RealTime IT News

American Magazine Spreads MI6 Secrets to Newsgroups

An American magazine specialising in security issues has published the list of MI6 agents which was released on a Web site -- then removed -- earlier this week.

The list is now generally available, and indeed hard to avoid for anyone looking in the appropriate Usenet newsgroups.

The British Foreign Office, which was aware of the threatened distribution, was forced Thursday night to take steps to protect the safety of the agents widely listed on the Internet on Friday.

A source at the Foreign Office said that publication of the list could adversely affect the fight against organised crime, as agents are deployed against drug dealers and arms smugglers as well as in the gathering of foreign intelligence.

At risk, too, are Internet Service Providers who unwittingly continue to publish the names of the agents. Scotland Yard has emphasised that any ISP that publishes additional names will be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act.

In the list, the names of around 100 agents are given, together with the cities and dates of their various postings around the world, and even their dates of birth.