January 2004 Archives

BA233 cancelled too late ?

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The saga of flight cancellations for the BA233 flight fom London Heathrow to Washington Dulles continues. Despite a "specific and credible threat" reported on Friday, and presumably known about before that, neither the Friday nor the Saturday flight has been cancelled for security reasons.

However the Sunday 1st February and Monday 2nd February flights are due to be cancelled.

How can this really be a "specific and credible threat" ? If this was true, then the earlier flights this week should have been cancelled.

Have these earlier flights been used as bait to lure the alleged terrorist hijackers into a trap, thereby risking the passengers and crew ?

Why has it taken 48 hours or more for the decision to be taken to cancel the Sunday and Monday flights ?

If there is no "specific and credible threat", then what use is it cancelling the Sunday and Monday flights after all this press publicity ?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3447715.stm

'Al-Qaeda threat' grounds flights

BA also cancelled several flights in January over security fears
British Airways and Air France have cancelled a number of US flights amid fears al-Qaeda may be targeting them.
Flights BA 223 from London Heathrow to Washington on Sunday and Monday are hit as well as return flights BA 222.

A BA flight to Miami on Sunday was also grounded on security advice, as were four Air France flights."

Why has BA223 not been cancelled ?

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Will the security bureaucracies prove to be as inefficient as they were earlier in the month, leading to transatlantic British Airways or Air France passengers suffering hours of "security" delays and "passenger profiling or blacklisting" ?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3446763.stm

"UK and French flights 'targets'

New intelligence shows British Airways and Air France flights to the US could be terrorist targets, say US officials.

The intelligence is said to specifically mention BA flight 223"

"The BBC's Michael Buchanan in Washington said US intelligence agencies reported receiving a "specific and credible threat" in the last couple of days.

It is feared al-Qaeda may be attempting to hijack a plane from either London or Paris and fly it into a target in the United States, added our correspondent."

Note that this is not a claim about a bomb or a missile threat but about a suicide hijack threat. Presumably, given the fuss about the Hutton enquiry and BBC news reporting, this report has been corroborated by the BBC.

A "specific and credible threat" to flight BA223 should imply, according to the leaks about the secret UK Sky Marshal policy, that this flight should be cancelled.

This 15:05 scheduled flight was not cancelled on Friday 31st January - it took off at 15.38, within the usual air traffic control congestion delays at Heathrow.

Does this mean that BA223 passengers and crew were already being used as bait in order to entrap terrorist hijackers by placing armed Sky Marshals aboaard ?

Will the passengers, crew and the people on the ground be put at risk by military fighter jet escorts prepared to shoot this flight down ?

Why do the US authorities assume that terrorists who somehow manage to evade the security checks at Heathrow and smuggle weapons on board, and hijack a flight, would wait until the the aeroplane has used up most of its load of jet fuel and attack a US city ? It was the tons of jet fuel on board relatively small airliners which helped to cause so much damage to the World Trade Center and to the Pentagon. Why would suicide terrorists forgo the opportunity to use a much bigger Boeing 747 Jumbo jet against London or Paris ?


The state of US insecurity is illustrated by the incident this month involving a Sudanese man who managed to fly with live ammunition in his pocket from Washington Dulles airport which was only detected once he got to London Heathrow.

Check the Heathrow Flight Departures to see if BA223 is delayed or cancelled.

Check the real time progress of the flight BA223 to see if it makes it over the Atlantic without being hijacked.

Some news for those you who, like us, were wondering about the deployment of Passive Millimetre Wave Radar Cameras which can "see" under your clothes, on the streets of London, which we commented on November 8th 2003:

Sir John Stevens, Commissioner Metropolitan Police interview by Sir David Frost

Secret Passive Millimetre Wave Radar scanning trials on the streets of London

We have got a reply back from a leading member of the Metropolitan Police Authority who is "informed that the Metropolitan Police Service neither use nor deploy these cameras"

So what what exactly was Sir John Stevens referring to in his interview with Sir David Frost ?

Has it been decided not to deploy these "see under your clothes" cameras on the streets of London after all ? Or is it that the technology is not being deployed by the Metropolitan Police, even though they seem to have helped to develop it in secret, but by some other law enforcement agency instead ?

The issues of privacy, the "stop and search" policy, the possible offences of voyeurism or of making indecent images of children under the Sexual Offences Act, and questions about health and safety for the camera operators if extended range microwave radar spotlights or floodlights are used, remain to be answered.

The next Home Affairs Committee oral evidence sessions on ID Cards have been announced for the 3rd and 10th of February 2004.

Will the Home Affairs Committee call anyone from the Office of the e-Envoy/e-Government to determine the impact of Biometric ID Cards on e-government services ?

How about someone from the Office of Government Commerce which is meant to have done at least two Pre Stage Zero and a Stage Zero Gateway Review by the end of January of the ID Cards project, examining the high level costs and project management assumptions.

What about witnesses from the UK Biometric Working Group, or CESG, the UK Government's own experts on Biometrics ?

Will these people be called before the Draft ID Cards Bill is actually published, or afterwards ?

Home Affairs Committee
House of Commons


Press Release 2003B04
28 January 2004 No. 8

IDENTITY CARDS

Oral evidence sessions

The following evidence sessions have been arranged as part of the above inquiry:


Date
Time
Witnesses

Tuesday 3 February
2.30 pm
Representatives from The Law Society, Liberty and Privacy International; followed at approximately 3.30 pm by Mr Richard Thomas, Information
Commissioner

Tuesday 10 February
2.30 pm
Representatives from the Finance and Leasing Association, the Local Government Association and the Police Federation

This session will take place in either the Palace of Westminster or Portcullis House committee rooms. This session will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis. If you wish to confirm these details closer to the meeting please telephone the Committee Information Line on 020 7219 2033.

Home Office ID Cards Programme job vacancy

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The Home Office are advertising for a Business Manager for their controversial ID Cards Programme.

You can read the details on the Home Office careers website:

http://www.careers.homeoffice.gov.uk/vacancies_vac.asp?offset=20

with the full .pdf of the job advert at:

http://www.careers.homeoffice.gov.uk/uploads/7345w.pdf

?38,166 - ?51,749 + ?2,300 London Location Allowance
London
DO YOU HAVE THE STRATEGIC VISION TO ANSWER
KEY QUESTIONS OF IDENTITY?
Business Manager - Identity Cards Programme

In November last year, the Home Secretary
announced the Government's intention to introduce
identity cards - as part of a strategy to contain the
threat to our security and prosperity from illegal
immigration, organised crime, terrorism and identity
fraud; and to help the citizen get the services to
which they are entitled.

The plans which have emerged so far about the Government's ID Card scheme do not seem likely to meet any of these stated objectives.

This decision has put identity cards high on the
Government's agenda and made way for detailed
development work to begin. As Business Manager on
the programme, you'll be responsible for constructing
and maintaining a business case for the scheme,
based on sound financial and commercial plans.

So it seems that there is no actual business case at present.

Adjournment debate in Parliament on RFID tags

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The transcript of the adjournment debate on Information Technology/Retail Crime on Tuesday 27th January 2004 is now available online via Hansard.

This short debate was quite useful, but there were a couple of errors which crept in on both sides:

Mr. Tom Watson (West Bromwich, East) (Lab):

"Radio frequency identification tags are tiny microchips, little bigger than a grain of sand, which can contain information from the price of goods in a shop to a person's entire medical records. They have been proclaimed as the global successor to the 30-year-old barcode, but they are much more sophisticated. They can not only store much more data, such as a product's expiry date, colour, packaging, origin and destination, but transmit it through the airwaves. Crucial to their operation is a microscopic antenna, invisible to the naked eye, which allows the chip to be read by a scanning device"

Whilst it is true that contactless smart cards and the more expensive, re-useable, battery powered active RFID tags might have enough memory capacity to store medical records or product details on the RFID tag chip itself, that is not the concept behind the ultra cheap, disposable Electronic Product Code "internet of things" passive RFID tags which are causing all our privacy worries, whilst promising a more efficient logistics chain. These have an individual serial number, and, in the more sophisticated ones, a "kill" code and/or password to deactivate or re-programme them. Any other product data etc. is stored outside the tiny chips themsleves in other computer systems, which use the EPC serial number as the key to look up the appropriate data, and to track the tag past each reader.

The chips are tiny, but the antennas are not, c.f. our photos of the RFID tags used by Tesco and Marks & Spencer

"The Minister for Energy, E-Commerce and Postal Services (Mr. Stephen Timms):

"No one, least of all in retailing, wants negative responses from customers. That affords some confidence that retailers will not want to risk giving rise to the sort of fears that my hon. Friend mentioned. There has been one protest here, against the "Inform" project at Tesco. It was attended by four people?three adults and a child?suggesting that the great majority of customers recognise that the technology is being used to improve stock management rather than something more nefarious. "

There were actually two protests outside Tescos, one in Cambridge where the Gillette razor trials were held and one in Sandhurst where the DVD trials were held.

Due to the secrecy surrounding the Tesco trials, the vast majority of their customers had no idea that they were taking place, so claiming that these customers recognise anything about the technology is political spin.

"Best practice examples are already emerging in the introduction of new technologies. Marks and Spencer, to which my hon. Friend referred, went to great lengths to explain to staff and customers what the trial of RFID tags on garments was about. All the tags were clearly identified and removed at the point of sale. Where the tag was attached to a wrapped item, customers were offered an alternative bag before leaving the premises. The tags could be read only with a Marks and Spencer reader."

Although Marks & Spencer were much more open about their RFID label trial in their small High Wycombe store than Tescos, when we purchased an item from this store, we had to hunt around for the explanatory leaflets, and the RFID label tag was not removed upon purchase.


It looks as if the National Consumer Council forum which Stephen Timms mentioned is on February 5th, but will be held in private under the Chatham House rule i.e.

When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information recieved, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed; nor may it be mentioned that the information was received at a meeting of the institute

Under "cyber attack" from the USA

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We seem to be under cyber attack from the USA - is this a serious enough "disruption of an electronic communication system" to invoke "Emergency Powers" under the Civil Contingencies Bill if it were on the statute books yet ?

Our domain name spy.org.uk is being used to send forged emails by USA cable internet connected machines, infected with the MyDoom or Novarg.A email worm/virus

Why do so many US companies with anti-virus scanning email gateways still waste bandwidth and forward full copies of the infected files in their email bounce messages to the forged sender email addresses, thereby helping the worm to spread ? We will treat such "bounces" as criminal attacks just as if they are direct attempts at virus/worm infection.

We are getting attempted "Referrer Spam" fallout from the USA "Democrats" online election campaigns - how dim an internet user do you have to be to
think that a .uk domain name would be helpful in promoting a candidate in a USA election ?

Be warned - we have a zero tolerance policy to "cyber attacks" and we will do our best to get you extradited to face justice here in the United Kingdom under the existing computer misuse laws, the new anti-spam laws, and, if appropriate, the anti-terrorism laws.

British sky marshals deployed

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-976373,00.html

Sunday Times, January 25, 2004

Britain deploys first sky marshals
David Leppard and Adam Natha

"Armed sky marshals have been deployed for the first time on British passenger jets to guard against hijackings by Islamic terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda.

Police and government officials confirmed yesterday that members of Scotland Yard?s elite SO19 firearms unit had travelled undercover on a ?small number? of flights between London and America."

N.B. we are skeptical about the details of any unattributed "Police and government officials" sourced stories reported by the Sunday Times, given their record of spin and disinformation.

"The sky marshals, who have trained with the SAS for close-quarters combat, are now flying in pairs disguised as ordinary passengers. They carry Glock 9mm pistols which are thought to be loaded with low-velocity bullets that would kill but would not pass through a victim and risk puncturing the fuselage.

Why would a large Glock with reduced charge ammunition be better than a more easily concealed revolver, which is less likely to jam ? What about all the air-tasers and rubber bullets etc. ? Any "details" from a Sunday newspaper story from unattributed sources needs to be viewed with caution.

It is understood the marshals are seated in first class and business to be near the aircraft?s cockpit."

So is the flight deck locked off with an armoured door that cannot be opened until the aeroplane lands ?

"The flights have been selected at random. S019 officers had previously voiced concerns that if they were to be assigned only to flights where there was specific intelligence of a heightened risk, the planes should be grounded.

The first deployment was made on or around January 9 on a passenger flight out of London, after the fiasco involving BA London to Washington flight 223"

So if there is no specific intelligence threat, and there is no assurance that there are actually sky marhals on every flight, then what is the point ?

Our questions about liability and increased risks to passengers caused by sky marhals have not been answered.

What assurance is there that the secret "random" presence of sky marshals on a particular flight does not produce a negative weighting on an individual passenger's secret database profile being compiled by dozens of UK and US government surveillance systems ?

This snippet at the end of the article is also worrying, and confirms the perception about the US Government's "War on Tourism":

Up to a dozen Muslim cabin crew members at British Airways are refusing to fly to American destinations because they believe they are being singled out by immigration officials for ?discriminatory? security checks lasting up to three hours on arrival.

Faked digital photo timestamp evidence

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Although not strictly CCTV related, the report in The Times aboura faked timestamp used as evidence in a ?60 parking fine appeal, is indicitive of how cheap and easy this is to do with modern personal computers.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,175-974970,00.html
The Times, January 24, 2004
NCP faked evidence in parking ticket case
By Russell Jenkins

NCP, which is contracted by Bury council, produced two photographs for the appeal hearing before Sarah Breach, the parking adjudicator.

One was black and white and the other was in colour. They purported to show the sign on the day before and then the day on which Mr McGuire parked his car.

Ms Breach concluded that the two photographs were the same but the date on one had been changed in order to destroy the motorist?s case.

Ms Breach said: ?A careful comparison of these photographs reveals they are the same. The cloud formation in both, together with the angle of the photograph, leaves me in no doubt.

?The only conclusion I can draw are that someone has altered the date on the black and white appeal photograph from 31.8.03 to 30.08.03.?

She said she was satisfied that NCP submitted the two photographs to make it look as if they were taken at different times, and took the unusual step of ordering the council to pay the costs.

The adjudicator concluded: ?I consider the council?s conduct in resisting this appeal to be wholly unreasonable.? The ruling calls into question the reliability of similar digital evidence. Meanwhile, Bury council faces hundreds of claims from other drivers.

This shameful incident casts doubt on the integrity of all Local Coincil's and Car Park Operators, who are heavy users of CCTV Surveillance technology, and only strengthens our calls for properly regulated, fair, equal access to CCTV surveillance. If they are willing to do this over a ?60 parking fine, then what are they willing to do to hide or tamper with other digital evidence in more serious cases which do not suit them ?

Does this extension of state power, which came into force on the 20th of January 2004, really make us any safer from terrorism ?

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs2/hoc0204.html

"Home Office Circular 02/2004

Guidance to the police on the implementation of the amendment to schedule 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to extend the maximum period of detention that a terrorist suspect can be held without charge from seven to fourteen days."

RFID adjournment debate in Parliament

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Tom Watson, the Labour Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East, one of the very few MPs who writes a regular weblog, is promising to speak in the House of Commons on RFID issues, next Tuesday 27th January 2004.

Send him your views on Radio Frequency ID "spychip" privacy:

http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/archives/001413.html

The number of his fellow MPs listening to him speak on "Information Technology and retail crime " is likely to be low:

"So next Tuesday evening at the end of the parliamentary session, I have managed to secure an adjournment debate. Yes, that's right, as I rise to speak, 600 MPs will be leaving the chamber after the tuition fees vote has been taken. Yep, that'll be the day before the House debates the Hutton inquiry report"

The title of the debate is a bit of a misnomer, since Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) tags i.e. the anti-shoplifting tags which are deactivated or removed at the checkout are not the same as EPCglobal Class 1 RFID tags with their "unique" item level serial numbers, which currrently are not being disabled at the checkout, and which raise so many privacy issues when they are used beyond the warehouse logisitics chain and appear embedded in individual consumer items or packaging:

Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products

RFID tag privacy concerns

We have been meaning to analyse one of Michael Cross's "Public Domain" articles in the Guardian newspaper for some time:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1122844,00.html

Public domain

Michael Cross
Thursday January 15, 2004
The Guardian

Anyone arguing that Britain shouldn't repair its railways because a future regime might transport undesirables to death camps by train would be dismissed as a nutter. Yet apparently intelligent people trot out the same argument against proposals to repair the state's outdated data infrastructure.

Always good to set up an imaginary straw man to argue against "reasonably" later on.

These self-appointed guardians

Exactly who appointed Michael Cross as a commentator or pundit , writing, ironically, in The Guardian ? Why is his opinion any more valid than ours or yours ?

say we should oppose the proposed national population register because of the use to which a totalitarian government might put it. Likewise identity cards and, with better reason for concern, DNA databases.

A chilling statistic supports their point. Under Nazi occupation, the Netherlands was three times as efficient as France at rounding up Jews. The difference, according to Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust, was that Holland had a population register based on state-of-the-art IT (Hollerith punch card tabulators). France had pieces of paper. By this argument, state inefficiency is the last bastion of freedom.

The government disagrees. In the context of ID cards, David Blunkett last year dismissed opponents as "intellectual pygmies".

Remember this is David "Mastermind" Blunkett, who was recently humiliated on a TV general knowledge quiz, with one of the lowest scores in its history.

What evidence is there that Pygmies are any less intellectual or intelligent than writers for the Guardian ?

That's a little unfair. Some of his opponents are ignorant - claiming, for instance, that Britain has no bill of rights.

Who exactly is claiming that ? It is a scandal that the legal system in the UK is so complicated. We certainly do not have a written constitution or a law of Privacy on the statute books.

Others are inconsistent, combining a Holocaust warning with the claim that the technology wouldn't work.

Does he mean us ? Try a Google search for "ID Cards" "intellectual pygmies" and "IBM and the Holocaust" and you will only find our article on ID Cards. Perhaps Michael Cross has been researching our arguements after all.

Where we point out the impracticalities of "Mastermind" Blunkett's plans it is not to say that, for instance, Biometric technology cannot be implemented at all, simply that it cannot be implemented without a large number of innocent people being seriously inconvenienced, and in some cases having their lives threatened as a result.

But their underlying creed - that government is inherently untrustworthy - has a respectable pedigree.

This is far more established in the US, where hatred of government is by no means confined to gun-toting Arizonans driving unregistered SUVs. It is perhaps best expressed in the minimal state philosophy of the late Robert Nozick, which has had a huge influence on the Bush administration.

So where is the evidence of the closure of US Government departments and the reduction in the number of US Government employees ?

The minimal state has its weak points: adherents seem to be fond of big government when it comes to killing people, but that's beyond the scope of this column. In any case, this is a fringe debate in Westminster realpolitik. Even Margaret Thatcher had to support the welfare state and claim the NHS to be safe in her hands.

Our impression of Michael Cross's "Public Domain" column is that he usually supports the big centralised government information technology bureaucracies and the bloated IT consultancies who feed off them.

Thus Blunkett's pygmies have to carry the torch. In a pluralist democracy, they should be welcome. Possibly their day will come. But they should be honest about what they want, which is the end of the state's role in health and social care.

Now the straw man argument seems to be on drugs.

For a welfare state cannot run efficiently and fairly without a list of customers. It is only by bizarre accident that Britain has never had one.

It is not a "bizarre accident" it is a scandalous history of Government IT and technological incompetence fueled by greed. Given the billions wasted on failed public sector IT projects, why are there no responsible civil servants and private sector managers in jail ?

Please explain how a centralised Biometric ID card is the only possible way of running the NHS ? How will one's iris scan or fingerprint possibly help in filing one's Inland Revenue tax return online via the Government Gateway ?

You cannot seriously hope to convince anybody that a fingerprint scanner or web camera device connected to the USB bus on a Microsoft Windows home or office computer could possibly be secure enough against replay attacks and credentials capture (in other words ID Theft) for secure Biometric Identifier based authentication over the Internet, can you ?

Where is the Public Key infrastructure to give (not sell at ?40 a time) each citizen a Digital Certificate ?

This is unsustainable. It is doubly bizarre to spend billions on e-government without an underlying joined-up infrastructure. The government deserves credit for - belatedly - putting it on the agenda.

There's another reason for getting it right. Public support for the welfare state, for the state itself, depends on it being perceived to be value for money and not open to abuse. A collapse of confidence, amid scares about foreigners swamping the system and criminals running free, would be just the circumstance in which a Spode party could come to power - and set about making the trains run on time to whatever destination it wants.

It is exactly the question of a lack of trust in Government that is at the heart of many privacy campaigners' opposition to ID Cards and other centralised Government databases. Information is power, and we feel that the balance of power is unfairly stacked in favour of petty bureaucrats and jobsworth officials and their outsourced private sector call centre slaves. There are, for instance, no criminal sanctions to prevent abuse of ID Card data under "Mastermind" Blunkett's plans.

There are criminal penalties for currency counterfeiters or for census data abusers, not because of the individual damage that they might do, but because even their minority actions bring the whole system into disrepute and stop a percentage of the public trusting and using the system, thereby negating any benefits for society as a whole.

What is true for currency counterfeiters should also apply to petty officials who overstep the Principles of Data Protection and who abuse or link up their inaccurate databases without the explicit permission of the individual members of the public that they are keeping under surveillance. If they are doing nothing wrong, then they have nothing to fear from criminal penalties, to paraphrase the usual "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" mantra.

Who or what is Spode party and how would Biometric ID Cards do anything except add delays and queues to the running of a railway ?

What is the difference between today's apparent press release from the Home Office

Joint Statement by Alistair Darling and David Blunkett
Reference: Stat059/2003 - Date: 13 Jan 2004 11:42
"Published: 13 Jan 2004"

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/n_story.asp?item_id=765

and this one, over 2 weeks ago from the Department of Transport ?

Aviation security
Joint statement by Alistair Darling and David Blunkett
published 28th December 2003

http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_about/documents/page/dft_about_026603.hcsp

None so far as we can see. Neither statement or press release is Digitally Signed, although the content publishing system used by the Home Office has given its press release a misleading date and time stamp.

Why is this important ? Simply because under the proposed Civil Contingencies Bill 2004, a simple statement about a "security threat" to the United Kingdom by either of these two Ministers (Home Office or Department of Transport) would be enough to declare a State of Emergency, suspend civil rights, allow for forced evacuarions, confiscation or destruction of property without compensation, the banning street protests or demonstrations, censorship of the press, electronic communications blackouts etc.

How are we meant to know that an important Ministerial Statement or Press Release is genuine and not a hoax, especially during a crisis or emergency, without the use of a Publc Key Infrastructure for Digital Signatures and Timestamps ?

In fact, the Civil Contingencies Bill 2004 is still proposing that Oral orders by a Minister would be enough to declare a State of Emergency, although the published Bill has been amended slightly to require that written order be sent as soon as practicable.

With modern technology now available for spoofing and faking the voices of politicians or military leaders (a technology being taken up by Hollywood) the dangers of fake or hoax oral orders by Ministers are evident.

The Independent newspaper has devoted its headline and leading articles to
CCTV Surveillance, claiming that over 4,285,000 i.e. about 20% of the world's CCTV cameras are used in the UK, without any major deterrent effect on crime.

The article seems to confirm everything we have been saying for several years now in our UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

The Sunday Times 11th January 2004 has a story entitled
"Old-tech terror checks delay flights" by
Tony Allen-Mills, Robert Winnett and David Leppard

N.B. anything written in the Sunday Times using "insider" information from "security sources" or "Government officials" should be treated with caution, given their past record of being manipulated and "spun".

"Even after the cabin doors closed on the much-delayed British Airways flight 223 from London to Washington last weekend, passengers were in for another long wait. Despite hours of checks on tickets, passports and luggage, the captain announced that he was awaiting ?clearance? from unnamed officials in Washington.

For more than 90 minutes, passengers sat patiently in their seats, unaware that the delay had nothing to do with a potential terrorist threat. The truth was that, at the FBI?s Washington headquarters, computers described as ?archaic? had proved incapable of processing the passenger list that BA had e-mailed to US anti-terrorist authorities the moment the check-in gates had closed.

The long delays that afflicted several BA flights to America over Christmas and the new year were caused at least in part by the FBI?s struggles with incompatible computer software, according to officials in Washington.

Under new US rules for airlines flying to America, lists of passengers have to be made available to law enforcement agencies. But digital files containing the BA 223 manifests were sent to the US Transportation Security Administration in a word-processing format that did not match the list-keeping system used by the FBI. The bureau could not process the files.

As passengers fidgeted and British officials fumed, American anti-terrorist agents had to make manual checks of passenger names against terrorist watchlists. What should have been an instantaneous computerised check turned into ?a really gruesome exercise?, said one official involved.

Some of the problems were later corrected but the technical glitches that added to British passengers? holiday misery continue to cast a shadow over the high-tech centrepiece of Washington?s multi-billion-dollar effort to keep Osama Bin Laden at bay."

Does this imply that BA223 on New Year's Eve was the first time which British Airways had sent the passenger list electronically to Washington ? Or was this really the very first time which the Transport Security Agency had talked electronically to the FBI ? So what about the cancellations and delays to BA223 flight for ten days in a row since New Year's eve, as chronicled on this web log ?

This hardly seems credible.

How difficult would it have been to ask for a plain text ASCII version of the list, rather than in a "word processing format" ?

"In the meantime, one way of avoiding the delays that bedevilled airports over Christmas may prove to be a new system known as advanced passenger profiling. Designed to identify potential terrorists before they check in at airports, the system was discussed in Washington last week by Sir David Omand, Tony Blair?s intelligence and security co-ordinator, and Tom Ridge, Bush?s secretary for homeland security.

Whitehall officials say plans are already under way for a sophisticated software system that would help the police and MI5 to study reservation lists days before a suspect flight might be due to depart.

As in America, British agencies would cross-refer names against a wide range of existing databases, possibly including the electoral roll, criminal records, Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue. Further cross-checking might yield religion, ethnicity or income.

Passengers identified as a higher risk would be subject to more intensive questioning after they checked in. Other passengers deemed of no risk might pass through faster"

Even the notorious Transport Security Agency is claiming that their forthcoming CAPPS 2 passenger profiling system will specifically not have access to financial or medical records. The Department of Homeland Security, operating under the misleadingly named PATRIOT Act, is legally bound not to single out ethnic groups using racial profiling. Is the Sunday Times claiming that this is going to happen in the UK ?

Using the electoral roll for checking airline passengers is illegal, and likeley to be ineffective, given the fact that there is no single electoral roll database.
What evidence does the Sunday Times have that the UK Government is in fact planning to build such an Orwellian surveillance system ?

Note how this article diverts attention away from the state of the United Kingdom's anti-terrorist computerised watch lists. Are these really any better than than the ones in the USA ?

Smear campaign against RFID privacy activist ?

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Spotted on the RFID Privacy Happenings blog:

It seems that the pro RFID propagandists have made an error in trying to
gather biographical information on Katherine Albrecht, a leading RFID privacy campaigner.

Having requested biographical details from her, an incompetent use of email seems to have forwarded a copy of an internal email from the Grocery Manufacturers of America stating:

"I don't know what to tell this woman! "Well, actually we're
trying to see if you have a juicy past that we could use against you."

CASPIAN Press release

GMA email (.pdf)

BA223 only delayed by 26 minutes !

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Today's delay to BA223 flight from London to Washington was only delayed on takeoff by 26 minutes.

Are the security bureaucracies finally getting their act together ?

Or is this just an unthinking automatic result of the change from "Orange alert" to "Yellow alert" by the USA Department of Homeland Security yesterday ?

BA223 delayed by 1 hour 48 minutes

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BA223 the daily 15:05 flight from London to Washington has been delayed by 1 hour 48 minutes i.e. its schedule has been disrupted for 10 days in a row, supposedly for "security" reasons.

Is this flight really at any more risk than any other transatlantic flight ? Or are the terrorists winning by provoking unecessary and expensive security disruptions ?

Watch the progress of this flight across the Atlantic in "real time".

BA223 delayed again by 3 hours 40 minutes

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Today's BA223 flight from London to Washington was delayed by 3 hours and 40 minutes.

This flight has now been delayed or cancelled for 8 days in a row since New Year's Eve when the delays were at the Washington end, after the fighter escorted landing. It looks like the terrorists are winning.

Yesterday's BBC Newsnight interview with Tom Ridge, head of the USA Department of Homeland Security mentioned the ill starred BA223 flight:

"PAXMAN:
There is a British Airways flight, BA 223 which has not been able to fly to Washington now twice and has been delayed on other occasions. Do you have some specific piece of intelligence which suggests that that flight is a particular terrorist target?

RIDGE:
Well, there has been an indication from our intelligence that we've shared with your intelligence services that has led us to target that flight. Unfortunately, it had to be cancelled twice. One of the discussions we had today, a very productive, very positive discussion with Sir David Omand, who was following up on a conversation I had with Home Secretary Blunkett, was how we deal with information, whether it's relative to flight 223 or any other flights in the future, and what level of security do we add and how do we get together to determine collectively the kind of risk and security measures, whether it's flight 223 or any other flight that might be targeted in a specific piece of intelligence.

PAXMAN:
But there is something specific about that particular flight?

RIDGE:
During the particular period, that flight has been mentioned, but the purpose of the meeting today was to take a look at the lessons learned during our mutual response to the concerns around that flight and to determine if targeted information that we both agree in the future is credible. We should therefore agree to assess the risks associated with that information and hopefully come up with a standard protocol so we could avoid some of the difficulties we've encountered over the past week, including keeping these airlines on the Tarmac for two or three hours before they ultimately fly to the United States. We need to work together to avoid that as much as possible in the future. And the requests with regard to air marshals, if I might add, is not a gross and blanket request to have air marshals available for all flights, but just to see whether or not we could develop a number, depending on the information that we would share and the risk assessment that we would do together to create this option to add another level of security to flights coming from Great Britain to the United States. Obviously, it could work the other way as well. Great Britain might say to us, depending on the information they receive, we would like additional air marshals on flights coming into Great Britain.

PAXMAN:
Specifically, on flight BA 223, would you let a child of yours fly on it from London to Washington?

RIDGE:
Now I would, absolutely. We've looked at this, we've looked at the inspection, the rigorous inspection that Her Majesty's Government and all the relative agencies have brought to aviation security. You've created a special gate. There has been enhanced baggage and passenger screening, and there's a rather lengthy list of additional security measures that you've taken, and I think we have a job to do on our side of the Atlantic so we can review the passenger information that you send to us and review it quicker, so once we're satisfied that all the security measures have been taken and that we've dealt with the potential risks, that the flight can get airborne a lot quicker than it's been over the past three or four days.

PAXMAN:
Well, they're saying that this information that's transmitted from here has to go to something like 22 different agencies on your side of the Atlantic, and one of them, in particular, is incredibly slow. That's not yours is it?

RIDGE:
Well, I hope not, Jeremy. I don't think it is, and again, part of the delay is not occasioned by anything that you've done or failed to do. Part of the delay is occasioned on our side, and one of the subjects that we discussed today with Sir David Omand and his group was what additional information could be passed to us earlier in this whole process so that we could review it so these planes could take off as scheduled, most closer to the scheduled time of departure
"

Apparently the message from Tom Ridge and Sir David Omand has not actually got through to their transport security bureaucracies yet.

Several august bodies have submitted their written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into ID Cards:

Liberty Human Rights:
Liberty's evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on the Government's Identity Card Proposals (.pdf)

The British Computer Society's response is reported by KableNet.

STAND are waiting for permission from the Clerk of the Committee to make their actual evidence available online (it is possible to re-iterate your arguements without their explicit permission)

Our modest contribution squeezed into 2000 words, and so could not cover all the contentious topics, but we did try to bring several issues to the attention of the Committee, hopefully so that they can scrutinise them more deeply:

USA visas and Biometric Passports

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As we have already pointed out, there is a mismatch between the timetables and chosen Biometric Identifier technologies between the USA, the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the UK Government's plans for Biometric Passports and ID Cards.

From 26th October 2004, according to US law, any new passports issued by the 27 USA Visa Waiver Programme countries (including the UK) will need to be "Biometric". Nobody is going to be able to comply by that date. Therefore new passport holders will have to get Holiday or Business visas.

"US urged to extend visa deadline"
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3378057.stm

What the article neglects to mention is that the USA Visa application fee for a Holiday or Business visa is $100.

Would you pay an extra $100 per person to take your family on a 2 week holiday to say Disneyworld in Florida, and have to queue up at the US Embassy or Consulate in person to appy for a visa ? Remember that you will still face all the extra delays , fingerprinting , photographing when you arrive in the USA, even if you have already gone through all of this at the US Embassy or Consulate.

If the UK Passport Office do actually manage to produce "digital photograph" stored Biometric Passports by mid 2005 (and there is no evidence of their competence to do this on time) this will only be an expensive temporary measure until the planned Biometric ID Cards start to be issued in 2006 or 2007, which will use a different set of Biometric Identifiers.

Existing non-Biometric but Machine Readable Passport holders (i.e. EU "Burgundy" passports) will presumably still be able to use the Visa Waiver scheme.

On their past record the UK Passport Office is likely to increase their fees for these new passports anyway:

"Does nobody else think that the Passport Office is abusing its monopoly and gouging its customers over the price of the extra 16 pages in a 48 page passport (?54.40 from October 2003) compared with a standard 32 page passport (?42 from October 2003 a massive 27% increase from the old price of ?33) ?

Those extra 16 pages (i.e. an extra 4 sheets of paper, printed by the million, all the rest of the Passport and back end systems is the same as a standard passport) cost ?12.40 i.e. ?3.10 per extra sheet of paper (4 pages)"

USA bans airline toilet queues

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"the United States ordered airlines entering its airspace to ban passengers from queueing for the lavatories.

The directive from the Transport Security Administration (TSA) requires the crew to make announcements every two hours telling passengers that they must not ?congregate outside the toilets? or any other location."

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,173-955511,00.html

What is the name of the USA Transport Security Administration official who thought up this nonsense ? www.tsa.gov

Are US Sky Marshals going to shoot people queueing up for the toilets ?

Should the TSA officials be sued for endangering passengers' health by increasing the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis or that of people with bladder problems ?

Is there a similar order issued to US domestic airlines and carriers departing from the USA ? Remember that the September 11th 2001 hijacks were of flights which took off in the USA for domestic , not international, destinations . Such flights are always going to be a better weapon for terrorists as they will always have much more fuel aboard than transatlantic flights.

BA223 delayed by 1 hour 40 minutes

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We have been keeping an eye on the departures of the "security jinxed" British Airways flight BA223 which usually flies daily at 15:05 from London Heathrow to Washington Dulles airport, which have been delayed by transport security bureaucracratic red tape for seven days in a row.

Today's flight seems to have departed with a delay of about one hour and forty minutes.

UK Sky Marshal policy worries

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Please convince us that our worries about the UK Government policy, or lack thereof, regarding the use of undercover armed Sky Marshals on UK airliners are unfounded

Civil Contingencies Bill 2004 now published

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The full Civil Contingencies Bill 2004 has now been published on January 7th 2004.

At first glance, many of our criticisms of the Draft Bill still apply to this fuller, allegedly amended version. We will publish more analysis and comment later.

BA223 takeoff delayed by only 2 hours

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BA223 from London Heathrow to Washington Dulles airport , due to take off at 15:05, is now reported as being airborne at 17:13. Is a 2 hour delay a sign that the security bureaucracies are getting better with practice , having delayed or cancelled this dauly flight for the previous six days in a row ?

Allegedly, according to the pilot on Sunday's flight, there are 22 agencies in the USA which have to sign off on the passenger list before the aeroplane is allowed to take off. So much for the concept of the a streamlined and efficient Department of Homeland Security.

What sort of threat could there possibly be to this specific flight, which does not affect any others, which justifies this extra red tape, over and above the normal security checks ?

This saga of delays, no matter how well intentioned, does not reassure us about the safety of air travel, it just feels like a War on Tourism

Police camera phones hunt graffiti

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Why do the police (in Tayside, Scotland) need a camera phone rather than just a digital camera ? What is the need for "real time" evidence collection of graffiti ?

"Police use student doodles to crack down on graffiti"
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/homeaffairs/story/0,11026,1115762,00.html

"Snap Trap for Vandals"
http://www.tayside.police.uk/index.php?category=7&id=88#CAMERAPHONE

The more worrying aspect is that of sending police into schools to hunt out thought/art crimes. What happens if a kid doodles a design that they have seen on a wall somewhere ?

Graffitti can be a problem, but so are bleak, bland urban landscapes.

The "security jinxed" flight BA223 from London Heathrow to Washington Dulles airport was delayed by 3 hours yesterday, and also today.

The passengers and their baggage have already been screened and they are on board the aircraft, waiting for the US authorities to clear the list of passenger names.

The air transport security bureaucracies seem to be incapable of checking just over 200 passenger names against a "watch list" in less than 3 hours, a process which should take a few seconds at most.

It seems clear now, that for 5 days in a row, just the mere fact that you have been boooked onto BA233, makes you into a terrorist suspect. Will these "blacklists" follow the unlucky passengers into the future ?

Is this disruption to the same daily flight, for 5 days in a row an attempt to put pressure on British Airways to accept the use of armed sky marshals ?

Or are the transport security bureaucracies letting the terrorists win by damaging confidence in air travel and tourism by crying wolf with excessive, inconvenient and ultimately ineffective extra security measures ?

USA Biometric immigration checks begin

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The USA "War on Tourism" continues with the start of "Biometric" recording of airline passengersan from countries requiring a visa.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3367893.stm

N.B. an extra "15 seconds" delay per passenger means that the last people off a 400 seat Jumbo jet will be delayed by over 1 hour and 40 minutes. In practice, this delay will be much longer.

The digital fingerprint scanners which seem to be in use are of the type which are prone to errors due to the buildup of fingerpint oil, grime and sweat etc. leading to even more delays and possible misidentifications.

Not suprisingly these discriminatory security measures are already producing a backlash. The Brazilian authorities are photographing and fingerprinting US visitors to Brazil in retaliation, presumably so that they can send back some sort of message to the US Government during this election year.

The countries whose tourists are allowed into the USA under the visa waiver scheme, including the UK, will also have to undergo this procedure from October this year.

The plan is, eventually for the whole fingerprinting and photographing process to be done again on exit from the USA.

BA223 passengers blacklisted ?

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The British Airways flight 223 from London to Washington has now been cancelled 2 days in a row, after having been escorted by fighter planes the day before that.

Have the passengers of this flight all been cleared of suspicion of being a terrorist threat, or are some or all of them going to be tagged by the "intelligence systems" as being "guilty by association" and likely to be subjected to extra surveillance, harrassment and delay on their future travels ?

Will the passengers booked on both Thursday's and Friday's flights have two "black marks" put against their names for being suspects on two flights ?

Today's flight should have been the safest possible transatlantic flight, given the scrutiny caused by the alerts of the previous two days. Why was it cancelled at such a late stage ?

It is as if the transport security bureaucracies in the UK and the USA are going through the motions to justify their budgets, without actually making the public any more secure.

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