Sky News associate editor Simon Bucks – who has become the first broadcaster to become vice chair of the defence, press and broadcasting Committee – has warned that the current DA Notice system is in danger of being undermined by the internet.
The Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system is the voluntary code guiding the British media on the publication or broadcasting of national security information.
Referring to the recent case of a blackmailed royal being named on the internet, he said: ‘Take that analogy to something that is covered by a DA Notice involving security or military operations abroad. You can see the potential for difficulties where something may be widely reported on the ‘net but is covered by a DA notice, which prevents it being reported in the mainstream media.
‘That’s something that we have to examine and tackle.”
Bucks said that to meet the demands of the 21st century the committee will also have to re-assess the definition of the public domain.
‘The existing definition covers traditional media and traditional media sites on the web – the major news sites. The internet is growing and fragmenting at a very fast rate and so we need to look at the way in which that’s happened, and try to work out between us something which is going to be satisfactory to all sides,’he said.
Thirteen representatives of news organisations, including the BBC, ITV, ITN, Sky TV and the Periodical Publishers Association, sit on the committee, which is chaired by the permanent under-secretary of the Ministry of Defence – currently Bill Jeffery – and meets to discuss the DA Notice system.