Internet undermining DA-Notices, says DPBAC secretary

The internet is undermining the existence of the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC), according to DA-Notice secretary, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Vallance.

Speaking at the London College of Communication, Vallance described the internet as a "serious threat", admitting that "modern telecommunications will eventually make the gentleman's agreement [between the Government and the British media] redundant".

Vallance described the DPBAC as the overseer of a "voluntary code" operating between the media and the Government, and reaffirmed that its role was as much "to avoid the publication of information that would damage UK national security" as to "facilitate maximum freedom for the media to report".

Admitting that the committee was facing increasing difficulties, he said: "There are lots of holes in the system. Our advice does not have to be accepted [by editors, publishers or broadcasters]. There is no legal redress. One of the anomalies of the system is that there are often one or two editors who ignore our advice."

Referring to the BBC's recent decision to air footage of four alleged British spies retrieving data from an artificial rock in a Moscow suburb, he revealed: "They got advice, but they completely ignored it."

Vallance defended the independence of the DPBAC in the face of the pressure that it "often" comes under from Government.

He said: "There is a tendency of Government to look on the DA-Notice System as its own arm. But it is not. You have to be objective about it, as, if you step out of line, the editors, publishers and broadcasters just won't come to you again."

Photo: Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe

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