UK to pardon genius wartime cryptanalyst convicted of ‘indecency’

Alan TuringBy IAN ALLEN | |
One of the greatest mathematical minds of modern times, who is widely considered the father of computer science and is credited with helping the Allies win World War II, is to receive a posthumous pardon by the British government, who in 1952 convicted him of homosexuality. Alan Turing, a mathematician and logician, with careers at the universities of Cambridge and Princeton, worked as a cryptanalyst for the British government during World War II. His work for Britain’s Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, the British Armed Forces’ wartime joint codebreaking center, was instrumental in helping the British crack German military ciphers. Turing is personally credited with devising a complex method for compromising the Enigma machine, a highly secretive message-encoding device used by the German military and intelligence services. In 1952, while working for the Department of Mathematics at the University of Manchester, Turing was charged with “gross indecency” under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, which criminalized homosexuality. After pleading guilty to having a sexual relationship with a 19-year-old unemployed man, Turing was convicted and given a choice of imprisonment or undergoing “chemical castration”. The latter was a hormonal treatment based on injections of synthetic estrogen, aimed at reducing a person’s sexual drive. Turing chose the latter option, which rendered him impotent and caused massive chemical imbalance in his brain. Read more of this post


News you may have missed #718 (GCHQ edition)

GCHQ center in Cheltenham, EnglandBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►GCHQ releases Alan Turing papers. Britain’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ has released two mathematical papers written by cryptographer Alan Turing after keeping the works secret for over half a century. The intelligence agency believes the handwritten papers were produced by Turing during his time at Bletchley Park, the World War II code-breaking center. The year 2012 marks the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth. Turing, whose work heavily contributing to the Allied war effort, committed suicide in 1954 by taking cyanide. Turing had been convicted of homosexuality, which was then a crime, and was given the choice between prison or chemical castration. The UK government officially apologized over Turing’s treatment in 2009, over 50 years after his death.
►►Britain’s GCHQ sued for ‘racism’. Alfred Bacchus, 42, claims he was bullied by bosses while he was a senior press officer at the Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham. He says he wanted to publish an official report in 2010 into race bias inside GCHQ which warned that not enough ethnic minority staff were being recruited to help fight terrorism. It found that black and Asian intelligence officers at GCHQ complained of a racist culture in which they were insulted by white colleagues and challenged over their loyalty to Britain.
►►Ex-GCHQ chief wants more surveillance of Facebook and Twitter. Sir David Omand, an ex-Cabinet Office security chief and former director of Britain’s GCHQ electronic eavesdropping agency, said it was essential that monitoring of social media was put on a proper legal footing. A report by the think-tank Demos, which Sir David co-authored, said existing laws regulating the interception of communications by police and intelligence agencies needed to be overhauled to meet the complexities of social media. However, the ability of state security agencies and the police to intercept social network communications such as tweets must be placed on a clear legal footing, the report says.