March 2004 Archives

Thanks to Nick Leaton for pointing out another dubious "see under your clothes" surveillance device being tested by the Metropolitan Police on the British public, similar in many ways to the Passive Millimetre Wave Radar Camera that we have reported on previously

The BBC article How revealing is an X-ray scanner?
has an illustration of what, under the Voyeurism clause of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 would be defined as a "tent" or "other temporary or moveable structrure".

The image processing software is alleged to have an "electronic fig leaf" capability, but this is only for the actual display, and there is no guarantee that people's privacy will not be abused by storing images of their "naked" bodies digitally.

If children are scanned like this, then these images , even with the "fig leaf" are indecent child porn , under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, and those people who assist in its production face up to 2 years in jail.

Even adults privacy e.g. about their weight loss. or gain or possible pregnancy, is at risk if the same person is identified and scans from different times or dates are compared.

This type of X-Ray machine is of no use in detecting "drug mule" couriers who swallow condoms full of cocaine etc.

The Rapiscan Secure 1000 scanner uses backscattered X-Rays, which although they claim to use a harmless dose, nevertheless it is using X-Ray radiation on human beings, not on baggage or cargo.

Since the device is from the USA, it is likely that the small print of any contract of sale or hire of such a machine will specify US courts, so that the manufacturers can gain exemption from civil liability for causing false alarms, or for failing to detect weapons or explosives or for accidentally damaging the health of those being scanned or that of the nearby operators, under the notorious so called SAFETY Act (Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act) of 2002

Blair wants "individually targeted CCTV"

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Whilst the Home Office Immigration storm in a teacup will no doubt occupy most of the media's attention, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister made a speech on crime reduction which shows his attitude to surveillance and privacy issues:

"To target these prolific offenders the police will deploy modern surveillance techniques and intensive intelligence gathering - including individually targeted CCTV - to collect evidence to support more successful prosecutions. This is especially important in neighbourhoods where prosecutions for anti-social behaviour have been hindered by witness intimidation"

How exactly is state sponsored CCTV individually targeted at the homes of as yet unconvicted, if not necessaarily innocent "nuisance neighbours" in any way compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights Article 8 ?

"Article 8 ? Right to respect for private and family life

1 Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2 There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

Instead of installing even more unregulated CCTV cameras, the existing ones should be licensed and regulated, with minimum maintenance standards and a consistent nationwide policy on CCTV Data Retention and Subject Access. There must also be criminal penalties for those who abuse such surveillance systems.

"One issue has already been raised with me by the Metropolitan Police. That is whether existing powers to intercept the phone calls of known criminals can be used to gather intelligence on these prolific offenders.

Currently, interception of communications or intrusive surveillance can be authorised under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), against any offender who is likely to commit a serious offence. This is defined as an offence which, if committed by an individual over 21 with no previous convictions, is likely to attract a sentence of at least three years imprisonment.

The Met believe that the threshold is too high for intrusive surveillance and prevents them from carrying out such activity on people who may be prolific offenders but whose offending has not reached the level required by the Act.

We will review this situation with them and, if necessary, legislate to give the police the powers they need."

So the draconian provisions for Intrusive Surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000 are now going to be applied to petty criminals as well.

SOCA White Paper finally published online

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Days after it had been spun and leaked to the mainstream media, the Home Office has finally published the One Step Ahead: A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Criminals White Paper consultation document.

We were hoping for clarification about the planned use of Intercepts, but all we got was this:

6.2.2 Evidential use of intercept material

Under the Regulation of Investigatory Forces Act 2000, the

Presumably the Home Office authors actually mean the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).

What, if anything, does this Freudian slip reveal about how they think about these issues ?

evidential use of intercept material in court proceedings is not permitted in the UK. This is unusual internationally. The prohibition on evidential use is currently subject to a Home Office led review, commissioned by the Prime Minister.

Ministers fully recognise the importance of ensuring that a decision about whether or not to change the law is based on evidence that the benefits of doing so must clearly outweigh the risks. The main arguments for and against are clear. On the one hand, the evidential use of intercept may hold out the prospect of prosecutions in some cases where they would not otherwise have
been possible, and might encourage earlier guilty pleas. On the other hand, there is a concern that the evidential use of intercept would reveal capabilities which could undermine the effectiveness of intercept and damage the co-operation between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies in tackling and preventing terrorism and serious crime.

It is important to get this right. Work underway involves devising and testing a model for using intercept evidentially that is compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights. Experience of what works in other jurisdictions, the implications of developing technology and resource implications are also being assessed.

The Home Office led review is expected to conclude by June 2004. If Government were satisfied that adequate safeguards can be designed to prevent the disclosure of sensitive capabilities, and that the review had concluded that the benefits of this move would clearly outweigh the costs, then it would bring forward legislation to allow the evidential use of intercept material."

This White paper does not reveal any more actual detail about what the Government is proposing to do about the issues of electronic surveillance and its admissability in court, than the previous Consultation Document on Counter Terrorism Powers one does.

It is all very well to calll for input from interested parties and the public to these consultations, but to ask opponents of the political kites being flown to argue as Devil's Advocates against the entire spectrum of possible detailed policies which the Home Office might come up with, makes a mockery of the whole process.

These two consultation documents are even vaguer and more misleading than the notorious Entitlement Cards consultation document, which although full of technical, civil liberties and budget estimate faux pas at least gave a couple of possible options, and some brief information on practices in other countries.

There is not even this level of background detail in these so called consultation documents with respect to Electronic Surveillance.

If, as David Blunkett claims, there is an internal disagreement between various unnamed security agencies as to whether or not to try to make use of phone or email intercepts as evidence in court, and that he himself has changed his mind over the issue, why are the pros and cons not spelt out in this Consultation Whitepaper ?

The sort of things that should have been elaborated on in this White Paper include:

  • What was the effect of the court trial in the USA which revealed that Osama bin Laden's satellite phone had been routinely intercepted, even revealing the actual phone number in public ?
  • What is the current state of digital voice editing and voice morphing technology, which even 5 years ago could be used to make convincing fake recordings of short phrases or sentences, in real time, from as little as ten minutes of sampled speech.
  • What possible forensic examinations of any alleged Intercept "evidence" would be required to prove that it had not been so edited or tampered with ?
  • Is there a role for Digital Signatures and Digital Timestamps from an independent Government Public Key Infrastructure which would assist in the presentation of untampered Phone or Email Intercept evidsence in court ?
  • What about encrypted voice or data communications and the obscure role of the National Technical Assistance Centre is actually up to without the legal basis of the enacment of RIPA part 3 powers it was intended to serve.
  • What about Data Retention or Data Preservation , especially in the light of the vague talk about Communications Data Retention in the European Union Declaration on Combating Terrorism agreed last week.
  • How much will these various options cost the taxpayer ?
  • What financial and competitive burden will these measures place on the private sector telecommunications and internet industries ?

Is it worth bothering with making a formal contribution to either of these Consultations, given the way in which the Entitlement/ID Cards consultation was handled and spun by the Home Office ?

The spin and disinformation surrounding the Tory party and press criticism of the Home Office Immigration Minister Beverley Hughes and her boss the Home Secretary David Blunkett, took another turn, yet again not in the House of Commons, but on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Yesterday, the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary David Davis revealed, slightly against the conventions, through a point of order, that he had received an email from James Cameron, consul in the British Embassy in Bucharest in Romania, claiming that immigration applications which were thought to be dubious or which were backed up with forged documents were stilll being passed by the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate back in the UK, despite the objections of local embassy staff in Romania and Bulgaria.

Both David Davis and David Blunkett appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme just after 8am. David Davis answered the accusation made yesterday as to why he had not revealed the email to the Home Office on 8th March when he got it. He explained that the email had been anonymous, and that without proof he would be unwise to confront the Home Office with it. He claims that the consul phoned him last Wednesday evening (24th March) after he had been suspended by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and that the first opportunity to raise the issue had been yesterday (Monday 29th March) once the story had been checked.

The question was put then why was the consul suspended last week, before the allegations were made public and before David Davis surprised the Home Office with them yesterday.

David Blunkett said:

"I am familiar with Data and Data Retention and Data Access and I'm presuming, because I have no reason to believe otherwise, that they were aware of an email, but not necessarily its content. And , you know, we have debated this in the House, about how "content" and "traffic" as it is called, is a different thing".

He seemed be suggesting that this is what alerted the Foreign Office to the matter of "emailing willy nilly".

Previous media reports suggest that the email was sent from the consul's home rather than from the Embassy.

Does this imply that it is actually David Davis's email account which is under surveillance, rather than that of the embassy whistleblower ? This is an obvious point which the BBC interviewer missed.

David Blunkett claims he will inquire and get the answer to this by 12:30 when he is due to make a ststement in the House of Commons.

David Blunkett also a promised to set up a confidential hotline for whistleblowers within the Home Office so that people no longer have to go to the Shadow Home Secretary - why do these not already exist within every Government Department ?

Those of our readers in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, GCHQ, NCIS etc. might just have rather a busy morning today.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation is currently meeting in Cairo. Their plans for Biometric Passports and Machine Readable Travel Documents, which are being used as the excuse for various Government ID card and Biometric database systems.

Various privacy and human rights organisations have published an Open Letter to the ICAO, calling for them to rethink their Biometric Passport standards and plans:

An Open Letter to the ICAO (.pdf)

In addition, we think that the whole question of Biometric Passports for people with Dual Citizenship has not been considered properly:

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

"Article 15.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality."

There are literally millions of people who legitimately hold dual nationality. If a person holds two legitimate Biometric Passports, from different countries, each with a similar but different instance of their Biometric Identifiers, then their right not to be identified as a citizen of the country whose travel document they are not presenting at a particular border will be compromised, possibly with dire results e.g. dual UK and Israeli citizenship when travelling in the Middle East.

The use by the ICAO of Biometric Identifiers will tend to force people to favour one of their rights of citizenship over another, effectively depriving them of their second nationality, in contravention of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Remember that Biometric Passports would not have prevented the suicide hijacker terrorists on September 11th 2001 flights - they had legitimate travel documents.

Full text of the Open Letter:

The Home Office has published a formal UK 12 week Consultation on the Proposed European Evidence Warrant

As usual, the powers being sought all seem to be one way, ranged against the personal liberty and privacy of the individual.

Where in this proposal are there any explicit safeguards regarding Data Protection or Data Retention ?

It seems that the proposal allows for, say, criminal record information to be passed to a foreign police force, almost certainly via the Schengen Information System etc. computer networks and stored there forever, despite any UK "weeding" or removal of spent petty convictions according to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Similarly, although the proposal does not allow for new DNA samples etc to be collected on behalf of a foreign police force, they will be granted access to any such existing DNA profiles, including those collected from totally innocent people currently being held on the UK National DNA Database.

Where are the safeguards and criminal penalties to protect us from foreign petty officials who abuse our UK personal data records, and vice versa ?

Where is the SOCA White Paper ?

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So where exactly is the online version of the Home Office Whitepaper
"One Step Ahead: A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Criminals", some details of which were revealed to the weekend media (Sunday Telegraph this time) and the favoured BBC Radio 4 Today programme, ahead of the announcemnet by David Blunkett in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Could the Home Office really not have published the Whitepaper online at the same time as their Press Release 896, through which they presumably want to spin the story, without any detailed consideration by the media or the public.

Where are the detailed proposals about Communications Intercepts ? Certainly not in the Press Release.

There is a public meeting to be held on 6th April 2004 at the London School of Economics: Tracking children: a road to danger in the Children Bill?

We have our own worries about the massive database system which seems to be planned under the Children Bill, especially with wording like:

"7) Regulations under subsection (3) may also provide that anything which must or may be done under the regulations must or may be done notwithstanding any rule of common law which prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information."


"This half-day public meeting will assess the Children Bill's attempt to develop a computerised database on all children ? to ?track? them through life

Where
Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE, Aldwych, WC2

When
2.00 - 5.00 p.m. 6th April 2004

Speakers
Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Minister for Children
Terri Dowty, Action on Rights for Children
Jay Sweeney, Campaigner for Children?s Rights
Dr Peter Reder, child psychiatrist - an expert on child abuse deaths and how professionals fail to identify the risk to children.
Professor Brian Sheldon, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Social Services, University of Exeter, an expert on what services are effective in helping families.
Representative from Race Equality Unit (invited)
Representative of Association of Directors of Social Services (invited)

Chair: Eileen Munro LSE - expert on risk management in child protection
A draft programme for the meeting will be posted here shortly.

Entrance is free but please let us know if you wish to come to the meeting

E-mail tracking-children@lse.ac.uk for further information

http://tracking-children.lse.ac.uk

EU anti-terror scope creep

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For most people, European Union legislation and Declarations by the Council of Ministers are an alternative to counting sheep when afflicted by insomnia, or are targets of tabloid media stories during the "silly season". Unfortunately, following the March 11th 2004 Madrid bombings, the EU seems to be about to implent some of the anti-terrorist measures which were proposed
in the aftermath of the attacks on 11th September 2001 in the USA.

This has serious implications for the personal liberty and privacy of the vast majority of innocent people in the European Union.

This is much more important than even the debates on the Euro currency.

Staewatch have published a paragraph by paragraph scoreboard analysis of the European Union's "Draft Declaration on Combating Terrorism 7486/4/04 REV 4" (.pdf) on post Madrid bombing anti-terrorist measures.

The Declaration and the amended Action Plan, the earlier version of which which we commented on previously is, apparently due to be rubber stamped at today's EU summit (25 - 26th March 2004 in Brussels), according to the article in the Guardian "EU set to agree sweeping counter-terror policies"

Staewatch's analysis claims that of the 57 proposals to be agreed today, that "27 of the proposals have little or nothing to do with tackling terrorism - they deal with crime in general and surveillance."

We agree with most of Statewatch's analysis, but, depressingly, we think that they have missed the significance of the inclusion of the word "DNA" into this draft - there is nothing in this Declaration which would prevent the wholesale sharing of DNA profiles or "forensic evidence" to every country in the EU.

This would not be of such a concern, except for the fact that in th UK, "DNA forensic evidence" is no longer restricted to criminals or convicts. Anybody who is arrested (even for motoring offences) and who is found innocent, or has the charges dropped, still has their DNA profiles kept forever on the National DNA Database (over 2 million profiles and growing). Astonishigly, even innocent people who have cooperated voluntarily to provide DNA samples to help catch a rapist or murderer, also have their DNA samples retained forever e.g. in the recent M25 serial rapist case, around 3500 people were sampled, and even though the culprit is now in jail, their samples are still being retained and are no longer destroyed as used to be the practice.

Just as with the notorious UK Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the Terrorism Act 2000, supposedly strictly anti-terrorist measures are going to be used for more general criminals and against political demonstrators.

"Priority should be given to the proposals under the retention of communication traffic data and exchange of information on convictions with a view to adoption by June 2005."

Given the UK Home Office's failure to agree the details of a workable scheme,or even one which is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights, for the Retention of Communications Data after over 2 years of so called consultation with industry, and their spectacular failures with the Criminal Records Bureau IT systems, why should anybody believe that this is achievable, throughout the European Union by June 2005 ?

If these draconian anti-terrorist laws and Orwellian centralised databases are introduced to fight terrorism throughout the European Union, then the use of such measures must be restricted to proper anti-terrorist focussed investigations, and must not be used as a general surveillance tool against the public at large.

There must be criminal penalties available to prosecute those petty officials (anywhere in the European Union) who abuse these extraordinairy powers, and politicians must take polictical responsability for any dubious actions by their officials and agencies.

If the emergency services, armed forces and police forces are willing to risk their lives to counter terrorist attacks, then politicians should be willing to lay down their political careers if necessary, in order to enhance the trust of the public that the extraordinairy anti-terrorist measures are not being abused.

We must not build a high tech "rod for our own backs" by creating tools and institutions which although intended to counter terrorism today, could in the future be abused by a police state in some or all of the European Union.

This Declaration fails to address the existing deficiencies in the necessary checks and balsnces with the existing anti-terrorist laws and centralised databases, without which the necessary trust and cooperation from the public, especially from those minority communities who are being targeted as "supporters of terrorism" , should not be expected.

It is also significant, that this Declaration or Action Plan has no estimate of the cost to the EU taxpayers, even to the to the nearest billion euros, of these new anti-terrorist measures, either to set up these new institutions and centralised databases, or to continue running them in the future.

ID Card audit trails

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The Guardian article "Government will track ID card use"
features comments from Stephen Harrison, the head of the Home Office's identity card policy unit. He is the civil servant who had to duck and dive 11 times when giving oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee over how much the ill defined plans would cost - he did not give a clear answer to the nearest ?2 billion.

"Mr Harrison told a Law Society conference yesterday that ministers had started with the assumption that information on the pattern of everyday transactions involving each card would not be kept on the central computer database.

But following representations from the information commissioner they were now minded to keep information "about the audit of transactions" to allow the authorities to investigate abuses of the scheme. Although no final decision had been taken he said there would need to be safeguards to prevent abuse of such information. "

So much for the "Entitlement Cards" consultation process - we made exactly the same points about the need for audit trails in our comments.

Mr Harrison confirmed that individuals will be able to check that the data held on them under the identity card scheme was accurate and to put it right if there is an error. He said they were looking at ways in which this information could be accessed using the identity card rather than the traditional data protection method of writing a letter and paying ?10. However, it would not allow each individual to check on all the government data held on them or on the "audit trail" of checks that others make on their identity"

If part of the justification of forcing us to have a Compulsory Biometric ID Card is to reduce "identity theft", then an individual must be allowed access to their own ID Card transaction audit trail. This is commonplace in other systems such as itemised phone bills or itemised credit card statements or itemised bank statements. Even the dubious Oyster Card travel smartcard allows this.

The reason for doing so is the same - you are more likely to spot unusual transactions regarding the alleged use of your "identity" than any civil servant or automated computer system. These unusual transactions could be genuine mistakes (which according to the civil servant, we will be allowed to correct) or they could be the indicators of ID Card fraud or corruption in a government office, or terrorist activity etc. e.g. if the transaction audit trail shows that your ID Card is apparently being used at a time or a location when you were somewhere else.

If, as Jan Berry, Chairman of the Police Federation said in her oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, that an ID card audit trail could reduce the number of racially or religously discriminatory police stop and searches, by showing up exactly who was being unfairly targeted , and by whom, then it is vital that the ID Card audit trail is available to an individual, and that it can be brought into evidence in court.

Audit trail log files are the easy part of any Biometric ID Smart Card technology, computers are very good at logging when and where which device accessed which part of the system, just like trillions of financial, mtelephone or internet transactions get logged every day. If such audit trails are properly digitally signed andd timestamped to make them tamper resistant, they should be admissable in court, even though the technology does not provide for complete "non-repudiation".

One's identity, and any associated Biometric Identifiers, belongs only to the individual, and not to the Government. or to any 3rd party commercial partners or sub-contractors.

This individual will, under the current plan, have had to pay money for the ID Card. This is regardless of whether the individual is under investigation or suspected of any crime, or, as the vast majority of people, is completely innocent.

In order for Stephen Harrison's plan to be brought into force, the Government would have to further curtail our rights under the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

The audit trail requirements should also apply to any future "science fiction" attempts to identify people using mobile Biometric Identifier scanners communicating directly with the central databases, without comparing the Biometric Identifiers with those stored on the Smart Card. This is technically a vastly more difficult and error prone problem, but it should not be allowed to become a loophole around the audit trail - each and every such identification attempt needs to be logged and to be made available to the individual on request.

EU anti-terrorism confusion

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In the wake of the 11th March 2004 Madrid bombings, have our leaders rushed through all of these new anti-terrorist measures ? Why were these not already in place after the September 11th 2001 attacks in the USA ?

All the indications from the soundbite reporting by of the EU meetings by the media give the impression that all of the controversial measures set out in the European Commission paper below have been agreed, and are merely waiting to be rubber stamped next week, without any public discussion or debate.

We are reminded of the way in which the Home Office succeeded in gettting a shopping list of measures passed without much (or in some cases with zero) debate via the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, passed in the panic after the September 11th 2001 attacks.

European Commission action paper in response to the terrorist attacks on Madrid

Would anybody care to explain to us who, what or where exactly, the following European Union funded institutions are, and what they are now being tasked to do in the way of monitoring and surveillance of EU citizens ? Some of these should, apparently, already have been working on terrorism - are we getting our money's worth ?

  • Europol - "Europol is the European Law Enforcement Organisation which aims at improving the effectiveness and co-operation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international organised crime."
  • Eurojust -"Eurojust is a European body which supports investigations and prosecutions by the Member States into serious cross-border or transnational crime"
  • ENISA - European Network and Information Security Agency
  • OLAF - European Anti-Fraud Office

If this paper has been agreed, then it looks as if there will be new institutions such as:

  • Another European wide database blacklisting suspected money launderers and suspected terrorist organisation financial assets, to be in place by mid 2004.
  • Even more intrusive "use of travellers' data for border and aviation security and other law enforcement purposes"
  • More use of controversial database systems such as the SIS II (Schengen Information System version 2), VIS and EURODAC
  • "A European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will be established in 2005 and will prioritise the coordination of efforts to improve surveillance, notification, response, assistance, communication and laboratory capacity on health security matters" - Will this help or hinder the World Health Organisation in Geneva, which already seems to do this for influenza or SARS or plague or smallpox etc.

Then there is some wishful thinking and science fiction:

  • "Terrorists are often more innovative in using legitimate goods for illegal purposes than we might imagine. The Commission as well as Member States should monitor all its legislative or standard producing machinery so as to have it subject to "ex ante" terrorism proofing. No legislation should leave this institution without first being submitted to a terrorism proofing scrutiny."
  • Some attempt to get rid of those irksome anonymous pre-paid mobile phones -"Measures should be taken so that the sale of replacement SIM cards does not impede the efficient actions of law enforcement authorities. "
  • Self justification for the development of the Galileo Global Satellite Positioning system and a throw away reference to Radio Frequency ID tags (RFID) as if these will magically help to track explosives or radioactive sources.

Which of these, if any, will be the under the control of the new "Terrorism Czar", who, by some mystical process of appointment, is being reported by the Guardian, as likely to be to be the former Dutch Interior Minister Klaas de Vries.

Statewatch have similar comments and criticisms regarding this "action plan".

The Madrid bombings seem to be prompting Europe wide anti-terrorist measures. Where is the scrutiny and oversight, and the mechanisms for correcting the inevitable mistakes on European wide "terrorist suspect" blacklists ?

EU GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO UK ANTI-TERRORISM PROPOSALS

Reference: 128/2004 - Date: 22 Mar 2004 12:30
The UK has secured agreement on all its key proposals put forward today at the emergency Justice and Home Affairs council meeting in Brussels.

The Council:
agreed to establishing new common standards for retention of communications data;
agreed to implement proposals to improve the exchange of data between countries, for example on lost and stolen passports; and
tasked EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security policy, Javier Solana, to bring forward proposals to make better use of intelligence across the EU within six months.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said:

"I am pleased and encouraged with the progress we have been able to make today. The meeting was not a talking shop and focused on how we get things done, focusing on practicalities, not generalities

"Heads of government will make final decisions on the plans next week but I believe we have agreed a series of practical measures which can make a real difference to the fight against terrorism.

"It is particularly gratifying for the UK that the specific points that we have put forward have been accepted."

David Blunkett was complaining that other European countries had not implemented the anti-terrorist measures promised in the aftermath of the September 11th 2001 attacks.

His own record on Communications Data Retention which was shoved into the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Actrt 2001 with no debate, is hardly a shining example. The Home Office has still not come up with agreed, workable standards, after over 2 years.

Does this mean that sometime next week the Voluntary Communications Data Retention Scheme will become, by order, Mandatory and the model for the whole European Union ?

What about European Union access to my Retained Communications Data ?

Where are the European wide proposals and budgets for the regulation, minimum maintenance standards and data retention standards for Closed Circuit TV surveillance systems, which is an area of direct relevance to anti-terrorist operations ?

ID Card leaking season reopens

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The Sunday Times headline story "Blunkett fast-tracks ID cards" has re-opened the ID Cards leaking season.

They allegedly quote details from supposedly secret letters sent by Cabinet Ministers criticising David Blunkett's draft ID Cards Bill, which is due to be published "before Easter".

"Public support for ID cards has increased since the bombings in Madrid, according to a poll for The Sunday Times today. The Experian survey shows that more than 86% of people would be prepared to carry an ID card, with the overwhelming majority believing that it would help to fight crime and terrorism."

The Spanish ID Card system did not prevent the bombs in Madrid.

Nobody from the Home Office has yet been able to explain just exactly how their proposed Compulsory Biometric ID Card scheme could actually catch terrorists or serious criminals.

N.B. Experian are a major Credit Reference Agency, and they have a vested commercial interest in promoting Compulsory ID Cards, for their own financial benefit.

Do the people surveyed realise that in order to be of any use in catching terrorists or criminals, the compulsory registration and re-registration procedures will be equivalent to placing all 60 million people in the UK onto the Violent and Sexual Offenders Register ?

Some details about what the Department for Work and Pensions and Inland Revenue Longitudinal Study is being used for have been published.

The promised Ethics Committee still does not seem to have been constituted, or if it has, it is a secret.

Why are so many of the first tranche of access requests to this controversial merging of DWP and IR databases to do with Racial Profiling ? Presumably these people also have access to the Census Data as well. They should seek to ensure that they do not go down in history alongside the infamous Jacobus Lambertus Lentz whose state of the art statistical analyses of the Dutch population formed the basis of the "efficient" delivery of Government services, and the Nazi round up of Jews and forced slave labourers etc.

Which of the Data Sets are these teams of statisticians, consultants and others working with ?

"Version 1 - fully identifiable, 24 year history, accessible only by those who will be linking in the Inland Revenue data;
Version 2 - anonymised, 24 year history, available to analysts for statistical and research purposes;
Version 3 - fully identifiable, 1 year history, used for operational purposes (most notably fraud and error)."

It is obvious that the Longitudinal Study Uses are not restricted to short term studies, but are in effect, a permanent gateway between the DWP and IR databases, which raises many unanswered privacy questions.

Oyster Card privacy policy

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One of our correspondents recently enquired about whether or not it was possible to obtain an anonymous Oyster Card (all 7 zones London Underground and Bus travel, rather than the zones 1-3 PrePay card), and got this reply below:

N.B. there is no mention of whether or not the Transport for London and British Transport Police and other CCTV camera operators which cover London Underground Tube and Railway Stations and (offline) on the Buses, have routine and realtime access to the Oyster Card database, or do they have to file an individual Data Protection Act Section 29 request each and every time ?

Will 3rd party retailers also get their hands on your Oyster Card data if and when the EMV feature is used as electronic cash to pay for newspapers , sweets etc., like other Transport Smart Cards around the world do ?

Dear Mr. [......]

Thank you for your email to the Oystercard Helpdesk.

In answer to your query below, I am happy to detail the data protection arrangements for the Oystercard.

"Portable scanning device" on the Tube ?

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The Times reports that

"A small number of plainclothes anti-terror police will be deployed on the Tube. They may be equipped with a portable scanning device that can detect potential suicide bombers"

Really ? Exactly how is this supposed to work ?

Is this a Passive Millimetre Wave Radar "see under your clothes" Camera ?

Or are is The Times getting confused with reports about radiation and chemical weapons sensors or biowarfare agent sampling kits ?

Random stops & searches on the Tube ?

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The BBC are now quoting British Transport Police claiming that:

"British Transport Police have also said more people using the Tube will be randomly stopped and searched.

A spokesman stressed the moves had been planned for some time and were not a reaction to the attacks in Madrid."


Stop and Search is something which the Metroplitan Police and the Metropolitan Police Authority are treating as a serious community issue, for good reasons.

Is the British Transport Police announcement going to circumvent all the well established policies of not being seen to single out racial or religous minorities to be stopped and searched, and of providing a written audit of the reasons for which someone has been singled out for suspicion ?

There is a big difference between say, searching everybody going through a police cordon during an alert, and routinely searching only some people at "random" - is it really at random or is it based on predjudice ?

Will the British Transport Police now be abusing Terrorism Act powers to "stop and search" anybody that they feel is acting suspiciously, including their "ordinary" fare dodgers, football or music fans, drunks, drug dealers, graffiti artists, pickpockets etc. ?

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act has already been used incorrectly against political demonstrators travelling to a rally, despite promises that the draconian measures in this Act are only to combat terrorism. This is plainly not true in practice, as shown by the challenges in court. by the Liberty Human Rights organisation.

Train Marshals - guns on the Tube ?

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The Observer story "Anti-terror marshals to ride trains" also reported by the BBC
"'Train marshals' to patrol Tube" begs the obvious question:

Will these undercover "plain clothes counter-terrorist police" be armed with guns, like the controversial secret deployment of Sky Marshals on UK airlines ?

Mobile Phone bomb prevention ?

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What are the implications of the Madrid phone bombs for the balance of UK anti-terrorist and privacy measures ?

Banning or jamming mobile phones overground is simply not feasible, as we speculated during the visit of President Bush to London.

However, should Transport for London be made to abandon its commercial plans to extend the number of Underground Tube stations and lines fitted with "leaky feeder" aerials and micro-cells to provide Mobile Phone reception deep underground ?

How much protection, if any, would a filter or firewall which would block incoming Mobile Phone calls to such a controlled micro-cell environment in railway stations or airports, but still allow outgoing calls, especially to emergency services ?

Obviously the call set up and cell handover handshakes would still have to work in both directions regardless, which would still be a mechanism for bomb detonation, but which would be much more complicated for a terrorist to achieve, requiring customised integrated microelectronic chip circuitry, or modified firmware, rather than just starting the electrical detonation chain from the phone's loudspeaker or screen display circuit outputs.

There has been a debate over the UK Government's plans for Data Retention as opposed to Data Preservation of mobile phone and other electronic Communications Data.

The Voluntary Code of Practice under the controversial Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, shows that the UK authorities want to retain all the mobile phone communications data, all of the time, not just in response to a terrorist attack like in Madrid, and not just for the purposes of catching or preventing terrorists.

Since this Voluntary scheme is not working, due to the lack of sincere consultation and willingness to pay money for data staorage and retrieval for which there is, by definition, no business case, will the Home Secretary now bring forward an urgent re-consultation exercise, or will he use the legal powers he already has to force this inadequate Data Retention scheme to become mandatory ?

This would also be an opportunity to tackle the neglected issue of Regulation of CCTV surveillance cameras so that licensed cameras meet minimum standards of Privacy, proper Maintenance and Data Retention policies.

If CCTV is to be a proper anti-terrorist protection, rather than a political sop to be seen to be doing something about crime, there is simply no point in wasting more millions of pounds on CCTV cameras in the unregulated and unplanned way that successive Governments have done so.

Mobile Phone intercepts seem likely, according to Government and Opposition MPs, to be admitted as "evidence" in future terrorism and probably serious crime court cases as well, despite the problems of proving it has not been faked electronically.

The amount and type of Communications Data which the Government already intends to try to retain (some of which is already admissable in court) from the overwhelming majority of innocent people includes:

Mobile Phones and the Madrid bombs

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The Independent on Sunday quotes the Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes:

"The dramatic announcement came six hours after Spanish police arrested five men ? three Moroccans and two Spaniards of Indian origin ? in connection with their investigation into Thursday's bombing which killed 200.

At an earlier news conference, Mr Acebes, said the five were held in connection with a mobile phone and phone cards found inside an explosives-filled backpack which failed to detonate. Ten other bombs devastated four commuter trains in Thursday's attacks, and another two backpacks were destroyed in controlled explosions. One of the suspects "could be related to Moroccan extremist groups", Mr Acebes added, "but we should not rule out anything."

Moroccan security experts were expected in Madrid today to participate in the investigation.

All the arrests were made "for presumed implication in the sale and falsification of the mobile phone and cards found in the bag that did not explode", the minister said. The detentions were the first tangible fruit of frenetic investigations into the tragedy, and point strongly to Islamist ? rather than Basque separatist ? radicals as being responsible, a development which could impact on today's general election in Spain."

It would not be surprising if the people arrested have nothing to do with the actual terrorist bombers, except through having sold them some mobile phones or Subscriber Identity Modules (SIM) cards.

The Moroccan suspects seem to have been running a mobile phone and television shop for the past 4 years.

How likely is it that Al-Quaeda would leave any clues from Mobile Phones after the "Operation Mont Blanc" Swisscom SIM affair ?

Other reports claim that bomb's detonation mechanism was triggered by a mobile phone (an all too common technique used in the Middle East or Latin America)

Some TV terrorism pundits speculated that if the trains had not been delayed by 2 minutes, the detonations would have taken place inside the railway station, possibly causing even more casualties, especially if the roof collapsed as well. c.f. the BBC's timeline and locations of the 10 explosions.

The El Mundo reports, briefly, that the Mobile Phone was a Trium model, with the language settings set to Spanish, and that it was the alarm function which was intended to be used to set off the explosion i.e. not a mobile phone call or SMS message per se.

"El tel馯no m󶩬 encontrado en la mochila de Vallecas, de tarjeta prepago y de la marca Trium, estaba programado para que su alarma sonara a una hora determinada y activar as�l explosivo. Ademᳬ la configuraci󮠤e las opciones del aparato estaba en espa񯬮"

Presumably, the mobile phone records, including which phone called which, at what time and from which Cell Location, of not just the 5 people arrested and the other two Spanish nationals of Indian origin who have been questioned but of virtually every mobile phone user in the Madrid area are being analysed by computer.

Are UK phone records calling to/from Spain, also being so analysed, in the spirit of "maximum cooperation" with the Spanish authorities ?

Where was the serious analysis in the media of what the Home Secretary David Blunkett said to the Defence and Home Affiars Committees, oral evidence session on Homeland Security, Tuesday 2 March 2004 ?

Witnesses: Rt Hon David Blunkett, a Member of the House, Home Secretary, Mr Robert Whalley, Director of Counter-Terrorism, Home Office, Sir David Omand, KCB, Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator and Permanent Secretary and Ms Cheryl Plumridge, Director Capabilities, Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Cabinet Office

It seems that the Draft ID Cards Bill is still set to be published "later this spring":

Bombs in Madrid

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We know several people in Madrid and in the rest of Spain. Our condolences and sympathies go out to the families of the victims of today's terrorist bomb attacks.

Do not let the terrorists achieve their aims.

Do not let our Government be goaded into further reducing our civil liberties in response to terrorist activity.

Steve Moxon search engine spin

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The media spin continues about Steve Moxon continues. Thanks to Richard Allan MP's weblog for pointing out that:

"Incidentally his comments were not in an email as has been reported but are openly published on the Panorama website here and here. Interesting to note how comments on such sites (including blogs) can now be brought out if you have an easily searchable name..."

This theme will be elaborated on in a forthcoming Privacy Polemic article.

Below are the words attributed to Steve Moxon on the Panorama website, rather than the soundbite edited quotations from "emails" as reported on the TV and in the print media.

N.B. the BBC website search engine does not find these Panorama references, using the search term "Steve Moxon" in either the "results from BBC news" or the "results from rest of the BBC" sections, but does find one of them in the "results from the Web" search tab.

Mr Moxon's analysis or opinions about Middle Eastern terrorism, in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th 2001 attacks (when many commentators and politicians were demanding revenge on the Taleban and Al-Quaeda in Afghanistan) may or may not be wrong, but they do not disqualify him as a genuine whistleblower with regard to the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate's shenanigans.

Whistleblowers

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On the face of it, the suspension of Sheffield civil servant Steve Moxon, from the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate, after leaking details to the Sunday Times, of a politically embarassing management failure and "unofficial" attempt to massage Immigration statistics, seems unfair. This should clearly be covered as a Protected Disclosure permitted under the
Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, if , as Steve Moxon claims, he got no response from his complaints to the Minister Beverely Hughes, who in turn claims that she was not informed of his email complaint by a new personal assistant member of staff.

It is not unusual for whistleblowers to be suspended or disciplined for reasons allegedly other than because of their disclosures, but the truth of this will only come out should there be an Employment Tribunal (which is an area of legal expertise of Ms Cherie Blair QC, the wife of the Prime Minister).

Hint to whistleblowers: do not rely on email getting through to your senior management - also send a registered letter with proof of delivery (you can track this online through the Post Office Track and Trace website portal)

This case contrasts with the other recent whistleblower, the more photogenic Katherine Gun, whose was employed at GCHQ, which together with the Security Service MI5, the Secret intelligence Service MI6 and the Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ (for whom Ms. Gun worked) are excluded by this Act for reasons of National Security.

There is even more of a contrast with the claims made by former Cabinet Minister Clare Short, on February 26th, about spying on the Secretary General of the United Nations, a topic which seems to have slipped off the goldfish like limited attention span of the media and politicians. A week in politics is a long time, two weeks is, apparently, even more so.

The Liberal Democrats seemed to rebuff this whistleblower. Perhaps Steve Moxon's local constituency Member of Parliament, the computer literate Richard Allan MP will shed further light on this in his weblog ?.

The Conservative leader Michael Howard was eager to use this disclosure to embarass the Government at Prime Minister's Question Time

However, the BBC has now been making selective extracts fom emails apparently sent from Steve Moxon to the BBC Newsnight programme circa 2001 . Taken out of context, these email soundbites seem to portray Steve Moxon as having "extremist" views on Muslims.

The slightly longer extracts published by The Independent which put his comments on BBC TV to Guto Harri the BBC political correspondent, into a little more perspective. You can see that he was talking about the Wahhabi sect which is often erroneously associated with Osama bin-Laden and Al-Quaeda etc., and not about all Muslims in general.

Does this fuss seem familar ? How about the resignation of TV Chat show host and former Labour MP Robert Kilroy-Silk ?

What relevance do these alleged views have to Steve Moxon's credibility as a whistleblower, over an Immigration issue regarding applications by self employed Eastern European immigrants who are already in the UK ahead of the EU enlargement on May 1st. ? Home Office Minister Beverly Hughes has already had to admit in Parliament that the substance of Steve Moxon's allegation is in fact true.

Following the BBC email revelations, Gutto Harri reported that Conservative party officials were now no longer willing "to use this dog to hunt" with.

What is the BBC's policy on Data Retention of emails from members of the public ? How long do they keep them for, and did they ask Steve Moxon's permission to circulate them ?

Was nothing learnt by the BBC and by Government spin doctors from the Hutton Inquiry about the effects of intense political and media spotlights on otherwise non-public civil servants etc. ? What if Steve Moxon's health suffers as a result of this ?

Commercial web spider blacklists

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IBM Almaden Research Center

The Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into ID Cards
Uncorrected Oral Evidence taken on February 24th 2004 is now available online.

They heard evidence from Professor Ross Anderson, from the Foundation for Information Policy Research; Professor Martyn Thomas, from the UK Computing and Research Committee; and Nick Kalisperas, Senior Programme Manager, from Intellect, and Geoff Llewellyn, Member, Intellect ID Card Working Group on Identity Cards.

N.B. Geoff Llewellyn seems to be, director, strategy and government relations for SchlumbergerSema which has the contract for the UK Passport Office biometric trial.

Why are the British TV and print media giving terrorists the oxygen of publicity, by falling for the media manipulation of the British suicide bomber video released by Hamas ?

There was absolutely no need to show such large extracts of this video, which is, presumably an attempt to recruit people with European passports.

This comes after the continual rebroadcast of video clips of bomb detonations of the dead and injured and of the panic of crowds of people in Karbala in Iraq on the 2nd of March.

Why are the terrorists messages of hate and violence being allowed to manipulate the media reporting so sensationally ? Is this serious news journalism or ghoulish entertainment ?

It nice to see that the old media such as the Sunday Telegraph - Want to be a spy? Six-footers need not apply have finally got around to noticing the height restrictions for the new applicants for jobs at the Security Service MI5 as surveillance officers.

"able to blend into the background. We are looking for average height, build, appearance etc. Applicants therefore would ideally be no taller than 1.80m (5'11") for men and 1.73m (5'8") for women"

We reported on this detail on February 21st 2004.

Is David Blunkett flying on BA223 ?

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The Home Secretary David Blunkett is, apparently, flying out to Washington today to meet with his counterparts in the USA on Monday, to discuss issues about terrorism. according to the BBC to announce some sort of joint USA/UK simultaneous anti-terrorism exercise some time next year.

Hopefully this will be more in scale with the USA's previous Topoff2 exercise in May 2003, rather than with the unrealistic exercise conducted at the Bank Tube Station on Sunday 7th September 2003.

"The spokeswoman said Mr Blunkett would be delivering a speech on Monday evening, entitled Defending Democracy - Two Sides of the Same Coin?, which aimed to 'initiate debate on this difficult issue'. "

Is this going to be yet another David Blunkett kite flying exercise from a platform overseas, floating ideas which should have been presented firstly to Parliament in the UK ?

Will David Blunkett be flying on the notorious BA223 flight from London Heathrow to Washington Dulles this afternoon at 15:00 ?

If not, does that mean that this flight is still at risk of being hijacked ?

Alternatively, has a much more expensive Royal Air Force flight been put at his disposal for "security" reasons ?

Big Nanny database ?

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The newly published Children's Bill section 8 Information Sharing could address some major problems with the state bureaucracies.

Unfortunately the Government seems, yet again, to be trying to give itself unlimited powers with regard to an electronic dossier on each and every child in England & Wales, and on their parents or guardians. N.B. this database is not just on children at risk etc. , but on every child and on every parent

"7) Regulations under subsection (3) may also provide that anything which must or may be done under the regulations must or may be done notwithstanding any rule of common law which prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information."

They are not spelling out the details of what exactly will be stored in this massive new centralised "Big Nanny" database. Some obvious questions include:

  • Who exactly will have access to this database on each child in the UK and on each of their parents ?
  • How long will the data be retained after the age of 16 or 18, or in the case of people with learning difficulties, the age of 25 ?
  • What will individual children or their parents or guardians be able to see of the records relating to them on this database ?
  • It looks as if soft intelligence possibly including unproven allegations and rumours could be included on this database. What are the procedures for getting false allegations expunged ?
  • How much will this database system cost, and who will pay for it ? Central or Local Government ?
  • What happens to the existing databases and record keeping systems ? Will they be replaced entirely, or will this database be an extra layer of red tape ?
  • When is it intended that this new database system should be up and running ?
  • Where is the Office of Government Commerce "gateway project review" of the aims and cost benefits of this system, which is supposed to prevent Yet Another Government IT Disaster ?
  • Is the individual dossier number on each child, and their parents, effectively an ID Card scheme via a backdoor route ?
  • Where are the criminal penalties for abuse of such a database ?

""Child protection overhaul 'could lead to false abuse claims' - David Batty ,Thursday March 4, 2004 , The Guardian"

Government plans to set up a sophisticated tracking system to keep tabs on every child in England could lead to parents being falsely accused of child abuse, child welfare experts warned today"

Action Rights for Children in Education are also worried about this proposed database.

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: 0xA165A29480CFAA4C 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