Bletchley's cybersecurity exhibit will not mention Edward Snowden; McAfee's sponsorship blamed


It speaks to the degree of official neglect that Bletchley would have to blame pressure from an American corporation, rather than something closer to home (Incidentally, I haven’t seen McAfee’s name come up before in this ongoing saga. Are they just being evil on principle, or is there an other shoe waiting to drop? AV vendors would be natural targets for…cooperation… if you want your software bugs to stay bugged. And now that Intel owns them, new possibilities!)

Time was when Bletchley Park was Britain’s crypto-cracking SIGINT-spook shop. Now GCHQ doesn’t even seem to care enough to preserve them as a heartwarming piece about spying on Nazis using groundbreaking theoretical and applied techniques.


I wonder if the official sponsorship notice will include a potted history of the company’s founder?


It raises the question why the hell does an american company acts as the long arm of the US government and tries to enforce US government opinion/policy? Two scenarios come to my mind: There is some kind of soviet-style overlap/control between US industry and US government or it raises suspicions that McAfee (and possibly other US IT security companies) has a similar deal like RSA going on.


You’ll find copies of “Fear and Loathing in Belize: The John McAfee Story” in the gift shop…


I suspect that it’s some of column A and some of column B:

I haven’t seen any confirmation of McAfee malfeasance; but the NSA’s interest in not having fed malware flagged as such would be obvious, and their value as free (and talented) advice on malware that they don’t approve of is probably worth something, so certain suspicions arise.

As for the ‘overlap/control’, I wouldn’t really call it “soviet-style” (in capitalist America, the ‘regulatory capture’/lobbyist-driven spending model is probably more accurate than the state-owned-and-politically-controlled-industries Soviet model); but the ‘revolving door’ between public and private sector positions creates strong financial and social ties between state agents and private sector actors who do business in places where the state is active as a customer or regulator. Even in absence of direct suitcases-full-of-cash type payoffs, people are social animals and cover for their buddies.

What I find most baffling is not that McAfee would prefer that the matter not be discussed; but that they’d be dumb enough to risk the Streisand effect: So, either a computer-nerd museum puts up an exhibit that includes some stuff that’s already been splashed across the net and the newspapers and some people who, for the most part, probably had already heard about it, see it again. Or, “American Security Corporation Censors Museum!”. Who came up with that plan?


Ahh, the smell of cordite and hypocrisy fills the air. If an exhibit is being censored by McAffee for fear that it "might imply it approves of Snowden’s actions’ , perhaps an exhibition mentioning Enigma implies their approval of Nazi actions. And no, this is not an example of Godwin’s Law, but a legitimate contextual reference to the history of WW2. (Disclaimer: My mother was “one of the girls in Hut 6” at Bletchley Park and last week she received a certificate of appreciation and medallion from the much maligned GCHQ. She is a pacifist and a Quaker. I don’t know whether to be proud or just roll around laughing.)


Or, “How to Murder Friends and Influence People.”

How can mentioning a historical event be seen as a political statement? Is discussion of 9/11 a statement of political support for Al-Qaeda? Is discussion of Nazi Germany a statement of support for Nazis?

And why on earth does McAfee not want Snowden mentioned? You’d think they’d be against government agencies weakening online security.

My mind boggles.


It is certainly much, much more efficient. And a lot faster. And it usually comes in a nicer wrapper.


Please say ‘thank you’ to your mum from me. Absolutely no irony here, she was part of something that made sure I could grow up in a democratic country.


I signed up for the Bletchley Park newsletter some time ago and was considering joining the Friends of Bletchley Park. I’ll put that on hold and will look into this a little closer after my holidays.

Well, at least you put a paragraph break between the words “corporate sponsorship” and “integrity.” But do they even belong in the same news item, really?


so, this is the same ‘company’ that has automatically enabled install options (by default) for windows when you update flash. i’d wondered why that was legal. i also don’t like opting out of their ‘security’ every time i update adobe anything else. bad enough i had to take it off of this when i purchased it.

1 Like

I’ll wager good money that your speaking out will result in either a withdrawal of this restriction, or a new sponsor for the exhibit. Thanks for using your pulpit to publicize this embarrassment.

(I didn’t call it a “bully pulpit” because it’s clear that McAfee is the acting bully here.)

1 Like

YEAH, Who do they think they are, the British East India Company?


I’m not sure I’m surprised. Even taking Snowden out of the picture, what does Bletchley Park celebrate? The necessity of military codebreaking, eavesdropping and spying. Who’s in charge of that? The same community that Snowden embarrassed and damaged. It’s like a museum celebrating chocolate makers were reluctant to have a section about anti-obesity campaigners illustrating the evilness of chocolate.


The one complicating factor is that, while Bletchley Park is undoubtedly a historical military eavesdropping and decryption post, it has the advantage of no known super-creepy domestic activity or political dirty trick applications, and it was spying on Nazis. It’s hard to think of any outfit that you can dislike with a cleaner conscience than those guys.

I don’t know what the demographic makeup of Bletchley Park’s supporters is (whether they skew more in the direction of ‘interested because of their background in being a creepy spook’ or ‘interested because they are a geek, and this is one of The Historical Sites of computing’); but, if the people involved wanted to, it would not be difficult to put Bletchley Park’s activities in the heroic light of moral clarity, in spite of (or even directly by taking some shots at) the current state of electronic surveillance.

1 Like

I don’t see any reason TO mention Snowden. Mention what he revealed, possibly, but he himself is irrelevant to the topic unless you want to use him as an example of how not to manage individuals who have access to confidential material.

Well, sadly, all history is political. Or at least the telling of it is. Have we always been at war with Oceania?

1 Like