The June 2024 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

UK Ministry of Defence Accidentally Posts Secrets on Internet

Two other UK government agencies do the same

2 min read

UK Ministry of Defence Accidentally Posts Secrets on Internet

UK papers have been having a field day at the expense of the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) over the weekend. It turns out that the MoD accidentally posted classified information in a report about its nuclear submarines on the Internet.

According to the Daily Star,

"The report was published on Parliament’s web site after a Freedom Of Information request by anti-nuclear campaigners."

"Much of the most revealing information, entire pages in some cases, was blacked out to prevent the secrets from getting into the wrong hands."

However, simple copying and pasting of the redacted parts of the 2009 report revealed the hidden information, which the Star says involves "... expert opinion on exactly how much of a structural failure could cause a deadly core meltdown."  The Star also claims the document states that such a core meltdown could be caused in certain circumstances by a rogue sailor.

The Star also states that the report describes the Royal Navy submarine service's ability to cope with another potentially catastrophic event (which the Star obviously won't reveal) as being "unacceptable." The report also supposedly gives kudos to the US submarine force as being better equipped to handle on-board disasters in many cases.

The London Telegraph went on to report in a follow up story that its small sampling of redacted UK government documents on the Internet revealed several others where the redaction process also didn't work. These included documents from the Department of Health, the Department for Communities and Local Government as well as the MoD, again.

The MoD is now conducting a full scale review of all of its documents posted on-line to see whether any others have not been redacted properly, and why no one seemed to catch such an obvious error. The offending report has now been fixed.

You may recall that a few years ago, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) posted its operating manual on-line with incorrectly performed redaction.

Those interested can read more about how to properly redact an Adobe PDF document here.

The Conversation (0)