The Press: Secrecy: The British Way

Publication of the Pentagon papers has provoked debate on just how—and where—to draw the line between a government's right to secrecy and the duty of the press to inform. In Britain, for nearly 60 years, the problem has been partly solved in fuzzy fashion by the government's D-Notice, an advisory by gentlemen's agreement that alerts editors to sensitive security subjects. The notices (D is for Defense) have no legal force, and the occasional violations are punishable at worst by deep frowns of disapproval.

Useful Signposts. Some British newsmen complain that the notices constitute "unofficial censorship." But most editors agree that the warnings...

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