Official Secrets Act
Overview
 
The Official Secrets Act is a stock short title
Short title
The short title is the formal name by which a piece of primary legislation may by law be cited in the United Kingdom and other Westminster-influenced jurisdictions , as well as the United States. It contrasts with the long title which, while usually being more fully descriptive of the...

 used in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Malaysia and formerly in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 for legislation that provides for the protection of state secrets and official information, mainly related to national security.
  • The Official Secrets Act 1889
    Official Secrets Act 1889
    The Official Secrets Act 1889 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It created offences of disclosure of information and breach of official trust . It was replaced for the United Kingdom by the Official Secrets Act 1911.-Bill...

     (52 & 53 Vict. c. 52)
  • The Official Secrets Act 1911
    Official Secrets Act 1911
    The Official Secrets Act 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It replaces the Official Secrets Act 1889....

     (1 & 2 Geo. 5 c. 28)
  • The Official Secrets Act 1920
    Official Secrets Act 1920
    The Official Secrets Act 1920 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.-Section 1 - Unauthorised use of uniforms; falsification of reports, forgery, personation, and false documents:Sections 1 and provide:...

     (10 & 11 Geo.
Encyclopedia
The Official Secrets Act is a stock short title
Short title
The short title is the formal name by which a piece of primary legislation may by law be cited in the United Kingdom and other Westminster-influenced jurisdictions , as well as the United States. It contrasts with the long title which, while usually being more fully descriptive of the...

 used in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Malaysia and formerly in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 for legislation that provides for the protection of state secrets and official information, mainly related to national security.

United Kingdom

  • The Official Secrets Act 1889
    Official Secrets Act 1889
    The Official Secrets Act 1889 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It created offences of disclosure of information and breach of official trust . It was replaced for the United Kingdom by the Official Secrets Act 1911.-Bill...

     (52 & 53 Vict. c. 52)
  • The Official Secrets Act 1911
    Official Secrets Act 1911
    The Official Secrets Act 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It replaces the Official Secrets Act 1889....

     (1 & 2 Geo. 5 c. 28)
  • The Official Secrets Act 1920
    Official Secrets Act 1920
    The Official Secrets Act 1920 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.-Section 1 - Unauthorised use of uniforms; falsification of reports, forgery, personation, and false documents:Sections 1 and provide:...

     (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 75)
  • The Official Secrets Act 1939
    Official Secrets Act 1939
    The Official Secrets Act 1939 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It substitutes a new section 6 into the Official Secrets Act 1920, which limits the scope of that offence to offences under section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911...

     (2 & 3 Geo. 6 c. 121)
  • The Official Secrets Act 1989
    Official Secrets Act 1989
    The Official Secrets Act 1989 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It repeals and replaces section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911. It is said to have removed the public interest defence created by that section....

     (1989 c. 6)


The Official Secrets Acts

The Official Secrets Acts 1911 and 1920 means the Official Secrets Act 1911
Official Secrets Act 1911
The Official Secrets Act 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It replaces the Official Secrets Act 1889....

 and the Official Secrets Act 1920
Official Secrets Act 1920
The Official Secrets Act 1920 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.-Section 1 - Unauthorised use of uniforms; falsification of reports, forgery, personation, and false documents:Sections 1 and provide:...

.

The Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1939 means the Official Secrets Acts 1911 and 1920 and the Official Secrets Act 1939
Official Secrets Act 1939
The Official Secrets Act 1939 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It substitutes a new section 6 into the Official Secrets Act 1920, which limits the scope of that offence to offences under section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911...

.

The Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1989 means the Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1939 and the Official Secrets Act 1989
Official Secrets Act 1989
The Official Secrets Act 1989 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It repeals and replaces section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911. It is said to have removed the public interest defence created by that section....

.

United Kingdom

People working with sensitive information
Information sensitivity
Information sensitivity is the control of access to information or knowledge that might result in loss of an advantage or level of security if disclosed to others who might have low or unknown trustability or undesirable intentions....

 are commonly required to sign a statement to the effect that they agree to abide by the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act. This is popularly referred to as "signing the Official Secrets Act." Signing this has no effect on which actions are legal, as the act is a law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, not a contract
Contract
A contract is an agreement entered into by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing. Contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be "damages" or compensation of money. In equity, the remedy can be specific...

, and individuals are bound by it whether or not they have signed it. Signing it is intended more as a reminder to the person that they are under such obligations. To this end, it is common to sign this statement both before and after a period of employment that involves access to secrets.

Other legislation

In addition to the Official Secrets Acts, the Naval Discipline Act 1957
Naval Discipline Act 1957
The Naval Discipline Act 1957 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom governing discipline in the Royal Navy. It governed courts martial and criminal penalties for crimes committed by officers and ratings of the Royal Navy...

 makes it an offence punishable with life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

 to spy on Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 ships or overseas bases. This was a capital offence until 1981.

Official Secrets Acts in other countries

The phrase official secrets act may also be used to refer to statutes of a similar nature in other countries. Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 has similar legislation titled the Security of Information Act
Security of Information Act
In Canada, the Security of Information Act is part of the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act which received Royal Assent on December 18, 2001 and came into effect on December 24, 2001. This Act renamed and replaced Official Secrets Act 1981...

(which was created in the wake of September 11th 2001
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

 to replace the vaguely worded Official Secrets Act).

The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 does not have any Official Secrets Act, although the Espionage Act of 1917
Espionage Act of 1917
The Espionage Act of 1917 is a United States federal law passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. It has been amended numerous times over the years. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code but is now found under Title 18, Crime...

 has similar components. Much of the Espionage Act remains in force, although some has been struck down by the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 as unconstitutional
Constitutionality
Constitutionality is the condition of acting in accordance with an applicable constitution. Acts that are not in accordance with the rules laid down in the constitution are deemed to be ultra vires.-See also:*ultra vires*Company law*Constitutional law...

 because of the First Amendment
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

 (See United States v. The Progressive
United States v. The Progressive
United States of America v. Progressive, Inc., Erwin Knoll, Samuel Day, Jr., and Howard Morland is the name of a lawsuit against the magazine The Progressive by the U.S. government in 1979...

, Brandenburg v. Ohio
Brandenburg v. Ohio
Brandenburg v. Ohio, , was a landmark United States Supreme Court case based on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action...

, New York Times Co. v. United States
New York Times Co. v. United States
New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 , was a United States Supreme Court per curiam decision. The ruling made it possible for the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers to publish the then-classified Pentagon Papers without risk of government censure.President Richard Nixon had...

).

In the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 the Official Secrets Act, 1963 repealed previous British
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 legislation of 1911 and 1920. The Official Secrets Act, as amended, applies to all civil servants
Civil service of the Republic of Ireland
The Civil Service of Ireland is the collective term for the permanent staff of the Departments of State and certain State Agencies who advise and work for the Government of Ireland. It consists of two broad components, the Civil Service of the Government and the Civil Service of the State...

 and potentially anyone within the state. A suit may only be instigated at the approval of the Attorney General of Ireland
Attorney General of Ireland
The Attorney General is a constitutional officer who is the official adviser to the Government of Ireland in matters of law. He is in effect the chief law officer in Ireland. The Attorney General is not a member of the Government but does participate in cabinet meetings when invited and attends...

, additionally proceedings may occur in camera
In camera
In camera is a legal term meaning "in private". It is also sometimes termed in chambers or in curia.In camera describes court cases that the public and press are not admitted to...

 but the verdict and any sentence must occur in public.

Malaysia has an Official Secrets Act
Official Secrets Act (Malaysia)
The Official Secrets Act 1972 , also known as the OSA, is a statute in Malaysia prohibiting the dissemination of information classified as an official secret. The legislation is based on the Official Secrets Act of the United Kingdom...

 (also referred to as the OSA) prohibiting the collection, possession or distribution of information marked as an official secret—an action which can be made by any public officer. The certification of a document as an official secret is not subject to judicial review
Judicial review
Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

, and a violation of the act is punishable with between one and seven years' imprisonment. The act has been controversial for its use to silence dissent and stifling anti-corruption activities.

Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 has Part VII of the Crimes Act 1914
Crimes Act 1914
The Crimes Act 1914 is a piece of Federal legislation in Australia. Pursuant to the Australian Constitution it prevails in any conflict with State laws dealing with the subject of crime....

 (Commonwealth), entitled Official Secrets and Unlawful Soundings.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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