The Mail on Sunday has another exclusive story about an aspect of data privacy and security, which are two ides of the same coin:
By Jason Lewis
Last updated at 11:43 AM on 05th July 2009
The new head of MI6 has been left exposed by a major personal security breach after his wife published intimate photographs and family details on the Facebook website.
Sir John Sawers is due to take over as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in November, putting him in charge of all Britain's spying operations abroad.
But his wife's entries on the social networking site have exposed potentially compromising details about where they live and work, who their friends are and where they spend their holidays.
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.
Spy Blog does not often find itself in agreement with the creepy authoritarian NuLabour Foreign Secretary David Miliband, but his comments via the BBC are, at one level true:
But Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme: "Are you leading the news with that? The fact that there's a picture that the head of the MI6 goes swimming - wow, that really is exciting.
"It is not a state secret that he wears Speedo swimming trunks, for goodness sake let's grow up.
UPDATE - The BBC did Miliband yet another favour by making this quotation seem more coherent and pithy than it actually was in the video clip.
This Sir John Sawers affair is reminiscent of the similar one about Alex Allan, Chairman of the Joint intelligence Committee when he was appointed back in November 2007
Is there nobody in Whitehall who bothers to check the world wide web for such personal details before a new senior appointment is made ?
Apart from the location details of the London flat, was there really anything sensitive from a security point of view ? Photos of his family and friends are inevitable, as he has been in the public eye as a very senior diplomat.
Since he is currently still the UK's representative on the UN Security Council, and is living in New York, he would anyway probably be looking to move to a larger house or flat in London by November, when he takes up his post as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service.
If one were to be very cynical, one might suspect that by allowing your personal details to be revealed by members of your family via the web, it means that once you are appointed to a "sensitive" official position, you can then get the Government to foot the bill for a new house or apartment for "security" reasons.
This Mail on Sunday story does, however, raise the same questions which we asked about their previous story about Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick / private hire cars business story back in December 2008:
Were the Mail on Sunday or Facebook threatened by the Foreign Office or by MI6 etc. with the new
(1) A person commits an offence who--
(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been--
(i) a member of Her Majesty's forces,
(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or
(iii) a constable,
which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
(b) publishes or communicates any such information.
which is now fully in force ?
UPDATE 8th July 2009:
Former UK Ambassador Charles Crawford rightly and helpfully points out various misspellings of Sir John Sawers' name on this website - apologies to Sir John and his friends- hopefully these have now all been corrected.
Charles Crawford has also written some more personal recollections of his friend and diplomatic colleague on his blogoir blog: Sir John Sawers: On The Up