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Censorship and National Security: Information Control in the Second World War and Present Day

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Censorship and National Security: Information Control in the Second World War and Present Day


The recent criminal trials of Erol Incedal on terrorism-related charges, in which central details were kept secret from the public, suggests a lack of clarity about information control in a contemporary context. It is legitimate to restrict information in the interest of national security, but only where this is strictly necessary and when safeguards exist to maintain open justice and freedom of expression. The British experience of security censorship during the Second World War provides a compelling case study of information control in an otherwise open society that should be used to inform future policy. The self-regulated system adopted during the Second World War ensured considerable press freedom, but was hindered by a lack of planning and poor co-ordination between the press and competing authorities. The Second World War case study suggests that information control procedures will always be contentious but that they can be made more successful through careful planning and co-ordination, the involvement of a broad range of representatives, and an awareness of the public interest in imparting and receiving information. Both the historic and contemporary case studies indicate that information control in an open society will rely upon a degree of self-regulation and require clear guidelines, co-operation, and opportunities for dialogue.

Irving, Henry and Townend, Judith (2016) Censorship and National Security: Information Control in the Second World War and Present Day. History and Policy .


Item Type: Article
Subjects: History
Law
Keywords: information control, ministry of information, erol incedal, court reporting
Divisions: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Depositing User:
URI: http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/id/eprint/6357
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