Sir Swinton Thomas on the "Wilson Doctrine"

| | Comments (5)

Rt. Hon. Sir Swinton Thomas, the now retired Interception of Communications Commissioner has a large section in his delayed report: Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner for 2005-2006 (.pdf 19 pages), which discusses the constitutional issues resulting from the "Wilson Doctrine".

Spy Blog seems to have written as much about this topic as anyone else (see our Wilson Doctrine category archive) so here are some more of our notes and opinions, some of which disagree with Rt. Hon. Sir Swinton Thomas :

The Wilson Doctrine

47. On 17 November 1966, Mr Harold Wilson the then Prime Minister, made a statement in the House of Commons that there would be no tapping of the telephones of Members of Parliament but if there was any development of a kind which a change in the general policy, he would, at such moment as seemed compatible with the security of the country, on his own initiative, make a statement in the House of Commons.

This is not available in the online version of Hansard, so see our "Wilson Doctrine" - Prime Minister Harold Wilson answers Oral Questions in the House of Commons 17th November 1966 - transcript

Subsequently, it has been confirmed that the Doctrine applies to all forms of communication, to Members of the House of Lords, and to electronic eavesdropping by the intelligence agencies. The Doctrine has remained in force ever since, and on 30 March 2006, the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, said in answer to a question that the Wilson Doctrine would be maintained.

See The "Wilson Doctrine" retained - but what exactly is its scope today ? What political bugging scandal is Tony Blair hiding ?

It is an issue which falls squarely within the responsibilities placed on the Interception of Communications Commissioner by Parliament by Section 57 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

48. The Doctrine may have been defensible when it was first enunciated in 1966 when there was no legislation governing interception and there was no independent oversight. In 1966 there was no requirement for a warrant with all the safeguards that are attached to that operation now.

49. Now, in 2006, the interception of communications is the primary source of intelligence in relation to serious crime and terrorism and is strictly regulated. The Doctrine means that MPs and Peers can engage in serious crime or terrorism without running the risk of being investigated in the same way as any other member of the public. In the course of many meetings I have had with Ministers and Members of Parliament, it has become clear that many are determined that that state of affairs should continue.

50. It is fundamental to the Constitution of this country that no-one is above the law or is seen to be above the law. But in this instance, MPs and Peers are anything but equal with the rest of the citizens of this country and are above the law.

Members of Parliament have historically developed Parliamentary Privilege, to allow them to criticise people or institutions, without the fear of prosecution for libel etc., so in that sense, they are above the law, and being seen to be above the law, is an important constitutional safeguard for the rest of us.

51. Some MPs may fear that the situation now is the same as it was in 1966 when it was at least theoretically possible for the Executive to intercept communications for its own purpose but it is not, for the following reasons –

i. For there to be interception, there must be a Warrant in place, signed by the Secretary of State authorising the interception.

ii. The grounds for doing so are very limited by Section 5(3) of the Act. They are essentially National Security (including terrorism) and the prevention or detection of serious crime.

iii. There is oversight by the Commissioner to prevent wrongful use, and I have made it clear that the Commissioner would personally ensure that there was no improper interception of the communications of any public figure.

Since the Interception of Communications Commissioner only deals with intercepted data or communications traffic data at the level of authorisations, warrants and certificates, how can he possibly "personally ensure that there is no improper interception of the communications of a public figure", when dealing with large scale data warehousing and data mining ?

How exactly does Rt. Hon. Sir Swinton Thomas define "any public figure" ?

Members of the Royal Family who are also Peers of the Realm and could sit in the House of Lords ? Members of the Royal Family who are not so eligible e.g. Her Majesty the Queen ? England Footballers and their Wives and Girlfriends ? "Big Brother" voyeurism TV show "celebrities" ?

iv. It is important to appreciate that in reality it is impossible to achieve the interception of a telephone conversation by a Government Agency without a Warrant and the safeguards attached to it. So those who support the retention of this particular privilege have nothing to fear unless they are engaging in terrorism or serious crime.

There are plenty of reasons to fear Government snooping, even if you are not involved in terrorism or serious crime, especially if you are a "whistleblower", working within some branch of the Government itself, and are trying to contact a Member of Parliament for political support.

For some reason, Rt. Hon. Sir Swinton Thomas is not making any distinction between official Parliamentary office phones and email accounts etc. and private ones belonging to members of the Commons or the Lords.

This distinction was noted on 17th November 1966, when the "Wilson Doctrine" was first uttered by the Prime Minister Harold Wilson:

Mr. Gordon Walker : I am very glad to hear the Prime Minister's decision that no hon. Members' telephones should be tapped, but would he agree that in principle, there is a distinction between the privilege of a Member concerned in some proceedings in Parliament, and the similarity of all Members with ordinary citizens in all other respects, and that it is important that this principle should be maintained and asserted?

The Prime Minister: I certainly agree about that and I do not myself believe that this involves a question of privilege, as we understand it in the narrow sense in this House. My original Answer was drafted to make that clear. Someone has to take the decision one side or the other of this very, very difficult balance. With my concept of responsibilities to the House, I feel that, although the arguments are finely argued in the Report of the Privy Councillors, it has been right to alter the practice and to say that there should be no tapping whatsoever.

People who contact members of Parliament, either their own constituency MPs, or chairmen of committees etc., to complain about the Government, or to reveal some scandal as a "whistleblower", or simply to lobby MPs or Peers to try to influence them to vote in a particular way, should not be inhibited from doing so, by the fear that the Government or its agencies are monitoring their conversations or correspondence with members of Parliament.

MPs in the "Westminster Village" are cut off enough from the real world as it is.

v. The interception of communications is the most important investigative tool in the investigation of serious crime, such as fraud, drug smuggling, the downloading of child pornography, sexual offences with minors and perjury. Of course, I do not think that Members of Parliament are engaging in serious crime and terrorism. Indeed I have the greatest respect for our democratic institutions. However to maintain that no MP or Peer ever has or ever will engage in serious crime is absurd.

vi. Nonetheless it is clear to me that a number of Ministers and many MPs from the Speaker of the House of Commons downwards, who I have spoken to on this subject, are determined to maintain this privileged status.

52. There are three further important points to be made:

i. The Security Services and Law Enforcement Agencies are not remotely interested in acquiring personal information about Members of Parliament or, indeed, other citizens, except in strict observance of their statutory functions.

Given the excessive secrecy and lack of transparency of these intelligences services, large sections of the public simply do not believe such assurances. That is especially true in Northern Ireland.

Why should the British agencies be different , say, from the French authorities under President Mitterand, who , using the same excuse of "national security" and "anti-terrorism", snooped on and bugged and intercepted the communications of political allies, rivals and people in public life on the orders of Francois Mitterand ?

Given the evasiveness of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown over the SWIFT international financial transaction electronic messaging system scandal in the USA, why should the British public believe that their private communications data, their electronic financial transactions and the content of their internet and phone communications, is not being subjected to large scale data mining, as evidenced by the warrantless National Security Agency activities, again, under the excuse of "anti-terrorism", but which was being used to investigate tax evasion, and which could easily have been abused for "insider trading" purposes ?

Moreover, for the reasons set out above, it would not be possible for them to do so. I can say this with confidence after six years in my current post. It is also very important to remember that most investigations of serious crime are carried out at least in substantial part, by interception.

ii. It is in truth all but impossible for an intercepting agency to intercept telephone conversations unlawfully by deliberate means. Interception of the communications of a citizen by an intercepting agency can only take place with a Warrant based on serious crime or national security grounds. Before a Warrant can be granted, it must be shown that there is evidence already in place that the person concerned is involved with serious crime or terrorism. It has to be considered by senior departmental officials and, if deficient, it is rejected at that stage. It then goes to the Secretary of State. It would, in my experience, be inconceivable and exceedingly dangerous for him or her to sign a Warrant on improper grounds. And, finally, in this context, it will be seen by the Commissioner who must ensure that no improper interception takes place. It is also worth noting that since 1994: a.) all three intelligence agencies operate under statute; b.) they are overseen by the parliamentarians of the Intelligence and Security Committee and the Intelligence Services Commissioner both of whom are independent of government; c.] they are subject to a complaints procedure under the independent Investigatory Powers Tribunal; and that d.] Sections 2(2)(b) and 4(2)(b) of the Intelligence Services Act 1989 and Section 2(2)(b) of the Security Service Act prevent those services from taking “any action to further the interests of any political party”.

There are other people, apart from the 3 intelligence agencies, who may well have the equipment and knowledge to conduct electronic intercepts and communications traffic data snooping, without falling under these bits of legislation, or the the Police departments of the Ministry of Defence e.g. the Special Forces Support Group or the Special Forces Reconnaissance and Surveillance Regiment

Not all interception of communications or communications traffic data snooping occurs centrally at a Communications Service Provider. It could also be done by private investigators who turn up at , say a bank, and who may be working for, the Treasury, claiming "anti-terrorism finance investigation" or "international trade sanctions" powers, or for the Department for Work and Pensions investigating "benefit fraud" under legacy legislation, independent of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

53. When he made his statement in the House of Commons on 13 March 2006, the Prime Minister was kind enough to make reference to the advice that I had given to him to the effect that the Wilson Doctrine was at the present time in the changed circumstances unsustainable.

Surely this should read as the statement of the 30th of March 2006, rather than the 13th ?

I understand, and have sympathy with the Prime Minister in the circumstances in which he was placed, namely strong opposition within the Cabinet and in the House of Commons to any change in the current position. I recognise that ending the Doctrine might put pressure on the Prime Minister to disclose whether the prohibition of telephone tapping of Members of Parliament has been maintained since 1966 and, if not, to make a statement on the circumstances of its ending. I do not consider that this is any argument to the contrary. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister could readily deal with this issue particularly bearing in mind Section 19 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act which requires that interception matters shall be kept secret.

54. What is more difficult to understand is the basis of opposition apart from self-interest or, possibly, lack of understanding, in the maintenance of a privilege enjoyed by nobody else, given that there are perfectly adequate safeguards in place that serve MPs and non-MPs alike. In the conversations that I have had with Ministers and members of Parliament on this issue, I have not been able to find any logical, and, certainly not, any principled objection to change apart from self interest. After this issue received some media publicity earlier this year, a number of people have spoken to me, both within and outside legal and intelligence circles, and the reaction has been one of astonishment and incredulity that this situation should be allowed to continue.

55. To the best of my knowledge, there is no other country in the world that provides the privilege to its elected representatives and Peers to be immune from having their communications lawfully intercepted with the accompanying advantage that they may be immune from criminal investigation and prosecution.

There is no immunity from criminal investigation and prosecution for Members of the House of Commons or the House of Lords, even though Parliamentary Privilege protects them from some civil court cases. e.g. the arrest of Lord Levy on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, over the "cash for honours" scandal allegations.

Interception of communications is not the only investigative technique.

56. The Wilson Doctrine applies to MPs and Peers but cannot apply to Members of the European Parliament or Members of the Scottish Parliament or Members of the Welsh or Northern Ireland Assemblies. It is plainly right that it should not but it provides a striking illogicality.

We agree that it is illogical for democratically elected representatives of these Assemblies and parliaments to be treated differently from elected Members of the House of Commons or unelected members of the House of Lords in Westminster.

What about foreign, non-UK Members of the European Parliament ?

What about the Tynwald in the Isle of Man, the States Assembly of Jersey or the States of Deliberation of Guernsey ?

What about the parliaments and assemblies of British Overseas Territories ? i.e. Gibraltar; Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Montserrat; Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands;
St. Helena and Dependencies, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in the Island of Cyprus; Turks and Caicos Islands; Virgin Islands ?

In our view , all of these should have the "Wilson Doctrine" applied to their public, official telephones and email accounts etc., so as not to inhibit confidential communications with the general public who have elected them, or who they are appointed to represent, especially when in opposition to the Government and its agencies.

57. In my view the Doctrine flies in the face of our Constitution and is wrong. I do not think that it provides MPs with additional protection. I think in fact that it is damaging to them.

Why did Rt. Hon. Sir Swinton Thomas not make this Constitutional criticism of the "Wilson Doctrine" in his very first Annual report for 2000 (.pdf), published in October 2001 ?

The European Parliament, the National Assembly of Wales, the Scottish Parliament, were all established prior to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

What had changed in December 2005, when he gave his advice to the Prime Minister ? Were there actually some requests in the pipeline to Intercept the communications, or to gather the Communications Traffic Data of some MPs or Peers ?

It is still unclear to us if Communications Traffic Data, which is not the same as Interception under RIPA, is included in the "Wilson Doctrine" or not.

5 Comments

Been following yr coverage of the Thomas report/Wilson Doctrine with interest.
Something foxes me.
The Doctrine was originally announced in a statement to the Commons, and hence carries as much legal force as any other statement to parliament: i.e. none. It could have been called the 'Wilson Promise' or the 'Wilson Spiel'.
So how can Thomas (para 50 of HC315) say that the Doctrine puts MPs & Peers 'above the law'?
Thomas is an eminent jurist; I'm not any sort of jurist. What does he know that I don't?

@ Pat - it is the fact that every Prime Minister since Wilson has re-iterated the "Wilson Doctrine", for over 40 years, which gives it force. In a peculiar way, this seems to have smuggled it into the "unwritten" British Constitution, influenced by Custom and Practice and Tradition, As such, it seems to have been applied more strictly than many Acts of Parliament on the Statute Book.

wtwu
I see what you're getting at.
The point I was trying to make is that Thomas appears to make an amateurish mistake by asserting that MPs & Peers are 'above the law' even if, in practice, the Wilson Doctrine is honoured (more or less). There's nothing in the governing legislation (IOCA 85, later RIPA 2000) that specifically forbids tapping of MPs/Peers. Pre-85, tapping was conducted under Crown Prerogative, which is a pretty hazy area at best. Without the Malone case, which resulted in HMG dragged kicking and scremaing to the Euro Ct of Human Rights, then it probably still would be.
For what it's worth, I would think the number of MPs/Peers tapped is small and the material closely held. But I find it very hard to believe that it hasn't happened, even if as a black bag number using a private security cut-out.

@ Pat - it is still all shrouded in unnecessary secrecy.

All UK politicians should have read George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four:

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to.

Although "interceptions" and "bugging" seem to have been included in the "Wilson Doctrine" over the years, the status of Communications Traffic Data analysis is unclear.

It is not hard to imagine an ongoing, routine speculative data trawl of, say, mobile phones near to the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall, on the grounds of "security". After all, it is indisputable that mobile phones have been used to remotely trigger terrorist bombs remotely, or, as in the Madrid train bombings, used as convenient timing devices.

Such an exercise would inevitably also create a date and timestamped logfile of the approximate physical locations, and "friendship tree" of MPs and Peers.

This would reveal all kinds of scandalous details about their private lives and political and business contacts, which may be of huge interest to the tabloid newspapers and to political allies and rivals, but which are not directly anything to do with national security.

This would also comprise the privacy and confidentiality of contacts which MPs and Peers have with the general public, or special interest groups, who are legitimately seeking a change in policy, in opposition to the vested interests of the Executive and the Civil Service.

Tony Blair's silences and lack of detailed explanations, despite having been given several opportunities to do so, inevitably gives rise to the suspicion that there has been, or there still are, snooping operations on political allies, rivals and celebrities, under the guise of "security", such as the scandal in France under President Francois Mitterand in the mid-1980s or the more recent scandal in Italy involving Telecom Italia, which was aimed at politicians, industrialists and even footballers.

Good point about the CD: a lot cheaper than voice intercept, and often just as productive. An obvious place to start.
Crispin Black (ex-JIC) made an interesting comment the other day in the context of Goldsmith's affair: 'The Security Service has a standing instruction to be aware of any difficulties in the lives of prominent politicians...'.

The Telecom Italia stuff is interesting, but for different reasons. Appears to be a connection between that and the similar case in Greece.

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.

We wiil use this verifiable public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels, as appropriate.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x122B3C4FD0BD0FB3 which will expire on 1st October 2018.

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

Syndicate this site (XML):

Follow Spy Blog on Twitter

For those of you who find it convenient, there is now a Twitter feed to alert you to new Spy Blog postings.

https://twitter.com/SpyBlog

Please bear in mind the many recent, serious security vulnerabilities which have compromised the Twitter infrastructure and many user accounts, and Twitter's inevitable plans to make money out of you somehow, probably by selling your Communications Traffic Data to commercial and government interests.

https://twitter.com/SpyBlog (same window)

Recent Comments

  • Pat Fitzgerald: Good point about the CD: a lot cheaper than voice read more
  • wtwu: @ Pat - it is still all shrouded in unnecessary read more
  • Pat Fitzgerald: wtwu I see what you're getting at. The point I read more
  • wtwu: @ Pat - it is the fact that every Prime read more
  • Pat Fitzgerald: Been following yr coverage of the Thomas report/Wilson Doctrine with read more

Categories

Monthly Archives

October 2016

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

gchq_logo.gif
Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

logo-nca.gif
National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

da_notice_system_150.gif
Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

FreeFarid_150.jpg
FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

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

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

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

Open_Rights_Group.png
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).

irrepressible_banner_03.gif
Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

anoniblog_150.png
BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

ngoiab_150.png
NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

homeofficewatch_150.jpg
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."

rsf_logo_150.gif
Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

committee_to_protect_bloggers_150.gif
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."

Icelanders_are_NOT_Terrorists_logo_150.jpg
Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

nocctv.gif
No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

phnat-logo-black-on-white_150.jpg

I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

power2010_132.png

Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

Cracking_the_Black_Box_black_150.jpg

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."

surveillance_72.jpg

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

wblogocrop_150.jpg

WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers