September 2004 Archives

According to Saturday's report in The Guardian newspaper, there is now a Code of Practice regarding GSM Mobile Phone Location Based Services.

"The code of practice has been drawn up by the five British mobile networks in conjunction with the Home Office, police and children's charities. It also allows firms to sell services based on data that locates the position of a mobile user"

We have been worried about these, especially the ones aimed specifically at tracking Childrean or vulnerable adults e.g. old people with Alzheimer's disease etc. for over a year now.

Our worry, and that of children's charities is that these Mobile Phone tracking services are not very secure, and could be exploited by stalkers, kidnappers etc. c.f. our "Security and Child Safety concerns over the ChildLocate Mobile Phone Tracking Service"

Our fears remain, given a number of breaches of security that we are aware of at the companies qwhich run these services, and the inherent technical insecurity of Mobile Phone Short Message Service, which is not secure enough for minor financial transactions using a credit card, let alone secure enough to protect a vulnerable child or adult from evil people.

We are also sceptical about just how accurate these GSM Location Based Services are away from the major cities, where the density of Mobile Phone Cell transmitters can mean that, as was shown in the notorious Soham murders case, the Location revealed by a mobile phone can easily be misleadingly inaccurate by several kilometres, 8 kilometres (5 miles) in the Soham case, and potentialy up to 35 kilometres - a disaster for anybody conducting a search for a missing child.

We look forward to reading the Code of Practice, which does not yet seem to be available online, as we have several questions, e.g.

  • Does the COP also apply to 3GPP phones as well as GSM ones ?
  • What is the minimum frequency of SMS messages revealing that a particular phone is being tracked ?
  • Are these reminder messages sent at fixed times or randomly ?
  • Is the use of SSL/TLS session encryption for the web site mapping and SMS message sending side of the operations mandatory ?
  • How frequent are Independent Security Audits of these tracking systems ?
  • Have all the technical staff who have privilged access to the details and locations of children been checked as if they were employed in a school, via the Criminal Records Bureau ?
  • What sanctions are there to enforce this Code of Practice ? Or is this just another toothless "Press Complaints Commission" type sop to the public ?

Email us or leave a comment here if you have access to a copy of the Code of Practice, which does not currently appear on the industry regulatory body Ofcom, or the Home Office or the Mobile Phone Network corporate websites.

The leaks from the media ahead of the scheduled November meeting of the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee have started.

This is the committee made up of senior civil servants and newspaper and broadcasting editors etc. in the United Kingdom who run a voluntary self-censorship scheme, formerly known as "D notices", but renamed in recent years to "DA notices" i.e. "Defence Advisory notices".

Apparently according to The Guardian newspaper:

"The committee will soon extend the reach of D notice number 4 which now concentrates on nuclear weapons and intelligence facilities, according to emergency planning officers.

It will be amended to cover a much wider range of "sensitive sites", including what Whitehall calls Britain's "critical national infrastructure", or CNI. It covers telecommunications, energy, transport and water"

However, nobody actually knows the full extent of the UK's Critical National Infrastruture, especially the electronic one as defined by the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre, most of which is in the private sector, often legally and technically adminstered from abroad, rather than under the direct control of the UK Government.

Hopefully the debate on the forthcoming controversial Civil Contingencies Bill, will highlight the lack of investment in identifying, let alone protecting, the Critical National Infrastructure, and might embarass the Government in spending some money on this, rather than on wasting billions on projects such as the National Identity Register

Is the DA notice committee seriously proposing to return to the "bad old days" when even the address of the British Telecom Tower, one of London's tallest landmark buildings, was deemed to be "an official secret" ?

What about publications such as Eye Spy Magazine which publish lots of such photos and details about intelligence and defence buildings, people and organisations, every month ?

The DA notice commitee seems to be dithering about the Internet and the World Wide Web. Does the DA notice system really make the British public any safer ?

Why are our TV news media organisations, e.g. the BBC or Sky actually re-broadcasting. to many millions more people than would otherwise be possible, the video of Ken Bigley, the British hostage held in Iraq, pleading for his life ?

How does giving the terrorist kidnappers the "oxygen of publicity" help either the unfortunate Mr. Bigley, or any of the rest of us ?

The video clip taken from some allegedly extremist website, adds no extra material facts to the story e.g. clues about where or when the video was taken, or even if Mr. Bigley is still alive.

There is no need to let the terrorists set the news agenda when reporting this story.

Yusuf Islam was formerly known as Cat Stevens, the former pop star of the 1970s who sang million selling songs such as "Matthew and Son", "Morning Has Broken" and "Moonshadow".

Why was his presence on a flight from London to Washington considered to be such an immediate security risk that the flight was forced to divert to an airport in Maine ?

Even if the USA authorities did not wish to let him into the country, why did they not make this decision before he boarded the plane, or at least after he landed in Washington ? Why the panic in mid-flight delaying and worrying all the other passengers ?

Is Yusuf Islam a terrorist or is it just his charitable fundraising which has drawn the attention of the Israeli and USA authorities ? Even if he was a financer of terrorism, then surely it would be better to keep a close watch on him and his contacts, rather than to exclude him or to panic whilst his flight is in mid air ? If there is evidence of Yusuf Islam doing anything illegal, then he should have arrested and charge and tried in court.

We seem to be back to the insane transatlantic "watch list" policies exhibited around last Christmas and the New Year.

This sort of "war on tourism" incident further damages any remaining public confidence that the UK and USA transport security bureacracy is at all competent. Which official or politician is willing to take public responsibility for such panic measures ?

NO2ID campaign launched to the public

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NO2ID campaign launch banners - click for a larger imageNO2ID campaign banners - "Stop ID cards and the database state" - www.no2id.net

The NO2ID campaign launched itself formally on Saturday, unveiling some visually striking campaign branding.

Philip Chaston has posted a "Libertarian" account of this meeting on the White Rose blog.

It is not just the opponents of the compulsory biometric National Identity Register database and ID Cards that cannot explain exactly what the scheme is intended to accomplish in detail. Even the Labour dominated Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons could not get a straight answer about the actual measurable objectives of the scheme, or even any cost estimates accurate to the nearest £2 billion, out of the Home Office Ministers and Civil Servants from whom they took evidence for their damning report published at the end of July 2004.

Expect to see the NO2ID campaigners lobbying the forthcoming major political party conferences.

The Government should not underestimate the depth of feeling or the technical knowledge and experience of those opposed to their scheme. There is widespread cross party support for this NO2ID campaign, which seems to be growing rapidly as the detailed implications of the Government's scheme start to be discussed in detail.

Sir Andrew Leggatt has been re-appointed as Chief Surveillance Commissioner, regulating Covert Surveillance by the Police etc., but not dealing with wider issues and abuses such as CCTV surveillance spy cameras etc. in general. He is the most open of the various Commissioners who work the hugely complicated Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

"Chief Surveillance Commissioner / Surveillance Commissioner

"The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): I am pleased to announce that I have approved the re-appointment of the right hon. Sir Andrew Leggatt as chief surveillance commissioner and the appointment of the noble Lord Coulsfield as a surveillance commissioner under the terms of section 91 of the Police Act 1997.

Both appointments commenced on 1 July 2004 and are until 30 June 2007."

The decision by the Speaker of the House of Commons to shut the stable door after the protestors who invaded the Chamber of the House of Commons, by ringing the Chamber with armed Police and clearing the Public Galleries is a strange one.

If unarmed protestors attempted a similar publicity stunt again, would the Police really shoot them ? What sort of a hysterical frenzy would the media whip up if there was bloodshed within Parliament ?

What exactly are the clear cut rules of engagement which these armed Police officiers operate under ? Presumably they are there to counter life threatening terrorists or madmen, but against unarmed publicity seekers, their Heckler & Koch MP5 machine carbines are as useless as nuclear weapons.

If they are not going to shoot them, then they will be encumbered by body armour and weapons, which they will be reluctant to let fall into the hands of demonstrators during a struggle, so they will, in fact be even less effective than the nimble "men in tights", who, did succeed in capturing the intruders within about 10 seconds of their appearance in the Chamber.

One Liberal Democrat MP Paul Keetch, is reporting that one his contituents tried to warn the Police three times about the suspiciously disguised protestors before the incident, but his warnings were ignored.

Perhaps there needs to be, in addition to the armed Police, some physically imposing, properly trained doormen or "bouncers", who are used to anticpitaing trouble, as employed by various London nightclubs. Perhaps there should also be more visible police dog patrols.

Are the authorities going to sanction the use of sometimes "non lethal" weapons like stun guns or pepper spray ? Or would the risk of these being captured and used to create a disturbance be too great ?

Any increase in the use of CCTV cameras within the Palace of Westminster will be of no use in preventing similar incidents, only in providing an idea of what happened after an incident has already happened. Like in many other situations, CCTV spy cameras failed to have any deterrent effect whatsoever.

5 or so pro fox hunting protestors managed to get onto the floor of the Chamber of the House of Commons, for less than 10 seconds, before they were arrested

According to ITV news lobby correspondent, it seems, that the protestors got in through via Central Lobby, and the staircase which leads to the corridor which contains the Select Committee rooms.

We know this Corridor reasonably well, having attended several Home Affairs Select Committee sessions on ID Cards , as interested members of the public.

They apparently changed out of their suits and ties (leaving them on the staircase or in the Select Committes Corridor), and then rushed along in their protest t-shirts to come down a staircase behind the Speaker's Chair in to the No Lobby. There is talk of a "brojken secuirty device" on a door, and nobody guarding it.

From the look of the tv pictures, 4 of them came in via the No Lobby, but another one manged to get in via the Yes Lobby on the opposite side of the Chamber. A couple of others seem to have been arrested elsewhere, giving a total of 7 protestors under arrest.

The No Lobby is near to where the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers Parliamentary Offices are.

Apparently a couple of the protestors were blocked by the Commons security staff, but the rest managed to get onto the floor of Chamber of the House of Commons, but only for a few seconds, before they were arrested.

Compared with breaches of security in other Parliaments, or Congresses, where firearms have been used, this is still a minor breach of security, but worrying to the authorities, nevertheless. This is not a "massive breach of security" as the media are hyping this incident.

We repeat our view, that it should be made clear to terrorists or others, that even if they ever succeed in penetrating Parliament with weapons, and they ever managed to succeed in killing or injuring any of our MPs or Ministers, it would be regretable, but ultimately futile, as we would democratically elect replacements and the terrorists would not win, or gain any sympathy for their cause.

This is the best defence of Parliament, but it would be prudent to re-inforce the various Houses of Parliament pass zones, with actual physical turnstyle barriers as well. This would have the advantage of telling the building security and saftey officials, exactly how many people are in each area of the building, at any one time, in the event of a fire or bomb threat evacuation.

Unfortunately, turnstyle barriers are ignored by those senior politicians and officials who feel themselves to be somehow especially self important, and so they usually demand not to have to use them. If such barriers are installed, then there must be no exceptions at all, everybody must be forced to use them, there must be no "Ministers' Doors". The system of allowing a variable, and uncounted number of visitors to be let through on the nod if accompanied by a pass holder, who opens security doors for them, as in the Portcullis House annex, which leads via a tunnel into the Palace of Westminster is not acceptable either.

However, these pro-hunting protestors are not terrorists, and they should not be treated as such, any more than the "purple flour" divorced fathers' protestors were.

Just to make things clear, we are probably actually in favour of banning fox hunting, but not in the way that this particular Hunting Bill has been worded (what exactly is the Bill's legal definition of the word "hunting" ?) and especially not the way in which it is being literally "rubber stamped" in a single day through the House of Commons, with no amendments or proper debate, in exactly the same way as one would expect from a third world dictatorship.

This incident should not be used as an excuse to further clamp down on our civil liberties, or our democratic freedoms.

During the Cold War, every nuance uttered by the Soviet Politburo was analysed for what it "really" meant by pundits versed in the black arts of "Kremlinology". Similar techniques need to be applied to the utterances of Home Secretary David Blunkett i.e. "Blunkettology".or "HomeOfficeOlogy"

Home Secretary David Blunkett made a speech today to the Police Superintendents? Association Annual Conference in Warwick.

He mentioned Yet Another Initiative, the Policing Bureaucracy Gateway to attempt to counter the seemingly inevitable red tape and form filling which the Home Office and Police seem to be so fond of. He claimed that there were some 7,000 different forms in use by the 43 Police forces in England and Wales (there are actually more Police forces than this if you also count those in Scotland, the UK Atomic Energy Police, the Ministry of Defence Police, the British Transport Police etc.)

Will the Policing Bureaucracy Gateway simply send out more forms or questionnaires asking about the number and types of forms and questionnaires which each police officier or civil servant has to fill in ?

Presumably the use of the word "Gateway" in this context is Home Office NewSpeak derived from the Her Majesty's Treasury Office of Government Commerce Gateway Reviews TM of major projects. So "Gateway" is now meant to be misunderstood as an "OGC Gateway Review" style process, not to be confused with a legislative "Gateway" which is the legal authority for Government Departments to abuse our privacy by sharing otherwise private data between each other e.g. Inland Revenue tax data etc. brought in by the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 etc. The results of such OGC Gateway Reviews are invariably kept secret from the public and even from Select Committees of Parliament.

This "Gateway" should not, of course, be confused with the Government Gateway which is an e-government registration and neutral transaction gateway/portal between different Government Departments, and with some of the General Public. N.B. the Compulsory Biometric ID Cards that David Blunkett is so keen on will not be sufficient for you to pay your taxes online etc. via this Government Gateway, since Biometrics cannot be trusted via the Internet, and the Home Office has failed to to understand the concept Digital Certificates, which are part of modern ID Card schemes in other countries e.g. Belgium or Sweden.

David Blunkett specifically mentioned the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, as generating a lot of red tape, and implied that he would be making it easier to keep known criminals under surveillance, presumably by weakening the existing accountability and safeguards which exist under this horribly complicated legislation.

The complexities of RIPA are entirely the fault of the Home Office, under the direction of Jack Straw, David Blunkett's predecessor as Labour Home Secretary. Some of it is so complicated and unworkable, that for example, Part III, which deals with the forced seizure of encryption keys etc. still has not been brought into force 4 years after the legislation was passed into law.

Combined with David Blunkett's apparent approval of plans to use CCTV surveillance spy cameras to watch potential fox hunting routes in the countryside, and his ruminations about allowing the use of telephone intercepts etc. as evidence in court (something which the Home Office expressly forbad when it drafted the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act). our guess is that RIPA is likely to be amended in this Parliamentary session.

Thanks to an email from Romania for reminding us about the article in The Sunday Times giving a few more details about the scandal surrounding the treatment of whistleblower James Cameron , the former British Consul in Bucharest. Together with Steve Moxon's revelations, James Cameron revelations about immigration visa policies, to David Davis the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary, lead to the resignation of Home Office Minister Beverly Hughes.

"Foreign Office doubts on visa 'witch-hunt'
David Leppard

The Foreign Office has admitted its campaign to silence a diplomat who blew the whistle on an immigration scandal will be seen as a witch-hunt, confidential Whitehall e-mails reveal.

The files relate to James Cameron, the British consul in Romania, who earlier this year exposed a series of visa scams, including the case of a one-legged roofer granted a work permit to run a business in Britain.

The documents, released to Cameron after he applied for them under data protection laws, detail Foreign Office concerns shortly before a police inquiry was launched into his embassy work and after he had been recalled to Britain.

The Scotland Yard inquiry was launched into what Cameron?s friends say are entirely false accusations of taking backhanders or obtaining sexual favours in exchange for granting visas. They say the allegations are smears to discredit him and punish him for speaking out.

The Yard?s fraud squad has raided his home in the West Country and seized his computer and private papers. Nine days ago he was interviewed by detectives from the Yard?s specialist crimes directorate.

During five hours of questioning at Belgravia police station, detectives accused him of bringing women back to his four- bedroomed embassy villa in Bucharest. They said the theft of expensive perfume from the villa that he reported could be explained by this.

Cameron was outraged when police said they suspected he was being blackmailed by criminals who had sought visas in return.

Cameron has told police the allegations of wrongdoing are categorically untrue."

"The diplomat recently applied under the Data Protection Act for all Foreign Office documents relating to his case, mainly e-mails and reports.

One Foreign Office diplomat wrote to a counterpart at the Bucharest embassy in May that they were open to accusations of persecuting Cameron, given that: 'He already faces a disciplinary case with regards to leaks to the opposition on the visa issue . . .'

"In a report to London on the case, Quinton Quayle, the British ambassador to Bucharest, said diplomats feared negative publicity for the Foreign Office if news of Cameron?s forced return to London leaked out.

The dossier shows Cameron's superiors regarded him as an awkward employee even before he exposed the visa scams. 'He has a history of odd and erratic behaviour,' wrote Quayle's deputy. 'There are also other strange happenings . . . He has an uncanny knack of being in the spot where lightning strikes (numerous break-ins, a mugging and other strange goings-on). This latest episode shows poor judgment and a degree of bloody-mindedness.' "

It is interesting to compare this apparent use of the Data Protection Act 1998 with that by Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch UK (an immigration campaign group which has managed to embarass the Home Office over the immigration statistics) apparent use of the the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to get similar emails released by the Home Office. The Freedom of Information Act is not yet in force until January 2005, but many organisations have already had to change their policies to be compliant in anticipation.

Is it a coincidence that both of these stories were first reported by The Sunday Times reporter David Leppard ?

The media are wittering on about the "Batman" protestor clinging to a ledge on the outside of Buckingham Palace.

Despite our almost continual constructive criticism of the Home Secretary David Blunkett, the Metropolitan Police and other "anti-terrorism" agencies and their policies, this is not something over which the Home Secretary should resign, and we would be astonished if he actually did so.

Even if the protestor was a terrorist, which he obviously is not, being trapped on the outside of the building, with no member of the public, let alone Her Majesty the Queen (who is hundreds of miles away in Balmoral in Scotland), within range of any possible explosive device, and with armed police containing the publicity stunt, there is no breach of security

The only danger is to the protestor himself. to whom the police now have a duty of care to prevent him hurting himself.

An architectural point to note, is that Buckingham Palace, exhibits massive stonework on its facade, especially on the ground floor, up to the second story windows, a reference to a Renaissance Italian palace with a "piano nobile", which rises above the hoi polloi and any potential rioters etc.

The "story" has all the prerequisites to make newspaper and tv media headlines, most importantly, the static "incident", in London, a major international news and media nexus, has been ongoing for long enough to send an outside broadcast crew (and in the case of one TV company, their ?1000 an hour news helicopter) to the "location" , with no physical danger to the journalists involved, and with adequate bars and public houses nearby for them to repair to, so as to write up their "exclusives".

The huge amount of column inches and prime time tv news interviews which the organisers of this protest are garnering for their cause, must inevitably encourage other protest groups to employ similar tactics.

The feeling of being manipulated by clever protestors and lazy journalists is an unpleasant one.

Neither was the idiot who attacked the security gates across the end of Downing Street with a sledgehammer anything to worry the the security authorities, who dealt with him very swiftly.

Much more serious was the alleged "burglar" who somehow got into the Northern Ireland Office at Thames House on Millbank, and then exited into the foyer of MI5 the Security Service, where he managed to attack two security guards with a machete, and who was then subdued by the police with a Taser stun gun weapon.

Even this violent incident did not actually compromise the MI5 building security.

The Hunting Bill is another badly drafted bit of proposed legislation.

The Telegraph article "Cameras in the trees will spy on hunts"

"Police chiefs warned the Home Secretary that enforcing the ban would cost in excess of ?30 million and divert resources from front-line policing. The plan to use cameras was put forward as a way of detecting illegal hunts without deploying hundreds of extra police to roam the countryside.

Some senior police have voiced concern that the measure could be easily foiled by riders and foot followers donning balaclavas.

Mr Blunkett, however, was said to be enthusiastic about the idea, believing that cameras would be an affordable way of allowing police to identify where illegal hunts are taking place before moving in.

An aide said: "This is the sort of imaginative policing solution that we will need to be able to police this ban, without incurring massive extra costs.""

This is the sort of ill thought out, uncosted, "technology as magic solution to a social problem" rubbish which we now , unfortunately , have come to expect from the Home Office.

David Blunkett and the Home Office seem to be obsessed with installing ever more surveillance technology, which they obviously do not actually understand, as if it offers some cheap fix to social problems. The only surprise is that they are not calling for the use of "satellite tagging" of foxes or hounds or horses or humans, perhaps that will be the next "bold initiative" ?

If these spy cameras are to be sited on private land, then the Home Secretary or a Senior Police Officer is going to have to authorise intrusive surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. However, these powers should only be used for serious crimes. None of the offences under the Hunting Bill are classed as serious i.e. such as would merit a 3 year prison sentence for a first time offender if convicted.

The penalties under the Hunting Bill, apart from providing for seizure of dogs or vehicles or articles without compensation, is according to the Explanatory Notes of:

"A person found guilty of an offence under the Bill is liable on conviction in a magistrates' court to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently ?5,000)."

So is David Blunkett planning on tweaking RIPA to lower the threshold of state surveillance, something which would affect many more people than the fox hunting community ?

Why is the Bill restricted to "hunting with dogs" ? There is no mention of using other hunting or tracking animals which have been used for centuries such as big cats like leopards, or lions.

Inexcusably for 21st century legislation, there is no mention of transgenetic animals , chimera, clones, other artificial animals or crossbreeds. None of these living entities can be called "hunting articles".

Why is there no mention of foxes, when everyone knows that this is what the Bill is mostly about ?

Why is there no mention of horses in the Bill ? There are provisions for the seizure and forfeit specifically of dogs, vehicles and "hunting articles". Horses, which are the most important (and expensive) part of fox hunting are not mentioned at all.

Why is it so necessary to grant "a constable" search powers of "premises" or "land" without the need for a search warrant to enforce this Bill ? Why can't a search warrant be obtained in the same way as would have to be done to look for say, drugs or stolen property - which are much more serious offences ?

The worst failing of the wording of the Bill is that it simply does not define the activity of "hunting" at all.

Does "hunting" mean the actual detection by scent or sound or sight of a fox, and the chase and then killing of the fox ? Many hunts stomp over the countryside without actually sighting a fox. If there is no actual fox, is it still a hunt ?

The wording of the Bill provides no clarity on exactly where to draw the line between a hunt and a point ot point horse race etc., an omission for which there is simply no excuse, given how controversial this Bill is.

Met Police spy Ghazi Kassim let off too lightly

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Reuters and The Guardian report the case of Ghazi Kassim, a Yemeni born Metropolitan Policeman, who spied for Ali al-Shamarani, the third secretary of the Saudi embassy in London.

"Kassim had carried out hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of unauthorised checks on police computers."

However, he has only been charged with and been found guilty of "three charges of misconduct in a public office".

What is going on ? If, as is reported, he

"had searched on an intelligence system for details of Abu Hamza, the former preacher at Finsbury Park mosque in north London, whom the US is trying to extradite"

Given the infiltration of the Saudia Arabian police and intelligence agancies by Al Quaeda sympathisers so eveident last year, Kassim should have been charged under the Terrorism Act section 58 Collection of Information

Knowing exactly what the Police do or do not know about a terrorist suspect like Abu Hamza, definately constitutes "a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". It is actually hard to imagine any information which could be more useful to a terrorist suspect or organisation.

Police National Computer and Intelligence Databases are Protectively Marked material under the Official Secrets Act. Why was there no prosecution under this Act ?

There has obviously been a massive failure in management and security auditing procedures regarding "hundreds or thousands" of unauthorised access to these computer systems.

The reported words of the prosecutor also seem to miss the point

"Happily it is right to say there is no indication that anyone came to harm."

Just because the people like the prominent Saudi dissident Muhammad al-Massari, being targeted by al-Shamarani and Kassim have not been harmed yet does not excuse the breach of their human right to privacy, data protecion and official secrets laws. London has a history of foreign dissidents or their families being persecuted by Middle Eastern governments.

We would hope that Kassim is sentenced to the maximum jail term possible, and that heads roll amongst the Metropolitan Police management for allowing such abuses to occur in the first place.

This case further destroys public trust in the confidentiality of police computer systems and in the planned biometric National Identity Register and ID Card database.

Whistleblower Steve Moxon's book "The Great Immigration Scandal" seems to be causing a mild political stir. Both The Independent and The Guardian are gleefully quoting selected phrases which seem to be sufficient for the "politically correct" to label the book as racist or islamophobic, despite Steve Moxon's denial of such claims.

We have not yet read the book, and we suspect that many of those condemning it have not either, so we will reserve judgement on that aspect of the spin.

There does seem to have been enough media frenzy for the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary David Davis to pull out of a book promotion event at the last minute.

What we are interested in, and, presumably what the Labour Government are interested in suppressing or diverting attention from, are any more detailed revelations about the Beverely Hughes affair.

"Des Browne, the Immigration minister, accused Mr Moxon of being "motivated by myths and prejudices rather than facts".

Des Browne owes his present Ministerial appointment to the resignation of Beverly Hughes, partly due to Steve Moxon's revelations. He is one of the worst Ministers for spouting myths and propaganda, rather than actual verifiable facts e.g. his nonsensical, yet often repeated claims about the alleged ?1.3 billion annual cost of "identity fraud" in the UK, when trying to justify the Home Office's vague, yet repressive, Identity Register database and ID Card plans.

The magic figure of ?1.3 billion comes from "finger in the air" guesstimates compiled in the annex of a Cabinet Office report, "Identity Fraud: A Study" (.pdf) which presented no official Home Office or Police or British Crime Survey statistical evidence to back up the claim. There has been no actual research into the subject since the report was published in 2002 to see if the existing measures such as the alleged improvements in passport security, have had any effect on "identity fraud" or if the situation is getting better or worse.

Yesterday's "Pie in the Sky Satellite Tracking" hype in Manchester saw the Home Secretary David "Mastermind" Blunkett dropping another of his bon mots.

"Streetfighter Blunkett fends off intrusive questions"

The cosy relationship between the politicians and journalists is shown by the report of Blunkett's alleged "joke":

"You have got to remember that there are seven letters in the word 'privacy', and only the first three of them spell 'pry'."

If this was said by David Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside, currently embroiled in a "News of the World" tabloid scandal regarding his private life, then this attempt at humour with the press pack might be acceptable.

However, this was the Home Secretary, revealing yet another of his dubious plans which has serious implications for privacy, and whose Office of State entrusts him with huge powers of intrusion and surveillance.

Why should we tolerate him being so flippant with our privacy ?

In a more honourable age, a Home Secretary caught expressing such contempt for the fundamental human right of privacy which he is meant to safeguard would be forced to resign.

"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" so called satellite tracking plans

Blair and Blunkett blamed the "permissive 1960s" , when launching their communist style "5 year plan" on crime earlier this summer.

However, they still seem to be emulating Harold Wilson's "white heat of technology" with off the cuff political soundbites with. no actual clue about technology or how to implement it, or even what exactly they are trying to achieve with it, apart from getting re-elected.

Home Office Press release "Eye in the Sky Launched to Monitor Offenders"

Media Disinformation

What is so difficult to understand about Global Positioning Satellite tracking technology that the media seem to be conducting a deliberate campaign of disinformation about it ?

We thought that only The Times (despite being owned by the Murdoch media empire, which includes Sky and other actual satellite TV broadcasters) had slipped up in its explanation of the technology, but they have now repeated their previous disinformation::

"Eye in the sky tracks child sex offenders"
By Richard Ford, Home Correspondent

"The satellite can tell where a person has been during a given period, when a person is approaching an area from which he is excluded and monitor individual movements.

It works by placing an ankle bracelet on a subject, and linking it electronically to a mobile tracking device clipped to his belt. The device will send signals to the satellite, allowing the offender's movement to be monitored. "

This misinformation seems to have infected the BBC with the meme of technological ignorance as well.

"How tracking of offenders works" especially this diagram which is fundamentally wrong, innacurrate and misleading.

They are still trying to give the impression that the electronic tags somehow magically transmit data up to the orbiting satellites, which then somehow communicates with the central control centre.

This is such utter rubbish - the satellites only transmit an accurate time signal from orbit around the Earth down to the GPS receivers, which do not act as satellite uplink stations at all, or pass any kind of elmessage to the central control centre at al, despite whats shown by the BBC illustration and as "explained" by the Times.

This is not a mere technical detail. but a fundamental misunderstanding which colours the rest of the so called reporting.

The TV reporters who gleefully strapped on electronic tags and walked around Manchester's Old Trafford Football Stadium helped to promote a false image of the accuracy and usefulness of the technology. Why did they not drive around in a closed panel van, with no line of sight to the 4 GPS satellites needed for a position fix ?

Exclusion zones
Even if the technology really was accurate in practice as the hype claims, which, based on our pratical experience with GPS systems is extremely unlikely, how exactly are "exclusion zones" going to be defined ?

Will a persistant burglar be banned from being a certain distance (whatever that may be) from a domestic dwelling or commercial premises ? If this were actually enforced, then the system would be raising an alarm almost constantly.

Is it intended that an "exclusion zone" should cover just physical access or should it extend to the visual reconnaisance area afforded by telescopes, binoculars, camera zoom lenses etc ?

What evidence is there that the often quoted "school playgrounds" have ever been the prime location for child sex abuse ? None whatsover.Will the schools in the "protected" areas be informed of any "exclusion zone violations" or will the Government keep these secret ?

The Home Office is silent on these and other questions, and the suspicion must be that they have not actually formulated a policy, whilst wasting at least ?3 million of our money on this "white heat of technology" soundbite project.

Opposition politicians and the media (with the honourable exception of The Register, which is, unfortunately, not mainstream media) have let down the public by not asking any of these questions.

NO2ID campaign official launch

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NO2ID is an umbrella organisation of many campaign groups and individuals who oppose the UK Government's ill conceived compulsory biometric identity register database plans and the forthcoming ID Cards Bill.

NO2ID campaign official launch:

Saturday 18 September 2004 11am - 2pm

Further details of the event to be confirmed.
c.f. NO2ID campaign website.

The Corner Store public house
33 Wellington Street
London WC2E 7BN

Nearest tube: Covent Garden
Map

Emmanuel Goldstein arrested in New York

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"2600 EDITOR EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN AMONG 900+ ARRESTED AT ANTI-RNC PROTESTS
Posted 1 Sep 2004 05:42:59 UTC

We've received word that Emmanuel Goldstein, the founder and editor of 2600, was among the hundreds of people arrested at the demonstrations against the Republican National Convention in New York City.

The march which Emmanuel was apparently trying to videotape ended at 16th Street near Union Square when the police surrounded the marchers and began arresting everyone in the area -- at least 150 people. Officers at the scene reported that the arrested will be charged with "parading without a permit," but reliable information will probably not be available until arraignments take place over the next day or two.

At least 900 people were arrested on Tuesday, August 31st, most if not all for nonviolent and minor offenses, offenses which in non-protest situations would generally not result in spending any time at all locked up. People arrested at previous protests have usually had their charges eventually dropped or significantly reduced as the judicial system notices that their is little or no evidence that the protestors have committed any crimes at all."

Those of us who have met Eric Corley aka Emmanuael Goldstein (a name from George Orwell's book 1984), either at conferences and congresses in the USA or in Europe, or who have read 2600 magazine or listened to his radio shows etc. will know that he is not likely to have committed any actual offence, but that he will have been standing up for his legal and human rights under USA law.

We will be watching with interest to see if he is swiftly released or not.

Apparently the authorities are not using proper police cells or prisons etc, but have instead created special concentration camps a la Guantanamo Bay, for these arrestees, behind razor wire in grungy toxic industrial buildings etc. without proper sanitation or other basic facilities.

If you think this this sort of thing can only happen in New York, have a look at the environment that we are being asked to tolerate in London such as the West End Dispersal Zone under the Anti-social Behavior Act 2003 and the designation of the whole of London within the M25 under the Terrorism Act 2000.

If Emmanuel Goldstein has been arrested, then what about us poor Winston Smiths ?

On September 20th, the DVD of the classic film version of "1984" starring Richard Burton and John Hurt is due to be released in the UK. We hope to be able to review this DVD here on Spy Blog.

Abu Hamza al Masri, the controversial Muslim cleric has been "de-arrested" under the Terrorism Act 2000, according to a BBC report.

He is still in custody facing extradition to the USA, on charges mostly relating to alleged activities in Yemen.

This is now the second time that Abu Hamza has been arrested, questioned and "de-arrested" under the Terrorism Act, once regarding Yemen, and this time regarding his alleged activities in the UK.

Was this a desparate attempt by the UK authorities to pin something on this unpopular and misguided man, before a British court has to throw out the USA extradition request on the grounds of no admissable evidence, no jurisdiction, the possability of a death penalty, and the certainty of an unfair trial in the USA ?

If, despite the presumably round the clock surveillance of Abu Hamza, the UK authorities or the tabloid newspapers still have not found any real evidence against him, then his arrest looks to be even more of a mistake than it did initially.

All that the authorities have achieved is to give Abu Hamza a lot of free publicity that he would otherwise never have got, and to look like a martyr to his supporters, increasing the likelyhood that some of them will be tempted into becoming terrorists themselves.

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

syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
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