July 2006 Archives

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."

All this is interesting from a technological point of view, and as a practical tool to help defend your online privacy and anonymity from criminals, terrorists and police states.

However, despite "several hundred thousand" users of worldwide, the size and distrubution of the "Tor cloud" of volunteer donated Tor server bandwidth is worryingly small.

Today there are just over 300 servers in the "cloud", but major portions of the the worldwide internet are unsupported e.g. there appear to be more Tor servers in Communist China than in Japan and South Korea (with their huge numbers of internet users and available high speed bandwidth) combined.

Even more embarrassingly, the United Kingdom currently sports fewer than 30 Tor servers i.e. fewer than the city of Berlin in Germany does ! Obviously the "location" is based on the whois information pertaining to theregistered offices of the ISP, but there are plenty of other Tor servers in the rest of Germany.

Give something back to the internet community, and do something to protect your own privacy and freedom, as well as that of others, and run a Tor server.

You do not need to be a *nix guru in order to configure a Tor server: the new Vidalia (a type of onion) GUI front end configuration tool and network map display, makes things as easy as setting up , say, Internet Connection Sharing, on a Windows XP box.

Today's announcement of a new anti-mobile phone theft marketing initiative, by the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum is welcome - see their press release (.pdf)

However the spin and hype surrounding the issue is not welcome.

The BBC have been reporting:

Stolen mobiles 'will be blocked'

It is hoped that the pledge will put people off buying stolen phones
Around 80% of mobile phones will be blocked on all five UK networks within 48 hours of being reported stolen in future, industry leaders have pledged.

Why did the BBC (and the other mainstream media) not bother to ask why this has not already happened ?

This was all promised back in 2002, i.e. 4 years ago, when the Home Office rammed through the useless
Mobile Telephones (Re-programming) Act 2002 which made it a criminal offence to re-programme a mobile phone handset's International Mobile Equipment Idenifier (IMEI), and controversially, even made possession of "dual use" equipment i.e. a computer and a mobile phone serial or USB cable, a criminal offence.

There is also nothing new about the UK Shared Equipment Identity Register (UKSEIR). This "new shared database set up by all UK mobile phone operators and the Global System for Mobiles Association" was also announced as being operational back in 2002

All of this has had a less than zero effect on "street crime"

A Metropolitan Police Authority report concluded in 2003, that in London, which is where most such street muggings involving mobile phones occur, the effect of the legislation, and of the alleged "national stolen phone blacklist database" was that it "cannot be shown to have impacted on street crime levels.":

The BBC reports that the "Red Mercury " trial has resulted in the acquittal of all the defendants, on all the charges.

Trio cleared of red mercury plot

Three men have been cleared of trying to procure a substance which police claimed could have made a "dirty bomb".

They were arrested in September 2004 after trying to buy "red mercury" from an undercover reporter.

But Roque Fernandes, 44, Abdurahman Kanyare, 53, both of Edgware, and Dominic Martins, 45, of Stanmore, had denied three terror-related charges.

They denied being interested in a radioactive or toxic substance and claimed they had been tricked.

The court heard how Mazher Mahmood, better known as the News of the World's "fake sheikh", played the part of a Muslim, called Mohammed, who claimed to have nearly a kilogram of red mercury which he was looking to sell.

[...]

The three men were acquitted of two charges of trying to set up funding or property for terrorism.

They were also found not guilty of one charge of conspiracy to possess "a highly dangerous mercury-based substance" for the purposes of terrorism.

We did have our doubts about this bit of "Climate of Fear" nonsense, involving the non-existance of a quantity of the mythical Red Mercury

This case should never have gone to trial in the first place.

Can there be better proof that the tabloid newspapers, in this case the News of the World, have undue influence with the Labour Government, especially the Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service ? When are they goiing to stop insulting our intelligence with utter rubbish like this, or the ludicrous Osmium Tetroxide "threat" to the Tube, or the "No ricin" plot ?

The Goverment, who have ample scientific advice to hand if only they would bother to pay attention, should be actively debunking such misleading "climate of fear" stories, instead of allowing them to progress through the police and criminal prosecution systems. However, the NuLabour Government is failing the public in this duty.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs has published a Public Consultation:


Increasing penalties for deliberate and wilful misuse of personal data [CP 9/06]

This paper sets out for consultation proposals to amend the Data Protection Act to allow for custodial sanctions for those convicted of offences under section 55 of the Act. The consultation is aimed at the general public and relevant organisations in the UK.

Consultation begins on 24 July 2006
Consultation ends on 30 October 2006

Download the consultation document (.pdf 34 pages)

Essentially the plan appears to be to raise the the current penalty of a fine, to a possible sentence of up to 2 years in prison.

The 2 year maximum penalty is not sufficient to make these offences Extraditable ones. Where is the "deterrence" to foreign based "phishing" criminals, or, for example, to the abusers of call centres, where UK companies have outsourced them overseas ?

Surely the the penalty should be at least 5 years, so as to make the offence fall withion the remit of the Serious Organsied Crime Agency, and to allow for the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act definition of a Serious Crime (the likleyhood of a first time offender getting a custiodial sentence of 3 years or more) ?

The DCA does not seem to be planning to change the "good faith" defence already in the current legislation.

We are very suspicious that the consultation paper mentions "selling details to journalists", but makes no attempt to strengthen the public's confidence and trust in civil servants, the police and other State employees or sub-contractors.

There should be higher criminal penalties, e.g. 10 years in prison, explicitly set out, to punish petty officials who exceed their authority in demanding or sharing our private data, even if they do not sell it for a profit.
Such abuse by petty officials should be treated as seriously as, for example, counterfeit currency offennces, for the same reason i..e. not so much any actual financial gain, but the matter of bringing the whole system into disrepute, and endangering the wider public trust and confidence in the system as a whole.

Home Office NOMS leaked email

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Yesterday we commented a bit on the article yesterday, and noted the passing reference to Sir David Normington's "blog".

The Guardian has published a (.pdf) scan of a faxed email apparently "leaked" from the Home Office. N.B. the .pdf scan of a 4 page document is nearly 22Mb in size !

We looked in vain for any UK political blog comment or analysis of what the rest of the supposedly leaked email reveals about the Home Office under John Reid. Obviously with "leaks" to favoured media outlets like The Guardian, or any other major newspaper, it is hard to tell if this is a genuine "whistleblower" leak, or part of the Home Office's spin and disinformation system.

The leaked email appears to be the minutes of a meeting about NOMS, the National Offender (mis -) Management Service

Two sections stood out for us:

  1. "Unique Identifiers" for the several and variously incompatible manual and IT systems which the Home Office wastes billions on.

  2. The way in which the "handling strategy" for Media spin takes precedence over everything else

The management style of "2 page notes" is also worth thinking about. Is this all there is to Home Office policies ? Does the Home Secretary not bother to read any of the background details to such complicated polices ?

Admittedly a "2 page note" is possibly an improvement on the previous"back of a fag packet" policies which seem to have dominated NuLabour Government thinking.

The Guardian has another set of Home Office leaks revealing the NuLabour fascination with "public shaming", involving "uniforms", and, incredibly the use of the Army

"The HS [home secretary] would like us to to think outside the box for targeting young offenders. He is keen on looking at involving the army to provide structure to young people's lives. Please can you provide a brief explanation of existing punishments/schemes and a recommendation to show how to take this forward," Mr Reid's personal secretary told one of the officials concerned.

He says that the home secretary is very interested in exploring ways of increasing visibility of offenders doing unpaid work in the community such as by wearing uniforms: "Unpaid work would have to be portrayed as penance and contrition, and for them to be seen as genuinely paying back to the community."

This is all very reminiscent of Hazel Blears and Charles Clarke's gaffes during the General Election campaign, where they wittered on about "orange boilersuits" for "young offenders", which actually turned out to be normal industrial overalls issued to adult offenders who were painting a Sea Scout hut. Who will get the contract for "orange boilersuits" ?

The professional Army has, rightly, not wanted to be involved in the social engineering / mind control of feckless "young offenders" since the time that dubious "short sharp shock" policies of previous Conservative Home Secretaries were leaked and spun as political kites, and then dropped.

Just as interesting is the hint that the idea of a blog has penetrated some parts of the Marsham Street kremlin:

The correspondence shows that the Home Office's most senior official, David Normington, has already been told that internal reaction has been negative. "I know from the comments to me in emails and on my blog that there will be some scepticism about whether anything will change," he told staff on Thursday.

In principle, the idea that the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office Sir David Normington has some sort of "blog", with comments, on what is presumably the Home Office's internal intranet, is a welcome one.

Which other senior officials within the Home Office write blogs, or have their staff do so ?

We wonder just how free the demoralised and downtrodden junior civil servants feel about posting frank criticisms of current or planned policies, given how trivial it is for the systems administrators to trace exactly which Home Office computer was used to post a comment to this internal blog ?

Feel free to tell us (or some other public forum), bearing in mind our advice to Home office (and other UK Government) whistleblowers

Scrambling for Safety 8 conference details:

We've finally sorted out the details of the eighth Scrambling for Safety meeting on the Home Office access to keys and communications data code of practice consultations.

It is being held from 2-5pm on Monday 14 August 2006, at the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, South Wing, UCL, Gower St, London WC1
[campus map].

Street Map location.

The nearest Tube stations are Warren Street and Euston Square.

Admission is free but space is limited, so if you wish to attend please subscribe to the meeting mailing list.

Please e-mail sfs8@fipr.org with requests for any other information.

The agenda is as follows:

Incredibly, despite Home Secretary John Reid announcing today the draft order to proscribe two UK based Islamic extremist groups (BBC report) , and another order to proscribe two aliases of the main Kurdish terrorist group, there is still no ban for any Chechen rebel groups, not even the ones behind the Beslan school massacre.

Why, despite their current armed conflict with British troops in Afghanistan, is the Taliban still not a proscribed terrorist group ?

What sort of a "signal" does the Home Office's continued refusal to ban or proscribe these groups send out ?

See the Home Office's official List of Proscribed Terrorist Groups

Note that the two UK based Islamic extremist groups, Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect, are the first to be proscribed under the controversial Terrorism Act 2006 "glorification" legislation.

The Home Office has published Yet Another Public Consultation Demanding Even More Police Powers.

This time it is called "New Powers Against Organised and Financial Crime" (1Mb .pdf, 51 pages)

Thankfully, unlike other recent Home Office Consultations, this one, at least, uses standard Arial fonts in the .pdf file.

The Public Consultation ends on October 17th 2006

The Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Assets Recovery Agency have not yet been going for long enough to determine whether they are working as planned , or are Yet Another Home Office Disaster.

What possible, quantitative case is there that numerous criminals are not already being dealt with by these agencies, and that the only way forward is for even more legal powers, which sacrifce the civil liberties and privacy and security of the vast majority of innocent people ?

See also this BBC report

Some obvious worries:

Why is the Home Office and the Forensic Science Service tainting public confidence in the DNA database, by retaining samples and data on innocent people, including children, and by conducting sneaky and morally dubious research, without people's prior consent ?

via [ARCH Rights ] - the Observer newspaper and GeneWatch appear to have uncovered a DNA sample retention scandal, whereby LGC, one of the major private companies which works for the Police and the Forensic Science Service, seems to have been creating its own mini-version of the National DNA Database.

Is the Human Tissue Authority investigating LGC ?

Have there been breaches of the Human Tissue Act 2004 section 45 Non-consensual analysis of DNA" ?

There are "excepted purposes" under the Act, but these only apply to the results of DNA analysis, and do not extend to a private sector copy of part of the database, or to the retention of human tissue samples by such a private company.

There also seems to have been FSS research into racial profiling using DNA samples, without individual informed consent, and, presumably, without bothering to collect control samples from the wider population, which has not yet been sucked into the National DNA Database.

According to GeneWatch:

Genetic research on the male Y-chromosome is part of a controversial attempt to predict ethnicity from DNA. This type of research could also inadvertently reveal other genetic characteristics such as a man's risk of infertility.

Again, the Human Tissue Authority should be investigating this unethical secret research.

Dr. Vincent Cable MP, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader and Treasury spokesman, has tabled some Parliamentary Questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown regarding the SWIFT scandal.

The SWIFT scandal calls into question Gordon Brown's supposed anti-terrorist finance plans, announced in his "Bletchley Park Enigma codebreaking effort" speech to the Royal United Services Institute on February 13th 2006.

The risks of "insider dealing" and fraud and the loss of financial confidence, far outweigh the paltry effect on terrorist financing, which the betrayal of the SWIFT data seems to have resulted in.

Part 2: Oral or Written Questions for Answer beginning on Tuesday 18 July 2006:

Is mass surveillance ANPR illegal ?

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The Scotsman newspaper has a report about the possible illegality of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera technology, when used as a mass surveillance tool.

The Scotsman
Sat 15 Jul 2006

Number plate cameras may be illegal

Hamish MacDonnel, Scottish Political Editor

POLICE cameras which use automatic number plate recognition could breach human rights legislation, a leading surveillance expert has warned.

Sir Andrew Leggatt, Chief Surveillance Commissioner, urged ministers in Edinburgh and London to bring forward legislation swiftly to ensure the equipment is in line with privacy laws and police are not prevented from using the cameras to provide evidence in court.

[...]

In his annual report, before both the Scottish Parliament and Westminster, Sir Andrew urged ministers to amend the law on both sides of the border to make sure the evidence from the cameras is not challenged in court.

UPDATE:The Annual report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2005-2006 (.pdf 34 pages) is now available online.

Ian Brown writes:

We're just finalising the very last details before sending out a full announcement, but I thought lots of list members might be interested in the forthcoming Scrambling for Safety 8 meeting that FIPR and friends are holding next month. Simon Watkin, Caspar Bowden, Richard Clayton, Brian Gladman, Duncan Campbell, The Earl of Erroll, Ross Anderson, Lord Phillips of Sudbury and Simon Davies will all be speaking on the two current Home Office RIPA consultations (on government access to decryption keys and the code of practice for government access to phone/Internet usage data).

The (free) event will be held on Monday 14 August from 2-5pm at University College London (Gower Street, WC1).

Full event and registration details to come in the next few days. Hope lots of you can make it!

We have set up two mini-blogs, to help people to read and comment on each section of these two Public Consultations:

  • Consultation on the Draft Code of Practice for the Investigation of Protected Electronic Information - Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

  • Consultation on the Revised Statutory Code for Acquisition and Disclosure of Communications Data - Chapter II of Part I of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

The Lords have voted to remove the USA from the "fast track" Extradition Act 2003 Part 2, in an amendment to the Police and Justice Bill.

This will not be law unles and until the Commons agrees, but that is not scheduled to happen until October.

There is meant to be an emergency debate in the Commons tomorrow, to see if this means that pending Extraditions can be halted, but , given the previous vote in the Commons on similar amendments, who knows ?

The Computer Misuse Act amendments regarding Denial of Service attacks all passed by agreement,

However, the critical amendments to the "Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in computer misuse offences" so called "hacker tools" offences, which would prevented the word "liklely" casting doubt on th entire UK IT systems adminstration and computer security software and consultancy industry

Some leading exponents of this are seriously looking to move overseas, should this clause stand unamended.

The Earl of Northesk and the Earl of Errol made extremely strong case, citing, as we have done, the potential economic disaster, but the Government refused to budge.

Given the Home Office's appalling track record with regard to information Technology policy, in every area they meddle in, and even for their in house projects and systems, they should learn somme humility and listen to the professional advice from people in the private sectior and academia who really do know more about these issues than the Home Office lawyers, or the lobbyists from large IT and telecomms companies, who are also seeking to bid for multi-billion pound contracts from the Government, and who do not really represent the whole industry or the internet and computer using public.

Lawyers tend to think of themselves, as being logiical people, but most of them are not as sensitive to the nuances of badly draughted clauses, as the "let's think of all the the possible variants of extreme circumstances" mindset of most computer security experts, who will read the word "likely" in context with the rest of the amendments,. they will then perform their own personal and business risk analysis, and will no longer feel safe in doing business here in the UK, with disasterous results for our economy and for national security.

Both the Earl of Northesk, and the Earl of Errol, withdrew their amendments tonight, although they have promised to return with similar ones at the Report Stage.

Tonight at 9pm the BBC will be showing a documentary "Britain's First Suicide Bombers" which claims some sort of link between the apparent leader of the 7th of July 2005 London suicide bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan, and the two suicide bombers who attacked a bar with a bomb in Tel Aviv in Israel, in April 2003: Omar Sharif Khan and Asif Hanif.

We have commented on the extraordinary "brother's keeper" case, which involved forced familial DNA sampling and purely email "evidence" and two trials of the relatives of Omar Sharif Khan, on the thought crime of charge of failing to notify the UK authorities, about a suicide terrorist attack, some time in the future, somewhere in a foreign country, by a close relative. The first trial acquitted one defendant and reached no verdict on the others, and their retrial a year later, the jury unanimously found all of the defendants not guilty.


Another extraordinary feature of this case, is the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown's "terrorist finance" bureaucracy and red tape.

Both Omar Sharif Khan and Asif Hanif, were put on the official Bank of England Financial Sanctions list, after they were dead, and they still remain on the current list even today.

Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets (Full List) Last updated: 13 June 2006

The Police and Justice Bill 2006 looks set to be heavily amended by the House of Lords, during the Committee stage today.

Firstly it there could well be the removal of the independent
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons from the proposed "let's merge five independent inspectorates into one" plan by the Home Office. in an amendment proposed by the formidable Lord Ramsbotham

Then there are some further Government amendments to the controversial sections which amend the Computer Misuse Act, hopefully giving a bit more emphasis on criminal intent with respect to Denial of Service attacks (see below).

Following the publicity for the NatWest 3 bankers, Gary McKinnon, Babar Ahmad and others facing unfair extradition to the USA, the Lords look set to vote to accept the amendments which would, if the Commons agree in October, suspend the US-UK Extradition Treaty, until the US Congress ratifies it on a fully reciprocal basis.

This may or may not be enough of a signal for the Government to halt the current Extraditions to the USA, which they could do, by simply charging these people with their alleged crimes here in the UK, under UK law, which would automatically take precedence over the US extradition requests.

The major part of this Bill is the "Police" part of the proposed legislation, which introduces the powers to merge Police Forces and Police Authorities, and which has already been debated and accepted by the Lords.

However it now appears that there is no money to fund the merger of even the Police Forces which voluntarily want to amalgamate e.g. Cumbria and Lancashire, let alone those which are opposed to the Home Office's plans, so the whole Part 1 of the Police and Justice Bill seems to be a waste of time !

The Sunday Times publishes some leaked emails between senior civil servants in the Treasury and the Home Office's Identity and Passport Service, which show how the controversial multi-billion pound National Identity Register and ID Card scheme, has all the hallmarks of previous major Government IT project disasters - no proper business plan or agreed detailed technical design, and lots of political meddling.

These emails, assuming that they are genuine, show that there is still no business case, even after over £30 million of consultancy fees and over 4 years of Home Office work on the project. This business case is not even set to be submitted for approval until March 2007.

This business case should have been available and made public before to inform the debate on the Draft Identity Cards Bill, back in 2004.

There seems to be some sort of plan to bodge together a Temporary National Identity Register so as to be able to pretend to have met the ludicrous time-scale promises made by Tony Blair and his NuLabour Ministers.

However, this means two sets of overlapping procurement processes, as the Temporary NIR will almost certainly be a very different beast from the full system.

This is not the same as a properly planned and costed series of large scale Pilot Schemes, as part of a properly defined project.

This is not the way in which to conduct a successful major IT project !

The NO2ID campaign are, rightly, calling for the Identity cards Act to be repealed:

Some details about the massive Children Index centralised database of 12 million children and their parents and guardians has emerged via a Parliamentary Written Answer Commons Hansard 6 July 2006 : Column 1384W:

Note that there is no mention of the Audit Trail log files which, just as with the controversial centralised biometric National Identity Register, inevitably must exist in a system so large.

This Audit Trail will indirectly reveal and betray sensitive personal data e.g. if and when a child abuse specialist or a drug abuse advisor etc. has been examining the child's record
.

The 3rd day of the Committee Stage of the Police and Justice Bill on Thursday, still did not get as far as debating the controversial Computer Misuse Act amendments.

However, Lord Ramsbotham, the former Army General and former Chief Inspector of Prisons, made a Speech and moved an Amendment against the Government's plans to abolish and amalgamate 5 different supposedly independent inspectorates, into one bloated, centralised "umbrella organisation:

  • Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons;
  • Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary;
  • Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service;
  • Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of the National Probation Service for England and Wales;
  • Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Court Administration.

His speech starts at Clause 26 [Appointment of Chief Inspector]

This speech was not merely a case of letting the Government Bill have it with both barrels of a 12 bore shotgun, it was repeated salvoes of Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank 120mm Armour Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot depleted uranium kinetic penetrator rounds, which blasted through the pathetic Home Office plan.

The House of Lords currently has two Bills going through their Committee stages which we are trying to keep an eye on.

The controversial Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, does indeed appear to be set to lose Clause 3 which would have allowed Law Commission reports "with or without amendments" to change the Common Law by Order of a Minister i.e. even if the Law Commission report is cherry picked and only partially implemented.

Their Lordships only got as far as Clause 1 in Monday, but Clause 3 was mentioned several times. The next session for this Committee is next Monday.

Similarly, the Police and Justice Bill only got as far as Clause 15 on Tuesday, with only one vote, which the Government won.
Tomorrow Thursday 6th might see the controversial amendments to the Computer Misuse Act. and the controversial UK-USA Extradition Treaty debated.

The tabled Amendments to the Computer Misuse Act modifications in Clause 41 and 42 now include:

The annual Intelligence and Security Committee Report, does its usual job of providing only the vaguest details about the running of the United Kingdom's intelligence agencies and security services. Neither the public, nor the intelligence agencies themselves are best served by so much secrecy and failure to get the answers to probing questions.

They give the impression that important questions of policy, which would not compromise tactical or operational secrets are not even asked, let alone answered.

Combined with the dubious media spins and leaks, is it any wonder that conspiracy theories thrive, and that few members of the public , especially those in, say the Islamic or Irish or the online communities, have any confidence that the intelligence services are doing a competent job, for the public good.

Annual Report 2005-06 [PDF 445KB, 47 pages]

A few points which caught our attention:

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers