April 2005 Archives

M4 motorway speed camera protest

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Many people doubt that so called "Safety Cameras" (usually doppler radar activated speed cameras) on roads, are solely, or even primarily, intended to reduce the number of road accidents. The suspicion is that they are very often a "stealth tax" revenue raising measure.

That is certainly the view of the reported 180 or so participants in a "go slow" protest on the M4 Motorway in Wiltshire today.

Unlike, say, the camera controlled variable speed limit on the M25 motorway near Heathrow Airport, the Wiltshire scheme is using far less visible mobile units parked on bridges, so the emphasis seems to be on enforcement and revenue generation, rather than actual long term speed reduction deterrence.

It is unclear if any Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology is to be used during this campaign by the Wiltshire and Swindon Road Safety Partnership

The Press Association reports about one of the ex-Belmarsh detainees Mahmoud Suliman Ahmed Abu Rideh, who is desparately seeking to be returned to prison or mental hospital (he seems to have had a mental breakdown as a result of his detention without trial) rather than continue to be left to fend for himself whilst subject to a Control Order under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005

The attitude of the Home Office with regard to the entirely unecessary secrecy surrounding the actual terms of the Control Orders is something out of a Franz Kafka nightmare:

'Mr Clarke’s spokeswoman went on: “The whole point of this (legislation) is that if somebody breaches a control order, we can take them to court and the ultimate sentence is a prison sentence.

"Mr Clarke’s official spokeswoman refused to reveal which terror suspect had been accused of breaching his control order.

"It doesn’t make any difference which one it is," she said."

"We never gave details of what were the particulars of their control orders."

"We are not going to go through in detail what he has breached or hasn’t breached because we don’t reveal what control orders he was under."'

What possible risk to national security would it be to reveal which suspect is accused of breaching which Control Order condition ?

Obviously there is no need to reveal the home address of a person subjected to a Control Order, for fear of vigilantes and/or public order offences, but there simply is no excuse for this secrecy surrounding every aspect of Control Orders.

Remember, that this "terrorist suspect" has not even been charged, let alone convicted of any of the vast number of "catch all" offences under previous terrorism legislation.

There always seems to be some media spin which accompanies any of these reports, usually of unsubstantiated allegations, which the suspect has not been able to challenge properly in court e.g. in this report

"Rideh has been accused of being involved in fundraising and distribution of money for terror groups linked to al Qaida.

An appeal panel ruled in 2003 that he was a "very successful" fundraiser and "more importantly" was able to get the money to Afghanistan."

We have no sympathy for terrorists, but it seems that their aim of destroying our fundamental freedoms and way of life, such as the right to a fair trial, freedom of movement etc. is being helped by the stupid actions of the NuLabour Government.

There are various reports about The Guardian newspaper's censorship of their online archives with respect to Duncan Campbell's article "The ricin ring that never was" in The Register, and IndyMedia (a comment on which also reveals that the Guardian's printable version of the article was online for much longer than the normal version)

Several blogs have mirrored the original article e.g. Chicken Yoghurt or Tim Worstall, and Cabalamat Journal (which censors the names of the Porton Down scientists).

This all leaves us feeling confused and bemused, especially as we originally reported the story published on the GlobalSecurity.org website in the USA which named one of the Porton Down scientists, on Monday 11th April

Wood Green "Ricin Plot" - no evidence of ricin, no UK press coverage

i.e. two days before the secret trial was catapulted into a UK media spin and disinformation frenzy on the Wednesday.

If the names of the scientists had been considered to have been a national security risk, then the correct procedure would have been to have them testify anonymously, just as with the testimony of any other "secret agents". Since the trial Judge obviously did not do this, presumably because there really is no national security risk involved, it seems ridiculous that Duncan Campbell's already published article should be censored from The Guardian online archives in this manner.

According The Insider:

"Update: The Insider asked The Guardian why they removed the above article from their website but they provided no explanation until we offered to publicise the fact. On 20 April 2005 we received a vague statement from The Guardian by email stating that the article was removed for "legal reasons":-

"I can tell you that the article The Ricin Ring That Never Was was removed from the archive for legal reasons."

This was the response from the newspaper when The Insider asked for further clarification:-

"The article was not removed because of any inaccuracy. It was to do with a PII certicate [sic] protecting the identity of Porton Down [government weapons laboratory] experts who appeared as witnesses in the trial."

Source: Emails from Ian Mayes (Ian.Mayes@guardian.co.uk) on behalf of Barbara Harper/Readers' Editor's office (20 April 2005)"

Howver according to the official Guidance published on the Crown Prosecution Service website, a Public Interest Immunity certificate has got nothing whatsover to do with online newspaper archives, it relates to Judges making decisions about what Government or other Prosecution evidence is disclosed or not, to the Defence during a trial.

Similarly, the Defence Advisory Notice scheme, is voluntary, and does not constitute "legal reasons" for censorship of newspaper archives, after an article has already appeared in print, despite what some other commentators allege.

The only person who has been threatening such retroactive online censorship has been the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, perhaps journalists and bloggers should be asking for a clarification of his legal advice.

We missed this report in The Guardian, from over a week ago, but spotted it indirectly via The Register via Outlaw:

A two year conditional discharge for at least 19 counts of selling data on celebrities, from the Police National Computer is far too lenient a punishment for the seriousness of this crime.

Why were the newspapers not fined or their directors charged with criminal offences ?

"Police data sold to newspapers

Claire Cozens and Chris Tryhorn
Saturday April 16, 2005
The Guardian

Two national newspapers paid to receive confidential information from the police national computer, a court heard yesterday.
Articles from the Sunday Mirror and the Mail on Sunday were used in evidence against two former police employees and two private investigators charged with offences involving the sale of police information to the press.

The court was told that Stephen Whittamore, a 56-year-old private investigator with links to the national press, provided "very personal and confidential details" about a series of high-profile figures, including the EastEnders actors Charlie Brooks and Jessie Wallace; Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union; and Clifton Tomlinson, son of the actor Ricky Tomlinson

Riel Karmy-Jones, prosecuting, told Blackfriars crown court in central London that Mr Whittamore had received the information "through a chain" made up of the three other defendants: the private investigator John Boyall, 52; Alan King, a 59-year-old retired police officer; and Paul Marshall, 39, a former civilian communications officer who was based at Tooting police station in London.

Mr Marshall and Mr King both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, while Mr Whittamore and Mr Boyall pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of breaching the Data Protection Act. All four were given a two-year conditional discharge."

This case follows on from the breach of the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency computer systems by animal extremist supporter Barry Saul Dickinson who only got 5 months in jail for the offence of "misconduct in a public office" and the Metropolitan Police spy Ghazi Kassim who only got two and a half years for "three charges of misconduct in a public office"

None of the punishments in these cases is enough for a "normal" data protection breach, let alone one involving a breach of security of the Police National Computer.

However, this case involving the National Newspapers seems to have dealt with far too leniently.

These cases send out the wrong signal to bureaucrats who have legitimate access to our most sensitive personal data, which is allegedly "Protectively Marked" and falls under the Official Secrets Act 1989

How can we trust any of the Government's planned massive centralised computer databases and the "gateways" between Government departments and Foreign Governments, when multiple breaches of systems as sensitive as the Police National Computer, by insiders, is only punished with a "conditional discharge" ?

NAPO, the Trade Union and Professional Association for Family Court and Probation Staff, is calling for the scrapping of Electronic Tags to monitor Home Detention Curfew Orders on the grounds of cost effectiveness and the worrying number of breaches of such orders which are not properly monitored by the private sector contractors. They claim that Electronic Tagging costs nearly twice as much as conventional probation, and is less effective in terms of re-offending rates.

"Harry Fletcher, Assistant General Secretary of Napo said:

'Electronic Monitoring is now a multi-million pound business set for a major expansion after the election, yet the figures clearly show that the profit is huge and hardly value for money. It is also extraordinary that violations are not monitored or routinely followed up. There is an overwhelming case for the withdrawal of the curfew order. The time is surely right for an independent assessment of this concept.'"

NAPO have published a pretty damning review of the existing Home Office Electronic Tagging schemes (.doc).

This raises huge questions about the dangers which the planned extension of this "technological magic fix" approach to social problems poses, especially the planned extension to dangerous recidivist criminals on the Violent and Sexual Offender Register and to the alleged terrorist suspects subjected to Control Orders.

If the Home Office and its private sector contractors cannot properly manage fixed line, fixed location curfew monitoring, what hope is there that they will do a proper job with mobile phone/global positioning satellite based electronic tags ?

Our encrypted email provider Hushmail, has suffered from a domain name security compromise.

We are not yet convinced that there have been no Man-In-The-Middle attacks on our encrypted logins and encrypted data.

Hushmail security notice:

The Sunday Times splashed out on an artist illustrated article in their ongoing "Climate of Fear" hype campaign.

This time, we are meant to believe that:

"Al-Qaeda threat to Trafalgar fleet Sunday Times, April 24, 2005 Michael Smith

SECURITY chiefs fear Al-Qaeda terrorists trained as scuba divers could mount attacks against a royal review of the fleet being held to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar.

A senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) police officer has disclosed that militants using techniques learnt in western diving schools to attack Royal Navy ships are considered the main threat to the event."

"Officials fear Al-Qaeda divers could attach bombs to the hulls of the ships, detonate explosives strapped to their bodies in suicide attacks or even board vessels and kill some of those on board."

What explosives ? There has been no evidence that Al-Quaeda has access to explosives or even firearms in the United Kingdom.

Neither half a bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nor a shoe bomb which needed to be ignited by lighting matches, poses any threat whatsover in an underwater marine environment.

"Although any underwater diver could be picked up on the navy ships’ sonar systems, they are not sophisticated enough to distinguish between a man and an ocean-going mammal such as a seal or a dolphin."
Can't we borrow some minehunting or diver attack trained dolphins from the US Navy ?
Even if they were picked up, the use of a swarming technique would hamper the authorities’ efforts to prevent an attack. "The point of a swarm attack is that you might stop some of them but some of them will get through," said Jones.

The suggestion that Al-Qaeda might attempt swarm attacks using men trained in diving skills is not new. For the past three years, the FBI has been investigating reports of Middle Eastern suspects approaching scuba diving clubs in America and inquiring about training.

The bureau’s investigation was widened after the Dutch security service, the AIVD, discovered suspected Islamist extremists had been trained at a diving school in the Netherlands.

Several of the 48 Arabs trained to dive at the Eindhoven club were among a dozen alleged militants later charged with trying to recruit Dutch Muslims to join Al-Qaeda. Although all those charged were freed when the case collapsed, the AIVD insists the file remains open."

Presumably everyone who has ever taken scuba diving lessons or holidays in the Red Sea, is now considered to be a terrorist suspect.

Is this article really the result of behind the scenes lobbying ?

Is there some sort of budgetary or empire building agenda being played out within the Ministry of Defence ? Are the Royal Marines or the Special Boat Service under budgetary threat ? Will SBS divers not be able to provide protection for Her Majesty during the Trafalagar Day Naval Review ?

Are defence contrators like Qinetiq lobbying for sales of their
Cerberus 360 swimmer detection sonar or their OptaMarine fibre optic passive seabed sonar array ?
which, are designed specifically to be of use in detecting underwater saboteurs ?

The BBC reports Home Office Minister Hazel Blears's vapid comments on ID cards, with respect to the "failed shoe bomber" Saajid Badat case.

Yet again, the BBC seems to be falling for the New Labour spin and bias, in its reporting of any "terrorism" and "identity" stories, and yet again, they have not bothered to link to the cross party NO2ID Campaign website.


Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK

Badat case prompts terror debate

The jailing of a man who planned to blow up a passenger plane with explosives hidden in his shoe has reignited the debate over terrorism.

Home Office minister Hazel Blears said false identity was present in a third of terrorist cases and claimed ID cards would aid the battle against terrorism"

Note the weasel words which somehow imply that "ID cards" are a solution to "false identities used by terrorists".

Is she claiming that false United Kingdom identities are used in "a third of terrorist cases" ?

Manfred Roxon has emailed us with an article on Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) at Sainsburys supermarket petrol stations.

Additional issues for concern include the Data Retention period and policy for these systems.

Whilst the theory is that they merely do a lookup of a customer's vehicle Number Plate against a "blacklist" of convicted or previous "driven off without paying" records, it is hard to believe that there are no log files or engineering test modes in such equipment which can also keep a tab on legitimate customers time, date and location information.

How long is such data retained for, and is is ever passed on to other people, such as market research companies or even to the Police etc ?

Sainsburys’ bogus "Big Brother"
© 2005 Manfred Roxon

The Policy Laundering Project

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A new resource website has been launched called The Policy Laundering Project, set up by Privacy International, Statewatch and the American Civil Liberties Union which

"will monitor and influence the increasingly common formation of civil liberties-sensitive security policies through international organizations. "

e.g.
Communications surveillance
Travel surveillance
Identity documents
Terrorist watch lists
Migration and border controls
Security cooperation
Financial surveillance

All of these policy areas are being partially justified on the often spurious grounds that new/expensive/repressive national policies are called for, because of international agreements or treaty obligations.

These calls by "international institutions" such as the European Union, or United Nations etc. are very often not from neutral, independent bodies, but are the result of Policy Laundering, which have been heavily lobbied or influenced by the very same national governments trying to implement those policies, and seeking the fig leaf of international justification.
e.g. the UK Government's spurious claims about the requirements for Biometric Identifiers in Passports and ID Cards.

Bloomberg news reports:

"U.K. Court Delays Ruling on U.S. Extradition of Terror Suspect "

James Lumley in London at jlumley1@bloomberg.com

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- A London court postponed a decision on whether U.S. prosecutors can extradite a British man accused of setting up Web sites to fund the Taliban while it weighs whether the man will face the death penalty or a military court.

Babar Ahmad, 30, was arrested in August on U.S. federal charges of conspiracy to kill or injure persons in a foreign country, providing support to terrorists and money laundering, according to the indictment in the case. The U.S. government claims he used Internet service providers in Nevada and Connecticut to recruit and fundraise for militant Islamic fighters in Afghanistan and Chechnya between 1998 and 2003."

We have severe doubts about the flimsyness of the evidence presented in the USA, but which, under the new Extradition Act rules, cannot be challenged in a UK Court.

Disgracefully, the Labour government gave away our sovereignty on Extradition, and these rules do not apply for anybody wanted by the UK authorities in the United States of America - actual evidence must be presented and can be challenged in a US court.

"Judge Timothy Workman today adjourned the case until April 20 to hear more evidence about whether a diplomatic note can bind a U.S. court and whether the defendant will face the possibility of a death sentence."

More news will no doubt appear eventually on the Free Babar Ahmad Campaign website

Just to be clear, we do not support any extremist Islamic agenda or terrorism, but this case is the first one under the new Extradition rules to the USA. As such it has far reaching implications for all the rest of us, especially if such flimsy, almost entirely computer or email evidence, which cannot be challenged in the UK results in extradition.

The similar case of Farid Hilali, the first one under the new European Arrest Warrant, should also be scrutinised, for similar reasons.

Disgraced former Home Secretary David Blunkett was interviewed on Sky News today, electioneering in Rossendale, Lancashire, and came out in support of Sir Ian Blair's controversial interview with disparaging remarks for Blunkett's peculiar definition of "libertarians"

He also repeated his dubious theories on the mythical "clean database" of biometric ID cards, which he somehow thinks would apply to the 6 billion foreigners from outside of the UK.

Partial transcript of the Sky News interview:

Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has made some controversial partisan remarks on BBC television, on the supposed need for even more terrorism laws (as if there are not far too many already), and which add to the "Climate of Fear" by raising the possability of bubonic plague attacks.

He also called for "iris scan" ID cards, another New Labour Party only policy, right in the middle of the General Election campaign.

Partial transcript from BBC1 television "Breakfast with Frost"
Sunday 17th April 2005:

"DF - Sir David Frost, TV interviewer IB - Sir Ian Blair , the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police

DF: [voiceover]
The case has shed more light on this, on the terrorist threat here, and I have been discussing this, and other issues with Britain's, most senior Police Officer, Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

We talked in his office at Scotland Yard, and I began by asking him what general conclusions he drew, what lessons he drew , from last week's events:"

The BBC has trailed excerpts from the interview given by Sir Ian Blair, the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, which is due to be broadcast at 8am this Sunday (to fit in with coverage of the London Marathon) on the BBC1 "Breakfast with Frost" television programme.

Why is the supposedly independent Metroplitan Police Commissioner, supposedly the most senior policeman in the UK, making political statements of any sort during the General Election campaign ?

Other senior public servants are bound by a code of ethical good conduct (and common sense) not to do so, as they have to work with whichever political party or coalition forms the next Government.

More Home Office bureaucratic incompetence regarding the notorious Control Orders, under the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 imposed on the former Belmarsh suspects detained without trial, is reported by The Guardian newspaper.

Charles Clarke seems to have signed these Control Orders without bothering to read them individually.

The Labour Party Manifesto does mention ID Cards and Biometrics "like fingerprints" and a National Register as vague election promises, without being too specific.

However, the spin continues, for example from John Reid, the Health Minister, who, speaking on ITV's "The Boulton Report" said:

"Well, we've said that we wan, we recognise that when you're combatting terrorism, you have to balance the freedoms you want to protect, with those who use those freedoms to undermine them.

So we've said that we will take this in gradually, look at it as we go along, on the financial side, er, on the administrative side, and on the civil liberties side.

However, be in no doubt, that we are, er,eh, determined to bring in ID cards.

It is a necessary part of combatting terrorism"

Even the disgraced ex-Home Secretary David Blunkett admitted that ID cards were of no use in combatting terrorism, so why has this spin been allowed to pollute the airwaves again ?

Aa ID Card system, even a Biometric one with a centralised database as proposed uunder the wretched Identity Cards Bill, would not have hindered the activities of Kamel Bourgass, who was a failed Asylum Seeker, who had not been deported from the country more than 2 years after his claim had been rejected.

It seems that none of the alleged false or multiple passports that he and the people arrested witth him had in their possession were false British Passports, so, again, even a perfect United Kingdom ID card system would not have hindered this terrorist in that respect either.

Aargh! The BBC have edited their previous online report of the Kamel Bourgass "Ricin terror plot" court case, not by filing an updated story, but by editing the original published file:

Our previous comment was on:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4433709.stm
Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
"Man guilty of poison conspiracy

Kamel Bourgass was jailed for life in June 2004
A suspected al-Qaeda operative who stabbed to death a police officer has been convicted of plotting to spread poisons on the streets of Britain."

Luckily we have saved a copy of this for reference.

However, currently, the story has been given a new title, but it retains the original URL, presumably to try to confuse us and any search engines.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4433709.stm
Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
"Killer jailed over poison plot

An al-Qaeda suspect who stabbed to death a policeman has been jailed for 17 years for plotting to spread ricin and other poisons on the UK's streets"

They have added in even more Police speculation, and the whole "Ricin" angle to the report has been hyped up with extra mentions of Ricin, and even sidebar links to

"BACKGROUND
Trials give terror battle insight
Questions over ricin conspiracy
Mystery still surrounds killer
Key figures in ricin case
The ricin case timeline
In pictures: The ricin conspiracy"

What is going on ? Even the BBC background report does mention that "no ricin was found"

Does nobody else think it strange that someone living in a flat above a Pharmacy, did not even try to order "botox" or other pharmaceutical poisons with a false prescription ?

The Climate of Fear hype is also ramped up, with no justification.

"Anti-terror chief Peter Clarke said a "real and deadly threat" was averted.

The BBC's Home Editor Mark Easton says the authorities in Britain believe there was a plan to co-ordinate chemical and biological attacks across Europe.

In London targets were to include the underground

And in Paris the authorities suspect the Metro and Eiffel Tower could have been attacked"

What link with Paris was established ?

The only link is that there was a similar "no ricin found" case in France last year, that of Menad Benchellali, with whom Kemal Bourgass was pointedly not charged or convicted of conspiracy.

The "Climate of Fear" media spin seems to be continuing even in the run up to the General Election.

One expects better from the BBC, who claim to provide balanced and fair news coverage, but who manage to misleadingly report that:

"Man guilty of poison conspiracy

A suspected al-Qaeda operative who stabbed to death a police officer has been convicted of plotting to spread poisons on the streets of Britain.

Kamel Bourgass is serving a life sentence after being convicted of murdering Detective Constable Stephen Oake during a 2003 raid in Manchester.

Reporting restrictions covering that conviction were lifted on Wednesday."

The practice of blanket "reporting restrictions" for the media when so many people are linked to the Internet is a nonsense, and should be made illegal.

By all means restrict the names of witnesses, the accused, intelligence sources, sequester the jury in a particular case etc. if necessary.

The UK Criminal Justice System should not try to hide the time, date and location of a trial on serious charges or the "not guilty" verdicts of a previous trial which finished last week.

Justice has to be seen to be done fairly, and holding secret trials should not be allowed to happen in the United Kingdom.

The BBC report manages to include unsubstantiated spin nonsensical details, which were obviously not actually what Bourgass was convicted of, like

"Police believe Bourgass was an al-Qaeda operative and say he had discussed various ways of spreading nicotine poison, including smearing it on car door handles in the Holloway Road area of north London."

What about the most important detail of all ? Despite all the hype, no detectable traces, i.e. not even microscopic amounts, of Ricin toxin were actually discovered, according to the US report we commnted on yesterday.

It also seems doubtful that the amateur "recipes" downloaded off the internet would have been successful in extracting ricin from castor beans, which contain small quantities of it.

If there had been evidence of large amounts of castor beans or castor bean pulp waste product from the castor oil extraction industry, one might have been impressed, but, apparently, the Police found only 21 castor beans in the flat which was alleged to have been some sort of "laboratory" in Wood Green, London.

Obviously Bourgass is a dangerous criminal, who managed to stab 4 policeman, killing one of them during the bungled raid in Manchester when he was arrested, but during which he was apparently not properly secured, even after police had been on the scene for over an hour.

That does not make this case evidence of Al-Queda chemical or biological weapons terrorism, as was hyped by the media and "police sources" and by politicians in the run up to the war on Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, something which the BBC seems to be perpetuating even now.

"He was convicted of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance by the use of poisons and/or explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury."

By definition, how is it possible to be convicted of conspiracy, all on your own ?

Why was he not charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 or the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 ?

Presumably there was no evidence to prove that Bourgass was actually an "Al-Quaeds operative" or else he could have been charged with membership of a proscribed terrorist group.

The Guardian reports that

"Passport applicants must give fingerprints

Preparation for ID cards goes ahead without parliament

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Tuesday April 12, 2005
The Guardian

Ministers are to press ahead with the mandatory fingerprinting of new passport applicants using royal prerogative powers to sidestep the loss of their identity card legislation last week.

How can these "royal prerogative powers" sidestep the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act ?

If the Identity Cards Bill had been passed, then as Primary Legislation, it could have triggered the exemptions "in accordance with law"

The police are expected to be given the authority to carry out checks against this newly created national fingerprint database.

How can this possibly be legal ?

What possible excuse is there to force people to be fingerprinted against their will, if they have committed no crime ?

Until an Identity Cards Bill is enacted forcing Compulsion, there must always be the option to get or renew a passport without having to submit any Biometric Identifiers to a Centralised Database.

The home secretary Charles Clarke has authorised the passport service to acquire 70 new passport service offices across the country so that all adult applicants for new documents can be interviewed in person from next year. The service currently has seven offices.

The Home Office admits that the new network could also be used in future as identity card enrolment centres and the introduction of mandatory fingerprinting of passport applicants will form an important "building block" for the future ID card scheme.
Ministers have already made clear that the police will be allowed to conduct routine checks of fingerprints found at the scene of a crime against this new fingerprint database.

Even if the case is made for fingerprints to be used as an anti-forgery device, there is no need for them to be held on a central database, they could be encoded on the Passport chip itself, Digitally Signed, and stored nowhere else .

Why is this option not even being discussed ?

Civil liberty campaigners fear that, with 80% of British citizens holding a passport, the new fingerprint database will open up the potential of routine identity checks using fingerprint scanners, whether or not the individual is carrying a passport at the time.

It had been expected that the government's failure to get legislation paving the way for a national identity card scheme onto the statute book before the general election would at least have delayed the project.

But ministers have confirmed in correspondence that they are to press ahead despite the lack of parliamentary authority because passports are issued under the royal prerogative rather than legislation.

What about the right to free travel under the European Union and United Nations conventions which the UK has signed up to ?

By the end of this year all new passports issued to first time adult applicants and those whose passports have been lost or stolen will include a chip containing a digital image of the normal passport photo. This will not involve applicants going in person to a passport office.

But from next year the 600,000 a year new adult applicants will no longer be able to apply by post and will have to present themselves for a personal interview at the new passport offices where they will also be fingerprinted.

Confirmation that this will be quickly extended to the 5 million people renewing their passports every year is contained in the HM passport service's corporate and business plan for 2005-2010.

It shows that the new national fingerprint database will build up at a rapid rate. A £415m funding boost to the passport service to introduce these new "biometric passports" has already been agreed with the Treasury."

Even the wretched Identity Cards Bill contained some attempts to protect individuals privacy along with the backsides of various petty officials and politicians.

How can any of these "protections" and "exemptions" apply to "Royal Prerogative" edicts ?

Is this story just a typical New Labour "leak" to test the temparature of the opposition, or are they seriously trying to sneak this in so undemocratically ?

The UK media has been noticably silent about the terrorist trial which apparently led to not guilty verdicts last week on the "Wood Green Ricin Plotters".

It gives one a creepy feeling when important trials are simply not reported at all.

Thanks to a correspondent for alerting us to this:

George Smith is well respected for his work in debunking the hype surrounding, computer viruses, hoaxes and spyware for Vmyths and the Crypt newsletter, and seems to have been called as an expert witness for the defence.

"UK TERROR TRIAL FINDS NO TERROR: Not guilty of conspiracy to poison London with ricin by George Smith, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, GlobalSecurity.Org

One of the last claims in Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 blew away like dust in the wind late last week in the Old Bailey, London's central criminal court.

The trial of the infamous "UK poison cell," a group portrayed by Secretary of State Powell as al Qaida-associated operatives plotting to launch ricin attacks in the United Kingdom and in league with Muhamad al Zarqawi in Iraq, found nothing of the sort. The jury did find "the UK poison cell," known as Kamel Bourgas and others (Sidali Faddag, Samir Asli, Mouloud Bouhrama, Mustapha Taleb, Mouloud Sihali, Aissa Kalef), not guilty of conspiracy to murder by plotting ricin attacks and, generally speaking, not guilty of conspiracy to do anything. Kamel Bourgas had been previously convicted of murder of a British policeman in an unpublicized trial."

It is well worth reading the rest of this article (mirrored below).

There are some online discussions about if, when and how, a Member of Parliament's website should, temporarily in most cases, change the description or title from "MP" or "Member of Parliament" for such and such a Constituency, to "Candidate" or, in some cases "former MP" as required, once the official election Writ comes into force i.e. 5pm today.

However, weblogs or blogs, are slightly different from static web pages, and it seems that it is easy to overlook the fact that the Syndication Feeds in RSS or XML format may well be out of synchronisation with the front page descriptions.

e.g. the pioneering Tom Watson

http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/

is the "Labour Candidate for West Bromwich East"

but according to the Syndication feed

http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/index.xml

he is still "Labour MP for West Bromwich East"

The solution is probably to re-index the weblog.

http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/index.xml

This website, despite its domain name, is not primarily focussed on the secret world of British intelligence agencies like MI5, MI6, GCHQ, DIS etc.

The House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee has published its annual, heavily censored report, which bears a striking similarity to last year's report.

Some comments on the public findings of this report, which the Government merely "takes note of the view of the Committee", and is not bound to do anything about:

The dreadful undemocratic "wash up" period at the end of this Parliamentary session, which to his credit, has been condemned by the Conservative MP Eric Forth, has now seen the rubberstamping of the controversial Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill.

The House of Commons, with barely a quorum of Members of Parliament in the Chamber, has accepted the Lords' Amendments to the Bill.

This is the result of the backroom deal through "the usual channels", and omits Clause 124, the incitement to religous hatred offence, but leaves all the other controversial powers and offences which have nothing to do with the establishment of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

It is too early to see if SOCA will be a success, but it is worrying that it is only accountable to the Home Secretary, not something which inspires our trust, given the dubious records on human rights and civil liberties of the last four politicians who have occupied that office. Similarly it is unclear just how big a problem it is set to tackle (£40 billion or £20 billion a year ?) and therefore what resources it really needs. There is also the huge question of why the priorities of SOCA will, apparently, be set partially as a result of the Home Office's self re-inforcing "climate of fear" newspaper column inches feeback loop,

Included in the Bill, soon to be an Act:

  • The extension of police powers of arrest without warrant to include all offences, no matter how trivial, which trigger the existing bureaucratic powers of fingerprinting, photographing, the taking of DNA and other intimate samples, and their retention forever, no matter whether or not anyone is ever charged, let alone convicted of any crime.

  • Since the Road Safety Bill seems to have been lost, the Lords managed to add in a couple of clauses granting powers for access to Motor Insurance data and for roadside breath test sampling, rather than requiring visits to the police station. We are not convinced that there are sufficient safeguards to prevent this power from being used by the Police to harrass people.

  • The further restriction on protests and demonstrations within one kilometre of Parliament, inspired by a single "peace" protestor camped out in Parliament Square has now also gone through on the nod.

    Why should anyone have to apply in writing at least 6 days (or is it at least 24 hours ?) in advance, of any demonstration ? Incredibly, this applies even to a demonstration consisting only of a single protestor !

    Perhaps the Labour Party is fearful of mass demonstrations protesting the fiddled results of the General Election like in the Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan ? They cannot claim that they have never been involved in such electoral fraud, as the Postal Votes in Birmingham Scandal shows.

    Perhaps we should apply for a demonstration permit to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, no later than Friday 29th April, just in case ?

Guess which politician thinks that the solution to the Labour Party Postal Voting Scandal in Birmingham, is somehow, a compulsory national identity card and "clean database" ?

As the NO2ID News Blog comments:

"Of course, a moment’s thought reveals that ID cards wouldn’t prevent any kind of "citizen not present" fraud, such as fraudulent postal voting, precisely because the citizen and his ID card aren’t available to be verified."

What about the hundreds of thousands of British people who live or work abroad, e.g. within the European Union is Spain or France, and who are entitled to vote but would not, under the Identity Cards Bill have been entitled to an ID card !

Here is a partial transcript of BBC 1 "Question Time", April 6th 2005

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/question_time/4411797.stm

Starting about 48 minutes in to the Real Media online version of the programme:

DD= David Dimbleby chairman and host of the TV panel discussion.

DB= David Blunkett MP, disgraced ex-Nu Labour Cabinet Minister desparately seeking a political comeback

PH= Petrina Holdsworth, Chairman of United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

NS= Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP)

The Home Office has finally, after 50 working days, responded with a partial disclosure to our Freedom of Information Act Request for:

"official meeting diaries, agendas of meetings, travel and entertainment expenses involving Katherine Courtney, Stephen Harrison, and the post of Head of Marketing, from 11 September 2001"

They are claiming an exemption under Section 35(1)(a) of the Act, "the formulation and development of government policy"

The only information which has been revealed is some aggregated annual expenses.

Note that they still do not actually name the "Head of Marketing" for the Identity Cards Programme, which was advertised in October 2004 - has th epost been filled or not ?

UK Identity Cards Bill abandoned, for now

| | Comments (0)

The Home Secretary Charles Clarke has admitted that the controversial Identity Cards Bill has been abandoned, for now.

Speaking on BBC News 24, Home Secretary Charles Clarke wittered on about how the Identity Cards Bill would somehow, magically, be a solution to "terrorism" and "identity theft", neither of which, the Government has bothered to try to explain in detail, how the particular scheme which has been proposed, would be cost effective against. Then, of course, he tried to blame the Tory opposition:

"and I am deeply shocked today, that the Conservatives have decided to kill the Bill. I very much regret it. We will put it in our manifesto, and we will make it an early priority, if we are re-elected, to get a proper identity system in place"

If re-elected, as seems likely, the Labour Government would be well advised to consult properly this time, on any future identity card scheme. It will be intolerable if they simply try to rush the same badly drafted and excessively complex, expensive and intrusive scheme through Parliament again.

None of the necessary proper detailed technical and practical consultation or detailed Parliamentary scrutiny happened with either the Draft Identity Card Bill, or the now dead full Identity Cards Bill, which attempted a huge, multi-billion pound change in the trust relationship between the UK Government and all 60 million or so UK residents.

The cross party umbrella organisation NO2ID, which has been leading the opposition to the Identity Cards Bill, vows to continue to oppose any re-introduction of such a Bill, unless and until it is radically altered to be simpler, cheaper, more practical and far, far less privacy intrusive.

It looks as if the struggle will likely continue after the General Election.

The Scotsman reports that

"MSP seen on CCTV in sex act with aide
MICHAEL BLACKLEY


A MEMBER of the Scottish Parliament has been caught on CCTV committing a sex act within the parliament’s grounds.

The MSP, who has not yet been identified, appeared on CCTV screens with a male aide performing a sex act on him.

Was this a direct observation by a human operator, or just a recorded image ?

Are those allegedly involved clearly identifiable, as well as their behavior and actions, or is this open to misinterpretation ?

Are these "CCTV screens" internal Scottish Parliament ones, or are they from neighbouring CCTV systems zooming in on the "parliament's grounds" ?

About this blog

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

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

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

Email & PGP Contact

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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

Current PGP Key ID: 0xA165A29480CFAA4C which will expire on 6th September 2014.

pgp-now.gif
You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from www.pgpi.org
(available for most of the common computer operating systems, and also in various Open Source versions like GPG)

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

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

gchq_logo.gif
Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

da_notice_system_150.gif
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