UK Changes Government Security Classifications

Posted on: 05/03/2014

In October 2013 the UK Government announced changes to the Security Classification which will come into force on the 2nd April 2014.  The new classification system - the Government Security Classifications Policy - replaces the old Government Protective Marking Scheme which included Restricted, Confidential, Protect, For UK Eyes only.  The new security classification will be:

Top secret

Information marked as Top secret is that which whose release is liable to cause considerable loss of life, international diplomatic incidents, or severely impact ongoing intelligence operations.

Secret

This marking is used for information which needs protection against serious threats, and which could cause serious harm if comprised - such as threats to life, compromising major crime investigations, or harming international relations.

Official

All routine public sector business, operations and services is treated as OFFICIAL. Many departments and agencies operate exclusively at this level. (As of April 2014 the OFFICIAL classification replaces Confidential, Restricted and Protect.) A limited subset of OFFICIAL information that would have more damaging consequences (for individuals, an organisation or government generally) if it were lost, stolen or published in the media is classified 'OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE'.

For a period of time (up to 10 years) the two schemes will run in parallel until all old drawings have been re-issued with the new classifications.  This will also require an amendment to UK Export Licence conditions, especially with regard to OGELs.

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