May 2007 Archives

Yesterday's Sunday Times "leak" which seemed to show that it is no longer just a Surveillance State which we have to worry about under this Labour Government but an actual Police State, with the proposal to return to nationwide "sus" laws, under the pretext of the threat of terrorism.

This seems to be the annual exercise in ignoring any principled or practical objections to the latest Labour flirtations with a fascist / communist style Police State

It now appears from today's media reports, that the Police themselves were not actually pressing for such powers to stop, search, demand identification and information about your movements, all without having to have any reasonable suspicion of criminality.

The otherwise largely irrelevant Labour Party Deputy Leadership campaign (there is no guarantee that the winner of this contest will become Deputy Prime Minister as well) also seems to have got mixed up in this political kite flying.at the ignoble end to Tony Blair's premiership.

Where does Gordon "Macavity" Brown stand on these issues? Who knows? The media reports that "friends" of Gordon Brown are not smiling on Tony Blair and John Reid's proposals are not the same as a clear statement from the Prime Minister in Waiting. Is he just dithering again ?

Note how this "debate" has not involved any formal statements to Parliament, or the publication of a Draft Bill, or even of any sort of Public Consultation, it has all been done via the weekend mainstream media.

Sky News reporter Stuart Ramsey has an exclusive report about the evil Lord's Resistance Army who have been fiighting and terrorising northern Uganda and the neighbouring countries for over 20 years.

Will the British Government now arrest and prosecute the reporter Stuart Ramsey, and his film crew, for breaking the the Terrorism Act 2006 section 8 Attendance at a place used for terrorist training?

(3) It is immaterial for the purposes of this section-
(a) whether the person concerned receives the instruction or training himself; and

This carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

The stupidity of this section was pointed out during the debates in Parliament, but was ignored by the NuLabour Government politicians.

The British Broadcasting Corporations flagship TV documentary programme Panorama has transmitted several megawatts of scaremongering pseudo science, regarding WiFi radio computer networks in schools.

They made the unsubstantiated claim that WiFi signals were somehow equivalent to Mobile Phone radio signals, despite the vast difference in power and frequency.

See this rebuttal - Guy Kewney's Open Letter to Sir William Stewart to the earlier Independent on Sunday rubbish, which the Panorama programme seems to have rehashed and expanded upon..

Why did Panorama not investigate the health risks to schools from their own Television broadcast transmissions ?

Broadcast Television Channels range from Channel 21 (474MHz) to Channel 68 (850MHz)

Mobile Phone Frequencies in the UK are in bands around either 2100 MHz for 3GPP or 1800MHz, and 900 MHz for GSM and about 400 MHz for the Police and Emergency Services Airwave encrypted radios, all of which require lots of Transmitter Masts for national coverage.

The the lower frequencies overlap with the frequency bands used to transmit the very BBC Panorama programme on national broadcast television (no surprise, as they used to be allocated to TV in the past)

WiFi bands are around 2400MHz.

WiFi in the UK is "license free", but at a lower level than in other countries such as the USA. The UK limit for a WiFi Access point is 100 MilliWatts Effective Radiated Power (ERP) i.e. one tenth of a Watt (dependent on the antenna design)

Many WiFi Cards and USB adapters only run at say 30 MilliWatts.

When Laptop computers etc. in a Classroom are near to an Access point, they will mostly reduce their power output automatically, in order to save battery power, if the signal strength is good enough to provide maximum data
bandwidth.

If WiFi radio signals are, as the Panorama programme claimed, equivalent to Mobile Phone transmissions, then so are Television broadcasts, which have not been linked to noticeable health effects over the last 70 years or so.

The BBC1 TV Politics Show this Sunday had a segment on the Surveillance Society which Britain has now become. (you can view the programme online from their web page)

However, like all British broadcast TV programmes, the producers tried to cram too much into their limited time, in order to have "interesting" visual images, and they reduced what were obviously quite long interviews to literally a couple of sentences as "soundbites".

The headline interview, which had been trailed all morning on BBC News 24, even with some studio discussions from pundits, was with Ian Readhead, Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire Police,. He questioned the usefulness, from a policing point of view, of installing CCTV surveillance cameras in rural villages which suffer little crime of any sort, let alone that which might be deterred by CCTV cameras.

Since the Home Office has such an untrustworthy record on spinning scientific statistics, we fear that they are hiding something with their weasel worded statement issued by Home Office Minister Tony "not fit for purpose" McNulty to Parliament about Westminster Tracer Trials:

[...]

The trials will involve the release of small amounts of non-toxic, odourless gases in the Marylebone area of Westminster starting from 20th May 2007. The trials will run for a four to six week period during which time information leaflets will be available to the public. The tracer trials will pose no adverse effect on public health or on the daily routine in the Marylebone area of Westminster.

Why not publish the scientific experimental details of exactly what these allegedly "non-toxic" substances are and the actual quantities which are to be released into the atmosphere ?

Why not let the public, many of whom know at least as much about the potential health risks as any Home Office civil servant or NuLabour politician, decide for themselves ?

UPDATE: see the results of our "Home Office EIR request - internal review and disclosure re Westminster Tracer Gas Trials" (after an Internal review) - they were originally planning to use the most potent Greenhouse Gas - Sulphur Hexafluoride, but eventually decided not to.

The List of Shame - the Members of Parliament who voted to remove the House of Commons and the House of Lords as Public Bodies entirely from the the Freedom of Information Act 2000. according to the uncorrected version of Hansard which will be replaced tomorrow.

The Public Whip website should also have the statistics by party etc. tomorrow, See also the previous procedural votes during this debate, where the preponderance of the Government Payroll Vote i.e. Junior Ministers, Parliamentary Under Secretaries, Government Whips, and appointed Members of Select Committees turned out in force, which makes the claims that the Labour Government and the Conservative Opposition Front Benches were somehow "neutral" in this debacle, look ridiculous.

Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read a Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 96, Noes 25.
Division No. 123] [2.13 pm]

The breakdown of who voted - use the links to TheyWorkForYou.com to ask your MP why they voted for this Bill, or why they failed to vote against it. What have they got to hide from the public ?

House of Commons 3rd Reading of the controversial Freedom of Information Act (Amendment) Bill:

Ayes: 96 Noes: 25

So this Bill has passed in the House of Commons, to be debated in the House of Lords.

The House of Commons collectively, has now lost even more of its tarnished reputation.

What scandals are Members of Parliament trying to hide from the public ?

The vast majority of the MPs who did vote for this Bill did not take part in the debate, or even bother to listen to it in the Commons Chamber.

Will the House of Lords reject this Bill ?

So much for Prime Minister in waiting Gordon Brown's vague promises about more public transparency and accountability, uttered only last Friday - they have been broken already !


The House of Commons has now voted on the Closure Motion for the 3rd Reading of the controversial Private Member's Bill, the Freedom of Information Act (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to de-list the House of Commons and the House of Lords from the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which currently applies to them.

Ayes: 117 Noes 22

Yet agin, there was a delay in the No Lobby, which the Deputy Speaker had to send the Serjeant at Arms to investigate. Was this a deliberate time wasting tactic ?

Yet again, there simply was no good case made for this Bill, and no evidence that the purported reason for introducing it, supposedly to protect the correspondence of individual MPs and their constitutients was brought forward.

The Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes made the point that individual members of Parliament an their offices are not public bodies under the existing FOIA.

The Bill will now be voted on for its 3rd Reading in the Commons.

Unprecedentedly, both the Security Service MI5
and the Secret Intelligence Service MI6, are both advertising
for staff in the same London newspapers e.g. Associated Press's London Lite

mi5_ad_300.jpg

Security Service MI5 Careers website

mi6_ad_300.jpg

Secret Intelligence Service MI6 Careers website

For all the James / Jane Bond 007 wannabes who post comments on Spy Blog in the mistaken belief that we are somehow influential with the UK intelligence agencies, have a go at the Operational Officer Self Selection Test
(Flash 8 required or you can cheat with the text only version)

Obviously, 21st Century potential recruits as spies or counter intelligence or counter terrorism officers, will not betray their real IP address, proxy server, web browser details or cookies etc, over the insecure internet, will they ?
8-)

British Television programmes which look at the subject of Closed Circuit Television surveillance systems, seem to be "institutionally voyeuristic"

The use of commercial promotional clips and academic research programmes, and "real street crime" clips from the Police or other Public CCTV cameras, provide broadcasters with interesting moving visual images, which, inevitably, TV producers seem to value more than critical analysis of such systems from a technical or sociological or legal point of view. They also always try to cover too many technologies in any one programme - "CCTV surveillance" now covers a wide range of technologies and actually deployed systems, all of which seem to be covered for very little longer than the length of time of an "interesting" visual clip.

Critics of such systems cannot compete visually on equal terms,especially if they are only given a token amount of airtime to provide a semblance of "balance". The last thing that many people who feel that they have suffered from intrusive CCTV surveillance want, is for their own faces to be broadcast on national television.

The supposedly balanced and neutral BBC managed to broadcast two hours of largely pro-surveillance CCTV camera techno porn, in two tranches, last week and yesterday.

Other people have noticed this bias as well e.g.

Is it a coincidence that hundreds of the world's CCTV suppliers will be congregating again at the annual IFSEC trade show next week at the NEC near Birmingham ?

The second hour long programme broadcast on Tuesday 15th May 2007 9pm-10pm on BBC1:

CCTV: You Are Being Watched Smart Cameras: Jamie Theakston narrates a two-part documentary on the history of CCTV. He reveals how scientists are developing surveillance cameras which think for themselves.

Some of our observations about this programme:

Is today another New Labour "good day to bury bad news" ?

Today, Thursday, should see the heavily leaked announcement that Tony Blair will take the next step in his extended "lame duck" resignation process, by finally announcing his resignation as Leader of the Labour Party, thereby setting in motion what will feel like an interminable 7 week internal NuLabour party leadership campaign, and the expected "coronation" of Gordon Brown as the new, unelected by the public, Prime Minister.

Together with the TV and tabloid media's current, rather creepy obsession, with the kidnapping of the little girl on holiday in Portugal, can we expect little or no coverage of any embarrassing news from the Government ?

Hopefully alert Spy Blog readers will be on the look out for any low key announcement of the publication of the illegally delayed Identity Cards Act section 37 report to Parliament, on the 10 year cost estimates of the Identity Cards and centralised national biometric database National identity Register scheme.

Presumably, either:

The "let's bomb al Jazeera" memo trial

| | Comments (0)

Overshadowed by the saturation media coverage of Tony Blair's long awaited resignation announcement, is the end of the criminal trial involving the Tony Blair / George Bush "let's bomb al Jazeera news agency" secret memo.

Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh and a former Labour MP's researcher Leo O'Connor, have been sentenced to 6 months and 3 months in prison respectively, having been convicted under the Official Secrets Act 1989.

The media coverage of this trial has not mentioned these "al Jazeera bombing" claims. Are they untrue, or have they been successfully suppressed ?

This aspect of the secret memo surfaced in November 2006, when Keogh and O'Connor were charged, after an 18 month delay, through the Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle , who has not been charged under the Official Secret Act.
- see the "exclusive" story in his local newspaper, the Liverpool Daily Post

Since the trial has been held in camera with evidence being heard in secret, how are the public meant to judge the claims that leaking this memo would have put the lives of British troops at risk, presumably by revealing tactical details about the Coalition forces attack on the rebel stronghold of Fallujah, or the plans to arrest one of the religious militia leaders in Iraq ? The abortive first battle of Fallujah throughout April 2004, might possibly have been compromised if the memo, dated April 16th had been leaked straight away. However the leak to the Labour MP Tony Clarke (who lost his seat in the May 2005 General Election) did not happen until this battle was over in May (there was a bigger, more effective second battle for Fallujah in November).

Surely the 18 month delay before the two men were charged has nothing to do with any real breach of tactical security in Iraq, and more to do with the US Presidential election campaign in November 2004, something which should not have had any influence on the British legal system whatsoever. ?

Where is the commentary and analysis from the dozens of British political bloggers who signed up to the "I will publish the al Jazeera memo" if it were somehow leaked, campaign ? Even Conservative MP, and editor of The Spectator magazine Boris Johnson claimed that he would publish this memo and risk jail in doing so.

N.B. Spy Blog did not support this particular campaign.

One thing which strikes us about this leak of a supposedly top secret memo are, how many people in Whitehall were actually on the distribution list for this supposedly "meeting participants only" record of the private meeting between Tony Blair and George Bush - the distribution list was reported to be around 80 people in Whitehall alone, without counting how many US officials also had access to this or a similar US record of the meeting.

Why was David Keogh ever allowed to glimpse such a supposedly secret document in the first place ?


According to this
BBC summary (which again, does not mention the words "al Jazeera")

The memo was a note of a meeting between US President George Bush and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House on 16 April 2004.

The pair had discussed the situation in Iraq - among other things - and an official minute of the meeting was sent by a secure fax to Whitehall from the British Embassy in Washington DC.

It was written by Tony Blair's then secretary for foreign affairs, Matthew Rycroft, who marked it as "secret".

David Keogh was a civil servant working in the secret Pindar complex underneath the Ministry of Defence.

He was asked to photocopy and distribute the memo to a select group of mandarins but when he read it he felt morally obliged to get it into the public domain.

So, apart from all the officials in the US Government who presumably also have a record of this conversation, which will no doubt be available to US researchers amongst President Bush's papers when he leaves office, well before this memo is ever de-classified in the UK, how many people in the UK are privy to this secret memo ?

There were media reports that the number could be around 80 people.


Another thing which seems strange to us is the apparent utter incompetence of the "whistelblowers".

If, as David Keogh claims, he wanted to let the US presidential candidate John Kerry know about the contents of some or all of the memo, to politically embarass George Bush, then why did he not make use of either the internet or the mainstream media ?

Why did he think that Labour MP, Tony Clarke, who had voted for the Iraq War and voted against any inquiry into that war,and had voted for NuLabour's repressive anti-terrorism laws and ID Card scheme, would somehow be the best channel for such a leak ?

Leo O'Connor's actions on receiving a paper copy of the memo from David Keogh also seem to be peculiar. He seems to have slipped the copy of the memo into a bundle of papers for his boss Tony Clarke to read, His defence lawyer claimed that this was so that Tony Clarke could somehow "return it" to the appropriate authorities ?.If what he was really doing was plugging a leak, why did he not simply destroy this copy? This was obviously not the only copy of the memo in existence, so "returning" it had no meaning.

Why di neither of these two bumbling "whistelblowers" actually make use of the internet ?

They also seem to have ignored almost all of our advice for Government whistleblowers, since there are also media reports of Communications Traffic Data regarding short telephone conversations between the two of them.

Are these from

Wes Leo O'Connor usin

For what it is worth, there is Yet Another Home Office Public Consultation, which we know we really should feed back some comments on, but we are increasingly disheartened, disenchanted, and disengaged with such New Labour Government "going through the motions" initiatives.

"Modernising Police Powers Review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984" (.pdf) . This consultation closes on the 31st May 2007.

Apparently the last major review of this cornerstone of the way in the Police, other investigators and the Courts deal with things like Arrests, Evidence , Identification etc. was in 2002.

The Forward by Tony McNulty MP, the Minister of State for Crime Reduction, Policing, Community Safety and Counter Terrorism is what you would expect from this NuLabour politician, who has been personally responsible for so many of the "not fit for purpose" areas of the Home Office. Will he soon be removed when Gordon Brown purges Cabinet and junior ministers in a few weeks time ?

The Forward by the senior Civil Servant Vic Hogg, appears to claim that this really is a wide ranging review of PACE, and not just more tinkering and added bureaucracy.

We are acutely aware that change is sometimes perceived to be the only constant factor.

There are some potentially useful ideas in this Consultation document, notably the stated aim of simplifying the over bureaucratic and legalistic PACE Codes, which ,it appears, not even the Police understand fully, let alone the general public.

There is also the idea of allowing, under some vague circumstances, with some, as yet undefined safeguards, the further questioning of suspects after they have been charged with an offence, if some new evidence or other lines of enquiries comes to light, whilst they are awaiting their first Court appearance. This seems to work ok in many other countries, and might reduce the need for say, detention without charge, in terrorism cases.

However, there is also the potentially dangerous idea of Short Term Holding Facilities, where supsects can be held for up to 4 hours, at premises which are not allegedly secure designated Police Stations, so that Biometric Identifiers and DNA Samples can be taken.

There is also a huge and complicated area of Criminal Evidence, which surely now deserves its own PACE Code, of which there is no mention of in this Consultation document, namely Computer and Internet Evidence, especially any safeguards against Collateral Damage to innocent third parties on shared computer or telecommunication infrastructure, caused by legal investigations.

[via WikiLeak blog]

David Banisar of Privacy International has published an interesting legal review, pertinent to the countries belonging to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

It should also be read by legislators, civil servants, investigative journalists, government or private sector whistleblowers and bloggers, in the 56 participating States "from Europe, Central Asia and North America"

It should be of particular interest to those who are planning on setting up or using the WikiLeaks.org project,

Legal Protections and Barriers on the Right to Information, State Secrets and Protection of Sources in OSCE Participating States (.pdf 34 pages)

This report reviews the legal structures of three themes which affect the ability of the media and the larger public to seek and receive information on the activities of their governments: access to information, state secrets and protection of journalists’ sources. The three areas are inter-related. The right of access to information both limits and is limited by state secrets laws; excessive state secrets laws often lead to the leaking of documents which necessitates the protection of sources laws while an open system based on access to information limits the needs for leaks and protection of sources
Table of Contents:

It looks as if Spy Blog has won another round in the long running attempt to get some of the background information on the Home Office's Identity Cards Programme, which should have been made public before the Identity Cards Act 2006 was debated in Parliament. We suspect that what was missing from the initial project assumptions will be as important as what was actually considered.

See Information Tribunal dismisses OGC Appeal - finds in favour of full disclosure

Information Tribunal

Appeal Numbers:
EA/2006/0068 and 0080
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

Decision Promulgated
02 May 2007

[...]

Between
OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT COMMERCE
Appellant

And

INFORMATION COMMISSIONER
Respondent

[...]

Decision

The Tribunal upholds the decision notices dated 31st July 2006 and 5th October 2006, except that we find that section 33 as well as section 35 FOIA is engaged, and dismisses the appeals.

[...]

90. The Tribunal has considered all the circumstances of this case and finds that the public interest in maintaining the exemption does not outweigh the public interest in disclosure. In other words we uphold the Commissioner’s Decision Notices in this case.

[...]

Remedies

92. The Tribunal orders that the disputed information is disclosed to the complainants. However before requiring this order to be carried out we are prepared to give the parties 14 days from the date of this decision to make written submissions to us as to whether the names of the individuals listed as Reviewers and Interviewees in the disputed information should be redacted. Once we have determined this matter we will then require the OGC to disclose the information in whatever format we determine within 14 days of that determination.

John Angel
Chairman
Date 02 May 2007

The only crumb of comfort for the OGC is that the Information Tribunal rejects the idea that the "floodgates will open" for the disclosure of all Gateway Reviews, they say that each case needs to be looked at on its merits, but they have rejected the OGC's attempt at what amounts to a blanket exemption from the Freedom of Information Act.

How much public money has this long running defence of secrecy and obscurity cost the taxpayer ?

Will Gordon Brown's Treasury waste even more money, by appealing against the Information Tribunal in the High Court ?

The Fertiliser Bomb Plot also brought to light, the hitherto suppressed case of
Kazi Nurur Rahman, who seems to have been entrapped in a sting operation, where he failed to purchase 3 Uzi sub-machine guns and ammunition from undercover agents.

Presumably his involvement with the US "supergrass" witness Mohammed Junaid Babar who gave testimony in the Fertiliser Bomb Plot trial led to the secrecy.

The surveillance links between the Fertiliser Bomb Plotters and the July 7th 2005 suicide bombers, and the claims and denials about what surveillance information and intelligence was or was not passed from MI5 the Security Service to West Yorkshire Police, has prompted the Opposition to call for an Independent Inquiry into the whole affair, which has been rejected by the soon to be ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair.

We think that this should be a Royal Commission rather than a Public Inquiry, which would be nobbled under the Inquiries Act 2005.

The Inquiries Act was rushed through by the Labour Government after the Hutton Inquiry (into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Dr David Kelly C.M.G) or the Butler Inquiry.(Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction), even though these Inquiries were perceived by the public as letting the Government off the hook with only mild criticisms.

Under the Inquiries Act, a Minister not only chooses the allegedly independent Chairman and panel members, but sets the terms of reference and can censor their final report.

Any such Royal Commission should look at the reasons for the radicalisation of British terrorists, as well as the way in which the intelligence agencies, the Police and the Government's "intelligence machinery has been working, and it should not just focus on the July 7th 2005 attacks, but also the reaction to them and the July 21st failed attacks.

The Intelligence and Security Committee made a censored report (Intelligence and Security Committee Report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 - .pdf), during which, it appears, according to leaks to the BBC, that they were not given the full details of the extent of the surveillance of Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer.

Here are some of the facts and figures and opinions about the Fertiliser Bomb Plot which have worried us over the last couple of days:

MI5's Links between the 7 July Bombers and the Fertiliser Plot web page says:

To give an idea of scale, the links between the fertiliser plot bombers and Khan and Tanweer represent less than 0.1% of all the links on record in relation to the fertiliser plot investigation.

The BBC and Sky came out with figures like "55 suspects" of whom 40 were considered to be "Desirable" intelligence targets, including Khan and Tanweer, and 15 were "Essential" high priority targets, of whom only 7 were charged, and of those two were acquitted of all charges in court.

So 2 out of the 80 suspects, who were caught on surveillance at least 6 times, represent only 0.1% of the Link Analysis software links ?

Even allowing for clustering of an uneven distribution of such Links amongst the people who were arrested and put on trial, this probably means that there have been tens of thousands ofinnocent people who have been swept up in this massive investigation, and who may well have had their privacy and security put at risk by this investigation.

N.B. According to the Intelligence and Security Committee Report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 (.pdf) , apparently the security services no longer use these categories "Essential" and "Desirable", they have changed them to two secret categories ! How this makes us any safer, is a mystery..

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: 0x80CFAA4C 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