Bletchley Park's historical exhibit on cybersecurity will not mention Edward Snowden -- possibly the most significant figure in the world of contemporary cybersecurity -- because its corporate sponsor, McAfee, has prohibited them from doing so. A collection of MPs and other government figures have written to Bletchley Park museum to urge them to reconsider. As the Tory MP Dominic Raab says, "Either it's a history exhibition or it's not."
The omission raises disturbing questions about the integrity of Bletchley Park as an independent historical institution, and of the quality of oversight it receives from its board. If the McAfee sponsorship came with the kind of strings attached that prohibited neutral exploration of relevant, even crucial, factual material, it's a sponsorship that never should have been accepted.
I have a letter from the Friends of Bletchley Park on my desk at the office, and I was planning on renewing my membership when I got back from the holidays. This has made me rethink my support of the institution, and now I'm not so sure. I certainly hope that Bletchley reconsiders this decision and upholds its reputation as an institution committed to integrity and education.
Kelsey Griffin, Bletchley Park's director of communications, said the exhibition was likely to avoid any mention of Snowden. "It is not within the remit of Bletchley Park trust to make political statements," she said. "We are very much a heritage institution and involved with education. So that will be the focus of the cyber-security exhibition – drawing lessons of the past for the future."
The international cyber security exhibition and computer learning zone is the result of a five-year sponsorship from the US anti-virus software firm McAfee.
The content has yet to be decided, but the museum and McAfee are reluctant to acknowledge Snowden's relevance. "McAfee said [it] would not be able to reference Snowden in any activity," a spokeswoman for Bletchley Park said.
Bletchley Park accused of airbrushing Edward Snowden from history [Matthew Weaver/The Guardian]