October 2004 Archives

Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Act has received Royal Assent and includes Yet Another Power of Entry into Your Home or Business Premises by Petty Officials, without the need to obtain a warrant from a magistrate:

"23 Power to enter and remain on premises

After section 453 of the Companies Act 1985 insert—

“453A Power to enter and remain on premises

(1) An inspector or investigator may act under subsection (2) in relation to a company if—

(a) he is authorised to do so by the Secretary of State, and
(b) he thinks that to do so will materially assist him in the exercise of his functions under this Part in relation to the company.

(2) An inspector or investigator may at all reasonable times—

(a) require entry to relevant premises, and
(b) remain there for such period as he thinks necessary for the purpose mentioned in subsection (1)(b).

(3) Relevant premises are premises which the inspector or investigator believes are used (wholly or partly) for the purposes of the company’s business.

(4) In exercising his powers under subsection (2), an inspector or investigator may be accompanied by such other persons as he thinks appropriate.

(5) A person who intentionally obstructs a person lawfully acting under subsection (2) or (4)—

(a) is guilty of an offence, and
(b) is liable on conviction to a fine."

So where in this legislation is any power of redress or of financial compensation for the disruption to family life or loss of business caused by petty officials either exceeding their entirely discretionary powers, or simply acting in error ?

Why is the Department of Trade and Industry conducting investigations of any sort in the first place ? Surely these are matters for the Police, or Her Majesty's Customs and Excise or even the forthcoming Serious and Organised Crime Agency ?

The controversial Children Bill reaches its Report Stage in the House of Lords on Tuesday 2nd November.

No doubt the media will be preoccupied with the USA elections, and what little attention it gets will concentrate on the "smacking" of children by parents red herring.

Scandalously, despite debate in the Committee stage, the Orwellian aspects of what is now Section 12 Information databases and the identical provisions for Wales in section 29 Information databases: Wales have simply been renumbered and not really amended at all.

The massive powers to command the creation of a database or databases on the 11 million children in the UK and also on their parents and to compell data sharing amongst a huge list of quangos, agencies and educational and police and health authorities, and presumably foreign governments, with the actual details and safeguards , if any, left to secondary legislation is extremely worrying.

There is no systemenvisaged in this Bill to enable a child or their parents to see the totality of all the records and blacklists which this system will seek to computerise, or to have any errors or ommissions corrected swiftly and for free.

This Bill, since it is Primary Legislation which is creating Enabling Powers for Secondary Legislation i.e. Orders and Regulations which do not have to be debated by Parliament, it activates all the loopholes in the already weak Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act.

An example of how "Big Nanny" this all is, is illustrated by

"11) Regulations under subsection (5) may also provide that anything which may be done under regulations under subsection (6)(c) to (e) or (9) may be done notwithstanding any rule of common law which prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information"

This completely destroys the centuries of practice and common sense embodied in the principle of doctor / patient or lawyer /client or any other professional advisor's duty of confidentiality to their clients. If this is destroyed, then many young vulnerable people simply will not seek the advice that they need or are entitled to, for fear of their parents or other authorities being informed.

Watch out for an increase in child abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, teenage pregnancies and illegal abortions etc. if these clauses are not excised at Report stage.

Action Rights for Children are also rightly concerned that the whole vast surveillance infrastructure of the Integrated Children's System (ICS) has not even been mentioned in the Committee stage debates on the databases seeking to snoop on and control all children and their parents, not just the minority deemed to be "at risk".

How any of these Children databases relate to the expansion of the Citizen Information Project and the National Identity Register proposals to cover people under the age of 16, as reported in The Registerand all the other Government databases, and to what extent they will duplicate them, has not been made clear by the Government.

Treasury Minister Paul Boateng made a statement in Parliament about the
Citizen's Information Project and the National Identity Register.

"Written Ministerial Statements
Thursday 28 October 2004
TREASURY
Citizen Information Project

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Paul Boateng): On January 6 2004, Official Report, column 7WS, I announced that the Registrar General for England and Wales would lead on the next stage of development work for a UK population register. This work is being conducted by a project team based within the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and is known as the citizen information project (CIP). It is concerned with whether or not the use of a population register would improve the quality of basic data held by Government, generate efficiency savings across Government and support improved public services. I am now able to update the House on progress and on the programme of work over the rest of this stage of development.

The work has confirmed the feasibility study findings that a UK population register has the potential to generate efficiency benefits and service improvements across Government. The CIP team has investigated the costs and benefits of a range of potential options for delivering a population register. It has recommended that proposals for a national identity register (NIR), as part of the Government's proposals for ID cards, mean that if ID cards were to become compulsory then it may be more cost effective to deliver these benefits through the NIR, rather than develop a separate register. The Government has accepted this recommendation.

ONS is now in the second stage of project definition and will report to Ministers by June 2005. This includes examining in more detail how the NIR could function as a population register and exploring opportunities for adding value to existing database developments that could be cost effective ahead of the NIR reaching maturity. ONS is also exploring how efficiency and analytical requirements that cover the whole population, rather than just adults, can be met."

If the Citizen Information Project feasability study stage 2 plans are not brought before Ministers until June 2005, this could delay the publication of the ID Card Bill, which is promised in the Queen's Speech this November, until then i.e. after the General Election supposedly in May 2005.

This delay would be needed in order to shoehorn the extra personal data from Births, Marriages and Deaths registers into the National Identity Register.

This implies centralised storage of all sorts of controversial extra personal data like religion, race, gender etc. which can be derived or assumed from say Marriage Certificates.

This also implies the need to extend the coverage of the NIR from the currently planned 48 million or so people over the age of 16, to include the 11 million or so children under that age as well.

There is still no clarification how the massive database proposed in the controversial Children Bill will integrate or compete for resources with either the CIP or the NIR.

Alternatively, the ID Scheme Bill will be made even more wide ranging and there will not be a specific list of exactly what data is to be stored on the NIR or the smart card written clearly on the face of the Bill.

In some ways it would be better if the Office of National Statistics CIP project took over the NIR from the Home Office, as the ONS has a better culture of of protecting individuals' data from trawling by the police etc. after years of handling Census Data, under penalty of 2 years in jail for breaking Census secrecy, but, of course, "absolute power corrupts absolutely".

John McDonnell , Labour MP for Hayes & Harlington has had a Parliamentary Question on the Indymedia server seizure scandal answered on Wednesday 27th October 2004. Rackspace Managed Hosting Limited' UK server hosting facilities in Stockley Park high tech business park, just north of Heathrow Airport, is within the Hayes & Harlington Parliamentary Constituency..

"Indymedia

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from foreign governments with regard to the seizure of computer equipment from the independent news agency Indymedia on 7 October. [193714]

Caroline Flint: The Secretary of State did not receive any representations from foreign governments in this matter."

So no contact with foreign governments, or any involvement of UK law enforcement agencies.

The minimal answers to Parliamentary Questions and the refusal of the Home Office to make a proper statement on the Indymedia affair, and what the Government is going to do to prevent such disregard for UK laws and sovereignty happening again in the future, is simply undoing all the good work that the National High Tech Crime Unit (N.B. Shockwave only website !) are trying to achieve with their Confidentiality Charter (.pdf).

The aim of this Charter is to try to re-assure businesses that they will not suffer unduly from properly focussed, targeted and legally authorised criminal investigations, thereby increasing the reporting of computer crimes, which are vastly under reported at present, due to such fears of "collateral damage" and business disruption.

Anybody doing a business risk analysis about which country is the "best place to do e-commerce" and where web and other servers should be sited, must now reassess the risk of such "collateral damage" if they plan to use a company like Rackspace in the United Kingdom.

Richard Allan, Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam has tabled another Parlliamentary Question about the Indymedia server seizure scandal:

"Mr Richard Allan (Sheffield, Hallam): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether prior notification was received by his Department concerning the seizure of the Indymedia servers on 7th October"

This issue must be investigated in full, as the "collateral damage" to websites and other systems not directly involved in a criminal investigation in a foreign country, has huge freedom of speech implications for all of us who publish anything on the web.

Despite the Home Office press release, the details and cost estimates of their controversial ID Card and Compulsory Centralised Biometric Database scheme is still shrouded in vagueness and secrecy.

In general, the Home Office's response (.pdf) to the Home Affairs Committee report on ID Cards the Home Office has simply ignored any of the criticisms and cherry picked any words of support in the report, in classical Sir Humphrey Appleby ("Yes Minister") style.

To be fair to the Home Office, they have slightly modified the scheme, but not to any great extent. They do seem to have dropped the stupid idea of having a combined Driving lIcence and ID card or a combined Passport and ID Card, something which would negate any compliance with international standards for either Driving Licences or Passports. We did point this out in our reponses to the Home Office and the Home Affairs Committee - "told you so".

The role of the the National Identity Scheme Commissioner is promised to be widened slightly, to cover the whole operation of the scheme rather than just the narrow part regarding the data, but there are no promises of any actual enforcement powers or a budget for invesigatory staff etc. Presumably the Commissioner will still only subit an annual report, the "sensitive" bits of which will be censored as proposed under the Draft ID Card Bill.

The Government is promising a defence of reasonableness, on the face of the Bill, to the offences in clause 13 dealing with lost or stolen or damaged ID cards.

There is talk of various scientific and technical panels to oversee the progress of the project, although the names of those who are to provide such scrutiny have either not yet been selected or are still secret.

The Government has rejected calls for more transparency in the procurement process and is still trying to claim that Office of Government Commerce Gateway reviews, the details of which are still to be kept secret, will somehow magically ensure that the project will achieve its stated aims on time and under budget - this has not been the case for any other large Government IT project, why should we believe this now ?

The Government claims that

"However, there would be no question of other users of the Register, such as the police, being allowed routine access to medical records."

Which rather begs the question what about non-routine access and trawling of the National Identity Register for the usual "national security, serious crime or terrorism" reasons ?

At first glance, the Government seems to have killed part of the Treasury's Citizen Information Project which might have overlapped with the National Identity Register

"In the light of developments to the NIR, CIP is no longer actively exploring plans to develop a separate population register but rather will be exploring options to improve the quality and effectiveness of existing registers, including the possible use of personal reference numbers."

Presumably what this means is that the National Identity Register system will get bloated with extra Birth, Marriage and Death register datafields, but not run by the people at the Office of National Statistics who have a culture of data protection of census records from the prying eyes of other Government departments and the police etc.

The Government is promising to make available

"non-biometric cards for some categories of frail or elderly residents."

This idea was in the original "Entitlement Card" document, but not in the subseequent Draft ID card Bill.

If non-biometric cards are available for some people, and the systems are in place to make use of them, then why are they not available for everyone, especially in the "Voluntary" phase ?

Then there are various half truths, political spin, and actual lies:

The Daily Telegraph reports that the privatefee paying school Sunnybank Preparatory School, Burnley, Lancashire, is webcasting classroom surveillance videos onto the Internet

"Pupils at Sunnybank Preparatory School, Burnley, are filmed in their classrooms from the moment they start school to the moment they leave.

Parents can monitor their children in class via a webcam

Their parents can monitor their progress at any time of the day by logging on to a secure internet site. The system shows the school in real time, but recordings of specific events, good or bad, can be retrieved and saved on CDs."

We look forward to reading the entry for

Sunnybank Preparatory School
171-173 Manchester Rd,
Burnley,
Lancashire
BB114HR

on the register of Data Controllers regulated under the Data Protection Act.
c.f. the Search Form for the Register of Data Controllers.

Currently this electronic surveillance system does not seem to be registered, when obviously it should be, given that it involves personal digital data about children.

Presumanbly the teachers and other staff working at the school have the appropriate Criminal Records Bureau checks and Department of Education List 99 blacklist checks,.

However, as we have asserted in the past with ChildLocate and other systems which track vulnerable children, these checks also need to be applied to all the IT staff at the system suppliers and the Internet Service Provider who may have root or systems administrator access to the allegedly "secure website" from which these pictures of young children are being webcast.

What provision to opt out of this surveillance system is there for parents who object to their children being under remote surveillance by other parents or other relatives, some of them outside of the UK ?

Is there an audit trail of who views what and when ?

The BBC reports that "DVLA man helped animal activists"

"A vehicle registration official who gave drivers' addresses to animal rights activists has been jailed for five months.
Barry Saul Dickinson, 34, of Manor Forstal, New Ash Green, Kent, was convicted at Stafford Crown Court of misconduct in a public office.

He had enabled protesters to find people connected to a guinea pig farm in Staffordshire.

A police spokesman said information had been used to "terrorise" families."

Just as with the case of the corrupt Metropolitan police constable Ghazi Kassim, the question must be asked, why this person was not charged under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act - Collection of Information ?

"58. - (1) A person commits an offence if-

(a) he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
(b) he possesses a document or record containing information of that kind.

(2) In this section "record" includes a photographic or electronic record."

Why is he not serving a 10 year jail sentence instead of 5 months ?


Despite the media hype, Al Quaeda are not the only terrorist threat that we face, the particularly nasty minority of so called animal rights extremists are also a terroist threat, albeit on a smaller scale.

The Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority database is also routinely handed over to insurance companies and to the London Congestion Charge scheme to enforce its Automatic Number Plate Recognition system. The chances are that this data is available for a fee on the backstreets of Bangalore in India, which is where Capita, the notorious Government IT sub-contractor has outsiurced all its database software development, in order to exploit cheap labour in India.

ASBO and old video clips

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The BBC reported on the extension of Anti-Social Behavior Order specialist magistrates courts, and the planned introduction of more protection from intimidation of witnesses.

The more draconian provisions of the Anti-Social Behavior Act 2003 came into force in April this year, but, as the BBC report points out:

"Since anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) were introduced four years ago, 2,455 have been made in England and Wales - less than the government had hoped"

Why then, did the BBC illustrate the report with video clips of "youth" vandalism and disorder, which have time and datestamps of 2002, 1995 and even 1994 i.e. over ten years ago ?

"Anti-social offenders caught on camera"

Are both the Home Office and the media overhyping ASBO's applied to "youth gangs" ?

There are many areas of the UK where the only ASBOs which have been served have been on adults (usually with alcohol or mental health problems)and not on "youths" at all.

Yet another milestone in the passage of the controversial Civil Contingencies Bill has been passed, with the most contentious clauses to do with Emergency Powers and Regulations having been debated in Committee of the House of Lords.

Our concerns and worries about the Emergency Powers aspects of the Bill still remain.

Unfortunately, despite learned and eloquent opposition by various Lords and Ladies, the unlimited powers that the Government of the day could use this legislation to grant itself under the pretext a real or imagined national emergency have not been delayed or struck out or amended in Committee.

Read the debates for yourselves, since the national press and media seem to be ignoring this incredibly important legislation.

It looks as if the Government's ability to modify any legislation without any or with minimal reference to Parliament, by means of Emergency Regulations and Orders, which do not even need to be written down, is still in place.

Nobody apart from constitutional lawyers can understand if and when the so called "triple lock" protections might come into force, as they are deliberately not spelled out clearly within one clause of the Bill, but refer to various bits and pieces, some of which are not even written into the Bill, like the assumption that "Ministers will always act reasonably" will simply not be believed by the general public. The dubious reason for having no test of "reasonablness" is that other bits of legislation do not have this safeguard - well perhaps it is high time that they did have !

The debate on why the Commisioners of the Treasury can declare an Emergency was interesting, but the Government yet again prevailed. To expect the Government Whips i.e. the governing party's aparatchnikls who impose voting discipline on backbench Members of Parliament to declare an Emergency, along with the Prime Minister or the senior Cabinet Ministers, but not to allow junior Ministers or deputies in say the Home Office or Department of Health to do so, is ridiculous. If by the Commissioners of the Treasury they really mean the Prime Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, then why is it so difficult to name these two offices only (especially as the office of Prime Minister is specifically mentioned separately) or to exclude the Whips ?

The unamended power of various clauses to allow the Government to re-define the language and definitions of terms to be included in under the legislation, or to act "in good faith" on dubious "45 minute claim" style intelligence, there will , in practice be no effective contitutional barrier to a future elected dictatorship.

If anybody in Government or the Civil Service or the Emergency Planning teams thinks that this Bill is worded in the language that is simple, clearly understood and unambiguous i.e. suitable for an Emergency crisis, then they are deluding themselves and they have already failed in their public duty to the British people.

In practice, there is going to be inertia and backside covering by commercial companies and civil servants. Would you really begin the evacuation of a major city simply because of an unwritten, unauthenticated oral order from one of the Government Whips ? How many people even know their names ? How can you be sure that such an order is not in fact a terrorist hoax ?

As suspected no UK law enforcement agencies were involved in the Indymedia disk seizure scandal, according to this response to a Parliamentary Question:

"Indymedia
Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which UK law enforcement agencies were involved in the seizure of computer disks containing material published by Indymedia from the London offices of Rackspace. [192111]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 18 October 2004]: I can confirm that no UK law enforcement agencies were involved in the matter referred to in the question posed by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what powers, and acting under what information, officials of his Department seized web services belonging to Indymedia; and if he will make a statement. [192814]

Caroline Flint: I can confirm that no UK law enforcement agencies were involved in the matter referred to in the question posed by my hon. Friend. In the circumstances I do not therefore believe that it is necessary for me to make a statement. "

The questions about whether or not Rackspace's UK subsidiary have acted illegally under United Kingdom law, by intercepting "electronic communications" (including emails), disrupting an electronic communications system, export of personal data outside of the European Union to the USA without permission, breach of copyright etc. still need to be answered.

Without the protection of a properly authorised UK law enforcement warrant, which was obviously not obtained in this case, Rackspace UK could be sued for breach of confidentiality by the Indymedia systems administrators with whom they have a legal contract.

What this scandal means for web site publishers, bloggers etc. and businesses in general who use shared IT infrastructure facilities owned by foreign companies also remains to be clarified.

The notorious former imam of the Finsbury Park Mosque, Abu Hamza al Masri has finally been charged with 16 offences.

"Mr Abu Hamza now faces 10 charges of soliciting to murder under section four of the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861.

Four charges were brought of using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour with intent to stir up racial hatred"

"Lastly, Mr Abu Hamza faces one count of having threatening, abusive or insulting audio and video recordings"

However, only one minor charge is actually related to terrorism

"He is accused under section 58 of the Terrorism Act of possessing a document which contained information "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism"

Section 58 'Collection of information' of the Terrorism Act 2000, is so widely drawn that you could, at the whim of the authorities, be charged under it for possessing a telephone directory or many openly available books or magazines, or photographs of public buildings etc.

"(3) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he had a reasonable excuse for his action or possession"

Abu Hamza seems to be a hateful man but there is obviously no proof that he is or was a key member of the Al Quaeda logistics chain, like the USA authorities are trying to paint him as.

Where are the charges involving supply of money, or weapons, or terrorist training, or direction of terrorism, or even membership of a proscribed terrorist organisation ?

The United Kingdom charges take precedence over any extradition attempt by the USA, for crimes mostly alleged to have taken place in the Yemen. The terrorist leader with whom Abu Hamza was in contact with via satellite phone, was executed several years ago by the Yemenis, and so is not available to testify against Abu Hamza. Other charges on the USA indictment, based on testimony of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, who could easily be discredited as a witness who has been totured or having been encouraged to alter his testimony in the hope of pleasing his captors, seem to be equally hard to prove e.g. what USA or UK law actually defines or forbids "violent jihad" as a separate crime ?

It will be quite a surprise if any of the "soliciting to murder" or "racial hatred" charges are actually as a result of Abu Hamza's utterances directed against specific individuals.

Where are the people who are alleged to have been "solicited to murder" sombody ? Will there actually be witnesses appearing in person against Abu Hamza, or will the only evidence be video and tape recordings, which can, of course be faked or edited so easily. ?

How reliable can any such witnesses actually be, given the role of the "undercover" reporter who claims to have infiltrated the Finsbury Park mosque and obtained videos and documents, whilst it was under Abu Hamza's control. This needs to be examined carefully, in case the whole prosecution collapses for similar reasons to recent notorious News of the World "stings" i.e. the payment of witnesses/agent provocateurs.

It seems that there are people who are making money out of the Abu Hamza story e.g. the author of the book "Terror Tracker: an odyssey into pure fear" Neil Doyle, undercover investigator Glen Jenvey who allegedly infiltrated the Abu Hamza's entourage on behalf of Doyle, and video publisher Johnathan Galt who seems to be making the videos of Abu Hamza's "sermons" available.

Given the hype that this book has generated amongst various newspapers and TV programmes in the UK and the USA, we hope that none of the charges being brought against Abu Hamza are the result of tainted "evidence" produced or illegally obtained by these people. Even Abu Hamza's "sermons" are protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 .

Even if they are just amateur meddlers, or unscrupulous "journalists" trying to make money, Abu Hamza's legal defence team are likely to portray their activities as part of a state sponsored conspiracy against him.

Those of us who fear that the Civil Contingencies Blil which is currently in Committee in the House of Lords, will be extended into a dictatorial Permanent State of Emergency under vague threats of terrorism etc., are not reassured by the Government 's amendment to the Bill, for permanent restrictions on freedom of movement, without financial compensation even when an Emergency has not been formally declared.

In a written Ministerial Statement on Wednesday 13th October 2004 on "Security (Palace of Westminster)":

"The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett):

The Government recently tabled an amendment to the Civil Contingencies Bill, which will allow highway authorities to make an Anti-terrorist Traffic Regulation Order, on the application of the Chief Constable. As we indicated in laying the amendment, this is not specifically intended to control vehicle access around Parliament but it will make it easier for the police to respond to particular threats by further controlling traffic"

The Police already have plenty of powers to block off roads if they suspect that a terrorist or criminal act is likely or in progress.

The roads around Parliament are regularly closed to traffic on ceremonial occasions like the State opening of Parliament or major events at Westminster Abbey etc.

The planning authorities already have powers to permanently close roads, pedestrianise streets etc. This process can even even attract European Union grants and subsidies under Heritage preservation schemes. This has already been applied to the National Gallery side of Trafalgar Square, and there would be no question of it not applying to Parliament Square either.

From a security of the public point of view, closing off part of central London, will just create queues of public and VIP targets at the extended perimeter of checkpoints (the bigger the perimeter, the less well guarded it becomes), which will then become targets for bombs and bullets, just like at the perimeter of the "Green Zone" in Baghdad.

Why is the Government trying to shove extra, over broad legislation, which covers the entire United Kingdom, into the Civil Contingencies Bill, to deal with local, non-regional, non-national security measure specifically for the Houses of Parliament ?

Where is the provision for an environmental impact statement of the extra congestion and pollution that such permanent road closures will have on the surrounding areas ? Where is the economic impact assessment and financial compensation to those businesses affected by such road closures ? Where is the planning appeal process ?

All of these normal and necessary checks and balances will be crushed if this amendment is passed into law.

Fighting terrorist threats is right and proper, but pretending that anti-terrorist measures have no monetary or disruptive cost to society is dishonest.

The seizure of server hardware in London belonging to the international IndyMedia network raises some questions not yet covered by the reports in The Register etc.

The United Kindom's National High Tech Crime Unit used to try to work with businesses to minimize any "collateral damage" caused by a criminal investigative process and to ensure that there is a properly audited , uncompromised chain of evidence, as laid down in its Confidentiality Charter (.pdf)

N.B. the NHTCU website is one of the world's worst designed websites, being entirely published only in Macromedia Shockwave, with documents in Adobe .pdf format. It is now in breach of the new provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 which came into force on 1st October this year. Perhaps they simply do not want the blind Home Secretary David Blunkett from being able to browse their website.

If the Rackspace the hosting company in Stockley Park near Heathrow, simply acted on the orders of their parent company in the USA, without involving the NHCTU or their local Police force i.e. the Metropolitan Police, they will almost certainly have compromised the chain of evidence needed for any legal court action either in the UK or in the USa, or as is being reported Italy or Switzerland.

If they did go through the NHTCU, then this is a public relations disaster for the Confidentiality Charter, due to the "collateral damage" and disruption to IndyMedia websites hosted on the seized hardware which have nothing to do with any of the countries so far mentioned e.g. Uruguay etc. Why was the second IndyMedia server which serves internet radio streams also seized along with the web server ?

Why should any business or ISP cooperate with, or instigate police investigations into one part of a shared server, if it means that there will be a knock on effect on entirely innocent customers ? This is exactly what the Confidentiality Charter was intended to address.

If a warrant was issued under the UK Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, then the action of bringing the servers offline constitutes a "tipping off" offence, punishable by up to 5 years in jail. This is a "serious offence" and is therefore one for which the managers and executives of Rackspace in the USA could be extradited to the United Kingdom to face.

Both RIPA and the alleged use of the "Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in
investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money
laundering." would imply that the investigations are of serious crimes.

IndyMedia are not involved in any such activities, as should be obvious from a quick visit to their websites.

If someone had uploaded some objectionable content to the bulletin board discussion forums, then seizure of server hardware is not only complete overkill, but is counterproductive from an intelligence gatering viewpoint as well.

The stated policy of IndyMedia is not to keep weblog files of people accessing their servers or of people contibuting articles or comments., so again, the seizure of the hardware is counterproductive from any law enforcement point of view.

Has Rackspace also handed over any of their infrastructure management system logfiles which might compromise the identities of IndyMedia readers or contributors e.g. firewall, intrusion detection system, load balancer, router, switch etc. logfiles ?

Why did the Italian or Swiss authorities not go to the UK authorities directly rather than going via the FBI ? Are they incapable of determining which country a web server is physically located in ?

Any business thinking of using Rackspace to host their servers or to use shared server space, should factor this incident into their risk assessment of the likelyhood of Denial of Service caused by the "collateral damage" resulting from Rackspace's inept management procedures.

If we had any shares in Rackspace, we would sell them immediately.

Thanks to Phill Booth on infiniteideasmachine for reminding us about Project Semaphore and the UK's e-borders announcements during the Labour Party conference.

Why don't the sums add up ?

Project Semaphore is budgeted at ?15 million. The entirely similar US_VISIT system cost over $300 million in its first year pilot phase.
c.f. Privacy International's analysis of US-VISIT (.pdf)

The actual contracts for the US_VISIT system could easily cost USD $10 billion . Even the US Congress decided to query the award of such a large contract to Accenture (formerly the disgraced Anderson Consulting) which for dubious tax avoidance reaasons is incorporated in a Caribbean tax haven. The cost estimates by the US General Accounting Office range from $7.2 billion to over $20 billion over 10 years.

There has been no consultation or scrutiny of the UK e-borders project, which, as has been pointed out would need to handle over 200 million passenger movements a year (over 90 million at Heathrow Airport alone) in order to actually close the borders to terrorists and drug smugglers etc.

Is it the intention to apply these border controls to the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland ? i.e. the one most used by terrorists ?

Why did none of the media or politicians bother to ask exactly how much money is e-borders going to cost ? on top of the billions which are planned to be wasted on a compulsory biometric National Identity Register and ID card scheme ?

Civil Contingencies Bill

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The dreadful Civil Contingencies Bill Part 2 Emergency Powers is finally starting to be discussed in the blogosphere, after having been shamefully neglected by the political parties and the media.

We have huge concerns about the potential abuse of such draconian powers, which are being presented in a Bill without any explicit, easy to understand when people are in a hurry because there is an Emergency, constitutional checks and balances. We even contributed evidence to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament which scrutinised the Draft version of this Bill.

As Philip Johnston writes in an opinion piece for The Daily Telegraph, the New Labour Government under Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary David Blunkett has been steadily eroding traditional safeguards on civil liberties, often by successfully diverting what little organised opposition there is onto legislation which only affects a handful of people e.g. those foreign terrorist suspects detained without trial, whilst pushing through evil which will affect everyone in the entire country.

"But, when it comes to illiberalism, he is a serial offender. Just consider the charge sheet. Jury trials to be abolished where there is a risk of intimidation or in complex serious fraud cases; the ancient rule of double jeopardy dispensed with; the proposed introduction of compulsory ID cards; a huge extension in CCTV camera coverage; the "snooper's charter", which allows a wide range of government bodies and quangos to watch over people, check on what they are doing and monitor their communications by collecting personal details about the use of phones and e-mails; an assets recovery agency that allows the civil courts to take away the wealth of people suspected of making their money from crime, even if they have not been convicted of anything; a new law to make incitement to religious hatred a criminal offence (dropped three years ago amid fierce criticism, but recently resurrected); the European arrest warrant, which allows for fast-track extradition for such non-existent crimes as "xenophobia"; the so-called Henry VIII provision in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act, which allows the Home Secretary to amend any provision; and plans in the draft Mental Health Bill to lock away people with psychopathic personality disorders who may attack someone, but have not done so as far as we know.

Last, but by no means least, is the Civil Contingencies Bill, currently before Parliament. Strictly speaking, this is not a Home Office measure, but it vests in the Home Secretary extraordinary powers for use in an emergency"

Of course there is also the Children Bill database on all 11 million children in the UK, and on their parents and guardians, the retention forever of DNA and other genetic material in a police database even if you are innocent of any crime, the linking of Social Security and Pensions databases with Inland Revenue ones, to provide geographical information systems maps of everyone, broken down by racial categories etc.

The forthcoming Queens's speech is alleged to have six legislative slots reserved for the Home Office. How likely is it that they will use these to increase our freedom and liberty and to repeal some of the draconian powers that they have granted themselves, without actually solving any major social and political problems associated with crime or terrorism ?

"Dirty Bomb" plot - smoke detector hype

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"Dirty Bombs" seem to be popular with the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt being hyped by the media and the Government. e.g. the BBC's fictional drama which showed the ill preparadness of the UK's emergency services to deal with even a small Radiological contamination attack, the recent emergency services exercises in Scotland and Newscastle which showed the same for real, and Home Secretary David Blunkett's mixed messages on the likelyhood of such an attack, and the dubious "News of the World" entrapment scam involving mythical "radioactive red mercury" have all been in the news recently.

In an almost exact parallel with the dreadful Osmium Tetroxide "poison gas" threat to the Tube, a US publication is running a "story" which was supposedly leaked to them by US Government Officials about a current terrorism case in the United Kingdom, details of which have not been released by the UK authorities, presumably due to some unfashionable concepts like "the right to a fair trial".

Is this "leak" actually from the UK Government, or have the Americans
just made yet another "intelligence background briefing" cock up, or is it actually Al Quaeda sympathisers or other people with a vested interest in hyping up and exaggerating the "dirty bomb" threat to the UK who are behind these "reports now circulating" ?

Reuters are reporting that "UK Terror Suspects Were Building Dirty Bomb - Time"

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - British terror suspects arrested in August were trying to construct a dirty bomb and planned to attack targets in London, including the Heathrow Express airport rail line, Time magazine reported.

Senior U.S. law-enforcement officials told Time that according to reports now circulating, the arrests turned up a cache of household smoke detectors that the British suspect the group wanted to cannibalize for their minute quantities of americium-241, a man-made radioactive chemical.

While some officials said it was extremely unlikely enough americium could be harvested from smoke detectors to create a device strong enough to kill people or create radiation sickness, others argued that releasing even a small amount of radioactive material into a crowded stadium or subway station could trigger sensitive radiation sensors, incite panic and cause long-lasting contamination"

Getting information on the basic properties of chemical elements is incredibly easy - this information has been online since before any News or Government Departments have been, as it is exactly what the World Wide Web was invented for by Sir Tim Berners-Lee at the CERN. physics research centre.

"Smoke Detectors and Americium"

"Americium is a silvery metal, which tarnishes slowly in air and is soluble in acid. Its atomic number is 95. Its most stable isotope, Am-243, has a half-life of over 7500 years, although Am-241, with a half-life of 432 years, was the first isotope to be isolated.

Americium oxide, AmO2, was first offered for sale by the US Atomic Energy Commission in 1962 and the price of US$ 1500 per gram has remained virtually unchanged since. One gram of americium oxide provides enough active material for more than 5000 household smoke detectors."

So how many domestic smoke detectors are required to produce a "dirty bomb" ?

"Even swallowing the radioactive material from a smoke detector would not lead to significant internal absorption of Am-241, since the dioxide is insoluble. It will pass through the digestive tract, without delivering a significant radiation dose."

In other words this is even less of a real threat than the fictional "Osmium Tetroxide gas" or the alleged ricin plots (where no detectable amounts of ricin could be analysed) in the UK and even in France.

Where exactly is this vast network of "sensitive radiation detectors" which could be spoofed by the release of a tiny amount of Americium, and which would be fooled into causing mass panic ? It does not actually exist.

The Government have not spent money on Civil Defence for many years, and the few radiation detectors out there are not designed to protect the general public, only certain VIP locations.

ID Card leak mole hunt suspect arrested

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The Independent reported yesterday "Cabinet Office worker is questioned over leaks to newspaper"

"A woman working at the Cabinet Office has been arrested and is being questioned about a series of damaging leaks of confidential government papers to The Sunday Times.

These included revelations about the private concerns within Whitehall about America's post-war strategy and the cabinet split over the decision by the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, to introduce ID cards

Police detained the 23-year-old woman on Monday on suspicion of stealing documents, a spokesman at Scotland Yard said. "She was released on police bail pending further inquiries and is due back to a central London police station in November."

According to the Evening Standard the 23 year old graduate secretary had worked for other Government departments recently, including John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister.

John Prescott headed the Cabinet Committee, correspondence from which involving Home Secretary David Blunkett and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, was leaked to the Sunday Times. These leaks revealed half hearted opposition to ID Cards within the Cabinet.

Sir David Omand, the government's intelligence and security co-ordinator was put in charge of this "leak inquiry" or "mole hunt", presumably with the ability to call on the full resources of the UK's intelligence agencies. This is a departure from previous "leak inquires", which have normally been conducted by the head of the Civil Service, the Cabinet Secretary, or, in one case by external investigators from Kroll Associates.

It is very peculiar that on the one hand the Government treats the Sunday Times newspaper and its "sources" as if it were a foreign intelligence agency spying in the UK, yet on the other hand, it is perfectly happy to "brief" or "leak" or "spin" stories to this same newspaper, often involving major policy announcements, even before they deign to offically inform Parliament.

It would be unjust, if this "whistleblower" were to be prosecuted more heavily than the GCHQ "whistleblower" Katherine Gun, who the Government decided to drop their case against, as there have been no revelations affecting national security, only about political embarassments and dubious policy decisions.

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."

SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

gchq_logo.gif
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