New Government Security Classifications

The new Government Security Classification (GSC) system was launched on 2 April. The six old classifications are out and three new ones are in.

The new scheme aims to unify the way government information is handled and classified, and to encourage everyone to take more responsibility for protecting government information.

Mark Preston, Director of Business Resilience and the person in charge of implementing the new system, said: “These are worthy aims and the right thing for government to do, but you can’t change something as big as the classification systems overnight.

Attitudes and departmental IT systems both take time to change. That means living with some residue from the old systems for a while. This is not ideal – but nor frankly is it a showstopper.”

New Government Security Classifications
Mark Preston, Director of Business Resilience

Mark and his team have been working to help staff across Defence understand how the changes will affect them. “The main thing staff need to do differently is to focus more on understanding the sensitivity of the information in the document,” he said.

Mark explains that the biggest change that most staff will notice is at the new OFFICIAL level, most particularly to documents that have no marking on them. Under the old system these documents were UNCLASSIFIED, and many people thought this meant they could share them freely, including outside government.

“Well, there’s no longer any such thing as unclassified information,” said Mark. “We all have a duty to protect unmarked documents. If we think they have sensitive information in them, for example people’s private personal data.”

Everyone has a responsibility to safeguard government information. It isn’t difficult and you don’t need to look far for help. “The best place to start is with the GSC Survival Guide which can be found on the Defence Intranet,” said Mark.

“This gives a non-specialist explanation of the changes that have happened and it also points to more detailed information if needed.”

Source: Defence Focus

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