Information relevant to matters under valid law-enforcement investigation or national-security matters may have valid reasons to be treated carefully by a government. Unregulated details, such as names of persons of interest, suspects, and sources of information may have damaging effects, particularly in the information age. But the potential for oppressive use of such regulation seems real too.

I get particularly concerned when media reports cite anonymous government sources in law enforcement and intelligence agencies early enough to "scoop" the official sources of information. I'd consider that very much different from whistleblower scenarios, but I don't know how to better express the distinction.

How does the UK deal with regulating the flow of information thru the media and the political uses of leaks?

Update clarifying: My particular interest has to do with a concept sometimes called Trial by media examplified by the US media reporting on Richard Jewell in which the media speculates wildly about ongoing government investigations without regard to the privacy of individuals. Tom Brocaw for example reported on national network NBC that:

The speculation is that the FBI is close to making the case. They probably have enough to arrest him right now, probably enough to prosecute him, but you always want to have enough to convict him as well. There are still some holes in this case.

Eventually this widespread reporting was proved entirely misleading, with US Attorney General Janet Reno admitting FBI leaks had led to widespread presumption of Jewell's guilt, saying:

I'm very sorry it happened... I think we owe him an apology. I regret the leak.

NBC News stuck by it's story, but eventually settled litigation brought by Jewell for $500,000.

  • 3
    While there is some quality in the question, I've voted to close it as too broad. Even with your specific focus on the EU member states, there is too much variance across the individual states, and with the EU council. Oct 31, 2018 at 2:05
  • I've narrowed the question to deal specifically with the UK. I guess I had been hoping there might be some commonality in the EU, but assume now that's not true. Oct 31, 2018 at 6:23
  • Could you elaborate a bit more what you mean by "UK deal with regulating"? Do you mean the UK government or the laws in effect? Regulation in what form? Do you want to know if the government interferes in any way in what the press publishes in this scenarios?
    – redleo85
    Nov 1, 2018 at 12:56

1 Answer 1


A DSMA notice (formerly - and in popular fiction - known as a "D notice") sounds like it would do what you're thinking.

Wikipedia define it as "an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security". The linked page has some examples of use (and misuse).


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