Another Parliamentary Question for the Spy Blog Wilson Doctrine category archive:

Topical Questions
Oral Answers to Questions -- Cabinet Office
11:30 am 12th March 2014

HC Deb, 12 March 2014, c306


David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden, Conservative)

The Wilson doctrine is a convention whereby Government agencies do not intercept communications with Members of Parliament without explicit approval from the Prime Minister. In a letter to my hon. Friend Nick de Bois in 2012, the Minister told him that the Wilson doctrine did not apply to metadata, thereby exposing whistleblowers to risks from which parliamentary privilege should protect them. Will he review this policy, discuss it with the Prime Minister and report back to the House?


Francis Maude (The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General; Horsham, Conservative)

I absolutely understand the point that my right hon. Friend makes and I will undertake to look at this with my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister.

We will be watching for any (lack) of progress on this important issue.

Dear Sirs,

Here are some points which need to be considered in the new Covert Human Intelligence Source Code of Practice:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/covert-surveillance

This is 2014 and somehow, yet again, there is no specific mention of *online* CHIS activities in the Code of Practice - this is inexcusable


Online "Legend" building and maintenance

It may be necessary and proportionate for a CHIS or a Relevant Source to create fake online internet service accounts e.g. Google Gmail, Microsoft Live ID, Twitter, Facebook, blog registrations, online discussion forum registrations etc.

A Relevant Source is essentially an undercover police officer etc. holding a public office, rather than acriminal or other informant, defined in The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Covert Human Intelligence Sources: Relevant Sources) Order 2013

These may be used to help establish a "Legend" (does nobody else find the use of this Soviet era KGB espionage slang by the Home Office questionable ?)

N.B. by doing so, the CHIS or Relevant Source will almost certainly be breaking the legal Terms and Conditions of the online service.

Since newly created social media accounts which participate in discussions or which try to "follow" or "friend" other users, are less trustworthy and more suspicious, a convincing online persona requires a searchable history of online activity for it to be
accepted.

Therefore any such "Legend" building (which may not yet have been allocated to a particular Relevant Source or investigation or operation) could take years and must also be reviewed by a senior responsible officer and the Surveillance Commissioners, with the same audit trails and regularity as other Relevant Sources i.e. regular review at least annually.


Automated social media software

There are plenty of companies willing to sell or create social media software tools and services for "marketing" or for "social media intelligence", the use of which can help in the creation of believable online "Legends", or allow the gathering of online social media details about an individual or group.

Any use of such tools or services must also be clearly authorised and audited as per Relevant Sources.

online CHIS risk of Disruption , Agents Provocateurs & Entrapment

One particular danger is the temptation for a CHIS or Relevant Source to use automated scripts or software to easily create and try to maintain multiple fake online personalities, often with limited artificial intelligence to send and reply to messages, so as to to create "buzz" or "chatter" online about a particular topic or issue.

They are also used to try to to manipulate (up or down) the ranking of certain keywords in web search engine queries.

These are abused by unethical businesses and by criminals to, for example, manipulate the price (up or down) of stocks and shares ("pump and dump" or "boilerhouse" operators) or to try to hide unfavourable or embarrassing press articles or social media commentary (no matter how truthful) from most naive web search engine users, who rarely progress beyond the first page or two of results.

Such software can also be used to "swarm" or "spam" political discussion forums, pushing a particular viewpoint and stifling free debate through "trolling" and "sock puppetry".

Therefore any use of such software must also be carefully authorised like a Relevant Source and audited by the Surveillance Commissioners. There also needs to be a clear Financial audit trail, as there is could be a substantial cost to the public purse.

Any use of such software for the dubious purpose of "disruption" of criminal or terrorist enterprises is also fraught with danger that it will be used to disrupt and cause collateral damage to innocent people e.g. those involved in political or social campaigns, peaceful demonstrations etc.

Although popular in the USA and with repressive dictatorships, such techniques risk creating online Agent Provocateurs and Entrapment, which should be a legal anathema in the UK.

N.B. even a "justifiable" use of such software or techniques will inevitably cause reputational damage to the trustworthiness of the law enforcement agency which uses them, when, not if, this becomes public.

This new CHIS Code of Practice must clearly forbid any use of Agents Provocateurs or Entrapment, whether online or in person.


Unlike our incompetent yet manipulative politicians in the UK, the US President Barack Obama is having to try to justify the huge national Security Ageceny bulk data grabbing and snooping systems, the scale of which have been revealed via the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

c.f. this Washington Post transcript of President Barack Obama's January 17th speech.

Metadata trawling: 2 hops or 3 ?

The only significant item which seem, on the face of it, to be a concession to the furious criticism is:

Effective immediately, we will only pursue phone calls that are two steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist organization, instead of the current three

However, as others have pointed this is less of a concession that it initially seems. NSA already routinely uses "2 hops" i.e. snoops on the mobile phone or email metadata of not just the person on the (huge) target list, but also on everyone they communicate with (1 hop) and everyone those people communicate with (2 hops).

The 3rd hop has always required another level of authorisation, more because of the exponentially greater resources needed for storage and transdlation and analysis work this generates rather than any concern over the privacy of the innocent majority of people pulled in by a 3 hop dragnet.

However also note the restriction to "associated with a terrorist organization"

This cosmetic policy change would have no effect on the mapping out of the phone contacts of world leaders like Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, or Brasilian, Mexican or Indonesian Presidents'. Neither does this affect economic espionage e.g. the mapping out of the metadata contacts of the Brasilian state oil company Petrobras (which was subcontracted out to the Candians anyway)

American Revoloution

One other slightly odd feature was the way in which Obama's speechwriters foolishly invoked Paul Revere and the American Revolution:

At the dawn of our Republic, a small, secret surveillance committee, born out of the Sons of Liberty, was established in Boston. And the group's members included Paul Revere. At night, they would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America's early patriots.

It would have been more relevant, even to the point they were trying to make, to remind people that the Continentall Congress, set up CIA like foreign espionage (the Committee on Secret Correspondence) and FBI like counter-intelligence (the Committee (later called a Commission) for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies) committees.

They also intercepted the (up till then sacrosanct) postal mail system, which should be the historical analogy with NSA.

However, entirely predicably, intercepting mail was and still is, open to abuses.

Intercepting Communications

The Continental Congress regularly received quantities of intercepted British and Tory mail. On November 20, 1775, it received some intercepted letters from Cork, Ireland, and appointed a committee made up of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Johnson, Robert Livingston, Edward Rutledge, James Wilson and George Wythe "to select such parts of them as may be proper to publish." The Congress later ordered a thousand copies of the portions selected by the Committee to be printed and distributed. A month later, when another batch of intercepted mail was received, a second committee was appointed to examine it. On the basis of its report, the Congress resolved that "the contents of the intercepted letters this day read, and the steps which Congress may taken in consequence of said intelligence thereby given, be kept secret until further orders..." By early 1776, abuses were noted in the practice, and Congress resolved that only the councils or committees of safety of each colony, and their designees, could henceforth open the mail or detain any letters from the post.

Google Books has digitised the relevant Congressional records:

Journals of Congress: Jan. 1, 1776 to Jan. 1, 1777

pg 137 -128

Tuesday April 16th 1776

Whereas much inconvenience may be derived to the public from committees, others than the committee of safety in each colony, on the public post roads, stopping and opening the mails, and detaining letters from the constitutional post;

Resolved, That no committee, but the council or committee of safety in each colony, or such persons as they shall on extrordinary occaisions authorise, shall stop the constitutional post, open the mail, or detain any letters therefrom.

Obama's ploy of citing the American revolution to try to justify the abuses by the NSA and their political masters (Obama himself included) seems to be a bit of an own goal.

Pathetic though the "reforms" in this speech are, the Obama administration has announced much more of a reform process than the UK Coalition government has about the NSA's partner in crime GCHQ.

Extraordinarily, there has not, so far as Spy Blog has noticed, until now been a conviction under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part III Investigation of electronic data protected by encryption which has invoked "national security".

The mere utterance of "national security" or "child indecency" raises the potential maximum prison sentence (N.B. a fine can also be levied in addition) from 2 years to 5 years, for failing to comply with a RIPA section 49 Notice, regardless of whether there is anything incriminating in the encrypted data or not.

The case of Syed Hussain, appears to Spy Blog, to be be the first such conviction involving "national security", in spite of the large numbers of USB memory devices and computers which have been seized as evidence in terrorism (or the handful of espionage) investigations over the years .

The Luton on Sunday / Luton & Dunstable Express @LutonOnSunday reports:

Terrorist who plotted attack on Luton Territorial Army centre faces an extra five years in jail for refusing to hand over computer password

BY JULIA SUTTON

Published: 14/01/2014 18:00 - Updated: 14/01/2014 17:27


A TERRORIST who plotted an attack on a Territorial Army centre is facing an extra five years in jail for refusing to hand over his computer password.

Syed Hussain, 22, was part of a Luton-based cell which discussed attacking MI5, the US Air Force, the English Defence League and their local shopping centre.

He was jailed for five years and three months at Woolwich Crown Court last April.

Hussain failed to meet a deadline to reveal the key to an encrypted USB stick found at his home during the police investigation.

He was today convicted by a jury of failing to comply with a disclosure order after a short trial at the Old Bailey.

The jury took just 19 minutes to reach its guilty verdict.

Prosecutor Alex Chalk said the files contain evidence that he carried out a possible fraud and that Hussain deliberately withheld the key for 20 months.

He said: 'This is a case about a USB stick that was seized by police as part of an investigation into terrorism.

'It is alleged that Mr Hussain failed to comply with a deadline to reveal the password to that device.

'He pleaded guilty to the terrorism which forms the context to this case and he has been sentenced for that.

'This is about his failure to reveal the password.

'We say that he always knew the password and only disclosed it, as he recently did in December a year or so after the notice, because he thought it would be in his interests to do so.'

Hussain will be sentenced tomorrow (weds) at 10am. The maximum penalty for the offence is five years imprisonment.

Last March he admitted conspiring to send a remote-controlled toy car carrying a home-made bomb under the gates of a Territorial Army centre in Luton.

N.B. there was no actual bomb ever constructed by the terrorist plotters, nor did they even have a remote controlled toy car.

They were convicted on the basis of a surveillance recording of one of them punting this idea to his co-conspirators.

Luton terror plot: four jailed over plan to bomb army centre

N.B. the reliance by the prosecution and the deluded plotters on the on the dubious, possible intelligence agency honeypot, Inspire magazine.

c.f. MI5 / MI6 / GCHQ / CTIRU should positively deny any involvement in "Operation Cupcake" alleged cyber attack on "Inspire" magazine

It is unlikely that a radio controlled toy car could carry a pipe bomb using matches or firework gunpowder (there are no kitchen recipes for high explosives in the Inspire magazine article) powerful enough to seriously damage a car or building. Seemingly these plotters were too cowardly contemplate simply throwing a pipe bomb (if they had one) over the (not very high) fence, something which used to be very common in Northern Ireland.

They seem to have had evil terrorist intent, but these plotters, without the money, access to explosives or weapons or the know how to cause mass casualties, cannot be claimed to have posed a real threat to national security. The "lone wolf" Ukranian murderer and bomber Pavlo Lapshyn posed more of a threat on his own, than this whole gang.

Police searched his home in March 2011 as part of an investigation into the terrorist offences.

Officers found a USB stick and external memory drive which were both encrypted with a password.

Which encryption software was used e.g. TrueCrypt ?

Hussain refused to hand over the passwords and claimed the hardware was not working. The devices were sent away to NTAC (National Technical Assistance Centre) and both passwords were revealed to be the same phrase from the Koran, the court heard.

'The police examined the contents of the items,' Mr Chalk said.

'On the external hard drive police discovered large volumes of material glorifying jihad and practical guidance on carrying out acts of terrorism.

In April 2012 officers searched Hussain's address and found another encrypted USB stick.
When questioned by police he said he could not remember the password because he was 'stressed'.

Not being able to remember a de-cryption pass phrase is a sort of defence under RIPA Part III. The evil "reverse burden of proof" is changed so that the prosecution now does have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant did actually remember / still have access to the encrypted data.

This is only a defence in Court i.e. only after you have been arrested, photographed , fingerprinted and DNA sampled and blacklisted on travel and financial databases as a terrorist suspect.

Hussain only revealed the password in December 2013 after officers informed him that they wanted to question him over the alleged fraud.

The password turned out to be the same phrase from the Koran that he had used before.

The USB was decrypted and police found material linking the defendant to an alleged fraud,' Mr Chalk said.

Why did the Police not try the same passphrase, especially from the Koran, which the National Technical Assistance Centre had already discovered (presumably through a dictionary attack) which unlocked the first two encrypted devices?

The suspicion must be that they did in fact do so and that they abused the RIPA section 49 Notice system simply, to add to Hussain's existing prison sentence.

If they did not do so, then the investigators need to be punished for negligence or incompetence.

'He was interviewed on suspicion of fraud and asked about the decrypted material.

'Those investigations remain live.

'The defendant maintained for 20 months he could not remember the password.
'Just months before this trial and when he was told he would be interviewed on suspicion of fraud he said he remembered.'

Hussain, of Cornel Close, Luton, admitted one count of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism between 1 January 2011 and 25 April 2012.

He denied failing to comply with a disclosure order. Hussain has not been charged with fraud.

Presumably there is little or no other evidence e,g, from credit card or bank records that ties Hussain into any such alleged fraud, apart from what is alluded to on this decrypted USB memory device.

Either Hussain is stupid or trying to martyr himself deliberately, or his defence lawyers are incompetent - "evidence of a possible fraud", for which he has not in fact been charged, implies that whatever incriminating evidence there may be would not have been likely to attract a prison sentence of 5 years, so

The recent NSA revelations by Der Spiegel, have not directly cited Edward Snowden as the source.

Is this so as not to embarass his Russian temporary asylum hosts or, as some people are speculating, because there is now at least one other, new NSA whistleblower source ? Or are existing whistleblowers handing over previously unpublished documents ?

Journalists and the public shpuld be wary of such new sources, which could be disinformation or propaganda. Equally, UK and US government officials should not jump to conclusions too quickly, as this newly de-classified documents about an obvious intelligence related hoax illustrates:

[via IanCobain]

Vice UK has followed up their 2004 interview with anarer Speigelions by Dchist punk artist Penny Rimbaud who was a member of the anrachist punk music band Crass . They have tied in some National Archve 30 year rule declassified document disclosures about the post Falklands war hoax tape supposedly of a BT intercepted conversation between British PM Margaret Thatcher and US President Reagan.

The misleading Vice UK headline is:

Penny Rimbaud On How Crass Nearly Started World War 3

They do however link to the new National Archives disclosures of documents declassified after 30 years i.e. from 1984:

http://filestore.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/prem-19-1380.pdf

The newspaper reports from 1983 /1984 are not easily available online, but this article reproduces them:

http://killyourpetpuppy.co.uk/news/crass-capital-radio-reagan-thatcher-tape-new-broadcast-270184/

Everyone who actually heard the fake tape: Dutch and Belgian journalists, the British Press Spokesman Bernard Ingham, the US and UK intelligence analysts, the US State Department The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer etc. all seems to have spotted it was an obvious fake.

The only reason Fleet Street took an interest was because of a stupid bit of US State Department briefing to the Sunday Times, which claimed, without any evidence, that this fake tape was an example of Soviet KGB disinformation. This is the sort of pushing of a political agenda in spite of any actual intelligence data or real evidence, is one of the failings which the current Edward Snowden affair has also highlighted.

However, even this obvious forgery still occupied the attention of the senior securocrats in Whitehall for at least 10 months, from May 1983 to March 1984.

The more senior the officials, the less they seemed able to come to the firm decision that whole thing was a hoax.

The document dated 21st July 1983 from "PO Box 500" i.e. the Security Service MI5 which states that

There is no indication that any subversive group or individual in this country was involved in making this tape of a purported telephone conversation between the Prime Minister and President Reagan

Clearly up to 1983 the anarchist punk band Crass had failed to bring themselves to the attention of MI5 as a revoloutionary threat to the UK. Were they monitored "after the horse had bolted" when The Observer, not MI5 or CIA etc. tracked them down to a farmhouse in Essex in 1984 ?

As VIce UK reported in 2004:

"We edited bits and pieces from speeches made by the two of them, creating a conversation which included all the details of the Sheffield. We then sent out tapes to all the major European newspapers, but nothing happened. Thatcher was re-elected, but then, six months down the line, the US State Department announced that they were in possession of KGB tapes 'produced to destroy democracy as we know it'.

"It soon became obvious that it was our tape they were talking about. It was frightening. A bunch of anarchist jokers sparking off a world war? Anyway, the same KGB story eventually broke in the British press and it wasn't long before The Observer got in touch with us, asking whether we knew anything about the tapes. It was unbelievable. The whole operation had been carried out in absolute secrecy, but somehow or other they'd managed to pin it onto us. After a gruelling day of negotiations, we agreed to admit responsibility if they would print the Sheffield details in their article, which, true to their word, they did.

How did The Observer track down the Crass anarchists, when MI5 clearly had no clue ?

As late as 6th April 2004, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office officials were still keeping their options open / covering their backsides:

The question, raised in your letter of 22 July, of the origin of this recording was considered further at the time, but no clear conclusions emerged.

Nobody thought the tape was genuine, but, somehow, " no clear conclusions emerged." ?? Surely its very crudeness showed that it was not KGB disinformation.

This unwillingness to apply any common sense or to come to a firm decision by the senior Whitehall bureacrats basically makes all the efforts of the intelligence services, a waste of time.

The Daily Telegraph of 28 July reported that the State Department suspected KGB 'disinformation'. Neither our friends nor CIA considered this very likely, but further analysis would have required a disproprortionate committment of resources which even CIA felt unable to contemplate.

More recently of course articles in the British press have attributed the production of the tape to the anarchist punk band CRASS (the Observer of 22 January and the Tribune
and City Limits of 27 January)

Why did they not just simply say "it is an obvious fake, who cares who produced it, just ignore it" ?

A comedy of errors, but one which perhaps sheds some light on the way in which later, more professional intelligence hoaxes or disinformation e.g. the .alleged smuggling of uranium yellow-cake ore from Niger to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, could gain credence within the corridors of power, even if some (or even all) people had their their doubts.

Remember that this was a vintage 1983 , pre-internet intelligence hoax. How can UK and US intelligence analysts and their political masters possibly now sort the wheat from the chaff regarding internet "chatter" ?

Spy Blog welcomes most of the long overdue changes to the libel law brought in by the Defamation Act 2013, which has now come into force on 1st January 2014.

However, the evil Defamation Act 2013 section 5 Operators of websites
is totally unacceptable to those of us who offer pseudo-anonymous or anonymous publication and comment, as per our and our contributors, fundamental human right of free speech.

Supposedly the new Defamation Act section 1has raised the threshold for libel actions to "serious harm", but that is unlikely to reduce the number of frivolous or intimidatory threats of expensive legal action by the rich or the mentally unbalanced or by those with a political agenda.

However, whilst section 5 imposes all sorts of duties on website Operators and Posters of content, it assumes no possible malicious intent by Complainants. There are no penalties for a Complainant who fails to provide enough information in a Notice nor for failing to provide genuine name and address contact details or who lies about not having sufficient details to sue a Poster for defamation.

It appears that a Complainant can attempt to censor a blog article or comment and have it taken down "within 48 hours" (excluding weekends and public holidays) without actually proving any reasonable case as to why this should be done, especially if the author or poster cannot be contacted by the website Operator.

Spy Blog is usually amenable to a civilised email or public blog comment correcting an error of fact or asking for a redaction of personal information (which is very rarely published in the first place, except for a few non-threatening details of public figures).

Therefore, be warned, anyone who is stupid enough to attempt to use the wretched Defamation Act section 5 Notice against Spy Blog which seeks to remove the new protections which apply to every other form of publishing, will have to comply with our website policy and our interpretation of the unfair and complicated Regulations:

1) Spy Blog will not accept any alleged section 5 Notices from automated "lawyer bot" systems as brought into disrepute by the dire example of US DMCA takedown notices. N.B. More than 2 electronic threats will be treated as a criminal offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1977 and will be reported to the Police.

2) Spy Blog will not accept any alleged section 5 Notices from lawyers or any other third parties claiming to act on behalf of a client - the Act and the Regulations (perhaps stupidly) only mention a Complainant, therefore he or she is the only person who can submit a section 5 Notice for consideration. Any such correspondence from shysters will be published, especially if it attempts to impose illegal secrecy conditions.

3) All such section 5 Notices must include, as per the Act and Regulations, the Complainant's Name and Email Address details and exactly what is being complained about and where on the website the allegedly libellous article or comment is located.

4) Any section 5 Notices which do not comply in full, will be rejected - as per the Regulations & Guidance, we do not have to state why.

5) Any section 5 Notices, including rejected ones, are liable to be published in full, including the Complainant's alleged Name and Email details, on this or other blogs or websites.

N.B. there is nothing in the Act to prevent this, only some vague crap about giving the Complainant the option of telling the Operator not to pass on such details to the Poster, but only if the Operator has some sort of private electronic communications channel to the Poster (unlikely for anonymous Posters). There are no penalties for non-compliance under the Act, which stupidly seems to assume that all websites require people to truthfully Register with them before publishing anything.

6) Anybody stupid or malicious enough to try to censor Spy Blog will be told to confirm that they understand what the Streisand Effect is and that they understand the words "the Net treats censorship as damage and routes around it"

In practice, for most bloggers and self publishers on the internet, the supposed section 5 "defence" against a libel action is no such thing and is unlikely to ever be used.

A legal defence can only be tested in Court, by which time it is too late for those of us on a zero or limited budget - even one day's legal costs far exceeds the typical blog hosting budget for a whole year, so it is more likely that Spy Blog would be forced offline by the threat of legal costs, regardless of the fact that we would "win" in Court,

The loss making (left of centre) Guardian newspaper is now lucky if it can sell 200,000 copies daily, a fraction of its tabloid or even "highbrow" rivals. It does, however, have a big influence online, but again mostly worldwide, rather than directly in the UK, where it cannot compete with, say, the right of centre / populist tabloid The Daily Mail.

The Guardian is one of the few organisations which still does real investigative journalism in the UK, especially when compared with broadcast media or their jealous commercial newspaper rivals . It has been one of the main conduits of leaks about the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK's GCHQ intelligence agencies via former CIA / NSA / Dell / Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Edward Snowden, since June 2013.

It is one of the main opinion forming newspapers read by the Westminster village of MPs and rival political journalists, by Whitehall bureaucrats and government politicians.

The current editor is Alan Rusbridger, who has been kind enough to say that Spy Blog is a useful resource.

On Tuesday 3rd December 2013, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, took the unusual step of "inviting" / ordering the Editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger to give oral evidence before the Committee, nominally as part of its often repeated, but frequently ineffective inquires into Counter Terrorism.

The Home Affairs Select Committee is supposed to be acting on behalf of the public, to scrutinise the vast and powerful securocrat empires.

Civil servants can claim some measure of protection by getting their Minister's to appear before a Select Committee, citing the "unofficial" but nevertheless precedent setting Osmotherly Rules, there is nothing to protect ordinary or eminent members of the public from being abused by a Select Committee whose members choose to conduct McCarthy style public witch hunts, to try to trap invited / compelled witnesses into "confessions" of disloyalty or criminality, even when there has been no such investigation or accusation by the police etc.

The transcript of the session is now online and only reinforces the impression of incompetence and malice which some of the MPs (both Conservative and Labour) displayed, which has caused some damage to the reputations of those MPs themselves and, by extension to Select Committees and to Parliament.

If, you are a member of the public, regardless of how famous or eminent you are and you are "invited" to appear before the Home Affairs Committee as a witness, you should seek legal advice and given the disgraceful Questions posed of some of the MPs to Alan Rusbridger, you should seriously consider refusing to appear.

HOUSE OF COMMONS
ORAL EVIDENCE
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Counter-Terrorism
Tuesday 3 December 2013
Alan Rusbridger
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and Cressida Dick

The Members present were:

Keith Vaz (Chair) - Labour, Leicester East
Ian Austin - Labour, Dudley North
Nicola Blackwood - Conservative, Oxford West and Abingdon
Michael Ellis - Conservative, Northampton North
Paul Flynn - Labour, Newport West
Dr Julian Huppert - Liberal Democrat, Cambridge
Yasmin Qureshi - Labour, Bolton South East
Mark Reckless - Conservative, Rochester & Strood
Mr David Winnick - Labour, Walsall North

Below is the lengthy (uncorrected) transcript with some Spy Blog annotations:

One of the most important revelations from documents released from Edward Snowden to The Guardian (and Channel 4 tv news) is this story, over a week ago, with little or no follow up from the rest of the UK media:

US and UK struck secret deal to allow NSA to 'unmask' Britons' personal data
• 2007 deal allows NSA to store previously restricted material
• UK citizens not suspected of wrongdoing caught up in dragnet
• Separate draft memo proposes US spying on 'Five-Eyes' allies


James Ball
The Guardian, Wednesday 20 November 2013 19.00 GMT

[...]

The phone, internet and email records of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency under a secret deal that was approved by British intelligence officials, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

[...]

• In 2007, the rules were changed to allow the NSA to analyse and retain any British citizens' mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses swept up by its dragnet. Previously, this data had been stripped out of NSA databases - "minimized", in intelligence agency parlance - under rules agreed between the two countries.

[...]

• A separate draft memo, marked top-secret and dated from 2005, reveals a proposed NSA procedure for spying on the citizens of the UK and other Five-Eyes nations, even where the partner government has explicitly denied the US permission to do so. The memo makes clear that partner countries must not be informed about this surveillance, or even the procedure itself.

[...]

Jack Straw was foreign secretary in 2005 and Margaret Beckett succeeded him in 2007. Neither was prepared to comment after being approached by the Guardian. The government and GCHQ were asked for a comment a fortnight ago, but they also declined.

[...]

Surely the Intelligence and Security Committee was aware of these two secret memos / agreements between GCHQ and the NSA ?

Were the RIPA Intelligence Services and the Interception of Communications Data Commissioners awre of this arrangement ?

Surely such a major change in the "we don't spy on each other" "5 Eyes" intelligence sharing partnership was explicitly singed off by at least a Secretary of State or the full Cabinet and the Prime Moister ?

Is the public seriously meant to be fooled into believing that if NSA snoops on communications meta data, and "incidentally" collects millions of "un-minimized" data records a month on innocent UK citizens, and dumps it into databases which are accessible by UK, Canada , Australia and New Zealand ("5 Eyes") partners, that UK GCHQ or other intelligence analysts go through the process of obtaining a Ministerial Warrant, every time time they run an automated database trawling / analysis tool ?

These memos make a mockery of the Intelligence and Security Committee, which rushed to proclaim that the PRISM allegations back in June were all without substance and that every single time that the US NSA had access to UK data, there was a corresponding UK approved certificate or warrant.

The increasingly irrelevant chairman of the ISC has, like the cunning politician he is, rushed to get a quote in The Guardian that


Watchdog demands GCHQ report on NSA's UK data storage
Intelligence and security committee chair Sir Malcolm Rifkind seeks explanation of deal that allowed US to 'unmask' Britons

[...]

Rifkind, whose committee is under tremendous pressure to prove it can credibly keep tabs on UK's spy agencies, said on Thursday: "As with any significant stories concerning any of the intelligence agencies, we will require and receive a full report from them on this."
[...]

but, significantly, the official ISC website

http://isc.independent.gov.uk/

makes no formal announcement of any such inquiry or Report in Progress, even over a week since the story broke.

Having successfully paid lip service to what, in Whitehall is clearly seen as the small minority of Guardian reading troublemakers, the ISC and the intelligence agencies must be gratified that the rest of the British media has not bothered to put political pressure on the Government over this issue.

Rifkind, who sees his role as public relations for the Intelligence Agencies

Intelligence & Security Committee chair Sir Malcolm Rifkind sees its role as public relations for the intelligence agencies it is meant to scrutinise impartially

The Sunday Times reported last week that

Grilling of spy chiefs 'a total pantomime'

i.e. that the recent "historic" televised open evidence session where the Intelligence and Security Committee supposedly "grilled" the heads of the Intelligence Agencies in public, but where, it seems, they had already been tipped off to the questions that they were going to be asked . There was a 2 minute delay in transmission in case any "secrets" did somehow slip out and normal members of the public or the press were banned from attending in person.

The Liberal Democrat Lord Strasburger tried to ask about GCHQ Project Tempora in the House of Lords, and the clearly embarrassed Government Minister failed to give a satisfactory answer, but it was clear from that debate that the Intelligence and Security Committee were also kept in the dark about its specifics.

All of which further reduces the already low public trust in the Intelligence and Security Committee as a mechanism which properly scrutinises the activities of the UK intelligence agencies and their foreign partners, especially when they are wasting public money and putting the privacy and online security of innocent UK people at risk.

Given the pre-announced constraints, what Questions can the Intelligence and Security Committee actually sensibly ask the heads of GCHQ, Security Service MI5 and Secret Intelligence Service SIS/MI6, during tomorrow's "historic" first televised Open Evidence session ?

The Committee will question the Agency Heads on the work of the Agencies, their current priorities and the threats to the UK. Among other things it will cover the terrorist threat, regional instability and weapons proliferation, cyber security and espionage. However, since this is a public session, it will not cover details of intelligence capabilities or techniques, ongoing operations or sub judice matters. The Committee questions the Agencies about these details in their closed sessions.

Presumably

Sir Iain Lobban, Director, GCHQ;
Mr Andrew Parker, Director General, Security Service; and
Sir John Sawers, Chief, Secret Intelligence Service.

will have rehearsed and / or have received tax payer funded "media coaching", like other senior civil servants have done when appearing before televised Parliamentary Committee sessions. Sir John Sawers, a former diplomat, is likely to require the least "coaching".

Here is are some Spy Blog suggested Questions for the ISC to ask:

Some Witness protection but currently no Whistleblower protection

Given the new powers of the ISC under the Justice & Security Act 2013 Schedule 1 (7) Protection for Witnesses

Protection for witnesses

7(1) Evidence given by a person who is a witness before the ISC may not be used in any civil or disciplinary proceedings, unless the evidence was given in bad faith.

(2) Evidence given by a person who is a witness before the ISC may not be used against the person in any criminal proceedings, unless the evidence was given in bad faith.

However, many potential whistleblowers will be scared of even contacting the ISC to merely discuss possible future witness testimony, regarding issues or details about which the senior managers of the Intelligence Agencies may not themselves be aware of. This will happen before any ISC witness immunity can be invoked, since this can only apply to actual evidence, rather than to investigative tip offs etc. for the ISC to probe further.

N.B. even if the Intelligence & Security Committee became a proper Joint Select Committee of Parliament, the legal privileges under the Bill of Rights would still only be Witness rather than Whistleblower protection.

Questions for the Open Session

Will each of the heads of the Intelligence Agencies publicly assure the Committee, the public and potential whistleblowers within their agencies and within their private sector subcontractors, that:

  1. They will not seek to use any of their Interception, Communications Data, Confidential Human Intelligence Sources or other Surveillance powers to try to identify potential or actual whistleblowers, who try to contact the Intelligence and Security Committee with tip offs, stories, testimony or hard evidence, regarding issues which the senior management of the agencies might not actually be aware of e.g. regarding knowledge or suspicion of the use of torture etc.
  2. They will not try to get the Police to conduct such "ISC whistleblower hunts" on their behalf and will forbid Foreign Intelligence Agency partners from doing so either.
  3. Contacting or actually giving evidence to the ISC will not affect an individual's Security Vetting / Clearance.
  4. Contacting or actually giving evidence to the ISC will not affect existing or future commercial contracts let by the intelligence agencies
Unless a current or future UK whistleblower can make use of the Intelligence and Security Committee, to get real or imagined wrongdoing properly investigated, without the risk of pre-emptive or post facto retaliation by the Intelligence Agencies, then it is more likely that they will simply dump their evidence anonymously to the internet at large, instead of using newspapers to (in most cases) responsibly publish them and raise legitimate democratic issues, like the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has done.

Promises about Whistleblower Protection are not enough on their own

Even if the ISC does extract such Whistleblower Protection promises from the current heads of the Intelligence Agencies, these need to be codfied into law, backed up by criminal sanctions, to bind their successors.

In addition, the ISC still needs to use suffcient technological and human counter espionage measures, because Hostile Foreign Intelligence Services (whether "enemies" or "allies") and criminals will also be targeting the Members of the Committee and their staff and families, to try to glean the identities of the Committee's confidential contacts and sources.

Will this Open Evidence session actually reassure the sceptics (like Spy Blog) of the effectiveness of the scrutiny provided by the Intelligence and Security Committee ?

Or will it be little more than a recital of how everything that the Intelligence Agencies do is lawful and that they should be trusted regardless ?

Send your own Questions (or tip offs) to the ISC

You can send the Intelligence and Security Committee an email with your own Questions or even tentative first approaches with a view to giving evidence in private via:

committee@isc.x.gsi.gov.uk

which will be encrypted in transit on the x.gsi.gov.uk network, but which will be vulnerable to GCHQ and NSA and other snoopers whilst on the public internet.

Postal address is:

Intelligence and Security Committee
35 Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3BQ

You are also welcome to send your Questions anonymously to Spy Blog, which will then be passed on to them as securely and as anonymously as possible:

Spy Blog PGP public encryption key for blog@spy.org.uk


After being hastily cancelled in the first week of July 2013, the Intelligence and Security Committee has again announced the "historic" first ever open oral evidence taking session with the three heads of the UK's intelligence agencies.

23 October 2013
posted 23 Oct 2013 03:04 by ISC Admin
Open Evidence Session

At 14:00 on Thursday 7 November, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament will be holding an Open Evidence Session with the three heads of the UK Intelligence Agencies:

Sir Iain Lobban, Director, GCHQ;
Mr Andrew Parker, Director General, Security Service; and
Sir John Sawers, Chief, Secret Intelligence Service.

No doubt all three are rehearesing what they will say and are being given taxpayer funded TV media coaching, so that they do not make fools of themselves in public.

Sir John Sawers a former Ambassador and British Permanent Representative to the United Nations, is likely to have most experience with the media, but the ISC is unlikely to ask any of the tree of them any hard questions.

This will be the Committee's first Open Evidence Session: it will be the first time the three heads of the Intelligence Agencies have appeared in public together to talk about their work.

The session will give an insight into the world of intelligence, and the work the Agencies do on behalf of the UK. It represents a very significant step forward in terms of the openness and transparency of the Agencies. The Committee will question the Agency Heads on the work of the Agencies, their current priorities and the threats to the UK. Among other things it will cover the terrorist threat, regional instability and weapons proliferation, cyber security and espionage.

The sort of things readers of the censored ISC Annual Reports have become used to.

However, since this is a public session, it will not cover details of intelligence capabilities or techniques, ongoing operations or sub judice matters. The Committee questions the Agencies about these details in their closed sessions.

So absolutely everything to do with the Edward Snowden revelations will be kept secret.

The session will be held on the Parliamentary estate and will last approximately an hour and a half. It will be broadcast on www.parliamentlive.tv.

Clearly not this is not likely to be a Parliamentary Committee Room in the main Palace of Westminster and the "secure" brutalist bunker architecture of the QE II Conference Centre is part of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), not part of the Parliamentary Estate.

At a guess one of the Portcullis House Committee rooms might be used as they are already wired up for TV broadcast and which it is easier to smuggle the secret squirrels in and out via the maze of the Norman Shaw Building etc. for security reasons.

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Parliamentary Estate boundaries as per Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 section 128 - crossing these boundaries without permission is criminal trespass.

The session will be broadcast on a short time delay. The time delay is a security mechanism to allow the Committee to pause the broadcast if anything is mentioned which might endanger national security or the safety of those working for the Agencies. A similar process was used during the public hearings for the Iraq Inquiry.

There will be a limited number of seats available in the meeting room itself. For security reasons, the Committee has agreed that for this first Open Session these seats will be available to full Parliamentary pass holders and a small number of print journalists only. A notification of the event has been posted on the parliamentary intranet and pass holders have been invited to apply for a seat, which will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis.

Media arrangements are being dealt with separately.

The week before and the weekend after this "historic" session, there is likely to be a lot of Whitehall "media handling" and spin to manipulate the usual suspect newspapers and broadcast media to emphasise the official line and to ignore the unanswered (and probably unasked) questions.

Submit Questions for the ISC to ask the heads of GCHQ, MI5 & SIS

We invite Spy Blog readers to submit their own Questions for the heads of the UK Intelligence Agencies either for the open session or for the closed one, either directly to the ISC:

Postal Address

Intelligence and Security Committee
35 Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3BQ

Email Address

committee@isc.x.gsi.gov.uk

Alternatively, if you suspect that you may be tracked and monitored by the Intelligence Agencies, especially if you are a current or former employee, Spy Blog will pass on your Questions as anonymously as possible on your behalf.

Spy Blog PGP public encryption key for blog@spy.org.uk
PGP ID: 0x80CFAA4C
Fingerprint: F529 A804 A171 548E B2B7 A724 A165 A294 80CF AA4C
expires on 6th September 2014

See also Spy Blog's Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for
Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

http://ht4w.co.uk

Intelligence agency staff whistleblower protection

The ISC has the theoretical power to protect actual witnesses giving evidence from any criminal or civil prosecutions or internal disciplinary measures. This is all very well for hiding the sins and errors of the heads or former heads or senior staff of the intelligence agencies, but is not adequate for more junior staff or contractors, whose evidence or testimony may contradict or may have been hidden from the more senior staff. These people risk their security clearances and commercial contracts if they speak out and so should get extra protection.

There should be whistleblower protection afforded by the Intelligence and Security Committe, similar to that outlined in our correspondence with the Detainee Inquiry (which was nobbled when trying to look into allegations of torture complicity by the UK intelligence services & MOD etc.)

Witness but not whistleblower protection for the Detainee Inquiry into torture complicity of MI5, SIS, GCHQ

Without this, middle level or senior intelligence agency staff, fearful for their own jobs, could well authorise the deployment of the full panoply of their state backed surveillance powers in a "mole hunt" exercise, self-justified on "internal national security" grounds, to try to identify who has attempted to "spill the beans" to the Intelligence and Security Committee, regardless of whether they actually go through with it or actually say anything really controversial.

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to supress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

We know that there are decent, honest, trustworthy individual politicians, civil servants, law enforcement, intelligence agency personnel and broadcast, print and internet journalists etc., who often feel powerless or trapped in the system. They need the assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.

Email & PGP Contact

Please feel free to email your views about this blog, or news about the issues it tries to comment on.

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Our PGP public encryption key is available for those correspondents who wish to send us news or information in confidence, and also for those of you who value your privacy, even if you have got nothing to hide.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x80CFAA4C which will expire on 6th September 2014.

pgp-now.gif
You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from www.pgpi.org
(available for most of the common computer operating systems, and also in various Open Source versions like GPG)

We look forward to the day when UK Government Legislation, Press Releases and Emails etc. are Digitally Signed so that we can be assured that they are not fakes. Trusting that the digitally signed content makes any sense, is another matter entirely.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

WikiLeak.org - ethical and technical discussion about the WikiLeaks.org project for anonymous mass leaking of documents etc.

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

Identity Project report by the London School of Economics
Surveillance & Society the fully peer-reviewed transdisciplinary online surveillance studies journal

Statewatch - monitoring the state and civil liberties in the European Union

The Policy Laundering Project - attempts by Governments to pretend their repressive surveillance systems, have to be introduced to comply with international agreements, which they themselves have pushed for in the first place

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

ARCH Action Rights for Children in Education - worried about the planned Children's Bill Database, Connexions Card, fingerprinting of children, CCTV spy cameras in schools etc.

Foundation for Information Policy Research
UK Crypto - UK Cryptography Policy Discussion Group email list

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

Open Rights Group - a UK version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a clearinghouse to raise digital rights and civil liberties issues with the media and to influence Governments.

Digital Rights Ireland - legal case against mandatory EU Comms Data Retention etc.

Blindside - "What’s going to go wrong in our e-enabled world? " blog and wiki and Quarterly Report will supposedly be read by the Cabinet Office Central Sponsor for Information Assurance. Whether the rest of the Government bureaucracy and the Politicians actually listen to the CSIA, is another matter.

Biometrics in schools - 'A concerned parent who doesn't want her children to live in "1984" type society.'

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

Front Line Defenders - Irish charity - Defenders of Human Rights Defenders

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

Reporters without Borders internet section - news of internet related censorship and repression of journalists, bloggers and dissidents etc.

Judicial Links

British and Irish Legal Information Institute - publishes the full text of major case Judgments

Her Majesty's Courts Service - publishes forthcoming High Court etc. cases (but only in the next few days !)

House of Lords - The Law Lords are currently the supreme court in the UK - will be moved to the new Supreme Court in October 2009.

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals under FOIA, DPA both for and against the Information Commissioner

Investigatory Powers Tribunal - deals with complaints about interception and snooping under RIPA - has almost never ruled in favour of a complainant.

Parliamentary Opposition

The incompetent yet authoritarian Labour party have not apologised for their time in Government. They are still not providing any proper Opposition to the current Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government, on any freedom or civil liberties or privacy or surveillance issues.

UK Government

Home Office - "Not fit for purpose. It is inadequate in terms of its scope, it is inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management systems and processes" - Home Secretary John Reid. 23rd May 2006. Not quite the fount of all evil legislation in the UK, but close.

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

United Kingdom Parliament
Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons.

House of Commons "Question Book"

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

FaxYourMP - identify and then fax your Member of Parliament
WriteToThem - identify and then contact your Local Councillors, members of devolved assemblies, Member of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament etc.
They Work For You - House of Commons Hansard made more accessible ? UK Members of the European Parliament

Read The Bills Act - USA proposal to force politicians to actually read the legislation that they are voting for, something which is badly needed in the UK Parliament.

Bichard Inquiry delving into criminal records and "soft intelligence" policies highlighted by the Soham murders. (taken offline by the Home Office)

ACPO - Association of Chief Police Officers - England, Wales and Northern Ireland
ACPOS Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

NewsNow Encryption and Security aggregate news feed
KableNet - UK Government IT project news
PublicTechnology.net - UK eGovernment and public sector IT news
eGov Monitor

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

Stand - email and fax campaign on ID Cards etc. [Now defunct]. The people who supported stand.org.uk have gone on to set up other online tools like WriteToThem.com. The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the stand.org website to the Home Office public consultation on Entitlement Cards is one of the factors which later led directly to the formation of the the NO2ID Campaign who have been marshalling cross party opposition to Labour's dreadful National Identity Register compulsory centralised national biometric database and ID Card plans, at the expense of simpler, cheaper, less repressive, more effective, nore secure and more privacy friendly alternative identity schemes.

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID bulletin board discussion forum

Home Office Identity Cards website
No compulsory national Identity Cards (ID Cards) BBC iCan campaign site
UK ID Cards blog
NO2ID press clippings blog
CASNIC - Campaign to STOP the National Identity Card.
Defy-ID active meetings and protests in Glasgow
www.idcards-uk.info - New Alliance's ID Cards page
irefuse.org - total rejection of any UK ID Card

International Civil Aviation Organisation - Machine Readable Travel Documents standards for Biometric Passports etc.
Anti National ID Japan - controversial and insecure Jukinet National ID registry in Japan
UK Biometrics Working Group run by CESG/GCHQ experts etc. the UK Government on Biometrics issues feasability
Citizen Information Project feasability study population register plans by the Treasury and Office of National Statistics

CommentOnThis.com - comments and links to each paragraph of the Home Office's "Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme".

De-Materialised ID - "The voluntary alternative to material ID cards, A Proposal by David Moss of Business Consultancy Services Ltd (BCSL)" - well researched analysis of the current Home Office scheme, and a potentially viable alternative.

Surveillance Infrastructures

National Roads Telecommunications Services project - infrastruture for various mass surveillance systems, CCTV, ANPR, PMMR imaging etc.

CameraWatch - independent UK CCTV industry lobby group - like us, they also want more regulation of CCTV surveillance systems.

Every Step You Take a documentary about CCTV surveillance in the Uk by Austrian film maker Nino Leitner.

Transport for London an attempt at a technological panopticon - London Congestion Charge, London Low-Emission Zone, Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, tens of thousands of CCTV cameras on buses, thousands of CCTV cameras on London Underground, realtime road traffic CCTV, Iyster smart cards - all handed over to the Metropolitan Police for "national security" purposes, in real time, in bulk, without any public accountibility, for secret data mining, exempt from even the usual weak protections of the Data Protection Act 1998.

RFID Links

RFID tag privacy concerns - our own original article updated with photos

NoTags - campaign against individual item RFID tags
Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products has been endorsed by a large number of privacy and human rights organisations.
RFID Privacy Happenings at MIT
Surpriv: RFID Surveillance and Privacy
RFID Scanner blog
RFID Gazette
The Sorting Door Project

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

DNA Profiles - analysis by Paul Nutteing
GeneWatch UK monitors genetic privacy and other issues
Postnote February 2006 Number 258 - National DNA Database (.pdf) - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2004/5 (.pdf) - published by the NDNAD Board and ACPO.

Eeclaim Your DNA from Britain's National DNA Database - model letters and advice on how to have your DNA samples and profiles removed from the National DNA Database,in spite of all of the nureacratic obstacles which try to prevent this, even if you are innocent.

Miscellanous Links

Michael Field - Pacific Island news - no longer a paradise
freetotravel.org - John Gilmore versus USA internal flight passports and passenger profiling etc.

The BUPA Seven - whistleblowers badly let down by the system.

Tax Credit Overpayment - the near suicidal despair inflicted on poor, vulnerable people by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown's disasterous Inland Revenue IT system.

Fassit UK - resources and help for those abused by the Social Services Childrens Care bureaucracy

Former Spies

MI6 v Tomlinson - Richard Tomlinson - still being harassed by his former employer MI6

Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

e-nsecure.net blog - Comments on IT security and Privacy or the lack thereof.
Rat's Blog -The Reverend Rat writes about London street life and technology
Duncan Drury - wired adventures in Tanzania & London
Dr. K's blog - Hacker, Author, Musician, Philosopher

David Mery - falsely arrested on the London Tube - you could be next.

James Hammerton
White Rose - a thorn in the side of Big Brother
Big Blunkett
Into The Machine - formerly "David Blunkett is an Arse" by Charlie Williams and Scribe
infinite ideas machine - Phil Booth
Louise Ferguson - City of Bits
Chris Lightfoot
Oblomovka - Danny O'Brien

Liberty Central

dropsafe - Alec Muffett
The Identity Corner - Stefan Brands
Kim Cameron - Microsoft's Identity Architect
Schneier on Security - Bruce Schneier
Politics of Privacy Blog - Andreas Busch
solarider blog

Richard Allan - former Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam
Boris Johnson Conservative MP for Henley
Craig Murray - former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, "outsourced torture" whistleblower

Howard Rheingold - SmartMobs
Global Guerrillas - John Robb
Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

Nick Leaton - Random Ramblings
The Periscope - Companion weblog to Euro-correspondent.com journalist network.
The Practical Nomad Blog Edward Hasbrouck on Privacy and Travel
Policeman's Blog
World Weary Detective

Martin Stabe
Longrider
B2fxxx - Ray Corrigan
Matt Sellers
Grits for Breakfast - Scott Henson in Texas
The Green Ribbon - Tom Griffin
Guido Fawkes blog - Parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy.
The Last Ditch - Tom Paine
Murky.org
The (e)State of Tim - Tim Hicks
Ilkley Against CCTV
Tim Worstall
Bill's Comment Page - Bill Cameron
The Society of Qualified Archivists
The Streeb-Greebling Diaries - Bob Mottram

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke - Freedom off Information campaigning journalist

Ministry of Truth _ Unity's V for Vendetta styled blog.

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security et al.
EUrophobia - Nosemonkey

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

Database Masterclass - frequently asked questions and answers about the several centralised national databases of children in the UK.

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

Brit Watch - Public Surveillance in the UK - Web - Email - Databases - CCTV - Telephony - RFID - Banking - DNA

BLOGDIAL

MySecured.com - smart mobile phone forensics, information security, computer security and digital forensics by a couple of Australian researchers

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

UK Liberty - A blog on issues relating to liberty in the UK

Big Brother State - "a small act of resistance" to the "sustained and systematic attack on our personal freedom, privacy and legal system"

HosReport - "Crisis. Conspiraciones. Enigmas. Conflictos. Espionaje." - Carlos Eduardo Hos (in Spanish)

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

Corruption-free Anguilla - Good Governance and Corruption in Public Office Issues in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the West Indies - Don Mitchell CBE QC

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

PJC Journal - I am not a number, I am a free Man - The Prisoner

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

The Caucus House - blog of the Chicago International Model United Nations

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

The 4th Bomb: Tavistock Sq Daniel's 7:7 Revelations - Daniel Obachike

OurKingdom - part of OpenDemocracy - " will discuss Britain’s nations, institutions, constitution, administration, liberties, justice, peoples and media and their principles, identity and character"

Beau Bo D'Or blog by an increasingly famous digital political cartoonist.

Between Both Worlds - "Thoughts & Ideas that Reflect the Concerns of Our Conscious Evolution" - Kingsley Dennis

Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair - the rich Uzbek businessman and his shyster lawyers Schillings really made a huge counterproductive error in trying to censor the blogs of Tim Ireland, of all people.

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

Henry Porter on Liberty - a leading mainstream media commentator and opinion former who is doing more than most to help preserve our freedom and liberty.

HMRC is shite - "dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of the HMRC, who have to endure the monumental shambles that is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)."

Head of Legal - Carl Gardner a former legal advisor to the Government

The Landed Underclass - Voice of the Banana Republic of Great Britain

Henrik Alexandersson - Swedish blogger threatened with censorship by the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishement, their equivalent of the UK GCHQ or the US NSA.

World's First Fascist Democracy - blog with link to a Google map - "This map is an attempt to take a UK wide, geographical view, of both the public and the personal effect of State sponsored fear and distrust as seen through the twisted technological lens of petty officials and would be bureaucrats nationwide."

Blogoir - Charles Crawford - former UK Ambassodor to Poland etc.

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

Lords of the Blog - group blog by half a dozen or so Peers sitting in the House of Lords.

notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society - blog by Dr. David Murakami Wood, editor of the online academic journal Surveillance and Society

Justin Wylie's political blog

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
Mayor of London Blog
London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at http://nuclear-weapons.info

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UK Legislation

The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

UK Legislation Links

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

UK Commissioners

UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

UK Intelligence Agencies

Intelligence and Security Committee - the supposedly independent Parliamentary watchdog which issues an annual, heavily censored Report every year or so. Currently chaired by the Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Why should either the intelligence agencies or the public trust this committee, when the untrustworthy ex-Labour Minister Hazel Blears is a member ?

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

MI5 Security Service
MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

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Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

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Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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Serious Organised Crime Agency - have cut themselves off from direct contact with the public and businesses - no phone - no email

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Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers