Sunday, July 05, 2009

Maybe Facebook is the New Poison Umbrella Tip

Reader Michael Thomas points out a great story in the Daily Mail,
"MI6 chief blows his cover as wife's Facebook account reveals family holidays, showbiz friends and links to David Irving," which suggests that the status-checking location-mapping culture of social network sites can wreak havoc with the security culture around officials in clandestine government services. With the new default privacy settings on Facebook set to favor disclosure to all in one's network, the mistake made by the spouse of the head of Britain's intelligence service is certainly understandable.

Amazingly, she had put virtually no privacy protection on her account, making it visible to any of the site's 200million users who chose to be in the open-access 'London' network - regardless of where in the world they actually were.

There are fears that the hugely embarrassing blunder may have compromised the safety of Sir John's family and friends.

Lady Shelley Sawers' extraordinary lapse exposed the couple's friendships with senior diplomats and well-known actors, including Moir Leslie, who plays a leading character in The Archers. And it revealed that the intelligence chief's brother-in-law - who holidayed with him last month - is an associate of the controversial Right-wing historian David Irving.

Immediately after The Mail on Sunday alerted the Foreign Office to the astonishing misjudgment, all trace of the material – which could potentially be useful to hostile foreign powers or terrorists - was removed from the internet.

For more about the official web presence of Britain's intelligence services, you can check out this Virtualpolitik entry about MI-5 and MI-6. And for more about how Facebook is set no longer to be a "walled garden," go here.

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