The 1911 Official Secrets Act was passed in the United Kingdom during a time of great public anxiety about German spies
infiltrating the echelons
of British society
The Official Secrets Act was and still is an immensly powerful tool for the British Government to wield whenever threatened by dangerous or embarrassing disclosures. It comes in two sections.
Section One of the made it an offence, punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment, to disclose information which might be of use to an enemy or to engage in conduct which was `prejudicial to the safety or the interests of the state`.
Section Two of the Act made it an offence, punishable by up to two years imprisonment, for a person employed by the state to pass on any official information to anyone not authorised to recieve it, whether or not the information has any direct reference or effect on state security as such.
The second part is so completely all-encompassing that could literally be applied to even a minor civil servant disclosing information about how many teabags and pints of milk were ordered for his relevant Ministry's department.
Whether the Government of the day can neutrally differentiate between what is in the interest of the State and what is in the interest of the (party political) Government is often debated in the issues of the day, or indeed whether there is any difference in such interests at all!
To this day the Official Secrets Act of 1911 surpasses any state control of information by any of the other Western Democracies.