Smile, MI6, You're On Facebook

In a bit of an embarrassment, the wife of the future head of MI6, the UK's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), posted his  photo and other family personal details on Facebook. The London Mail on Sunday found Sir John Sawers' information and printed a story about it, which immediate sparked a row between the Mail and the government over whether the Facebook information represented a security risk or not.

The UK Government initially said the disclosure meant nothing, since Sir John Sawers is currently the UK's ambassador to the United Nations and that his new appointment to lead MI6 was not a secret. The whole episode was much ado about nothing, the government insisted.

However, the offending information on Facebook was quickly removed and there is likely to be a quiet government inquiry into whether security rules were not followed.

In addition, diplomats and civil servants are likely to be told to keep their private lives private and the risks of not doing so, the London Times reports. Today's Times story says that there have been several past disclosures of private information involving high profile government officials that have required extra security measures to be taken as a result.

For instance,

"Dame Stella Rimington was once photographed shopping near her home in London after she had been appointed Director-General of MI5 in 1991. She was advised to leave her family home for her personal safety and moved to a new address. "

In a story in today's ComputerWeekly about social media ruining the intelligence business, an IT security consulting company NCC Group, is quoted as saying that it is getting harder and harder to find people to recruit into the spy business who have not only left an online trail directly, but also who haven't been compromised indirectly online by friends and family as well.

I guess MI6 needs to begin telling its current folks (and those wishing to join it in the future) to ask themselves, "What would James Bond Do? (WWJBD)"

Somehow I doubt Bond would have created a Facebook page touting his exploits.

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