.

      The only time I have seen him vote against his party line was same sex marriage, where his party wasn't far enough right for his liking. He's a career party brown-nose that was moved between constituencies to keep him in Parliament and further his ministerial career.

      Honestly, an email to my MP wouldn't be worth the pixels it was printed on. Our constituency is a very safe seat with a large military presence whose votes keep him in his seat so he doesn't have to keep the people happy to stay in Westminster. Because of the First Past The Post system, my vote will never matter. He is famous within the community for either ignoring requests for help, especially if the come from someone who didn't vote for him, or nodding, promising to be on your side then voting to stuff you, the way he was going to anyway.

      And they say they wonder why the public feel disenfranchised and have no faith in politics or politicians.

  7. Sir Alien

    Two things...

    A) if the leak is posted in another country then unless that country is willing to extradite this law can do nothing to international (internet) leakers. No matter how much they put that clause into law, it cannot affect anyone not in the country or in a cooperating country. Look at Snowden and America, a good example of why such a law is useless and easily seen to be aimed at the general public.

    B) Like many African countries, what will happen is if a state becomes too totalitarian the country will start to have a brain drain. All knowledge leaves to other countries and all that is left are those that can't afford to leave or are to stupid to see the state of affairs.

    If I start to feel like a prisoner in public and cannot do anything about it, I would simply leave the country and go else where. Germany seems like a good bet since their constitution prohibits things like this, or so I am told.

    The only innovation that would be left over is the innovation of covering your tracks on whatever you do.

    - S.A.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Two things...

      "If I start to feel like a prisoner in public and cannot do anything about it, I would simply leave the country and go else where. Germany seems like a good bet since their constitution prohibits things like this, or so I am told."

      One, they could prevent you from leaving (see China). Two, Constitutions are just ink on a page in the end.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same here

    Ordering my new passport now. Hint: Not where you think, actually a far more benevolent society.

    Hopefully the authorities will learn not to mess with my stuff and respect intellect.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Same here

      I understand that when you order your passport not through the official channels, but through an, let's say private contractor, you can freely choose name, nationality and personal details.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wonder if it includes the option to include a go/no go (or is that track/no track) option that "Official" passports lack?

    The addition of my own tracking unit which lets me trace a lost/stolen passport but only if I choose to enable it by *insert devious method here involving a graphene substitution printed nanoantenna, Droitwich/GLONASS/Galileo RX, 1*1mm Be ion nanoatomic clock array and internal hearing induction loop and WiFi powered charger/TX* so that my "lost" passport can be located from orbit if need be. :-)

  10. GrumpyKiwi

    The Official Secrets Act exists not to protect secrets but to protect officials*.

    That's been known for forever. This just codifies it for the digital world.

    *As told to Kiwi when he signed the OSA while working for the UK MoD in the 1990's.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I was told (or cannot confirm/deny this) that the OSA is basically a contract that you will respect the chain of command (eg if someone higher up says something is covered then it is, period) even if subsequently mentioned in any media the official position is that the event never took place.

    Apparently regular flights take place to and from Nellis AFB but either they keep other planes out of the area or simply use the old blacked-out windows trick.

    I did speculate that perhaps commercial GPS receivers have a "Nellis Filter" aka "block sensitive areas" so if it detects you are approaching somewhere sensitive the software leads you off course without getting totally lost.

    Intriguingly there is a conspiracy theory suggesting that Galileo was sabotaged precisely because the member countries would not add this filter as asked by the GPS collaboration, by adding sneak circuits that caused clock failure to ensure navigational supremacy could be maintained.

    (icon: Tinfoil Hat)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think, therefore...

    ...I'm in trouble...

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: I think, therefore...

      I think, therefore......I'm in trouble... .... Anonymous Coward

      Oh, AC?

      Surely,..... I/We think, therefore they are in trouble.

      And aint that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the gospel truth.

      And their problems can only blossom and escalate in these novel EMPowered times with virtual command and remote control spaces which do not accept the follies of fools ....[defending and extending the inequitable and indefensible]

  13. Tom Paine

    Good journalism

    A spot of meta: good work Mr C and El Reg, and nice to see this story being picked up by your downmarket rivals from what used to be Fleet Street over the weekend. Here's Monday's Grauniad front page:

    Definitely worth a pint.

  14. richardA

    Disasters and Secret Courts

    The first thing to understand is that Civil Servants and Governments love disasters. Perverse Incentives run through government and finance like “BLACKPOOL” through a stick of rock. The bigger the disaster, the more money and power given to the government. But disasters are unpopular, hence the need to control the news. Some examples: If Fukushima ever erupts, it could make the Northern Hemisphere uninhabitable, hence the Japanese Government will declare the event a “State Secret”. Similarly, Mr Modi had to keep his plans for a massive transfer of wealth from the poorest people on the planet to the wealthiest, all funded by USAID, secret from all but a few cronies.

    Not to mention secret laws, secret courts, secret verdicts, secret prisons, secret executions, most of which may already be in place. After all, Mr Cameron boasted to a captive audience of the execution of two British Citizens in Syria, thus setting aside hundreds of years of legal precedent. For earlier discussions of the slide into tyranny, seach for “After Dark British Intelligence”.

    As for the consultation, aka request for free legal advice, I shall offer my services at market rates, with a link to the Executive Summary posted on “The Register” comments.

  15. Simon Harris

    "Hasty and botched"

    The de facto standard for any government legislation these days.

  16. Vinyl-Junkie
    Black Helicopters

    Realising the full extent...

    ...of this proposed legislation requires a little knowledge of government labelling.

    The title says "the protection of Official data". "Official" is actually a government data classification. It is the lowest level classification but it applies to every piece of information produced by government, be it national or local. So an email from one parish councillor to another is "Official" data.

    This can be beneficial; "Official" data requires a level of safeguarding in line with NCSC guidelines (although many local authorities fail to understand this!).

    In this case however, given the title, I can't help wondering if this is in part designed to stop local union officials revealing the true scope of cuts to the local rag before the council has chance to put a spin on it; "that data was Official; therefore we're sending you to jug for 14 years"...

  17. Shaha Alam

    <obligatory 1984 quote>

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    time to fire up them proxies.

    all 7 of them


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