August 2006 Archives

The two Public Consultations on aspects of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 being run by the Home Office formally close today, August 30th 2006.

The Home Office's Covert Investigation Policy Team will probably not reject submissions up until when they present these Draft Codes of Practice to Parliament sometime in the Autumn. [UPDATE no later than 13th September - see below]

If you do not feel like submitting a full response, or if you wish to submit an anonymous one, then please feel free to make use of our two mini-blogs which allow you to comment on each section of these Consultations and Codes of Practice:

There is a much bigger threat to your children than even the current furore over the fingerprinting of children at school, as highlighted by the Leave Them Kids Alone
campaign, and picked up by Guido Fawkes, and some of the mainstream media.

How safe will your children's personal details and sensitive educational, medical, socia services, criminal and other records, in the hands of the bureaucracy under the forthcoming "E-enablement of the Common Assessment Framework" ?

See Action on Rights for Children's Database Masterclass blog for details of #9 The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) and the numerous other Child Databases (plural) currently under development.

This published document:

eCAF Security Architecture. Version 1.0 (.pdf)

is fundamentally flawed.

Some obvious weaknesses:

Today's mainstream media are falling over themselves to simply re-hash the optimistic Press Release about the end of the 3 month small scale pilot in the Manchester region, of the controversial UK Biobank project which is intended to allow researchers to compile and analyse a huge (500,000 people plus) DNA database, with associated lifestyle factors

e.g. the BBC reports:

The UK Biobank aims to obtain DNA samples from up to 500,000 people aged 40-69 and track their health.

It is hoped the database will be used to find cures for killers, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The project received unanimous support from a team of international experts and its financial backers following a three-month pilot around Manchester.

Obviously such a scheme has enormous potential for improved public health and the chance of massive profits for the private sector companies who get involved.

GeneWatch have some doubts about whether the scientific protocols will work, essentially because of the difficulty of tracking the lifestyles of half a million people, over many years into the future.

There are also massive potential dangers to privacy and security, and we are not yet convinced that any of these have been addressed properly.:

Privacy International have called for nominations for the 2006 Stupid Security Awards

Privacy International is calling for nominations to name and shame the worst offenders. The competition closes on October 31st 2006. The award categories are:

  • Most Egregiously Stupid Award
  • Most Inexplicably Stupid Award
  • Most Annoyingly Stupid Award
  • Most Flagrantly Intrusive Award
  • Most Stupidly Counter Productive Award

The competition will be judged by an international panel of well-known security experts, public policy specialists, privacy advocates and journalists.

The competition is open to anyone from any country. Nominations can be sent to stupidsecurity@privacy.org

Details of previous award winners can be found below, or at http://www.privacyinternational.org/ssa2003winners.

Our nomination back in 2003, when the contest was last run, claimed the runner up slot in the Most Inexplicable Measure category, with our eyewitness account of the confiscation of the cardboard packaging, but not the contents, of a packet of Chinese tea, at Heathrow Airport.

No doubt airport and airline "security theatre" will provide a rich source of nominations this year as well, but there is so much stupidity, some accidental, but some as the result of financial and political vested interests, that hopefully some examples from other sectors will also get the bad publicity they so richly deserve.

The BBC reports on the press conference in which it was announced that only 11 of the "liquid bomb on aircraft plotters" have been charged, out of the 25 people who had been arrested.

Another woman was released today without charge - is this suspect "J", who applied for a judicial review on the grounds that the District Judge did not specify the reasons for her continued detention as he should have done ?

This appears to be the first time that the terrifyingly vague new Terrorism Act 2006 section 5 Preparation of terrorist acts has been used, which could attract a penalty of life imprisonment.

There seems to be an extraordinary number of computers and mobile phones which have been seized, far more than seems likely would have been actually used in any such plot.

Yesterday's "must be seen to be doing something" meeting of some, but not all, European Union interior / justice/ police Ministers with our own Home Secretary John Reid at the Home Office in Marsham Street London, produced some worrying "must get tough" soundbites in place of detailed, well thought out, practical policies against the underlying causes of terrorism.

Why is there any need whatsoever for "more cooperation" and "more sharing of intelligence" across the European Union ?

Is John Reid making another "not fit for purpose" attack on civil servants and institutions for which he is wholly are partially responsible for ?

  • Europol - "European Law Enforcement Organisation which aims at improving the effectiveness and co-operation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international organised crime."

  • Eurojust - established "to enhance the effectiveness of the competent authorities within Member States when they are dealing with the investigation and prosecution of serious cross-border and organised crime".

  • SitCen -" the European Union Joint Situation Centre - "monitors and assesses events and situations worldwide on a 24-hour basis with a focus on potential crisis regions, terrorism and WMD-proliferation. The SitCen also provides support to the EU High Representative, Special Representatives and other senior officials, as well as for EU crisis management operations."

  • EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator - Gijs de Vries

  • FRONTEX - European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union

This was all meant to have been sorted out after the Madrid bombings in March 2004, and then again after the London bombings in July 2005, so why is there any need to call for this "intelligence sharing" to be happening yet again in August 2006 ?

According to the New York Times, the country which refuses to promptly share such terrorist intelligence the most is Britain.

Will bureaucratic heads roll and will these EU organisations, and national intelligence and police authorities be forced to get their acts together ?

Or are these agencies all actually cooperating very well, but the politicians were just uttering soundbites and hand waving, at an uncritical press conference ?

Our previous posting on the ACPO Step Down Model for the retention of data on the Police National Computer

ACPO "Retention Guidelines for Nominal Records on the Police National Computer, incorporating the Step Down Model" - no data deletion until you are 100 years old ! About 6000 different criminal offences.

has generated a few comments recently, in relation to Criminal Records Bureau Enhanced Disclosures, which incorporate "relevant intelligence" as well actual convictions.

We emailed the Data Protection people at the Criminal Records Bureau, and got a prompt reply:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the step down model for PNC information

The CRB does not hold a copy of the Police National Computer (PNC) record of convictions. The system held by the CRB is known as a PNC Extract. The extract contains basic identifying details such as name and date of birth of persons included on the PNC. The extract does not contain any conviction information. Therefore CRB have no access to amend or update PNC information including 'aged' information.

A relevance test is conducted by each Chief Officer as part of an Enhanced Disclosure, the decision to provide any further information is made by the Chief Officer. Each application is consider based on the information available, this could include non conviction information if deemed relevant.

The CRB are currently considering the implementation of the stepped down model within the Disclosure service and are consulting with the relevant bodies to consider how stepped down information will be accessed by CRB for the purposes of a CRB Disclosure. Policies and procedures will be implemented following these discussions.

Further information on the model can be found at www.acpo.police.uk

If the "step down model" is still being consulted on by the CRB, presumably the old system still applies at present.

It may well be worth writing to the Criminal Records Bureau with your concerns, after all, the general public should be counted as "stakeholders" in any such consultations as well:

CRB Code of Practice & Data Protection Officer PO Box 165 Liverpool L69 3JD Email: dataprotection@crb.gsi.gov.uk

We are particularly concerned with non-conviction data i.e. "Criminal Justice Arresstee" information, e.g. arrests or cautions where the charges have been dropped, or even where people have been charged but found not guilty by a court, something which goes to the heart of the Bichard Inquiry Report reforms of Police and CRB data systems.

We are also worried about non-criminal records e.g. Anti-Social Behavior Orders, Parenting Orders, Dispersal Orders etc. for which there must be some sort of record in the system, but which are intially enforced under civil not criminal law, so they obviously do not appear on standard CRB Disclosures.

What are the rules, if any, for their appearance or non-appearance, or "aging" under the "step down model" as "relevant intelligence" in an Enhanced Disclosure ?

UPDATE:

On 18th July 2008, the Information Tribunal made an important ruling regarding old (25 year or longer) criminal records and the Police National Computer.

In three cases, they have decided that although the data is not to be deleted, it will not be allowed to be used for non-Police operational purposes e.g. employment vetting checks via the Criminal Records Bureau.

The current Weeding Rules are judged to be in, effect, inflexible and without any discretion in practice.

See the Information Tribunal ruling in the case of

The Chief Constables of West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and North Wales Police v The Information Commissioner (.pdf 95 pages)

This ruling supports the idea of a Step Down Model, but illustrates just how unlikely it is to be carried out fairly and consistently in practice, given the vast bureaucracy involved.

On Monday, Spy Blog attended the Scrambling for Safety 8 conference, held at University College London, during which the public consultation on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) Part III on Government Access to Encryption Keys and the RIPA Part 1 Chapter II public consultation on Communications Traffic Data, were discussed by eminent experts, before an extremely well informed audience.

In the pub afterwards, Spy Blog managed to chat with Members of the House of Lords, academics, internet and telecomms experts, cryptographers, technical journalists, privacy and human rights campaigners, and Home Office civil servants and some fellow political bloggers. We missed out on talking with other interesting people such as members of the Police who deal with child porn investigations, and a RIPA Commissioner (?), and someone from the Financial Services Authority, all of whom will be affected by this proposed legislation.

Given the potential multi-billion pound impact of this legislation on the United Kingdom economy, on law and order, and on individual human rights, it is worth examinining in detail, exactly what is being proposed, since the consquences of getting the checks and balances wrong, will be immense.

The agenda and the slides from some of the talks are now online at the Foundation for Information Policy Research website

NetIDme, the newly launched service aimed at "eliminating anonymity" to "protect" children from being "groomed" online by child molesters, appear to have improved their website and service somewhat, since we last looked at their launch website, and made a few obvious criticisms:

See:

NetIDme privacy and security problems put children at risk

and

NetIDme privacy and security problems continued

Some improvements:

threatlevelssmall2.gif

The controversial United Kindom terrorist threat alert status has now been downgraded back to SEVERE, i.e.

The current threat level is assessed as SEVERE (as of 14th August 2006).

This means that an attack is highly likely and indicates a continuing high level of threat to the UK.

according to the Cabinet office's new intelligence.gov.uk portal and the MI5 Security Service websites

However, there does not seem to be any action from the Department for Transport to amend their stupid and counterproductive extra bureaucratic jobsworth backside covering "security" restrictions on airline hand luggage.

The damage to the UK economy caused by these restrictions seems set to continue.

Incredibly, it appears that passengers delayed by the understaffed security search checkpoints, have missed their flights from Heathrow, despite their hold luggage taking off on a plane without them

In other words, in their improperly rehearsed attempt to Be Seen To Be Doing Something, the Home Office and Department for Transport have actually made it easier for non-suicide bomb attacks, such as the Pan Am flight 103 Lockerbie disaster

The Times has a suspiciously detailed account of the alleged transatlantic aeroplane bomb plot.

We are reminded of the amount of "background" information which magically appeared in the media after the "No Ricin plot" trial reporting restrictions were lifted.

However, in this case, the 19 people named in The Times article, are now, apparently under financial sanctions and have had their bank accounts "frozen" - a punishment ordered by Gordon Brown without any actual trial and details of the plot are being published before these people have even been charged with any offence.

N.B. the remaining provisions of the Terrorism Act 2006, which were not brought into force in April, have been Commenced on 25th July 2006 via Statutory Instrument 2006 No. 1936 (C. 64) - The Terrorism Act 2006 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2006 i.e. the controversially increased 28 days pre-charge detention is now in force

The news media were confidently reporting the arrest of 24 people, so who are the other 5 people (presumably people without bank accounts to freeze ?) ?

Readers of Spy Blog are, almost by definition, eager for detailed news, but you should pause to think exactly how and why these alleged plot details, which far exceed the statements given by the Government or the Police, are now being published by The Times.

We refer again to the statement by Peter Clarke, the head of the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorism Branch:

threatlevelssmall3.gif

Ok, so an alleged terrorist plot has been "disrupted", according to Home Secretary John Reid's statement this morning.

Where are the explosives ? We are willing to bet, that no viable bombs have been found, and that the threat is not actually CRITICAL i.e. imminent.

The overreaction of the Department of Transport in ordering the banning of handluggage on all flights seems insane, as a practical security measure.

All it is doing is creating massive disruption to the innocent travelling public.

Nobody should trust the security of the hold luggage systems at "Thiefrow" airport, or any other airport with their valuable mobile phones, laptop computers, sensitive documents etc. Lots of these will be lost, damaged or stolen.

Despite John Reid's statement this morning, to "keep the public informed", he has not, in fact bothered to do so.

The news and media broadcasters are doing their usual routine, of quoting from unnamed sources, about possibly 18 arrests in the London and Thames Valley area, a possible threat of "liquid explosives", and rumours that those arrested are all British, with simultaneous attacks on transatlantic aeroplanes.

Is this "liquid explosive threat", anything more than the media jumping to conclusions because of the stupid security measures, whereby mothers are being asked to taste their baby's milk bottles in front of airport staff ? Why this cannot be easily faked, with a standard magicians's conjuring trick bottle, is a mystery.

In what possible way is the presence of "liquid explosives" in hold luggage any safer than in the passenger cabin of an aircraft ?

If hold luggage is now jammed full of electronic equipment, like laptop computers, mobile phones etc, how can any bomb detonating mechnisms be detected via X-Ray etc ?

This makes a further mockery of the equally stupid "please switch on your electronic equipment" so called security check of hand luggage, which will now not be possible.

Is this Forest Gate all over again, with the media speculating about biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological ("dirty bomb") threats, simply because the Police were wearing protective suits and masks ?

The news reports claim that the authorities have had the plotters under surveillance for some time, but that the threatened plot was not, apparently going to happen today.

Why then, has the nationwide Threat Level now been raised to SEVERE ?

The answer must be purely political "Climate of Fear" hype.

It cannot be a coincidence that this has all happened the day after John Reid's appalling speech on "national security", in which he managed to re-write history, by claiming that the current threat to the UK, from a single terrorist, somehow exceeds that of the entire Soviet Union during the Cold War, and that of the IRA etc.

The offical information given out so far is utterly inadequate, and is simply fuelling media speculation and adding to the "Climate of Fear", a process, which we asume is a deliberate ploy, given the NuLabour Government's record of "news management".

"Phone interception" is back in the attention span of the mainstream news media, thanks to an official complaint from Clarence House i.e. from Prince Charles' staff.

The BBC reports that three men, including the News of the World's Royal correspondent, have all been arrested this morning under Section 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Despite the reporting on both the BBC and on Sky News (part of the same group who own the News of the World tabloid), this is not a serious crime, according to the current law:

(7) A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (1) or (2) shall be liable- (a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine, or to both;

(b) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

According to Sky News, the complaints came back last December 2005, when 3 members of staff from complained about breaches of security of the Clarence House telephone system, "over a significant period of time", something which obviously has possible security implications for the safety of the Royal Family.

Sky News are now reporting that mobile phones are thought to be involved, and that other possible breaches of telephone privacy "at the homes of other public figures" are being investigated.

"An MP may have had their phone intercepted as well."

If true, this is far more serious than just a small scandal involving tape recordings or bugs or voice mail systems, physically located just within, say, Clarence House.

There are obvious comparisons to be made with the ongoing Vofafone mobile phone interception scandal in Greece.

The mention that a Member of Parliament may also have had his or her mobile phone intercepted means that the "Wilson Doctrine", must also be discussed.

The "invisible when there is a crisis" Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has been unusually evasive in his Parliamentary Written Answer to the questions regarding the SWIFT financial communications network scandal, tabled by Dr. Vincent Cable, the Liberal Democrat MP and frontbench Treasury spokesman.

Written answers Tuesday, 25 July 2006:

Treasury
Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecoms

Continuation of our article about the security and privacy problems with the newly launched NetIDme service

The Daily Mail and Sky News have been hyping the launch of Net-ID-me, which is claimed by the NetIDme Limited company's founder Alex Hewitt to somehow be:"

Net-ID-me.com is the world’s first Internet Age and Identity Verification System that enables Internet users to exchange real-time electronic ID cards before chatting online. The system helps to significantly reduce the risk of teenagers being groomed online

Is this really the very first such system in the world ?

We are reminded of our criticisms of the launch of the ChildLocate mobile phone Location Based Service, back in October 2003.

NetIDme seem to have launched Yet Another Commercial Service Aimed At Exploiting Fear For Children's Safety, without bothering to take some cheap and simple precautions to
protect the privacy and security of their customers, and to instill a measure of Public Trust in their no doubt well intentioned service.

At the moment, until the following criticisms are sorted out, we would advise any parents or children to boycott this new service / product - it has the potential to put your children more at risk than by not signing up for it at all !

Why was the service launched in public, without the following points having been addressed ?

The new, simplified UK "Threat Level" system with respect to possible terrorist attacks, comes into force today:

  • Low - an attack is unlikely
  • Moderate - an attack is possible, but not likely
  • Substantial - an attack is a strong possibility
  • Severe - an attack is highly likely
  • Critical - an attack is expected imminently

According to the MI5 Security Service:

The current threat level is assessed as SEVERE.

This means that an attack is "highly likely" and indicates a continuing high level of threat to the UK.

So what exactly are we meant to do as a result of this Threat Level warning ?

It is still unclear exactly what the General Public is meant to do (apart from use the Anti-terrorism hotline 0800 789 321 or 999).

Those people involved in protecting the Critical National Infrastructure are given a little more advice:

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