Censorship is alive and well in Britain today
Last week I proposed an experiment. Index on Censorship had discussed what it calls ‘censorship by omission’; suggesting that a form of censorship exists in Britain through simple lack of information. This is censorship by omission rather than censorship by suppression.
At the same time, Der Spiegel published details from the Snowden files indicating that GCHQ had been involved in hacking German satellite communications companies. Glenn Greenwald described it in The Intercept:
One undated document shows how British GCHQ operatives hacked into the computer servers of the German satellite communications providers Stellar and Cetel, and also targeted IABG, a security contractor and communications equipment provider with close ties to the German government. The document outlines how GCHQ identified these companies’ employees and customers, making lists of emails that identified network engineers and chief executives. It also suggests that IABG’s networks may have been “looked at” by the NSA’s Network Analysis Center.
My ‘experiment’ was simple. We know that the UK government has been trying to suppress reporting on GCHQ revelations through its involvement in the physical destruction of hard disks at The Guardian. So, I suggested, “Over the next few days it will be worth seeing just how much coverage this very major, very important story actually generates in the British mainstream press.”
The result? None.
It’s not a scientific experiment because I haven’t read all of the British mainstream national press from cover to cover since that time. Instead, this morning I used Google and searched on keywords from the Greenwald paragraph:
GCHQ Stellar Cetel IABG germany satellite communications
Searching the web got 3390 returns. In the top four pages (that’s all I checked) there is no single national British newspaper included. (My ‘experiment’ came in at #10, last on the first page.)
Searching the news had just five hits: Register, Help Net Security, IT News, TIME and Engadget.
Nothing whatsoever from any of the British national press.
The conclusion has to be that Britain suffers under a regime of censorship by omission. What we don’t know is how much of this ‘omission’ is effected by government pressure, nor whether Google has been persuaded to reduce the search rankings of any published articles — making it actually censorship by suppression.