Sunday Times "climate of fear" article on alleged MI5 anti-terrorism methods

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Why does The Sunday Times keep on publishing "climate of fear" disinformation articles like this one ?

Is this an informed article by Michael Smith who broke the "Downing Street memos" story, or is it deliberate disinformation and distortion ?

"Michael Smith served for nine years in the British Army's Intelligence Corps as a latter-day codebreaker before going to work for the BBC Monitoring Service. He has written for a number of newspapers, including the Financial Times, the Sunday Times, and most recently the Daily Telegraph, where he is Defense Correspondent."

or is this a script for an episode of the popular fictional BBC MI5 spy drama series "Spooks" ?

"The Sunday Times July 10, 2005

Focus: Terror in London

The secret war on terror
Michael Smith

The MI5 surveillance team picks up its suspect as he leaves his parents’ house in an Asian-dominated area of one of Britain’s major cities. The watchers keep their distance unobtrusively as the target — we will call him Jamal — stops to speak to another young Asian.

The body language makes it clear that Jamal is in charge. The conversation is not aggressive, but nor are they merely chatting. It is clearly not a chance encounter, and it is taking place on a well chosen patch of waste ground where they cannot be overheard. The MI5 team holds off.

Jamal has no record of extremism. He has never been seen publicly to side with the angry young men who after Friday prayers rage against Britain’s involvement in the war in Iraq.

Jamal's family has been here for several generations. He is regarded by those who know him as fully assimilated into British society. He has what his mother rightly regards as "a respectable job" working in computers.

On the face of it his frequent trips to Pakistan are innocent visits to see his aunts and uncles. But intelligence obtained by MI6 from a *liaison service*, in this case the CIA, shows that Jamal spends most of his "holidays" in Pakistan in guesthouses in the tribal homelands, talking to known members of Al-Qaeda.

Jamal does not exist, but his profile and the way the intelligence services deal with him exemplify the war on terror."

Is the allegedly fictional "Jamal" meant to be the very real Babar Ahmad a British citizen, who worked in IT support at Imperial College in London, whose father is a retired Foreign Office civil servant and who is facing extraditon to the USA, accused of "terrorist fundraising" by running Islamic fundamentalist websites (free speech ?) with discussion forums, according to the USA, but not according to UK law ?

"Britain’s security and intelligence services have had to revamp their operations completely in the four years since the September 11 attacks to keep track of home-grown terrorists like Jamal.

Surveillance is not confined simply to "watching". His mobile phone is bugged, his conversations are recorded and analysed, his movements are filmed and his contacts are subjected to the same deep surveillance.

MI5 knows that simply dragging Jamal off the streets is not a solution; someone else will take his place."

Precisley one of the most fundamental weaknesses of the Control Orders under the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 for house arrest or internet and phone and meeting restrictions.

"Jamal has been under surveillance ever since the MI6/CIA report arrived in the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), based in MI5’s Millbank offices.

Set up in May 2003, JTAC contains experts from every UK security and intelligence-gathering agency and is entirely focused on international terrorism.

Commanded by a member of the Defence Intelligence Staff and controlled by MI5’s director, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, it is a key part of Britain’s war against terror.

Changes designed to make the security service less hierarchal ensure that all the specialists, including the "visual surveillance" experts and the technical experts, are working together. Their work takes up around half the service’s annual budget, which has rocketed in recent years.

In Jamal’s case, the watchers have taking over a house close to his home, videoing everything. Conversations inside his home can be recorded by bouncing radio waves off the window panes."

Really ? Presumably Jamal's house must have metallised windows for the "radio waves" to bounce off from, modulated by the sound vibrations on the glass.

Perhaps they should revive the 1960's technique, currently used by hobbyists and wannabe spy gadget addicts of using a laser beam instead ?

"These intrusive intelligence methods have been justified legally on the suspicion that Jamal is building up what is effectively a franchise for Al-Qaeda.

All such surveillance teams have an MI5 lawyer attached to the operation, overseeing everything they do to ensure that any evidence they collect will be admissible in court should they arrest their target.

Nobody is yet sure what role Jamal has been groomed for by Al-Qaeda. During his time in the Pakistani guesthouse he may have been trained as a bomb-maker. Certainly he has been taught leadership and recruitment skills, how to persuade other young Muslims that it is their duty to force the "new crusaders" out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The MI5 team knows that, using a pseudonym, he has set up his own weblog with links to radical websites that accuse Israel of being behind the 9/11 attacks. Visitors to the site are encouraged to post their own views. Jamal picks out those that seem most susceptible to recruitment, pliable young men who want to know more.

These recruits are steered away from the weblog to private one-to-one e-mail conversations in which they are groomed for roles within a group that Jamal initially portrays as innocuous.

Slowly and carefully Jamal will ease them into joining his terrorist group, not a part of Al-Qaeda but nevertheless one that regards Osama Bin Laden as its guiding light.

The warrants the MI5 watchers have obtained permit them to intercept Jamal’s e-mail conversations with those he is grooming, and to carry out "portscans" on his computer. Using sophisticated software, they reach into it to search for incriminating files."

The United Kingdom does not have any laws permitting the security services to "hack" in to your personal computer via its internet connection, "to search for incriminating files", unlike, say the those in Australia. To do so would be a breach of the Surveillance Commissioner and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 they can break into you house and plant a bugging device or software on your computer, but that is not quite the same thing as what is being described in the article.

The UK National High Tech Crime Unit have recently arrested an Israeli programmer accused of writing and selling such a "trojan horse" remote access control tool capable of searching for files on your computer, which has been used by various private investigators to spy on commercial companies and, allegedly on defence secrets in Israel.

The risk of discovery and of "tipping off" the suspect is enormous, and it is likely to be foiled by standard personal firewall and anti-virus software, unless, of, course "Jamal" is a complete idiot.

How could this sort of thing ever stand up in court ? If you "hack" into a computer to "search for incriminating files", how can you prove in court, that you or someone else expoloiting the computer security vulnerabilities you used, did not maliciously plant any such "incriminating files" ? Does this not provide a "get out of jail" defence even if the authorities do actually find something incriminating ?

"His mobile telephone is being monitored by specialists from the British signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, whose experts carry out “traffic analysis” of all the calls to and from his phone, building up a picture of his contacts and, where appropriate, seeking fresh warrants to monitor their telephones."

GCHQ are not likely to be involved in something as technically simple as "communications data" traffic analyis. With an authorisation under the Regulation of Invesitigatory Powers Act 2000, the Mobile Phome Network operator will supply the detailed Call Detail Records itemised phone bill type information as well as the Cell ID Location Based Data. This can be fed into standard intelligence data visualisations software like Analysts Notebook or Pattern Tracer, which will map out the "telephone friendship tree" and timelines, and which is used by just about every Police force in Europe.

"GCHQ specialists don’t even need Jamal to be using his phone. As long as his mobile is switched on and he has it with him, it can be used to listen in to anything he is saying to anyone else.

Mobile telephone networks operate in a cellular structure with each cell of around 100 square miles controlled by a base station that keeps the phone linked to the central network. As its owner moves between the cells, the phone continuously links into the nearest base station, using a completely separate frequency to the one on which conversations take place, so that the network knows where to direct any incoming calls.

This “control frequency” can be used to take over the mobile phone and turn it into a bug. That’s the theory. But today Jamal’s telephone is in his pocket and its microphone cannot pick up what he is saying as he stands on the waste ground near his parents’ house."

This betrays such a fundamental misunderstanding of the way in which Mobile Phones work, that it must be a bit of deliberate disinformation. The bit about "control frequency" is utter rubbish. The "control channels" are used to establish and maintain the voice or data transmissions and reception, but there is no way that they can use a "completely separate frequency to the one on which conversations take place"

Unmodified mobile phones are not capable of being arbitrarily turned into bugging devices.

There are urban myths and rumours that years ago, in various former Soviet Union police states, the state monopoly mobile phone companies would only supply phones which were so modified, resulting in the charming habit of all "business meetings" taking place with the participants ostentatiously placing their mobile phones on the table in plain sight, and removing the batteries.

Nowadays you can buy little devices which detect if your apparently dormant mobile phone is actually transmitting , or if a mobile phone based bug or tracking device, which may ony transmit or be callled remotely at certain times, is really active, by picking up the periodic (usually every six to 10 minutes) handshake that the phone must make with the Cell base Station, especially if the phone is on the move.

It is possible to "take over" some but not all vulnerable models of mobile phones via their Bluetooth intferaces, an din some cases it might be possible to dial out somewhere therby "bugging" any conversations, however, this is a very unreliable way of doing things and also likely to be detected

"This does not concern the surveillance team unduly, because the young man Jamal is talking to — we will call him Naz — is an undercover operator who has infiltrated Jamal’s terror network.

Naz, who is on loan from MI6, turned up on Jamal’s weblog not long after that first report from the CIA came in. One of a small but increasing number of young Asians using their understanding of their own culture and communities, Naz is helping to ensure that the JTAC teams can keep a watch on people like Jamal and stop terror attacks."

Entrapment ? Agent Provocateur ? "Super grass" ?

How can we be sure that some or all the members of this alleged terrorist cell, are not actually working for different "intelligence agencies", like the "communist agitators" described by author Tom Sharpe in his book Riotous Assembly ?

"The lesson of last week’s outrages in London is grim, however. All the sophisticated surveillance of terror suspects had produced no hint of preparation for the bombings.MI5 knows that the likes of Jamal could never plant a bomb; it is the ones MI5 does not know about who are the real danger."

Is this article a true reflection of the Home Office / MI5 Security Service mindest that is calling for even more repressive legal powers such as "acts preparatory to terrorism", and compulsory centralised biometric ID databases etc, but which has failed to prevent last Thursday's bombs in London ?

23 Comments

Is it any coincidence the Sunday Times is a Murdoch paper?

Looks like "innocent until proven Irish" has become "innocent until proven Muslim".

your right, this is an outrage. An english mans home is his castle (even if he's not english). We should respect the civil rights of all who live in this great country, even if they are terrorists. Let them plan their terror attacks in private, let them make their bombs in peace, let them recruit in private, and I hope your and all your family are not the victims of their contrivences.

Your an idiot in the wrong job. Perhaps your a terrorist sympathiser.

mildly miffed (nr Warren St)

@ Sarah - So you think that wasting scarce surveillance resources on the wrong person somehow helps to make us safer from the real terrorists ?

You are free to disgree with this article, but
you should not make a libelous statement like "Perhaps your a terrorist sympathiser" which is patently untrue.

Perhaps you should reflect on the killing of the innocent Brasilian, Jean Charles de Menezes, on the Stockwell Tube train on Friday, and think about the consequences of faulty intelligence and jumping to conclusions based on racial appearances.

Sarah, you obviously have a knee jerk reaction to the article; just like a policeman firing 5 shots into a man lying on the ground. He obviously was a terrorist as he came out of a house that was being observed *sarcasm*. This highlights the rubbish sunday times article and the 'intelligent surveillance', becomes another oxymoron.
The problem I feel is that of anonymity - that joe bloggs could be seduced into hurting his fellow citizens to prove a political(or cultural) point. This makes the viability of accurate intelligence so hazy and vague that following around certain 'potentials' is not good enough, and you can bet that not just the option to hack foreign websites is enough. This signals the monitoring service for any kind of dissent. They will try to push the id cards even further now.
If only peaceful political protest were noticed as much as the act of terrorism.

Just curious - why would 'Jamal' run a weblog suggesting that Israel (rather than his lot) was behind 9/11 while he encourages terrorist bombers?

If atrocities like 9/11 are what Jamal is aiming at, it seems odd to disclaim the worst one of the lot.

So what went wrong for the poor Brazilian guy? Well,

1) He came out of a house where suspected terrorists allegedly live, or meet, or something else...
2) ...in front of a surveillance team with very few hard facts but two recent bombings on their minds.
3) His skin was dark. Granted, only lightly so but so are many Arabs'.
4) He wore thick clothing on a warm day...
4a) ..and possibly a wire or 2 was sticking out (him being an electrician that would not be unlikely) - but this is rumor only.
5) He bypassed the "security" at the tube station.
6) He didn't stop when ordered to but...
7) ...tried to flee into a full train.

Exactly how do you propose that this should engender reasonable doubt in the heads of the officers? And how much time should they take to find out what was really going on? More than 2 seconds? Sorry, game over. Score: 30+ for the bad guys, zilch for the good guys.

And the reason that peaceful political protest is not noticed is that in reply you usually just get troglodyte grunts of "F*ck you, you are an idiot, I don't have to listen to you, f*ck you". Repeat ad nauseam. Sarah, thank you for showing us why terrorists have to kill us to get our attention...

Dane.

The point here is that the Brazilian should never have been let near the tube station. I work in monitoring and survellance in London - our teams can be 10 strong for the surveillance of one person. This guy, a "suspected" terrorist must surely have been tailed by at least 10 people [including backup] so why didn't they detain him when it was obvious that he was getting too close to an underground station.

This whole case smells of sloppy policework to me - leave the gun toting to the boys at 5 - I personally don't trust the police to carry out sensitive operations - it seems here that they shot first and asked questions later.

And to all the people who are supporting the police on this one, try and remember that in this country we're innocent until proven guilty.

There are better ways to protect the public than shooting at it.

Oddly enough, the weekend after 7th July I was having a discussion with some mates, and indicating my dismay that one thing that the underground bombing would definitely achieve, is to further the governments ID card scheme, thereby pushing the UK yet one step closer to a complete nanny/police state.
The conter-argument i got was "Well, they're the government, and they love us and care for us, and anyway, only bad people have anything to hide"
To counter this, i patiently explained that even if that *were* so, we can make the same assumptions about good old Bobbies, yet would not feel happy arming all of them with submachine guns, as sooner or later they'd use them, with the sheer statistics of false positive meaning a lot of people would die needlessly.

Having said that, anyone who runs when an armed officer points a weapon at them and says "stop or i fire" deserves a darwin award.

Huh? That picture on the peguin site of Michael Smith is not him.....He's bald, doesn't wear glasses and isn't that pretty :-)

There seems like a lot of strong opinionism here. Think about if you were the policeman:

1. You know that foreign nationals want to blow up tube trains
2. You're watching a building for known terrorists, someone comes out of the building who looks like your target.
3. He runs away from you when you try to stop him
4. He runs into a Tube station
5. He's wearing clothing that (unless you have a portable millimetric wave camera) would be easily concealing a Bomb.
6. You don't want to be blown up, or the people around you to be blown up.

It's a difficult position to be in when the safety of possibly a hundred people is in question.

Some importanr details have started to emerge in today's press e.g.

According to The Times

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,22989-1707480,00.html

Jean Charles de Menezes spent 15 minutes walking to and waiting for a Number 2 Bus, which he caught and travelled on it for another 11 minutes to Stockwell Tube Station.

If he was a suspected suicide bomber, why was he allowed onto the Bus before being challenged by the surveillance team ?

Or are the lives of Bus passengers deemed to be more expendable than those of Tube passengers according to the Operation Kratos rules ?

All the talk of "split second" decisions also applies equally to the victim of the shooting. If you are under stress or fearful, then the adrenaline kicks in, a response which is known as "fight or flight", a perfectly normal , natural response.

I don't have any inside information, just what I've picked up from a long interest in military affairs and some related aspects of police work.

Some questions to think about:

1: How many firearms-qualified officers are there in London, and how many are available at any one time? Some will be committed to the semi-public security of places such as Downing Street and Heathrow. And they all have to have time to eat and sleep.

2: Would a surveillance operation with armed support want to send all the armed support after one suspect? They'd have to be very sure that nobody was left behind at the address being watched.

3: Following on, could the shooting have been done by some mobile unit, supporting more than one surveillance operation? Could that be how the manpower is being used "efficiently"?

This would explain possible delays, and maybe the hasty briefing necessary could have something to do with what happened. How much will come out in any inquiry, I don't know.

Anyway, that's my load of total bollocks for today.

I hope...

Nic- why are we so sure that the bloke knew they were police? he probably thought all english bobbies have helmets and yellow coats. easy for you to say he "knew" retrospectively ( and we'll never know what he thought..will we?) and Steven: a)-hmm-why should the police think that "foreign nationals" go around blowing up tubes? in case you havent been reading - the last lot were all british. b) it was a block of flats - duh.. c) lots of people would be running away from a bunch of armed "plain clothes" men especially after a terrorist event d) wearing clothes that could easily hide a bomb?! you know people keep saying this - what kind of a jacket can you hide a "rucksack" under? everyone also keeps saying its "unseasonal" - for goodness sake, everyone seems to have forgotten the kind of weather there is in this country - its unpredictable! and friday was chilly for a lot of us! especially if you're from Brazil.. where are the national whining about the weather crew? so basically if you're dressed differently to what the police "expect" they're gonna fucking shoot you? lastly if the thing they wanted was to avoid another tube tragedy, why chasse someone "onto" the train - in fact how could they let him get near the tube station?! i can see that they were trying to "do their job" but clearly if this is what "well trained" british anti-terrorist officers are like in terms of not very good logical reasoning ( and whats all this about split-second thinking - they'd been following him for ages-) and incompetence, well then, its not much surprise they're not catching the actual perpetrators.

anway at the end of the day its all very unfortunate and there are two distinct viewpoints. i can guarantee that if the police came along and shot someone in your family you'd think different. cos by then its not gonna make a fucking difference cos its too late.

Let's make one thing clear:
My comments were not essentially about police shooting an innocent person, they were about the knee-jerk response to evolve what used to be a less regimented society, towards a police state.

I was pointing out that we *do not* wish police to all carry massive firepower, just as we do not want government to have unilateral power of life and death over us. I'm sure i recall some obscure document from circa 1215 that says that those in power have obligations as well as rights...;P

Further, i was recounting that this point predates last fridays event, which is therefore tragically ironic from my of view.

Last point: From many years of practicing martial arts which include a large amount of holding/restraining techniques, and from military service in a COIN-ops environment, i can say two things:
1) It is almost impossible for one or even two people to completely restrain a person without doing massive damage, and even then, that person is almost never completely paralysed
2) Eight shots are extremely excessive from trained officers.

All in all, just a nasty, tragic, and unfortunate sequence of events.
I think it's highly likely that the inquest, if well conducted, will find that the operation controller slipped up on several important points, but that the people on the ground reacted as best they could under the circumstances, given their training, experience, and context.
"Best they could" does not, in any way, imply perfectly or even well, however...

Nic, just one point to make, I don't think that 8 shots are neccesarily excessive. If you're shooting to kill, it is you job to make sure that your target is dead as quickly as possible in order to minimize danger. If you shoot someone 8 times, they are 8 times more likely to be dead. If the officer *had* only fired one shot and it was the one that hit him in the shoulder then the target would be in a position to retaliate (possibly detonate a bomb).

Sonia.
a) Why Foreign Nationals? We know that there are a lot of people in other countries who believe the UK is an evil that should be punished, We also know that there are a LOT of Foreign Nationals out there and any of them who want to act on their beliefs will make their way here to act. The Security services have a lot of evidence that Islamic Militants are trying to wreak havoc in western societies.
b) That's why they didn't shoot him on sight, only when he ran away from them, onto a tube train where he could potentially kill many people.
c) You've got a point, I've never been in that particular situation but from what I've heard in the news, I expected plain clothes poliecemen to be around, even some of them armed, If they followed guidelines, they will have identified themselves as police before they could consider using guns.
d) There are such devices as belt bombs and bombs fitted to webbing worn close to the chest. In this case, a padded jacket would conceal such devices.
e) Chase someone onto a train? I don't think that would have happened, I wasn't there so I don't know but I imagine that the Police confronted him (having tailed him before) when he approached the train station and that he then ran into the tube station, vaulted a security barrier and jumped onto a train, probably the thing that the police hoped to prevent by stopping him before he reached the station/platform.

Finally, at the end of the day, I don't believe that if the man that died had been a member of my family, it would make me feel different because I believe that people can make mistakes and when Innocent People's lives are at stake, the people we pay to protect us have to be trusted. I'm sorry that an innocent man had to die but I believe that the security services are doing the best that they can to protect us.

"d) There are such devices as belt bombs and bombs fitted to webbing worn close to the chest. In this case, a padded jacket would conceal such devices."

True, but none of the 9 devices detonated or recovered so far have been of that sort, they have all been rucksack bombs, which everybody was aware of on Friday morning. If the terrorists had such devices, then why have they not already used them ?

The theory about shooting someone in the head to prevent them from being able to press a button to detonate a bomb seems to ignore the very obvious tried and tested technology of a hand grenade, which has been common since the First World War.

When you *release* the trigger either by throwing it or through your hand going limp because you have been shot dead, it then detonates the explosion.

How much does a heart-rate or pulse monitor, sold for sports and fitness training cost ?

wtwu, As you said yourself:
"True, but none of the 9 devices detonated or recovered so far have been of that sort," as far as we know, there was no dead-man's lever on any of the rucksack bombs that went off.

Stephen

Very true, but given that the principle is so simple, and that it has been used by other bombers before, how can the Operation Kratos rules of engagement and training make the assumption that there isn't such a trigger, which could make either a headshot or the use of a Taser, completley counterproductive.

The latest media reports seem to suggest that the family of Jean Charles de Meneze are claiming that they were told he used his travel card to got through the Tube barriers, and the reports of someone leaping over the barriers was in fact one of the chasing policemen.

Why was he wrestled to the ground by at least two officers ? Surely that also risked setting off any explosives ?

No CCTV pictures of the incident have been released, although what there are is said to have been made available to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/pr290705_witnessappeal

There has been media spin to the effect that not all the CCTV cameras at Stockwell Tube station were working, which could be an excuse not to make public everything that happened, or it could just be yet another instance of CCTV surveillance failing at the most crucial times.

The nedia manipulation and spin makes it hard to guess what may have been the truth. Perhaps the IPCC report will eventually shed some light, if it is not censored.

A digital e-book worth reading for download from Amazon is to do with the intelligence services in 1960 onwards with a gripping story about one man's ordeal in the labour camps of China. It's called "Codename:Pagoda" by Tony Dean. It tells of the shambles and outright paranoia by many in the service who had any sort of authority at all. This was compounded by the fact that "they" did not exist, so it was alright to do anything they wanted.
Doa search for it on Amazon it only costs $4.95 and is a very good read, the story is incredible!

Great. I come in this website to see some intelligent inputs, and what do we get, conspiricy theories and the constant criticisim of the police at stockwell. I'll be straight with you all now. I am an armed police officer in London and proud of it, I was one of the first officers on scene at the edgeware Road bomb on 7/7 and was on the platform rescuing passengers. I have seen what terror attacks do to people and I think I should set some things straight.
Stockwell...it was unfortunate. It was a an error, but you can NOT blame the officers involved in pulling the trigger. They received certain information about the the subject, and based on that and where he was, officers made the decision to to neutralise the threat. They had no choice.
"Op KRATOS". Unless you are in the firearms role in the police, people don't really know much about it, other than what is released by the police or guessed at by the press. I WILL NOT go into OP KRATOS ( Not called that anymore ) but will tell you some basics about it. While Commader Dick made orders for Op Kratos to be implemented, the officers on the ground make the dynamic risk assessment before any shots are fired. They CAN NOT be told to squeeze the trigger. Only they can make that decision. Secondly, when dealing with suspected suicide bombers, there are certain options to consider ( again I wont explain due to operational reasons ) but one option, and the most extreme, is close quarter shooting to the head, or known as a critical head shot. These seem extreme by their very nature, but believe me they are the most effective way of stopping a suicide bomber. I have heard all the stuff about pressure release triggers etc etc, but they are very very rarely used and the chances of them being introduced in Britain is slim. I have had inputs from the Isralei security services about various devices used by terrorists and how to deal with them and came to the conclusion myself without my further training, that head shots were the way forward.
SONIA, you mention your training and then criticsed our excessive use of bullets. While I do not want a public discussion on your training and your experience, perhaps you would like to drop me an e-mail and we can dissuss your thoughts. I will however say one thing. Two officers dealing wth what they believe to be a bomber. Both officers with their own risk assessment. Both officers with their own gun.Either one could fire at any time. ( as happened ) Both officers will fire until THEY feel the threat has gone. If they can account for each and evey shot fired ( Which they did ) then there is no excessive force used. So if one officer used his gun then perhaps 3-4 shots would be fired, but as there were two officers it increases to 6-8 shots. It would again increase if there were 3 officers, etc etc. So no, 8 is not excessive at all considering the threat and officers involved.
Please please let this poor man rest in peace now. Police have admitted they made a mistake, but it was a honest one. To sit here and slate them all the time is WRONG and pathetic. I am not suggesting anyone here is a terrorist sympathiser, but it appears some people would rather police take a soft approach to terror. God forbid, but if anything were to happen to your family during a terror attack, you would be the first to ask why police done nothing.

Dane,
Just read your post. What b***ocks. If you are 5 or part of the foot teams that carry out surveilance then you know what I am talking about. I have worked with you lot and trust me you are no experts at all. Why do you think police do not want to share intell with you. To come on here and gas on about " Leaving the gun totting to 5" is shit. You don't carry guns. You have no executive powers what so ever. You know that CO19 will provide the " Gun totting" as you call it. Stop being Walter Mitty, grow up and get on with your job.

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers