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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

‘Auntie’ watched by Big Brother?

Although the BBC was unable to prove that government officials had hacked its system, the staff were “morally certain” it had happened. Leaving aside the meaning of “morally certain”, this is a serious matter. The way this breach of the BBC’s already dubious independence was perpetrated was that one correspondent noticed that when he wrote a script on the newsroom computer for the next news bulletin “he would be rung up by Downing Street before it was broadcast and lobbied on a point or two”. This didn’t happen just once or twice and John Simpson, the BBC’s world affairs editor, claims in his new book that the tactics were part of widespread attempts by the government to pressure the BBC and other broadcasters into more favourable coverage of its politics.

Apparently, another BBC broadcaster said the corporation knew the identity of the hacker but lacked the evidence to make a complaint. This is the bit I can’t understand, as someone has to be at the other end of the phone persuading the reporters to temper bulletins that had not yet been transmitted. My first reaction would be: “how the hell did you know what I just wrote on the newsroom computer?!” It seems a measure of how unquestioning of the government the BBC must be, if no one has challenged their big brother tactics. Or is it just ‘cos its family.

Oh, and the government officials say:

This story is utterly ridiculous, complete drivel.

But then, they would say that, wouldn’t they?


When the state watches you,
dare to stare back

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