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faxes are not secure

BBC Discovers Faxes Are Not Secure (no shit, Sherlock)
BLACKPOOL, LANCASHIRE, ENGLAND, 1995 OCT 19 (NB) -- The British Broadcasting
Corporation (BBC) found out late last week that faxes are not a secure
transmission system. After faxing a copy of a top secret internal management
document to a BBC senior staying at the Pembroke Hotel in Blackpool, where
the Conservative Party Conference took place all last week, BBC executives
were aghast to discover that the fax was sent to the room of Nigel Nelson, a
journalist with The People newspaper, who was also staying at the hotel.

The mis-route for the fax was caused by the fact that Nelson had advised
hotel staff that he was expecting an urgent fax, while the BBC did not notify
the recipient that a fax was on its way. Reception staff at the hotel assumed
that the incoming fax was meant for Nelson and passed it along to him.

Like all good journalists, Nelson realized he had a potential scoop and
passed along the story to the paper, which duly published details of the fax,
along with a brief mention of how the fax came into its hands.

The BBC, meanwhile, has complained loudly that the fax should have been
dispatched to Colin Browne head of the BBC's corporate affairs office, who
was hosting a reception for conference delegates at the hotel.

The fax was send from Leigh Jackson, head of the BBC's Communication Planning
office, and outlined management's worries over job losses and the potential
effects of a likely strike if the British Government goes ahead, as many
think it will, with privatizing the BBC's TV and radio transmitter network in
the UK.

The fax also allegedly said that the BBC would press the government to pass
along at least some of the expected UKP100 million that the sale of the
1,400-strong transmitter network would generate, to the BBC as income for the
state TV service.

Neither the hotel nor the BBC is making any comment about the incident, but
the paper claims that it ran the story with the interest of the public in
mind and that how the fax fell into its reporter's hands was not its concern.

In an editorial in The People newspaper, which was published on Sunday,
Nelson said that "firing off secret faxes to busy hotels without someone
ready to receive them is asking for trouble."

Nelson went on to say that the story was printed, as it was in the public
interest to know what the country's TV company was planning to do with its
assets. In the UK, any TV owner or user has to pay the BBC a license fee of
around $150 a year to receive any form of terrestrial TV transmissions.

Nelson claims that privatizing the transmitter network, while not impinging
on the BBC's operations itself, may not be in the public interest in the long
run. "Privatization could lead to foreign companies muscling in on the most
famous broadcasting network in the world," he said in his editorial.

In a prepared statement, the BBC said that the document was not policy and
was written by a junior member of staff, and therefore was not as sensitive
as the newspaper had made out.

"We were victims of technology," the BBC said.

(Steve Gold/19951018)
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