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12:56 UK, Thursday October 13, 2005,,30100-13449519,00.html

Britain's foreign spy service MI6 has come a long way.

Until recently it didn't even officially exist; now it's online under it's official title - SIS - which
stands for Secret Intelligence Service. To outsiders this may not seem a big deal, but to
the 'spooks' launching a website is a bold innovation and a statement of intent.

An MI6 officer told me: "We're a serious organization and we're stepping out of the shadows.
" Well, up to a point. Naturally there are no secrets on the website, but navigating through
its 50 pages you do get a better feel of what the Service is all about.

What you get is the open admission that SIS "operates world-wide to collect secret foreign intelligence
in support of the British Government's policies and objectives".
There is a lot of material on "Legislation and Accountability" as the Service seeks to show
how what it does is underpinned by law, there's also a carefully pruned "History and
Records" section.

The most interesting pages are those under the heading "Careers". In the Careers section
we learn that they are actively recruiting and seeking people with "an international
outlook, interests and experience", people who want to be in the "front line of
intelligence work" in operations, analysis, and people who may "have the skills to design
high tech gadgets or to deploy them in a hostile environment"...which suggests the days
of Bonds derring do are far from over.

The officer told me: "We want to get away from traditional image of our recruitment which
tends to be that we tap university students on the shoulder with a 'I say old chap'.
" There has always been an address to write to, but until now finding it was difficult.

The site is hosted "outside of London" and there are no connections to the MI6 headquarters
on the Thames - this is to ensure an "air gap" thus preventing hackers getting inside the
security service's mainframe.


Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) today launched its own website. This initiative is aimed at enhancing the public's knowledge of SIS's role and responsibilities and promoting the Service's current staff recruitment drive. It strikes a balance between openness and protecting the security of SIS operations.

Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw said:

'I applaud SIS, and its current Chief, John Scarlett, for taking this bold step. As well as exhibiting the full facts about the Service in one user-friendly website, I hope that this display of openness will help the public learn more about SIS, and increase the appreciation of why SIS's vital secrets must be preserved.'

The website is divided into the following major sections: About Us, Legislation and Accountability, Careers and History and Records. For obvious security reasons no information will be provided about SIS secret operations, or any details about its staff, agents or locations.
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