As Techdirt has reported previously, the UK government is so reflexively secretive that it even refuses to confirm or deny information that it has previously confirmed. The Intercept reports on another absurd case of completely trivial requests for information being turned down because “terrorism”. It’s refusing to reveal either the job title or salary of Cressida Dick, a top government official in some apparently mysterious role:
The British government is refusing to disclose the job title and taxpayer-funded salary of one of the most senior law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom, claiming the details have to be kept a secret for security reasons.
Cressida Dick (pictured above) was formerly one of the highest ranking officers at London’s Metropolitan Police, the largest police force in the U.K., where she headed the Specialist Operations unit and oversaw a controversial criminal investigation into journalists who reported on Edward Snowden’s leaked documents.
It’s just about theoretically possible that the job title could reveal operational details of the role in question — something along the lines of “Head of Department Trying To Use Man-In-Middle Attacks To Spy On Google Users in the Middle East” — but only if that job title were extremely ill-chosen. Moreover, the British civil service has centuries of experience in coming up with grand-sounding but totally meaningless job titles, so it’s hard to believe that for the first time in its glorious history it was really stumped, and had to resort to literalism. Refusing to release details of the salary attached to the position is even more ridiculous — unless, of course, UK officials are required to use their secret stipend’s digits as a password to access government systems.
All that the UK government achieves by refusing to release this information is that it comes across as risible and petty, ridiculously focused on controlling unimportant details, instead of concentrating on what really matters. Things like respecting the public’s desire to know how its taxes are being spent, rather than dismissing it as if it were an impertinent question from a tedious child.