Control & Sensorship
May 15, 1999 04:27 PM
by M K Ramadoss
In the past, people and governments and organizations -- business,
religious, spiritual and other -- and people with vested interests --
routinely controlled and sensored and/or distorted the information and
facts that reached the public. Common reason given is for the protection of
the world, country, religion, cult, organization and the recipient person.
Even so called religious and spiritual organizations resorted to this. You
can happen even today, only if you care to carefully look. It is how many
of the sacred literature was kept by the select few from the public -- the
control led to discrimination based on various factors. The first major
breakthrough came when printing was invented. There was an exponential
increase in the printed material being available to the lay man/woman. The
next major breakthrough is when Internet took off. Internet broke all the
traditional lines of control overnight. All that one needs to see is what
happened last week. I hope those who have spent their lifetimes in
controlling/editing/distorting/withholding information for whatever
justification they have in their mind, do not get a heart attack by seeing
how Internet is breaking down all the traditional barriers and rules.
Here is the story that some may be interested to read.
How secrets slip through
The Internet helped pierce the government's veil of secrecy
The British Government's failure to stop the publication of
a list of alleged Secret Intelligence Service or MI6 agents
has turned out to be a classic study of the power of the
Internet to overcome controls.
Although the government was successful in closing
some sites, they had already been copied and rapidly
appeared on mirror sites. Indeed, the more the
authorities tried to suppress the information, the more
sought after it became.
The treasure hunters in cyberspace became determined
to find their prize and they did so. The question has to
be asked as to whether the publicity given by the
government to the list in the first place only increased
interest in it.
The British Government has
publicly accused a
dismissed MI6 officer,
Richard Tomlinson, of
providing the 116 names, and
it appealed to the British
media not to publish either
the names or the websites
on which they were
This appeal was put out by
the Defence, Press and
Committee, which is sometimes known as the D notice
The committee - run by two retired Royal Navy officers,
Rear Admiral David Pulvertaft and his deputy,
Commander Francis Ponsonby - "advises" the media on
The appeal has been generally complied with, but they
have been in turn badly holed by the stealth tactics of
It started when Richard
Tomlinson opened a website
with GeoCities, which allows
users to set up personal
home pages for free.
GeoCities removed the site
saying that Tomlinson had
violated its usage policy, but
he was able to repost the
site to another address on
The California-based hosting
service closed the second site by Wednesday evening,
but not before it was copied and mirrored to other sites
on the Internet.
This site named several MI6 officers previously accused
by Tomlinson of having information about Princess
Diana's fatal crash in Paris. These names were not new.
They had been released in an affidavit Tomlinson had
delivered before the investigating judge, saying that the
driver of her car Henri Paul, who also died in the crash,
had been an MI6 informer.
The site also promised to
publish a longer list of MI6
officers, but did not in fact do
so, following a court order in
Switzerland where Tomlinson
The list did emerge, however,
The Executive Intelligence
Review, a magazine
published by maverick
political figure and
conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche, displayed the list
briefly on its web site.
The EIR site said that the information had come
unsolicited by e-mail from an "honest man who had left
MI6" (presumably Tomlinson).
Shortly afterwards, this site, too, was closed. The editor
of EIR, Peter Sigerson, told the BBC that this was on
legal advice after a request from the British government.
But EIR had already, on Wednesday, sent out 9,000
copies of its magazine with the list in it, said Mr
It was also too late, because the EIR site had already
been copied and mirrored elsewhere, and it is here that a
defining characteristic of the Internet is shown.
Whenever an interesting site appears, you can be sure
that someone, somewhere will copy it in seconds. In
this, case several people did.
And one of them sent it to a New York architect named
John Young, who runs a group dedicated to publishing
security and intelligence documents on its website.
Mr Young told the BBC that he had circulated a request
for the list and in due course it arrived by e-mail. It was a
copy of the EIR site.
He said he did not think the people named were at risk,
and that such information should be published in any
case. It was not long before other sites around the world
began displaying the list.
The cat was not only out of the bag, it was running away
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