1. Overview

Changes in relation to the requirements and regulation of the Ministry of Defence Form 680 (“MOD Form 680”) were announced on 28 February 2014.

The Government Protective Marking System (“GPMS”) is being replaced by the Government Security Classification (“GSC”) on 2 April 2014. Three tiers of classification will be implemented which are: OFFICIAL (OFFICIAL-SECRET in the case of information of a very sensitive nature), SECRET and TOP SECRET.

2. Approvals – General Information

From 2 April 2014, MOD Form 680 will now hold the entry classification requirement of “OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE”.  All companies must now have MOD Form 680 approval in order to release equipment or information relating to equipment that has a classification of “OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE” upwards. This is the case where the equipment or information is being provided to foreign entities. The release of any equipment with an “OFFICIAL” classification will no longer require an MOD Form 680. 

The Form 680 approvals will be valid as follows:

  • OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE – 4 years
  • SECRET or TOP SECRET – 2 years

Where classification has already been given to a Form 680 prior to 2 April 2014, those classifications and approvals will continue to apply until the date of expiry under the outcome letter. The previous classifications were: RESTRICTED, CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET. Where a party seeks to release information or equipment under an expired MOD Form 680 approval, a renewal can be granted under the old classifications and a security classification under the new GSC rules will not be required. If classifications under the new GSC rules have been applied then the most recent classification (i.e. the GSC classification, rather than the GPMS classification) should be used.

3. Private Venture

If prior to 2 April 2014, equipment or information in relation to that equipment has been security graded without MOD Form 680 approval, that approval must be sought for the release of equipment or information relating to that equipment with a RESTRICTED (or above) protective marking.

If security classification has not already been obtained and the release of the information is being sought, an application for security grading should be made.

Existing private venture security markings should be classified as follows:

  • NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED = OFFICIAL
  • RESTRICTED = OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE
  • CONFIDENTIAL = remains protected under the security requirements of GPMS
  • SECRET (or above) = No change. However, if aspects of RESTRICTED or CONFIDENTIAL markings are included then the default changes above will apply in tandem.

Parties can apply to have the grading customised and updated rather than being given the default conversion outlined above.

4. Open General Export Licences

Where an MOD Form 680 approval for the use of OGELs has already been given prior to 2 April 2014, this will still be effective in the event that the outcome letter has not expired. Where formal security grading was given prior to 2 April 2014, MOD Form 680 approval will not be required for the release of equipment or information in relation to that equipment that is unclassified.

Where MOD Form 680 approval is required prior to use of the licence, an MOD Form 680 will now be required where the party is seeking the release of equipment or information in relation to equipment that has been security classified as OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE or above (if being released to foreign entities).

Updated OGELs will be published by the government in order to reflect the new requirements.