Lobby your Member of the European Parliament: "An Open Letter to the European Parliament on Biometric Registration of all EU Citizens and Residents"

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Privacy International, Statewatch and European Digital Rights campaigns are calling for endorsements of their An Open Letter to the European Parliament on Biometric Registration of all EU Citizens and Residents

Please contact your United Kingdom Member of the European Parliament and get them to vote against this sneaky bureaucratic ploy, which will, no doubt, be used by David Blunkett to "prove" the necessity for a UK Biometric Register and ID Card. We cannot see how such a system, can possibly work cost effectively as advertised, or with sufficient security and privacy safeguards for "only" 60 million people in the UK.

How such a system is meant to work multi-lingually, or how much it will cost, for over 450 million people in the European Union is even more of a mystery, which neither the UK Government, nor the European Council of Ministers has bothered to explain in detail to their voters and taxpayers.

Text of the Open Letter:

An Open Letter to the European Parliament on Biometric Registration of All EU Citizens and Residents

To the Members of the European Parliament,

We the undersigned are calling on you to reject the 'Draft Council Regulation on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States'. This is an unnecessary and rushed policy that will have hazardous effects on Europeans' right to privacy. This policy process requires additional oversight, and the eventual systems established will require significant controls and a strong legal framework to ensure that this is a proportionate response to the war on terrorism. In particular, we call for the removal of the requirement for fingerprinting all EU citizens.

We are quite alarmed by the political dynamics at play in this policy decision.

The Council of the European Union pressed the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament into including the Coelho reports on biometric identifiers on the agenda for the mini-session on Wednesday, 1 December 2004.

Behind closed doors on October 25 the Justice and Home Affairs Council decided to introduce mandatory fingerprinting for all EU citizens into the draft regulation.

The Parliament's response to this significant shift in policy is even more alarming: a majority of the Presidents of the Political Groups acccepted the claim that the change was not sufficient grounds for the report to be sent back to the LIBE Committee for further consideration.

If the Presidents had refused to accept, the Council would have called for an urgency procedure.

If the Presidents had refused, the Council would have also delayed the introduction of the co-decision procedure for immigration and asylum issues to April 1 instead of January 1.
These dynamics are irresponsible and unhealthy for a functioning democratic system.

Securing our passports from fraudulent use is indeed a pressing need, particularly considering the substantial number of blank passports lost every year. The proposed policy that is being presented to you for review will however have significant implications. This policy is dependent on an unprepared and under-developed technological infrastructure. It will therefore lead to an increased risk of abuse.

We are calling on the European Parliament to reject this policy. The European Parliament needs to provide sunlight to this policy process through oversight and an open deliberative process.

A Dangerous Policy

The grounds for changing our passport standards are many and varied. Yet the proposed changes in this policy are without foundation. U.S. law does require biometric passports programmes to be in place by the Autumn of 2005 in order for countries to remain part of the Visa-Waiver Programme. U.S. law also required the standard for these programmes to be established by the International Civil Aviation Organization. However, neither the U.S. nor the ICAO requires biometric passports in the form proposed by the Council.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that

The Council is calling for the use of two biometrics, when the U.S. and the ICAO only require one, and this only involves a digital photograph. The inclusion of a fingerprint biometric is unprecedented.
The U.S. has no intentions of implementing fingerprints in their passports. [USDOS04]
The ICAO has itself noted that some States are legally barred from storing biometrics. [ICAO03]
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State note that privacy issues need to be resolved prior to the implementation of these systems.[RIDGE04]
The French Government reached a similar conclusion, requiring that any implementation of biometric techniques is systematically subject to prior agreement from its national privacy commission.[FRA04]
The legal basis offered by the Commission and Council is fundamentally flawed. A legal analysis by Professor Steve Peers (University of Essex) concludes that: "The proposed Regulation on EU passports, with or without mandatory fingerprinting requirements, exceeds the legal powers conferred upon the Community to adopt measures concerning checks at external borders. It furthermore exceeds any other powers conferred upon the Community. If the Regulation includes mandatory fingerprinting requirements, it would also breach the principle of proportionality that is a requirement for the legality of Community acts, and the general principles of Community law, which include the protection of the right to private life." [PEERS04]

We are thus alarmed by the ommission of these facts from the current debates.

Problematic Technologies

Lurking behind this policy is the creation of an EU-wide database system that will store the personal information of over 450 million people. This database is neither required nor is it technologically desirable. The European Commission previously advocated a centralised database solution, but even then the Commission noted that further research is necessary to "examine the impact of the establishment of such a European Register on the fundamental rights of European citizens, and in particular their right to data protection." [COMM04]

Centralised EU databases covering passports, visa and residence permits will be linked through SIS II. This risks becoming a mass surveillance infrastructure tracking the movements of all residents and citizens. Plans to give access to all law enforcement and internal security agencies risks the misuse of sensitive personal information. To date, there have been too few studies, if any, of these problems and challenges. Policy as important and far-reaching as this requires more care before being adopted.

We would like to further remind you that the risks to privacy are well known. In particular, European Privacy and Data Protection Commissioners have long warned of the dangers of biometric data collection.

The Article 29 Working Party on Data Protection rightly notes that fingerprints are usually collected from criminals. The increased collection of highly personal information will de-sensitize us to the effect that this processing will have on our daily life.[ART2903]
This proposal may not make us any safer and may in fact create more risks, and even greater potential of reuse and abuse. Centralised databases are prone to abuse, and fingerprints can easily be collected without consent, and are thus ideal for additional surveillance.[ART2903]

Even face recognition technology reveals racial or ethnic origin,[ART2903] which under EU law is of a highly sensitive nature and deserves even greater privacy protection.

Additionally, the International Conference on Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in 2003 declared that

"In the fight against terrorism and organized crime, countries should determine their responses paying full regard to fundamental data protection principles, which are integral parts of the values being defended."

They recommend that in situations where there are required interventions into the right to privacy,

"they should take place within a framework taking data protection into account, e.g. on the basis of an international agreement stipulating adequate data protection requirements, including clear purpose limitation, adequate and non-excessive data collection, limited data retention time, information provision to data subjects, the assurance of data subject rights and independent supervision."

The current proposal does not sufficiently address these most basic requirements. It lacks a legal framework to protect privacy rights. This deficiency is inexcusable, particularly as the personal information of Europeans is collected and transferred abroad.

Greater Implications

When the U.S. implemented its mass fingerprinting and face-scanning programme for all visitors, the world responded with alarm. All visitors over the age of 13 will now have their fingerprints taken and stored for 75 to 100 years by the Department of Homeland Security, and will be shared with other government departments and agencies, and other governments.[PIVISIT04]

The Council's proposed policy goes well beyond this already problematic US-VISIT programme. The U.S. Government is not fingerprinting its own citizens. The EU policy intends to fingerprint all EU citizens, residents, and visitors. The secondary effect of this policy is that whenever EU citizens travel abroad (not necessarily to the United States), they will again be required to register their fingeprints and face-scans with foreign governments as their passports are verified. As a result, the EU is drastically enlarging the US-VISIT programme by turning it against its own citizens and then globalising this practice.

We would also like to point to the practical implications of this policy.

Citizens will now have to present themselves at an 'enrolment centre' to be 'processed and have their fingerprints taken by their National passport authority every time they want a passport. Previously, passport renewal could be achieved remotely, even through the post. The increased administrative costs to the authorities and to individuals are likely to be significant.

The complexities of the database systems involved in the registration, issuance, and verification processes are unprecedented.
There is no legal framework in this policy to prescribe how this information may be collected, processed, and transferred.
Error rates in fingerprinting are significant, and poorly understood. Depending on implementation schema, error rates can be as high as 36 percent according to some reports.

According to one expert, our understanding of fingerprints "is dangerously flawed and risks causing miscarriages of justice". [MNOOKIN04] Amongst the many cases of mistaken identification through fingerprinting, we would like to remind the Parliament of the recent case of Brandon Mayfield. After the Madrid Bombings of March 11, 2004, Spanish National Police managed to lift a fingerprint from an unexploded bomb. Three highly skilled FBI fingerprint experts declared that Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield's fingerprint matched. U.S. officials called it "absolutely incontrovertible" and a "bingo match." As a former U.S. soldier, his fingerprint was on the national fingerprint system. Mayfield was imprisoned for two weeks. The fingerprint, however, was not his. According to one law professor,

"The Mayfield misidentification also reveals the danger that extraneous knowledge might influence experts' evaluations. If any of those FBI fingerprint examiners who confidently declared the match already knew that Mayfield was himself a convert to Islam who had once represented a convicted Taliban sympathizer in a child custody dispute, this knowledge may have subconsciously primed them to "see" the match. ... No matter how accurate fingerprint identification turns out to be, it cannot be as perfect as they claim." [MNOOKIN04]

When all of his personal information was combined, however, the FBI was convinced. Yet according to a recent panel of experts, they were wrong.[HARDEN04] As we increase the database collection of biometric information away from criminals and other select groups, errors are likely to increase. The technology in our midst, and our methods, are not perfect.

The Council and the Commission are busy implementing many other systems of surveillance that will involve increased personal data collection, data mining, and data sharing. These policies together ensure that instead of achieving certainty and security, we only create more risk, danger, misplaced suspicion and abuse.

Greater Oversight is Required

The fatal flaw in this entire policy process is the lack of adequate supervision, oversight, and deliberation. This must be rectified. We call on the European Parliament to play this key role in democratic process.

We call on the European Parliament to:

Require and/or establish a legal framework for the collection and use of personal information in travel documents and border programmes. This framework must be consistent with the European Convention of Human Rights, and in particular Article 8. This would include requiring clearer statements of purpose and use, so that the data collected is not used for generalised surveillance or other purposes.
Require that this legal framework also ensure that the systems supporting this policy are secure, with clear lines of accountability, and that the collection procedures are well understood. Only then can we begin to understand the complexity of the system involved, and in turn the potentially severe cost implications.

Call for the establishment of mechanisms for the oversight of the planning, implementation, testing, and use of biometrics in travel documents.

Remove the unnecessary requirement of mass fingerprinting of EU residents and citizens.

Review the technological implications of this and related policies. In establishing what could be one of the largest database systems in existence, we are alarmed by the lack of publication, public discourse, and scrutiny of the costs and implications of this policy. We need valid research of the problem, which can then be relayed to the Parliament, focussing on cost implications, legal implications, technological implications, and potentials for abuse.
Call on the research and policy community to propose alternative solutions that are privacy-friendly. Alternative systems and technologies exist, as we already see that the U.S. is not intending on generating a fingerprint registry. Innovative solutions must be brought to the forefront to preserve European values, rights, democratic standards, and laws.

The EU is embarking on a policy that will make our most personal information the currency of travel, while creating one of the world's largest surveillance infrastructures. This is unprecedented and unnecessary.

These are serious times and we need serious policy based on effective deliberation. Rushing this policy through the European Parliament is not required, when careful scrutiny is necessary. The EU's respect for privacy is often considered the global gold-standard, and yet now the EU is revolutionising surveillance. When combined with data profiling and data sharing proposals also being developed by the Commission and the Council, Europe faces the real prospect of creating a surveillance behemoth.

We call on MEPs to oppose this proposed policy, and we look forward to working with you in the future on establishing effective policies for securing our societies whilst simultaneously securing our rights and liberties.

Signed,

Gus Hosein
Privacy International

Tony Bunyan
Statewatch

Andreas Dietl
European Digital Rights

Additional Endorsements
...

References
[ART2903] Article 29 Working Party, Working document on biometrics. Brussels: Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, August 1, 2003. Archived at http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/privacy/docs/wpdocs/2003/wp80_en.pdf

[COMM04] Commission of the European Communities, Proposal for a Council Regulation on standards for security features and biometrics in EU citizens' passports. Brussels: The European Commission, February 18 2004, COM(2004)116final. Archived at http://register.consilium.eu.int/pdf/en/04/st06/st06406-re01.en04.pdf

[FRA04] French Government, Implementation of Biometric Techniques on French Airports. Cairo, Egypt: Presented to the ICAO summit in Cairo. March 18, 2004, FAL/12-IP/24. Archived at http://www.icao.int/icao/en/atb/fal/fal12/documentation/fal12ip024_en.pdf

[HARDEN04] B. Harden. "FBI Faulted in Arrest of Ore. Lawyer." Washington Post, November 16, 2004.

[ICAO03] ICAO BIOMETRICS DEPLOYMENT OF MACHINE READABLE TRAVEL DOCUMENTS ICAO TAG MRTD/NTWG TECHNICAL REPORT: Development and Specification of Globally Interoperable Biometric Standards for Machine Assisted Identity Confirmation using Machine Readable Travel Documents. Montreal: ICAO, May 12, 2003. ver 1.9.

[MNOOKIN04] J.L. Mnookin, "The Achilles' Heel of Fingerprints". Washington Post, May 29, 2004.

[PEERS04] Steve Peers, Commission’s EU biometric passport proposal exceeds the EC’s powers. Statewatch, November 26 2004. Archived at http://www.statewatch.org/news/2004/nov/11biometric-legal-analysis-htm.htm

[PIVISIT04] Privacy International, The enhanced US border surveillance system: an assessment of the implications of US-VISIT. London, September 28, 2004. Archived at http://www.privacyinternational.org/issues/terrorism/rpt/dangers_of_visit.pdf

[RIDGE04] Tom Ridge and Colin Powell, Dear Mr. Chairman, letter to the Chairman of the House Committee of the Judiciary. Washington, D.C.: 2004. Archived at http://www.house.gov/judiciary/ridge031704.pdf

[USDOS04]U.S. Department of State, Abstract of Concept of Operations for the Integration of Contactless Chip in the U.S. Passport. Washington, April 26, 2004.

2 Comments

Is lobbying the European Parliament enough? After all, this is a proposal under the consultation procedure so the Council isn't required to accept what the EP says and can go ahead with it however they want.

Shouldn't there be more direct Government lobbying, as has been going on with the proposed software patent legislation?

When is the Council of Ministers ever troubled by a vote against it in the European Parliament ?
Even the Commission seems to run rings around them, as can be seen from the betrayal of EU Airline Passenger Records to the US government debacle.

Yes direct lobbying of the UK Government is needed, but the arguements against centralised biometric databases are tied up with the Government's Identity Card plans which they have chosen to link with passports.

There is some lobbying by NO2ID

http://www.no2id.net

but there is still plenty of ignorance amongst MPs and MEPs and even Government Ministers of exactly what the proposed technolgy can and cannot do. There is no detailed information from the UK Government on the alleged benefits of such a scheme or details of the the massive costs.

There is even less information or public awareness about the proposed European Union plans, which are always wrapped up in such impentrable jargon and eurocrat speak.

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.

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

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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

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

Privacy and Security

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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

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Justice

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asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

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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."

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

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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