November 2005 Archives

Open Rights group event

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One minor common theme around all the different "glue boards" was to try to reclaim or counter the propaganda use of the word "pirate" . Piracy is an evil crime involving hijacking, murder, rape, torture , robbery etc. and it still goes on today off the coasts of Africa and Indonesia. Piracy is not something from maritime history, it still flourishes today. Only this month a British cruise liner escaped an attack off the coast of Kenya and Somalia, from a couple of small boats which fired Rocket propelled Grenades and AK47 at the ship.

For the music and film industry copyright propagandists to equate the crimes of piracy with the civil torts of copyright infringement dishonours the victims of real pirates.

One group of what the satircal novellist Tom Sharpe would have described as "word merchants" seemed to be trying to provoke things in a self described Trotskyist agitprop way, bravely exhorting others to create the conditions for revoloution. Apparently this might be achieved not by figthing repressive and technologically ignorant laws, politicians, corporate lobbyists and journalusts, through publicity and political lobbying, or the creation of a grass roots movement. What they were discussing was, according to Nick Mailer

Suw Charman

Luke Razzelll


Julian Bond

Ian Brown

MySociety, and NO2ID were present.


Markets in the Online Public Sphere by Williame Heath published today by the NuLabour think tank the Institute for Public Policy research , could perhaps spark off some more useful discussions than peculiar and irrelevant

The Mail on Sunday has been investigating the scandal of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

DVLA sells your details to criminals by MARTIN DELGADO, ROB LUDGATE and MARK NICHOL, Mail on Sunday 08:16am 27th November 2005

The Government is selling the names and home addresses of motorists on its drivers' database to convicted criminals, a Mail on Sunday investigation has revealed.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) tells would-be wheel-clampers there is "no problem" with them buying drivers' home addresses - even if they have a criminal record.

Indeed, the two bosses of one clamping firm on the list of companies to whom the DVLA is happy to sell drivers' details are currently serving seven years' jail between them for extorting money from motorists.

The Mail on Sunday has now forced the DVLA to hand over its list of 157 firms which can buy personal information about drivers at £2.50 a time. All the companies need do is tap in a registration plate, and back comes the full name and address of the vehicle's owners.

THe DVLA has issued a Press Statement which tries to claim that they are not at fault. If it is not their fault, then who else can be blamed ? ?

This is not the first scandal which has betrayed what should be private personal data e.g. DVLA database compromised by animal rights extremists

No senior officials or Ministers responsible for such scandals have been disciplined or have resigned.

If the DVLA cannot effectively prevent abuse when they deal with fewer than 150 companies, then what chance is there for the Government to be able to assure us about the controversial proposed National Identity Register ? According to the Home Office ID Card "Procurement Strategy Market Sounding" documents will have 265 Government Departments and 44,000 private sector organisations "accredited" to be linked to the system !

The acquittal of Parveen Sharif and her brother Zahid has still not answered many of the questions which surround this unusual case.

An interesting week on the European Union Data Retention front. The EU Council, shamefully steered by the United Kingdom which currently holds the Presidency, seems to be trying sneak some controversial Communications Data Retention decisions.

Communications Data Retention is controversial because it involves storing vast amounts of data , priomarily that of innocent people, not just those people being specifically targetted in Police or Intelligence agency investigations.

The EU Commission came up with a different but still draconian and ill thought out version of the plan.

The European Parliament seems to have rejected this, but the over powerful EU Council may still try to sneak in their version during December.

The Open Rights Group alerted us to the lobbying of MEPs by some corporate vested inteests which are trying to extend the plans for permitting access to Retained Communications Data to investigations for any petty criminal offence. These companies are also lobbying for the minor civil offences such as illegal use of copyrighted material to be redfined as criminal offences.

The prospect of rich foreign media and entertainement companies being allowed to have access to the retained Communications Traffic Data of 450 million, mostly innocent citizens of the European Union, either dfirectly, or, at public taxpayers expense, through the policee authorities, is a repellant one, given these industries' tarnished record of false accusations against their own innocent customers and the exploitation of original music and other artists.

These backroom deals and procedural shenanigans caught the attention of Nosemonkey

Then the 58,000 signature EU wide Data Retention is No Solution petition was handed in to the European Parliaemnt.

Then as , Ian Brown The Blog of Doom reported, the European Parliament's civil liberties justice and home affairs committee (LIBE) has voted on an amended version of the EU Commissions draft directive.

EurActiv report of the Committee's complicated deliberations, does leave us wondering about what this supposedly leass authoritarian version of the Communications Data Retention directive would mean for us in the UK if it were adpoted, especially with regard to the Regulation of Investigatory powers Act 2000 Part 1, Chapter 2, Aquisition and Disclosure of Communications Data.

We are not sure that we completely agree with Ian Brown:

How Tony Blair calculated Gigabytes into Feet

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Talk Politics has an analysis of the utterly spurious "Gigabytes to Feet" conversion which Prime Minister Tony Blair used to try to justify 90 days detention without charge portion of the Terrorism Bill 2005,. at Prime Minister's Questions on the 9th November, during which he also quoted the discredited letter and report by Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman.

Has Tony Blair really never used a web search engine like Google or the "find" facility built into Windows or within word processing software like Word ?

Do the spin doctors and policy advisors at Number 10 Downing Street really not know that much more sophisticated forensic analysis tools are available to the police and security authorities with which to examine computer hard drives, none of which involve physically printing out forests worth of paper ?

Why did they quote the figure in Feet rather than in Metres ? Why did they not give an indication of , for example, how many Digital Video Discs (DVD) movie films might be stored on such hard disk space (possibly 174 or so), rather than "single typed text" ? Was it simply to produce as big a headline grabbing number as possible ?

Technorati tag: Terrorism Bill 2005

Lords 2nd reading of the Terrorism Bill 2005

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The Second Reading of the Terrorism Bill 2005, in the House of Lords, on Monday 21st November 2005, produced little new of real interest - amendments come later.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Home Office Minister indicated that the Government would not seek to amend the decision of the House of Commons regarding the 28 days detention without charge issue, despite some of the rabidly NuLabour Lords who were apparently planning to try to re-introduce the original 90 day proposal.

One such (who wants at least 60 days) is Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale who managed to repeat the discredited case for 90 days set out in Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Andy Hayman's letter. For some reason she cannot see the flaws in it, and she appears to be obviously clueless about encryption etc. This is extremely worrying, given that she is a member of the cross party Intelligence and Security Committee which is meant to scrutinise the activities of GCHQ, MI5, MI6 etc.

Baroness Williams of Crosby, formerly Shirley Williams, a former Education Minister and a founder of the breakaway Social Democratic party which merged eventually to form the Liberal Democrats, as well as several other Peers, finally started to discuss the implications of the "glorification / encouragement" and "training" offences and their implications for Universities and Libraries. In particular the British Library has a statutaory duty under the British Library Act 1972 and the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, to collect and publish or lend all printed materials, even allegedly "terrorist" publications.

No mention was made of the effect on the vast array of legally required industrial and scientific Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) health and safety literature and training material.

Incredibly even the Opposition Lords e.g. Lord Lloyd of Berwick, are patting themselves on the back for supporting or having called for even before the Government did, the Clause 5 "Acts preparatory to terrorism". We still find that it is astonishing that , as current;ly worded, you could face a life sentence for, say. preparing a bomb hoax, without actually carrying it out, which , if you actually went through with the "terrorist act" itself, would only attract a maximum of 7 years in prison. This clause is far too widely drafted and "catch all".

For the conspiracy theorists out there, you cannot hope to find a more interesting one than that which Baroness Cox described : the apparent radio jamming of a microphone in the House of Lords,
the involvement of the Saudi Arabian businessman Salah Idris who owned the pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, in the Sudan, which President Clinton authorised cruise missile attacks on, and who has invested in a couple of British "security" companies with privileged access to the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Courts of Justice, Dounray nuclear power station etc.

Baroness Cox is a well known human rights campaigner, and not obviously a conspiracy theorist.

The Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland made a vague promise to see if she could reveal any more information about this affair.

We were in the running to be interviewed by the the "Westminster Village" flagship BBC Radio 4 Today programme regarding

"a report which suggests that all government data should be pooled and used for research into areas such as social policy and health and that society should be less paranoid about information being used improperly."

However, via e-Gov monitor, we have now been pointed to and have read what we assume to be this report by the The Council for Science and Technology (CST) which says that it is

" the UK government's top-level advisory body on science and technology policy issues.

CST's remit is to advise the Prime Minister and the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales on strategic issues that cut across the responsibilities of individual government departments"

The report: "Better use of personal information: opportunities and risks" Novermber 2005 (available as .pdf and .doc)

Key recommendations included:

  • extensive public engagement with the public and civil society groups
  • regulatory and governance frameworks to minimise the risks
  • research into privacy enhancing technologies
  • the creation of federated databases rather than a single database.

Astonishingly, there is only one oblique reference to the "NIR". This means that the report manages to completly avoid mentioning the centralised biometric databases at the heart of the National Identity Register being proposed under the
controversial Identity Cards Bill 2005. Surely such a fundamental change in the data and information and trust relationship between the citizens if the UK and the State bureaucracies deserved a full discussion in this report ?

Following on from the worrying report in the Sunday Times about the plans for a 2 year data retention of innocent motorists vehicle movements on the forthcoming new National ANPR Database, we have had a reply from ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Essentially they confirm the Sunday Times story, whilst obviously questioning the sensationalist tone of the headline and of the article.

ACPO were kind enough to send us a copy of their public domain document issued by the ACPO National ANPR User Group in October 2004.

It does not seem to be published yet on ACPO's website, which does contain many other policy and guidance notes, whilst proclaiming that ACPO is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 2000. How this can be so is a topic worth a few blog postings all on its own, given that ACPO, despite being a "company limited by guarantee", is funded mostly by the Home Office, and is involved in supervising various public policing policies.. How can it not be classed as a "public body" under the FOIA ?

However, since this document is marked as "This document can be published on any Web Site that the public have access", here it is: "E.C.H.R., Data Protection & RIPA Guidance Relating to the Police use of A.N.P.R (Excluding speed enforcement devices). (Micrsoft Word format)

The Guidance shows that all the right questions about the European Convention on Human Rights, article 8 the Right to Privacy, the Data Protection Act and the Regulation of investigatory Powers Act etc. have all been asked by these senior Policemen. These questions are even more relevant to a centralised, National ANPR Database scheme than they are to isolated roadside ANPR cameras or even to ANPR schemes run by a single Police Force.

However, there has literally been no public debate or even Parliamentary scrutiny, about important decisions such as the Data Retention Period.

Who exactly decided that 2 years (or even longer if "someone" gives permission) was the appropriate data retention period for "national security" or that 90 days" was the appropriate period for "general crime policing" purposes, of innocent motorists' vehicle movement data ? Any ANPR data involved in an actual Major Crime is retained for at least 6 years.

The second day of the House of Lord's Committee stage debate on the controversial Identity Cards Bill 2005 was notable for yet another "shoot the messenger" attack on the London School of Economics Identity Project report, and on Simon Davies personally, by the Home Office Minister Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal, QC, Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Offender Management, aided by Baroness Corston.

Apparently, security through obscurity is what the Home Office is relying on as

"the hackers of the United Kingdom tend not to pore over the conversations reported in Hansard"

Foreign intelligence agency analysts and the professional legal advisers to serious organised criminals , however, do read Hansard, which is indexed by all the web search engines.

Baroness Scotland could not clarify the circumstances where the security services would have access to the National Identity Register.

Lord Bassam of Brighton repeated his complacent view about the alleged security of UK Government database systems, whilst yet again ignoring the fact that none of the existing systems are accessed by as many people and organisations as the National Identity Register will be.

Baroness Scotland did clarify the Government's thinking about the frequency of Address detail updates etc , but until suitable amendments appear and are accepted, her words are just vapour.

She also confirmed, that despite what Lord Bassam was repeating, that there would be indirect access to read, change or update data on the National Identity Registe via the Internet, with all the attendant risks which that implies.r

Why can't every aspect of the Bill have several paragraphs of detailed explanation as to how it might work in practice, like her speech about Addresses ? Why was this not already published in consultation documents and even in the Regulatory Impact Assessment or even the Explanatory Notes to the Bill ?

Baroness Scotland also mentioned "witness protection", but failed to give any clear protections for these or other people with legitimate needs for "false" identity details - impossible to do if biometric scanners become widespread.

Baroness Scotland also seemed to imply that there are plans to discriminate on the crude basis of age, in respect to how much inconvenience and risk of suspicion the NIR will subject people to.

Everybody, no matter their age, gender, ethnic background or religion, should be treated equally by this proposed system.

The Government actually lost the only vote in the session on this amendment:

9 Page 1, line 10, after "others" insert "who reasonably require proof"

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 141; Not-Contents, 126.

The next Lords Committee debate will be on 23rd November.

Yesterday's Committee stage debate (which continues today, and on the 23rd of November), as usual , did not get around to actually amending anything in the Bill, with the opposition Amendments either being withdrawn or voted down.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Home Office Minister in the Lords, has made various promises on the floor of the Lord's Chamber, in the past , on the previous version of the Bill (e.g. on the badly worded clause 31 Tampering with the register which will criminalise lots of Civil Servants and IT contractors, for mistakes and errors beyond their control) and on the current one (promising to limit access to the Audit Trail), which have not actually yet been translated into Government amendments.

Therefore her explanations of some of the detail, which has not been made public by the Home Office needs to be
treated with extreme caution, especially her revelations about the so called "voluntary" phase of the scheme - she claims that there will be no legal duty to update your name and address changes until the Compulsory phase of
the scheme is inflicted on us by the "super-affirmative" votes in Parliament at some unspecified future date.

Baroness Scotland also managed to yet again disparage the London School of Economics Identity Project report, by referring obliquely to the fact that it did not mention a study into fingerprint accuracy by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

The other Government Minister, Lord Bassam of Brighton also went through the motions, as before, but did seem , to Home Office kremlinologists like ourselves, to imply that your Home Address would not be printed on the ID Card itself, something which numerous people have suggested would be a good idea, but about which there has been no official confirmation.

The contributions by Lord Gould of Brookwood:, a professional opinion pollster seemed very NuLabour.

Some security related highlights from the debate:

After having spent an uknown amount of our money on 2 months worth of extra legal advice about United States law, which led to The Home Secretary seems to have decided to allow the extradition of Babar Ahmad to the USA, under the controversial Extradition Act 2003.

126 Members of Parliament have signed Early Day Motion 241 condemning this unequal "fast track" extradition sysem with the USA, since it does not require the US authorities to present any prima facie evidence to a British court, a procedure which does have to be followed if the UK Government wants to extradite someone from the USA !

If there is evidence of a terrorist crime, then Babar Ahmad should be tried under UK law, in a British court.

Given that even Alistair Darling recognises the futility of "airport style" body scanners, metal detectors and "see through your clothes" scanners being deployed at Railway or London Underground Tube stations, one has to wonder why he is still going ahead and funding, with our money, a trial of such technology on the Heathrow Express line at Paddington station, and perhaps elsewhere.

We have already commented on the stupidity of this announcement which came out on November 2nd. Today's international "transport security" conference gave Alistair "surveillance" Darling a chance to appear on all the TV news channels.

We will await with interest to see if it really is the controversial Backscatter X-Ray technology which is to be deployed - there are no long term health studies to back up the manufacturers claims that it is "safe" . Safe for all pregnant women and unborn children ? Safe for all cancer radiotherapy patients ? Safe for daily commuters to and from work. day after day, rather than the a couple of annuall airport holiday or business trips ?

Supposing , however, that the Backscatter X-Ray or the alternative Passive Millimetre Wave scanners are used, but not in "airport style" portals or booths, where the passengers are aware of what is happening, but sneakily and secretly, imaging "beneath the clothes" of people just walking past, without their knowledge or permisssion.

This would be far more useful as an alleged anti-terrorist technique, but much, much, more controversial.

We will be interested to see exactly what is imposed on the public "lab rats" who will be subjected to this "technology trial" next year.

How about some hiring some more Railway or Tube staff, to man every platform, day and night ?

If the Sunday Times is to be believed , a newspaper which has proven itself to be entirely capable of misinterpreting any new technology, the latest NuLabour Police "total surveillance" fantasy involves even more spy cameras on our road network than the thousands of them which are already in place. The article (which like many of their dubvious technoligy feature articles is illustrated by an artist's impression) includes this alarming claim::

Details of any vehicle passing a camera will be stored in a database for at least two years — even if the owner has not committed an offence

This is so unacceptable as to beggar belief.

There is no, repeat, no justification for retaining the ANPR processed license plate, location, time and date records of millions of innocent motorists for two minutes, let alone 2 years !

The Sunday Times November 13, 2005

Spy cameras to spot drivers’ every move
Emma Smith and Dipesh Gadher

BRITAIN’S top traffic policeman is pushing through plans to create a national network of roadside spy cameras that will be able to track the movements of motorists around the clock.

There have been many references in Parliament and in the media to the letter by Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Andy Hayman to the Home Secretary, which was meant to support the NuLabour Police case for 90 days detention without charge.

However, the Home Office, probably deliberately, published this as a large 2Mb .pdf graphic scan and not as a text document.

We have therefore decided to re-type this letter so that the fallacious arguments in this so called professional advice, can be exposed to search engines and to the blogosphere (this web page is only about 50 Kb in size).

We hope that this will be of use in discussions, especially when the next call for the extension of such disproportionate powers is made, either for a longer period than the 28 days currently voted into the Terrorism Bill 2005, or for similar powers to be extended beyond terrorism cases to any international conspiracy e.g. drug smuggling, human slave trafficking or football hooligan cases.

The original 2Mb .pdf file can be found at on the Home Office Security website

[UPDATE: this .pdf file now appears to have been censored or removed from the Home Office website]

During yesterday's Report stage debate on the controversial Terrorism Bill 2005, Home Secretary Charles Clarke tried to justify the reason for his call for 90 days detention without charge, but he failed to give one credible example of a case where this erosion of civil liberties might have been justified:

References were made to Andy Hayman Assistant Commissioner of Special Operations for the Metropolitan Police's letter. This letter starts off by claiming that the need for a much longer period of detention without charge is because of the pressure which the Police and other authorities seem to be under to intervene in suspected terrorist conspiracies at an earlier stage than they would have done in the past. He then claims that it is not a question of resources, but due to the sequential nature of theinvestigative procedures.

Andy Hayman then goes on to cite so called examples, where the bottlenecks are in fact a resource issue - e.g. not enough translators, not enough computer forensic staff, incredibly only one Custody Sergeant at Paddington Green Police staion etc.

How, may one ask do the Police prosecute other international conspiracy cases e.g. drug smuggling or people trafficking gangs, which also involve multiple simultaneous raids on houses and premises ? How do they prosecute football hooligan gangs, which also need CCTV evidence, mobile phone an dcomputer forensics an deven propmotional or training videos to be viewed ?

Or is the plan to hold all these sorts of criminals without charge as well ?

So the 90 day detention without charge clause has been voted down during the Report Stage of the passage of th eTerrorism Bill 2005 through the House of Commons.

One cheer- hip hip, but no hurrah !

The MPs voted instead to double this period from 14 days to 28 days. The 14 day period only came into force last January 2004.

There simply have been no actual examples given by Home Office Ministers, even from the allegedly professional advice from the senior police officers which justify 90 days, or even 28 days.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke trotted out the "ricin plot" case, alluding to Mohamed Meguerba, the plotter who escaped to Algeria, and who was then either coerced or bribed to give information about the other alleged plotters. Charles Clarke claimed that somehow he would probably have been convicted in the "ricin plot" if he had been held for 90 days. Merguerba has been supposedly jailed for 10 years in Algeria. We use the word "supposedly" because no UK Police etc have been allowed to interview him by the military dictatorship.

However, Labour backbencher Chris Mullins pointed out that this man had been released without charge by the Police, not after 14 days, but after only 2 days.

As we predicted, the professional media commentators have concentrated almost exclusively on this 90 day issue, and the rest of this controversial Bill is of little interest to them
.
Technorati tag: Terrorism Bill 2005

Home Secretary Charles Clarke has now published his Bichard Inquiry Recommendations Second Progress Report (.pdf)

Full implementation of IMPACT now seems to have drifted out to at least 2010 as a result of a fundamental review of the project since the First Bichard Progress Report.

"The Information Management, Prioritisation, Analysis, Co-ordination and Tasking (IMPACT) programme has been radically re-engineered and strengthened as the basis for incremental improvements to police information management and sharing. Direct sharing of information will roll out to forces progressively between 2007 and 2010."

Is this because the horrendous complexity is being properly addressed, or is it because the vested interests see an opportunity to gold plate the system ?

Originally IMPACT was going to be fully implemented by 2007, as we reported previously:

"New information sharing tools will start becoming available to police forces and the Criminal Records Bureau through the police local cross-check system (PLX) from early 2005, and there will be a progressive strengthening of capabilities until completion of the IMPACT programme in 2007"

The cost estimates for IMPACT and the other minor systemms recommended by Bichard now seem set to be at least £50 million a year until 2010 i.e. just over £250 million.

This does not include the separate expenditure needed to bring the Court and Criminal Justice systems up to date, only the Police intelligence sharing systems.

The Government have published their Amendments to be debated during the Report Stage of the contoversial Terrorism Bill 2005 this Wednesday.

There is now mention of "a senior judge" to whom the Police will have to apply to extend detention without charge beyond 14 days (a process which already reqquires a less senior judge or magistrate).

The only "concession" on the maximum period of detention without charge is to change the references from "3 months" to "90 days" - technically three calendar months could be slightly longer than 90 days.

Will the Opposition and the Labour backbench MPs manage to vote this down in favour of one of the supposed "compromises" (neither of which is right in principle either) pitched at 28 or 60 days ?

There is a Government version of a "sunset clause", which is the one which is likely to go through instead of the Opposition versions. It is astonsihing that this was not in the original text of the Bill, given that all other anti-terrorism legislatoion has had to have one inserted eventually, and that these "sunset clauses" are anyway little more than a "rubber stamp" after a year or so.

It is hard to understand if the Government's amendment of the "incitement" clauses , with wording like " is reckless as to whether or not it is likely to be so understood" will increase the number of innocent people who will be caught by this Bill, whilst at the same time the use of the word "intent" might reduces this number. It still looks like a horribly unclear and convoluted bit of legalese, which will still do little to prevent the chilling effect on acadmeic freedom and the provision of , say Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) training material.

There is some recognition of the stupidity of the demand for say, an internet website censorship notice to be complied with within 2 days, or else the directors of the company hosting the website are deemed to be in support of the offensive glorification or indirect incitement or publication of "anything useful" to a terrorist. Belatedly, the Government has now remembered about Weekends and Bank Holidays !

However, there is still no proper judicial oversight of such censorship , only the "opnion" of a police constable, which will, if the decades of experience with similar "thought crime" legislation e.g. "obscene publications", will lead to miscarriages of justice, and bring ridicule upon the police and the law.

It is hard to see if the slight change to section "17 Commission of offences abroad" makes any real difference to the apparent presumption that the UK is taking on the role of a "world policeman" and meddling in foreign conflicts which do not directly affect the security of the United Kingdom, so that we will be forced to help foreign dictatorships repress their legitimate enemies overeseas or here in the UK.

The removal of the word "neglect" in the section on corportate liability is welcome. It had been pointed out by Edward Garnier, the Conservative Shadow Attorney General, that this wording seemed to have been lifted word for word from health and safety legislation !

Since it is only these Government Amendments, and possibly a 28 day or 60 day Labour backbench amendment which is likely to be voted on, we assume that our worries about the amendment of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 by this Bill are going to be ignored by the Government and the Opposition.

The awful "catch all" clause 5 Preparation of terrorists acts, with a possible life sentence even for minor acts of terrorism, which may never actually be committed, or which may only attract a sentence of say 7 years in prison e.g. for a bomb hoax with no actual explosion. The Opposition seem to have let through this clause "on the nod".

Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2004 (.pdf) Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood is also now available online.

This is similar to the report by Sir Swinton Thomas, the Interception Commissioner's annual report, in that it says even less about specific cases, has a secret annex to the report, and is also meant to be produced "as soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year" according to RIPA.

This report took even longer for the Prime Minister to make public , as it was submitted on 30th June but only published on the 3rd of November.

Lord Brown appears to have been asked by Sir John Gieve, the Sir Humphrey Appleby like Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, to act as some sort of watchdog on the use by the intelligence services of proposed National Identity Register:

The Report of the Interception Commissioner for 2004 (.pdf)
produced by the Rt. Hon. Sir Swinton Thomas is now available online.

Why it has taken until November for the Government to publish this latest annual report , submitted on 12th July 2005, is a mystery, especially since the previous annual report was published in the July of the year to which it refers.

How can this be as "as soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year" as the Act requires ?

This report touches on some of the issues we have been worried about in the Terrorism Bill 2005 which seeks to amend the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

As with all such reports, there is a secret annex which has not been made public.

RIPA Commissioners re-appointed

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The members of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal headed by
Lord Justice John Mummery and the Chief Surveillance Commissioner Sir Andrew Leggatt have been re-appointed under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

The NuLabour supporting Murdoch media empire owned Sky News has commissioned a YouGov telephone poll (.pdf) which is already being misquoted by the likes of the Daily Mail, claiming that the general public supports the controversial 90 day detention without charge proposal in the Terrorism Bill 2005.

Although not quite as biased as the online Labour party mockery, it does show that "he who pays the pollster gets to bias the questions"

Where where the background questions such as:

How well informed are you about the details of the Government's Terrorism Bill 2005 proposals ?


  1. I have read the full text of the Terrorism Bill 2005 and followed the debates in Parliament, and am aware of the context of this Bill in relation to all the other anti-terrorism and police legislation already on the statute books.
  2. I have read the full text of the Terrorism Bill 2005 and followed the debates in Parliament.
  3. I have followed the headline stories in the broadsheet newspapers.
  4. I have heard a few soundbites on the TV or Radio news
  5. I saw some tabloid headline stories whilst flicking through between Page 3 and the Football results.
  6. I have discussed this topic at length via the UK blogosphere or other internet forums.
  7. What Terrorism Bill ?

Who thinks that the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) , which has not yet started work, has too few powers to investigate serious organised crime like sex slave human trafficking or gun smuggling or drug smuggling and distribution ? According to the Sunday Telegraph, Prime Minister Tony Blair does, and he plans to introduce even more police legislation in the New Year, despite not having made proper use of all the existing laws, or allocating sufficient priority to the police budgets to tackle these crimes.

Why is Tony Blair undermining confidence in SOCA even before it has had a chance to prove itself in action ?

Note the lack of any apology for the failure of the NuLabour government to sign or ratify the Council for Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking of Human Beings

Sunday Telegraph

Blair vows battle on sex slave trade

By Patrick Hennessy and David Harrison
(Filed: 06/11/2005)

Tony Blair has pledged to crack down on gangs who import sex slaves into Britain from eastern Europe.

The Government will bring forward legislation in the New Year giving police new powers to disrupt the activities of human traffickers as well as "vicious" drug and gun gangs such as the Jamaican "Yardies".

Mr Blair would like to see some of the powers now being proposed for use against terrorist suspects being available in the fight against such criminals. This could include greater use of phone-tapping, and suspects being held without charge for longer than the current 48-hour maximum.

SOCA or any Police force already have the power for unlimited phone taps against such gangs under the existing Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Longer detention without charge, justified on what grounds, exactly ?

Sex slaves, guns or drugs are far easier to investigate than "indirect incitement or glorification of terrorism any where in the world" - there is plenty of physical evidence to be seized, since these criminal gangs have to interact with their customers. Their places of business should already be known to the local Police, and any properly planned raid will yield plenty of evidence upon which to charge and prosecute the criminals.

According to Talk Politics and Bloggerheads it seems that various Labour Party members have been emailed on Friday with a letter signed by Home Secretary Charles Clarke, pointing them to an online opinion survey on the Labour Party website "Your views on fighting terrorism".

Hint: keep hold of Charles Clarke's purported signature, for "authentication" purposes, it may prove useful when you are subjected to a Control Order under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 or an Emergency Powers Regulation under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

The low profile Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Swinton Thomas is reported by the BBC to have published his annual report (several months later than last year) , as laid down by section 57 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

We will try to link to an online copy if it becomes available. As we have come to expect this report does not yet appear on the Home Office, the MI5 or the Official Documents websites.

From the media reports, it all seems to be much the same as same as last year's report, but with an admonition against allowing the use of intercept evidence in court.

The ridiculously widely drafted Clause 5 Preparation of terrorist acts has not been amended by the Committee of the whole House of Commons.

Home Office Minister Paul Goggins, pehaps the most reasonable and least objectionable of the Home Office Ministers, failed to convince us of the Government's case.

Incredibly, the Opposition have let this through "on the nod" without a vote.

According to this Department for Transport press release, there are plans to inflict trials of controversial "see through your children's scanners at London's Paddington mainline railway station and possibly elsewhere on the Tube system.

What has changed since July, when Transport for London were denying any such plans in the wake of the July bomb attacks ?

Yesterday's House of Commons Committee stage debate on the controversial Terrorism Bill 2005 brought up the subject of Encryption in the context of the extremely controversial Clause 23 "90 days detention without charge".

NuLabour former junior whip Dan Norris (Wansdyke i.e.South Gloucestershire / North Somerset) made
this incredible statement:

Dan Norris : On encryption, it is possible for someone to walk off the street into a store and buy a 192-bit encryption device, which is based on American military technology. Our security services are able to access that technology and counter it. They need the initial period of a few weeks to work out what the code is.

Such pathetic ignorance about encryption technology is, unfortunately, all too common within NuLabour.

Do not let the resignation of David Blunkett from the Cabinet (good riddance - again!) distract you from the crucial Committee Stage on the floor of the House of Commons of the controversial Terrorism Bill 2005.

The list of Amendments which will be voted on during today and tomorrow's House of Commons Committee stage of the controversial Terrorism Bill 2005 include the following Government amendments (i.e. the only ones likely to be passed) some minor points about trespass on civilian nuclear power station perimeters,

There re no concessions on the controversial clauses like 90 day detention without chargem indirect incitemnt or glorification, or even a tighter definition of terrorist training which might exclude legitimate companies and academic institutions.

There is nothing in the Governmemt's amendments which addresses internet censorship etc., and, at first glance nothing from the Opposition either,

Neither does it seem that there will be any debate about the tinkering with Encryption under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Part 3, which is still not in force, although their is a back bench Labour rebel attempt to repeal sections 17 and 18 of RIPA which excludes intercept evidence from court proceedings.

It looks as if the Opposition are going to let the NuLabour Government off lightly, again, having been distracted by the "90 days" clause, letting through the other controversial and repressive stuff "on the nod".

The Home Office Minister in the House of Lords, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, made a promise during the Second Reading of the Identity Cards Bill in the House of Lords yesterday.

She claimed that the Police etc. would only have access to the National Identity Register audit trail, for the purpose of investigating serious crime, even though the Bill currently would apply to all petty crimes as well.

Taken at face value, her words would also preclude the use of the NIR audit trail log files for intelligence gathering purposes rather than the investigation of specific serious crime.

Such a restriction on the the secret intelligence and security services and the tax gathering authorities would be remarkable astonishing, if it proves to actually be true.

What further restrictions on the access of an individual to their own NIR audit trail logs does this imply ?

Will there be a Government backed Amendment to make good this promise ?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal said:

Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington made a contribution to the Identity Cards Bll Second Reading in the House of Lords yesterday.
Lord Stevens' speech
used spurious examples in support of the Identity Cards Bill, which fail to stand up to a bit of analysis:

The BBC report of the Identity Cards Bill Second Reading debate in the house of Lords on Monday, includes a contribution by Lord Stevens, the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police:

But the plans received strong backing from former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens, who said law enforcement agencies wanted one single means of identifying people.

He warned: "The identification that's used by terrorists at the present time is as good as the ID that I have here in my pocket."

One man imprisoned last week for £1m in fraud had used no fewer than 130 different identities, said Lord Stevens.

Would that be 130 British identities ? No !

It will be interesting to see the full text in Hansard, of exactly what Lord Stevens said, but he must be referring to this case reported by The Croydon Guardian local newspaper:

Con man’s 500 bank accounts

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."

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

FreeFarid_150.jpg
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