Hackney Council says the British intelligence and security organisation GCHQ, the could be fined for using graffiti to advertise for new recruits without the council’s permission.
The adverts saying “GCH-Who? Technical Opportunities gchq-careers.co.uk” were written on pavements in Shoreditch by cleaning the pavement using a stencil and pressure washer, also known as clean or reverse graffiti.
“If we get evidence that these adverts are definitely in Hackney we will take enforcement action,” the council said.
This action can include a fine and it is “something we have done in the past and will continue to do.”
Hackney’s graffiti policy requires organisations to request permission first. A GCHQ spokesperson said that “in this instance, Hackney Council was approached for permission to use non-chemical clean graffiti in their area.”
Shoreditch, where the adverts appeared, is home to Silicon Roundabout also known as East London Tech City, has Britain’s biggest collection of tech startups and is the third-largest technology startup cluster in the world after San Francisco and New York City.
The innovative advertising method led to jokes that they wanted to recruit “hipster spies.”
Advertising for spies in hipster areas? They’ll be easily spotted, what with their man buns, beards & sleeve tattoos https://t.co/qFq8hufE7q
— Ben Gosling Fuller (@MrGoslingFuller) November 23, 2015
The self-destructive form of advertising also appeared on streets of Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Wolverhampton.
Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking about the need to recruit more intelligence officers, said at a press conference at the G20 Summit in Turkey earlier in November: “We have agreed to take further important steps to better protect ourselves from the threat of foreign fighters, by sharing intelligence.” As part of the summit Cameron announced the employment of 1,900 more intelligence officers at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.