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MI5 latest victim of failed UK IT projects over spy safety

Posting in Government

MI5 has been forced to abandon a multi-million pound IT project due to safety worries for intelligence agents.

According to The Independent, former head of U.K. security service MI5, Sir Jonathan Evans, scrapped plans to create a new digital records management (RM) system which has now cost taxpayers roughly £90 million.

The RM system was meant to help intelligence officials deal with security risks related to terrorism and the hosting of the Olympic games in London last year. Intelligence data and analysis obtained from all government sectors was meant to be integrated into a system for use by the secret service, and would have replaced an old, out-of-date system which is ill-equipped for use against new global security concerns.

However, trials for the new RM system were stopped before the games due to fears that if the new tool failed, then agents on the ground would be left without any usable intelligence and may have been left exposed and vulnerable.

Instead, Evans told MPs on the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee that a temporary delay was necessary to work out the kinks, and the old system was acceptable enough -- for now. After continued revisions, the digital records system -- which integrated old records and data with new digital tools -- was deemed to be a failure.

A modern, improved intelligence system now has to be started from scratch, and losses after years of work are valued at £90 million.

Read More: The Independent

— By on May 12, 2013, 9:21 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure