December 2004 Archives

Will the "Yes Minister" culture of the civil service frustrate the alleged political aims of the Chancellor Lord Falconer, overseeing the Department of Constitutional Affairs, with respect to the deliberatly delayed Freedom of Information Act 2000, which was passed over 5 years ago, but which only comes into force tomorrow, January 1st 2005 ?

However, in order to test just how well this new era of "Open Government" (the title of the very first "Yes Minister" programme in February 1980) we would like some suggestions for suitable Freedom of Information Act requests, which we will submit to the relevant Government Departments, and monitor their progress via a blog, and comment on just how meaningful or detailed the Government responses actually are in practice.

The NO2ID Campaign now has a bulletin board discussion forum, in order to allow public discussions of Identity Cards and the National Identity Register centralised compulsory biometric database.

Those wishing to comment on the text of the Identity Cards Bill , clause by clause, or on the accompanying Regulatory Impact Assessment, are also welcome to make use of the blogs which we have set up for this purpose.

The United Kindom Parliament website www.parliament.uk seems to have been offline for the last 8 hours or so, with a 503 Service Unavailable error.

N.B. The service has been apparently restored just as we were composing this posting

Was this a "normal" IT failure or the result of a Denial of Service attack ?

It is a measure of how useful a public service is that you do not quite appreciate it properly until it is no longer available:


Error message:

Where is the tsunami tidal wave storm flood surge early warning system for the North Atlantic like the international warning system that exists in the Pacfic ?

Just because tsunami are rare in the Indian Ocean, the recent disaster there shows that we should not be complacent in Europe. There are active volcanoes waiting to explode or collapse into the sea, and earthquake zones in the seas and oceans around Europe, and the resultant tsunami can travel for thousands of miles.

There are lots of weather satellites and military systems watching the North Atlantic, but are any of them coordinated properly with local coast guards and the mass media to actually issue a warning of a forthcoming tidal wave in sufficient time to save lives ?

Can flood warning systems designed to cope with flooding caused by slow moving hurricanes etc. actually react speedily enough ?

What is the Civil Contingencies Secretariat doing about this ?

Where is the Digitally Signed and Authenticated system of alerts and emergency evacuation orders which is needed to save lives, in any of the fast moving natural disaster or terrorist or military incident scenarios which the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 is supposed to deal with ? How can you tell if such a warning is real or a hoax ?

Will any of our politicians or journalists bother to find out ?

What exactly is the Government Decontamination and Recovery Service reported by the The Independent on Sunday ?

"Revealed: the UK's secret terrorism agency
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
26 December 2004

Ministers are secretly establishing an "Armageddon agency" to respond to devastating terrorist attacks on Britain, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Neither Parliament nor the public have been told how far the Government has gone to put the service - which will deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks - into operation over the course of 2004.

The body, called the Government Decontamination and Recovery Service, is such a sensitive topic even within Whitehall that it is deliberately known only by its initials - GDRS. Even then it is hardly mentioned, even in official documents.

It is based in Margaret Beckett's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and, according to a top official, it has been ready to respond to an attack since last April. It has appointed specialist contractors to tackle incidents, has a senior Defra civil servant directing it,"

An invited speaker to a Chatham House conference held on the 19th of November 2004 was "Robert Bentley Smith (Head of Government Decontamination & Recovery Service GDRS)"

"and at present has a core staff of about 15 officials."

So who controls, for example, the secretive MAIAT - Multi-agency Initial Assessment Team and other decontamination units (c.f. photos) spotted on the streets of London ?

What happened to the Civil Contingencies Secretariat of the Cabinet Office ?

Today we tried to renew a .com domain name which is registered with Network Solutions, the company, which although no longer holding the monopoly, is still the registrar for the majority of .com and .net domain names.

The run up to Christmas is the busiest time of year for both "bricks and mortar" and "e-commerce" retailers. One of the standard security barriers which, although not infallible, is used to protect the privacy and security of personal data and of online credit card transactions via the world wide web, is the use of Secure Sockets Layer(SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) session encryption between a web server and a web browser. This technology is not perfect, but it does offer protection against whole classes of attacks and without its widespread use, things would be even worse than they are today.

So why were we unable to complete the credit card transaction on this major e-commerce website ?

Just a reminder that the Home Office is due to report to Sir Michael Bichard tomorrow (.pdf), Wednesday 21st December 2004, about any progress that it has made in implementing the reccommendations of his report into Police intelligence and criminal records databases and practices, set up after the Soham murders.

Sir Michael Bichard's Inquiry is due to report on this matter in March 2005, so watch out for the leaks, spin and media briefings between now and then.

Just what is the status of the Police Local Exchange (PLX) and the national police Intelligence Management Prioritisation Analysis Co-ordination and Tasking (IMPACT) databases ? Are they now national and integrated or are they still piecemeal ? David Blunkett did make promises about these, but he did he press forward with them, given that he obviously had other personal matters on his mind during the last six months.

Has Sir Michael Bichard's call for Yet Another National Database of people working with vulnerable children or vulnerable adults been
dropped or not ?

Identity Cards Bill gets its Second Reading

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The Government, aided by the Conservative party Opposition, forced through the controversial Identity Cards Bill past its Second Reading on Monday with 385 votes, a majority of

Only 93 Members of Parliament had enough principles to vote against the Bill, including the Liberal Democrats and a only 19 Labour and only 10 Tory rebels.
Some 170 or so Members of Parliament stayed away from the Commons , but not all of these were abstainers.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke's speech was almost word for word what he had written in The Times

Des Browne accused his opponents of "trotting out" various arguements, whilst he himself kept repeating some of the Home Office's canards which allegedly prove the case for ID cards, although there is no factual basis for these whatsover

e.g. He intervened in Douglas Hogg's speech to "trot out" the £1.3 billion per anum figure for alleged "Identity Fraud".
culled from Annex B of the Cabinet Office report "Identity Fraud - a study" published in July 2003, which also features in the Regulatory Impact Assessment of the Bill, signed off, by Des Browne.

We will highlight a few more points made in the debate when the online edition of Hansard appears in a few hours time.

Anyone who wants to add to the informed debate on the devilish detail of the Bill, which looks as if it is going to be rushed through the Committee stage in only six sessions, by January 27th 2005, is welcome to peruse and add to the clause by clause analyses and comments on the full text of the Bill at our Identity Cards Bill blog (including the Explanatory Notes). We have also created a similar blog for the Regulatory Impact Assessment, such as it is.

Neither a Movable Type web log nor a Wiki are quite what is needed to allow public group scrutiny of such deliberately complicated and often poorly draughted UK legislation.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a "better" approach ?

Today the House of Commons will be rubber stamping the Second reading of the controversial Identity Cards Bill.

The new Home Secretary Charles Clarke has spun an article in The Times, again, even before he has spoken a word to Parliament as the new Home Secretary.

Is this really the best that he can do to justify the ID card scheme ?

ID cards defend the ultimate civil liberty
CHARLES CLARKE"

Thanks to Ross Stapleton-Gray's SurPriv blog for the news that EPCglobal has ratified its UHF Generation 2 standard, but without any encryption

This is the new standard for RFID tags favoured by both the US Department of Defense and the supermarket giant Wal-Mart for passive RFID tags working at Ultra High Frequencies of between 860Mhz and 960MHz. This promises faster reading of tags at greater ranges than the current generation of RFID tags which have been tested in various warehouse and, more controversially, supermarket shelf trials.

We have already speculated:

"Compared to the existing weak 24 bit Class 0 and the trivially weak 8 bit Class 1 "Kill Codes" the proposal to have a 32 bit one must be an improvement, but whether this actually offers any real improvement in security from Denial of Service attacks or actually helps with Privacy is still open to question until the full specification and the alleged "secure communications between reader and tag" are explained."

So does the new Generation 2 protocol solve these problems ? We have not yet seen a detailed copy of this agreed protocol, but according to this internetnews.com article (again, thanks to Ross Stapelton-Gray), it looks as if the security and privacy issues have not yet been properly sorted out:

Any thought that the Labour Government's public relations spin machine would be derailed by the resignation of David Blunkett is wrong.

The new Home Secretary Charles Clarke was busy with his first interview to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, even before he had said a word officially to Parliament.

So much for the supremacy of Parliament.

There are some notable quotes on CCTV surveillance, on Identity cards on "airy fairy" civil liberties, on the Indepenence of Judges and of course on David Blunkett's biography criticism of Charles Clarke himself.

Ah well, back to the Home Office kremlinology to try to divine exactly what the political code words might mean, and to pick up any nuances which might indicate a course of inaction:

Transcript of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Thursday 16th December 2004 (since the BBC does not produce make available to the public, any written transcripts of the programme):

James Naughtie, Today presenter: JN
Charles Clarke, Home Secretary: CC

The Liberal Democrats, unlike the Conservatives, did manage to question the Government on their controversial Identity Card and Centralised Biometric Database plans during Prime Minister's Question Time Wesnesday 15th December 2004

"Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Inverness, West) (LD): On the Government's proposed identity card system, two weeks ago, when I asked him, the Prime Minister failed to rule out of consideration for the running of that system any company that had been previously associated with earlier computer fiascos, such as those involved with the Child Support Agency or tax credits. To put people's minds at rest, will he give us that assurance today?

The Prime Minister: No, I have simply got to say that the tendering procedures will be done in the normal and proper way. I cannot give undertakings about that now. We have simply got to ensure that we get the most cost-effective way of delivering the system. I really do not think that this is about the contracts for the system; what it is about is whether hon. Members support the idea of identity cards as being of some use in the fight against illegal immigration, terrorism and the abuse of public services. I happen to believe that, in this day and age, particularly because we are moving towards biometric passports, it sensible to have identity cards.

Mr. Kennedy: On the latter point, is that not one of the problems particularly associated with compulsory identity cards for people living in outlying areas—for example, pensioners or disabled people—who will face long and expensive journeys into cities to go to the secure centres where they will have their iris scans or their fingerprints taken to get the ID card. That leads many of us to ask this question: have the Government actually thought through the practical implications for people of the scheme that they propose?

The Prime Minister: First, as we know in the House, this issue has been debated over many years, and compulsory ID cards will not come in for several years in any event. So there is a long period in which we can get this right—it is obviously important that we do. The point that I would make is that what has changed my mind on identity cards is that we now have the technology and, indeed, will effectively be obliged to use it for passports, which represents the bulk of the cost—£70 out of the £85 is for the passport, which we will have to introduce in any event. It makes sense in my judgment, when we have this biometric technology and when it really can make a difference on some of these issues—this is a common consensus certainly among the police and enforcement services—that we make it clear that ID cards will be introduced. The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right, however, to raise a series of practical difficulties and objections. It is exactly those that we need to iron out over the next few years."

The price of £70 for a biometric chipped passport is astonishingly high. This is more than what you would expect to pay for, say a hand held computer game, or even a mobile phone, despite being so much less complicated electronically.

We have already been paying for allegedly higher security features, e.g. "secure" passport delivery and digitisation of the central database of photographs. The price went up to £42 from £33 in October 2002 an increase in 21 per cent

To be fair, the Conservatives did manage a written question about Identity Cards and the National Heath Service.

N.B. the use of the proposed ID Card in the NHS is not permitted as the Identity Cards Bill stands, but could easily be allowed through secondary legislation, which is not really a proper democratic check on the powers of the Executive.

Good luck to David Blunkett, who we have always had a measure of respect for, despite our constructive criticism of the detail of many of the authoritarian, wasteful and technologically inept policies and systems which he has promoted. He certainly managed to run rings around the feeble Parliamentary Opposition.

We look forward to Charles Clarke as the new Home Secretary, although we do not anticipate that this will make much difference to the Government's legislative plans, such as the dubious Identity Cards Bill which will start to be debated on Monday.

Charles Clarke's final comment to the BBC in his interview about his acceptance of the post of Home Secretary was: "I strongly believe in ID cards", and he promised "continuity" with David Blunkett's policies. Taken at face value this is disheartening news, but, we are sceptical about politicians' promises of any sort.

It is ironic that the Shadow Home Affairs spokesman David Davis does not seem to be set to resign on principle, despite his alleged misgivings about Identity Cards, over which the current Tory leader Michael Howard has sold out supposedly fundamental Conservative core beliefs in smaller government, less bureaucratic waste and the protection of personal civil liberties.

Next Monday 20th December 2004 looks to be the date for the 2nd Reading of the Identity Cards Bill. This is the first proper chance that Members of Parliament will have to debate the full Bill.

The Tories seem to have come off the fence and are now collaborating with the New Labour Government to support the Bill "in principle".

Why they think that this will save them from an electoral defeat at the General Election is a mystery.

Surely they should be trying to show some "clear blue water" between themselves and the authoritarian Labour Government ? How can the Conservatives claim that they will cut the size and wastefulness of Government, by supporting the bureacratic nightmare and IT disaster that the particular Labour Government proposals for a compulsory
centralised biometric population register represent ?

We have been told that there are opponents of ID Cards in the Shadow Cabinet, but, presumably Shadow Home Secretary David Davies has not resigned over the issue yet, since he still has hopes of becoming Tory leader after Michael Howard.

Privacy International have a statement about the Tories support for ID Cards.

The ID Card scheme cannot possibly do what the Government claims it will in terms of terrorism, illegal immigration or reduction in crime - email us or comment here if you can describe exactly how any of these can be achieved with what the government is proposing, we really want to know and to be convinced by something more than genralised platitudes and "dodgy dossier" type statistics.

The Government has chosen the most complicated, expensive and intrusive possible option, with unproven technology to be deployed on an unprecedented scale.

The overhyped reliance on unproven biometric technology makes the proposed scheme useless for online identification either for e-government or e-commerce purposes unlike the schemes currently underway in say Belgium or Sweden e.g. how do you send your tax return to the inland Revenue online with your authenticated thumbprint in a way that they can trust that it is not a "replay attack" ?

The Government's record on delivering much less complicated IT projects, is so bad, that it verges on the criminal. There is no reason to suppose that they will not simply waste billions of pounds which could be far better spent elsewhere.

Please lobby your Members of Parliament before Monday, especially if you live in a marginal Labour or Conservative constituency, to oppose this Bill. Perhaps the marginal constituency MPs will be more sensitive to the growing public opposition and will put pressure on their out of touch party leaders to drop this scheme.

The sad fact is that most MPs, of all parties, will not have actually bothered to read the details of the Bill before they vote on it next Monday. Please point out some of the awful individual clauses to your MP, as well as expressing your opposition to the Bill on principle.

You can read the full text of the Identity Cards Bill and comment on each of its clauses on our parallel Identity Cards Bill blog

You can get support for your opposition to the Identity Cards Bill by joining the cross party umbrella NO2ID campaign

A Civil Contingencies Act Consultation was announced last Thursday by Cabinet office Minister Ruth Kelly.

This is not where the infinite Henry VIII powers of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 which the Government have grabbed for themselves, and, potentially, for future elected diictatorships,under Part 2 of the Act is tempered by publlic consultation, or at least "stakeholder" consuultation.

Unless the various "first responder" organisations have a reasonable ide of what the Emergency Regulations are likely to look like, they cannot plan for emergencies, so it makes sense that some sort of plans should made against various possible disaster scenarios, so that some sort of response can be mounted very rapidly.

Why this consultation process was not completed before the Act was passed is a mystery.

Nevertheless, there are some hugely important questions to be asked of your local authority, police, fire and emergency services, national health trusts etc. etc. with regard to just what planning if any they have done, and how much money , if aany, has been spent on Civil Defence.

There is also the question of exactly what private data and information about you e.g. medical records, internet and telecomms traffic data etc. the "first responders" and the "second responders" will be forced to share with other bodies, without your express permission, for "emergency planning" purposes.

Have a look at:

Consultation Document (.pdf)

Draft Regulations (.pdf)

More consultation documents etc. can be found at on the UK Resilience website

The 12 week consultation period closes on 3rd March 2005.

"A response can be submitted by letter or,
preferably, by e-mail:

Civil Contingencies Act Regulations and Guidance Consultation,
Second Floor,
10 Great George Street,
London,
SW1P 3AE

ccact@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk"

Another weekend, so it is time for more "climate of fear" spin and media hype. Is the Home Secretary trying to divert media attention away from his private affairs and visa scandals, by spinning a new "policy" designed to capitalise on recent murders involving knives ?

Or perhaps, David Blunkett does not really plan to crack down the the actual availability of knives "on the street", but is looking to spin another "we must be seen to be doing something" story about the "climate of fear" regarding knives.

Are we being too cynical ?

The following are virtually word for word identical reports from our allegedly professional and independent major and minor news media:

We have set up a parallel Identity Cards Bill blog to promote clause by clause analysis and discussion of the Identity Cards Bill currently going through Parliament.

We have to do this, because our politicians in both Houses of Parliament, mostly do not even bother to read all the clauses in a technically complicated Government Bill, such as this one.

Even fewer of our MPs seem to bother to try to understand the implications and knock on effects that the attempts by the Government to grab infinite and often absurdly wide powers by abusing the English legal language so as to give no scope or leeway for case law precedents to be made in the courts. There are several appalling examples of this sneaky trick in the Identity Cards Bill as well.

A Movable Type weblog is not ideal for this sort of complicated groupware analysis, (we have found new ways to break Microsoft Internet Explorer's renderings of Cascading Stylesheets) but then neither is a WiKi or any other web based, easily available, allegedly collaborative software. At least people will be able to use Trackback and Search Engine links to the various clauses and comments.

Why don't political parties have such facilities to scrutinise legislation collaboratively (even with a political bias) available online on their websites ?

We also welcome any comments from people who think that a paricular clause or the whole Identity Cards Bill is actually a good idea. However, we doubt if many people who actually examine the Government'sroposals in detail, as set out in the Bill, will honestly be able to provide any evidence or references to suppport such an viewpoint - please prove us wrong.

Another Written Answer on the 8th December 2004 in parliament from Home Office Minister Caroline Flint, regarding the Indymedia server seizure affair:

"Seizure of Property
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the seizure of servers belonging to Indymedia, what statutes govern the seizure of private property in the UK by foreign law enforcement agencies without authorisation from UK law enforcement agencies. [201718]

Caroline Flint: Foreign law enforcement agencies are permitted to seek the seizure of private property in the UK to secure evidence in connection with a criminal investigation, by sending a request to the UK Central Authority (UKCA) at the Home Office through mutual legal assistance procedures under the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The UKCA considers such requests in conjunction with the appropriate UK law enforcement agency. If the request is approved UKCA will then issue a direction to the courts on behalf of the Secretary of State authorising an application for a search warrant.

In this particular case, I understand that, in accordance with a US Commissioner's subpoena, a US based company accessed its servers in London from the US, in order to comply with the terms of that subpoena. No UK law enforcement agencies were involved in this action"

So, given that UK law applies in London, not USA law, presumably the seizure and the "collateral damage" to systems which had nothing to do with the material allegedly of interest in the US subpoena, on behalf of Italian and or Swis s authorities, was therefore illegal ?

The Home Office have not been pressed by any Members of Parliament (there must now have been around a dozen Parliamentary Questions skirting around this controversial seizure) about where this all leaves the National High Tech Crime Unit's Confidentiality Charter (.pdf) and how the Home Office's inaction and lack of censure against foreign law enforcement agencies, who have obviously acted in contravention of UK sovereignty, does to the Labour Government's claims that the "UK is the best palce in the world to do e-business" ?

The Metropolitan Police in London seem to be engaged in a week long experiment Operation Blunt using a metal detector to search bus passengers for knives in in the combined Bus Station, Tube Station and Shopping Centre complex at the major transport hub of Hammersmith in West London.

The devices are described by our street tech correspondent as:

"Two metal poles with boxes mounted on them, with red and white flashing lights. They are positioned at the bottom of an escalator, about 2 metres away from the end, to avoid interference from the escalator itself."

Informal inquiries and experiments suggest that this equipment is not particularly sophisticated and resembles amateur "treasure hunter" tunable metal detector equipment, in that it is currently set to only detect ferrous objects i.e. iron and steel.

Stainless steel items are not detected !

Refusal to go through the detector seems to trigger a "you must have something to hide" response, tempered by the usual "ethnic" and "yoof" issues, which leads to a "normal stop and search" by the attendant Police Officers (a rare sight, normally).

Yesterday, there were reports of false postives from mobile phones.

Is this simply more security theatre ?

There is only the one machine, covering a single escalator, despite multiple entrances and exits to the building.

What exactly is being tested, the equipment or the human procedures surrounding the deployment of the equipment ?

Apart from the inevitable media press conference to announce the suspiciously named "Operation Blunt" (blunt - knife ? doh !) the actual human and system procedures seem to have failed already.

The Metropolitan Police are meant to operate a policy of giving written reasons for a "stop and search", but already we have eyewitness reports of no warning signs or notification that this equipment has been installed, and there have been several "stops and searches" without giving people an oral or a written reason for doing so.

Under what legal power are these metal detector stops and searches being conducted ? Is it the Anti-terrorism Act or the Police Act 1997 ? Police do have the power to designate an area e.g. around a football match or a demonstration march in the street, where there is a potential for violence, and to conduct searches of people for hidden weapons. Has Hammersmith been so designated, and if so, exactly which areas, for how long, and under whose authority ?

Usually, a Police Officer must have some grounds of "reasonable suspicion" before stopping and searching someone.

Setting off a crude metal detector whilst going through the public transport system is not "reasonable grounds for suspicion", it is akin to a policy of "random" stops and searches, which is both wasteful of police resources, and an affront to the civil liberties of the vast majority of innocent people who are stopped and searched in this way.

Several police officers are needed to guard the equipment itself from being damaged or stolen. Are any arrests or genuine "stops and searches" more statistically significant than one would expect due to the actual physical presence of those same police officers, actually "on the beat" but without the metal detectors ?

Is the plan to install this equipment on a permanent basis ? Airport style "security theatre" queues on London Buses and Underground Railways would surely grind the transport system to a halt.

Or is this whole thing just a temporary publicity stunt for the politicians and senior police officers to be seen to be tackling knife crime ?

Admittedly, the technology being "tested" is not quite as intrusive as the various attempts to deploy "See Under Your Clothes" scanners, but since it is obviously cheaper than these, the temptation to deploy yet another surveillance technology may be attractive to those in power who grasp at technological magic fixes in the vain hope that they will solve social problems.

Update: Here are some video capture stills from a brief ITN news clip illustrating the device discussed above:

The European Union Council of Ministers held its 2626th Council Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs in Brussels, on 2 December 2004.

The 24 page press release (.pdf) waffles about various general reports and plans e.g.

"EUROPEAN EVIDENCE WARRANT

We hope that UK and EU politicians will be reminded of the international jurisdictional and sovereignty issues highlighted by the Indymedia server seizure scandal this October.

EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION EXTRACTED FROM THE CRIMINAL RECORDS

DATA RETENTION BY TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICE PROVIDERS

SHIP SOURCE POLLUTION

TERRORISM : PREPARATION OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL

EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION ON TERRORIST OFFENCES

LOST OR STOLEN PASSPORTS"

These Data Retention plans should be controversial, in that they now seem to be going even further than the draconian United Kingdom plans, which were not debated in Parliament , but which were smuggled in to the Part 11. Retention of Communications Data of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001

The European Union Council of Ministers are planning to force communications service providers to retain data which they do not normally retain or process for billing purposes etc. , for all types of crime, not just terrorism.

This goes well beyond even the UK's unsuccessful attempts to get the communications industry to cooperate and pay for data retention of log files etc. for which they no longer have a commercial use for, and is in direct in contravention of the Principles of Data Protection.

Just to be clear, Data Retention means trawling through the private data of the innocent majority of people, rather than focussing on the data of suspects or criminals where there is some reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

In addition to the police state mentality of these proposals, the "justice ministers" seem to be unwilling to actually pay from their own budgets, for the vast expense of creating new IT computer systems to log and retain data, which, in many cases do not exist at present, as there is no valid commercial reason for exisiting telecommunications and internet companies to do so.

As this meeting is composed only of civil servants and justice or police ministers, someone should try to educate them on the technical and commercial facts of life and the huge bureacracratic and financial cost implications of their ideas, before they inflict them on us.

"DATA RETENTION BY TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICE PROVIDERS

CCTV hype in Doncaster

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The BBC reports that "Abductor caught on CCTV is jailed"

"Dieter Graw, 47, tried to kidnap the 16-year-old in Adwick, Doncaster, in June 2003. The footage caused outrage when it was screened on TV."

The implication of this and other media headlines reporting this case is that somehow CCTV surveillance was instrumental in foiling the attempted attack on the girl walking home alone early in the morning.

In fact, CCTV had nothing to do with this incident:

"An off-duty police officer, Pc Noel Duke, had seen the girl walking alone and had alerted colleagues.

They trained CCTV cameras on the area and police arrived at the scene seconds after Graw ran away"

The CCTV footage, shown over and over again, due to the long distance between the camera and the incident, added nothing to the description of the attacker compiled from the statements from the girl and the policemen who arrived on the scene after a few seconds.

This police patrol was already on its way, and had nothing to do with the CCTV surveillance of the scene. In fact there does not seem to be any way for the CCTV operators to communicate in real time with such a patrol, if, for example,, they could see where the suspect was hidden, and the police patrol could not. As it happened the suspect simply ran off out of sight of the cameras and evaded the police patrol on the night.

The attacker was obviously not detrred from committing a crime by the presence of CCTV surveillance, which he was probably unaware of.

All that the CCTV system did, was to provide "soundbite" video clips and still frame grabs for the ghoulish media to drool over and rebroadcast and republish.

This case should not be used as an example of the effectiveness of CCTV surveillance in preventing or fighting street crimes.

The murderous attack on the Monckton family has made front page headlines in most of the British daily newspapers, and featured prominently on TV news as well.

Presumably there is now some sort of interpretation of the notoriously ineffective Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice regarding the publication of the family photograph showing the murdered man , his seriously injured wife and two young daughters, one of whom discovered her parents after the attack..

This photo has appeared on the front page of several newspapers, but with the faces of the two young girls pixellated out, so as to supposedly hide their faces.

Unfortunatelly, each newspaper has applied the pixellation, (a standard built in feature of image processing software such as Photoshop) to a different degree.

The Sun applied full face pixellation , with about 8 blocks across the width of the 9 year old's face, as did The Mirror.

The Times used only 4 blocks i.e. a bit cruder and less easily recognisable, except that only the girls' eyes and noses are obscured.leaving their mouths and chins in the clear.

The Telegraph, to their shame, used the least amount of pixellation, only lightly obscuring the eyes and nose, presumbaly trying to test the bare minimum of what they can get away with. The girls' faces are clearly recognisable to anyone who knows them even casually, presumably negating the whole point of the exercise.

Some of the TV news coverage showed the unpixellated picture.

The Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice does not mention any standard for pixellation of photos e.g. full face, level of resolution etc., perhaps it is time that it did.

N.B. the PCC is a voluntary body funded by the people they claim to be regulating i.e. the mainstream print newspapers in the UK. It always seems to ignore any complaints from the general public, except from those unlucky enough to be directly involved in the newspaper stories themselves.

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to supress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

We know that there are decent, honest, trustworthy individual politicians, civil servants, law enforcement, intelligence agency personnel and broadcast, print and internet journalists etc., who often feel powerless or trapped in the system. They need the assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Our PGP public encryption key is available for those correspondents who wish to send us news or information in confidence, and also for those of you who value your privacy, even if you have got nothing to hide.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x80CFAA4C which will expire on 6th September 2014.

pgp-now.gif
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(available for most of the common computer operating systems, and also in various Open Source versions like GPG)

We look forward to the day when UK Government Legislation, Press Releases and Emails etc. are Digitally Signed so that we can be assured that they are not fakes. Trusting that the digitally signed content makes any sense, is another matter entirely.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

Identity Project report by the London School of Economics
Surveillance & Society the fully peer-reviewed transdisciplinary online surveillance studies journal

Statewatch - monitoring the state and civil liberties in the European Union

The Policy Laundering Project - attempts by Governments to pretend their repressive surveillance systems, have to be introduced to comply with international agreements, which they themselves have pushed for in the first place

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

ARCH Action Rights for Children in Education - worried about the planned Children's Bill Database, Connexions Card, fingerprinting of children, CCTV spy cameras in schools etc.

Foundation for Information Policy Research
UK Crypto - UK Cryptography Policy Discussion Group email list

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

Open Rights Group - a UK version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a clearinghouse to raise digital rights and civil liberties issues with the media and to influence Governments.

Digital Rights Ireland - legal case against mandatory EU Comms Data Retention etc.

Blindside - "What’s going to go wrong in our e-enabled world? " blog and wiki and Quarterly Report will supposedly be read by the Cabinet Office Central Sponsor for Information Assurance. Whether the rest of the Government bureaucracy and the Politicians actually listen to the CSIA, is another matter.

Biometrics in schools - 'A concerned parent who doesn't want her children to live in "1984" type society.'

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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

Judicial Links

British and Irish Legal Information Institute - publishes the full text of major case Judgments

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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Serious Organised Crime Agency - have cut themselves off from direct contact with the public and businesses - no phone - no email

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Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers