November 2007 Archives

The latest Labour party financial funding scandal seem to be obsessing the "Westminster Village" and has overshadowed yesterday's Opposition debate on the ongoing scandal at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling admitted that the missing CD discs have still not been found or accounted for. He seems to be obsessed with the review of the data security and privacy procedures at HMRC which Kieran Poynter (see the Terms of Reference for this HMRC only review, and the other one across all Government departments, being conducted by Robert Hannigan, Head of Intelligence, Security and Resilience at the Cabinet Office)

Alistair Darling's response in the Opposition debate in the Commons on the HMRC scandal yesterday, contained a dozen references to this Keiran Poynter led review.

The junior Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Kennedy , who appeared so clueless on Newsnight opposite Professor Ross Anderson, did give some more details about the current changes to procedure at HMRC prior to the results of the review.

28 Nov 2007 : Column 344

[...]

The motion asks what policy changes will be introduced to protect the public in future. First, HMRC has immediately communicated to all staff three key steps that must be followed. Transfers must take place only if they are absolutely necessary, written authorisation for the transfer must be given by a senior HMRC manager and a clear instruction must be given regarding the appropriate standard of protection for the transfer. Where directors decide that a data transfer by disc is absolutely unavoidable, such media must in every case be securely encrypted at the appropriate level. Those changes are already in place.

[...]

A number of hon. Members raised proper questions on the steps that we are taking on encryption. It may be of interest to the House to hear what has been done. HMRC has established a central team to handle encryption on behalf of the organisation, to ensure that the proper deployment of encryption is used at the appropriate level. All bulk transfers of sensitive data using CDs are being encrypted and password protected where necessary. Those procedures were implemented on 21 November. [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] Hon.

28 Nov 2007 : Column 345

This policy change still says nothing about mandatory encryption of all sensitive data on say, laptop computers or USB memory devices or via email, or extending such encryption policy to third parties like the KPMG sub-contract auditors to the National Audit Office.

Several eminent academics who do actually know about information security, cryptography, software engineering etc.. have written a letter, published by one of the signatories Dr. Ian Brown on his Blogzilla blog.

Biometrics are not a panacea for data loss:

Mr Andrew Dismore MP
Chair, Joint Committee on Human Rights
Committee Office
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

cc: Committee members; David Smith, Deputy Information Commissioner

26 November 2007

Dear Mr Dismore,

The government, in response to the recent HMRC Child Benefit data breach, has asserted that personal information on the proposed National Identity Register (NIR) will be 'biometrically secured':

    "The key thing about identity cards is, of course, that information is protected by personal biometric information. The problem at present is that, because we do not have that protection, information is much more vulnerable than it should be." - The Chancellor, Hansard Column 1106, 20/11/07

    "What we must ensure is that identity fraud is avoided, and the way to avoid identity fraud is to say that for passport information we will have the biometric support that is necessary, so that people can feel confident that their identity is protected." - The Prime Minister, Hansard Column 1181, 21/11/07

These assertions are based on a fairy-tale view of the capabilities of the technology, and in addition, only deal with one aspect of the problems that this type of data breach causes.

Ministers assert that people's information will be 'protected' because it will be much harder for someone to pass themselves off as another individual if a biometric check is made. This presupposes that:

(a) the entire population can be successfully biometrically enrolled onto the National Identity Register, and successfully matched on every occasion thereafter - which is highly unlikely, given the performance of biometrics across mass populations generally and especially their poor performance in the only, relatively small-scale, trial to date (UKPS enrolment trial, 2004). Groups found to have particular problems with biometric checks include the elderly, the disabled and some ethnic groups such as Asian women;

(b) biometrics are 'unforgeable' - which is demonstrably untrue. Biometric systems have been compromised by 'spoofing' and other means on numerous occasions and, as the technology develops, techniques for subverting the systems evolve too;

(c) every ID check will be authenticated by a live biometric check against the biometric stored on the NIR or at the very least against the biometric stored on the chip on the ID card which is itself verified against the NIR. [N.B. This would represent a huge leap in the cost of the scheme which at present proposes only to check biometrics for 'high value' transactions. The network of secure biometric readers alone (each far more complex and expensive than, e.g. a Chip & PIN card reader) would add billions to the cost of rollout and maintenance.]

Even if, in this fairy-tale land, it came to pass that (a) (b) and (c) were true after all (which we consider most unlikely), the proposed roll-out of the National Identity Scheme would mean that this level of 'protection' would not - on the Home Office's own highly optimistic projections - be extended to the entire population before the end of the next decade (i.e. 2020) at the earliest.

Furthermore, biometric checks at the time of usage do not of themselves make any difference whatsoever to the possibility of the type of disaster that has just occurred at HMRC. This type of data leakage, which occurs regularly across Government, will continue to occur until there is a radical change in the culture both of system designer and system users. The safety, security and privacy of personal data has to become the primary requirement in the design, implementation, operation and auditing of systems of this kind.

The inclusion of biometric data in one's NIR record would make such a record even more valuable to fraudsters and thieves as it would - if leaked or stolen - provide the 'key' to all uses of that individual's biometrics (e.g. accessing personal or business information on a laptop, biometric access to bank accounts, etc.) for the rest of his or her life. Once lost, it would be impossible to issue a person with new fingerprints. One cannot change one's fingers as one can a bank account.

However, this concentration on citizens 'verifying' their identity when making transactions is only one issue amongst many when considering the leakage of personal data. Large-scale losses of personal data can have consequences well beyond an increase in identity fraud. For example, they could be potentially fatal to individuals such as the directors of Huntingdon Life Sciences, victims of domestic violence or former Northern Ireland ministers.

It is therefore our strongest recommendation that further development of a National Identity Register or National Identity Scheme (including biometric visas and ePassports) should be suspended until such time that research and development work has established beyond reasonable doubt that these are capable of operating securely, effectively and economically on the scale envisaged.

Government systems have so far paid little attention to privacy. Last week's events have very significant implications indeed for future government information systems development.

We would be pleased to clarify any of these points or provide further information if useful to the Committee.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Ross Anderson
Dr Richard Clayton
University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory

Dr Ian Brown
Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Dr Brian Gladman
Ministry of Defence and NATO (retired)

Professor Angela Sasse
University College London Department of Computer Science

Martyn Thomas CBE FREng

Compare and contrast this with the Labour Government / Home Office clueless "fairy tale" view given so embarrassingly evasively by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in reply to her Conservative Opposition counterpart David Davis, during the Topical Questions section of Oral Home Office Questions on Monday (26 Nov 2007 : Column 18)

The data security and privacy disaster involving the lost CDs containing the entire Child Benefit Award database by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and the National Audit Office, seems to have spawned several Reviews and Inquiries, at least two of which are due to report in mid December 2007.

These Reviews will be causing senior civil servants to dust off their copies of their Departmental Standard Operating Procedures manuals, and Departmental Security Policy documents, If they are feeling truly masochistic, they will actually read the boring and tedious concordance documents which aim to cross reference, often line by line, the current Departmental Security Policy with the Manual of Protective Security and BS7799 / ISO17799 / ISO27001 etc. standards, with which they are meant to have complied with several years ago.

Such voluminous documents probably already list all the relevant eventualities, but are of little practical use, where a culture of data security sloppiness, incompetence and management penny pinching has been allowed to develop.

The process of these reviews will probably stifle all decision making on any new IT systems, whilst the "Sir Humphreys" are engaged in Cover Your Backside and inter-departmental Empire Building campaigns, well into the New Year.

It is hard to see how any honest, uncensored Review, either by Kieran Poynter of PricewaterhouseCoopers, by Robert Hannigan Head of Intelligence, Security and Resilience in the Cabinet Office, by the Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, by Dr. Mark Walport of the Wellcome Trust, by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, by the Metropolitan Police Service, or by the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons etc. etc. can fail to blame the senior civil servants and politicians who were in charge of the Treasury and monster Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs department, at the time when the first of the the data security and privacy breaches occurred i.e. back in March 2007.

The "Sir Humphrey" at the Treasury back then was Sir Gus O'Donnell, the current Cabinet Secretary, and the micromanaging control freak politician in charge as Chancellor of the Exchequer was Gordon Brown, the present Prime Minister.

We will therefore be extremely surprised if any actual direct criticism or blame emerges from these soon to be censored, "must be seen to be doing something" Reviews.

The Terms of Reference for the Kieran Poynter and Robert Harrigan reviews:

Further to our previous posting, National Audit Office reveals some emails about the HMRC data security and privacy scandal - but the NAO is not totally blameless, about our worries about the National Audit Office's lack of "best practice " secure data handling:

It is, presumably, deliberately, not clear from the censored NAO letter of 9th November, exactly which copies or extracts of the 25 million records are being described as having been analysed by the private firm of financial auditors KPMG:

I also confirm that I have asked KPMG to provide me with assurances that they have deleted or erased the data that they analysed as part of our 2006-2007 Resource Accounts audit; and that we have similar procedures in place to ensure that we delete the 2007-2008 data that we have received. I will let you have a copy of this confirmation one I have received it.

The words "deleted or erased the data" do not sound like they apply to the Read-Only CDs, which cannot be simply "erased" - they need to be physically destroyed, which cannot have been done, since the CDs were returned to HMRC on April 16.

Charitably, the words may apply to further digital copies of the data selected and imported into other computer systems which was analysed i.e. only a small subset of the 25 million records.

What about the vast majority of the data which was not analysed , what happened to that ?

Worryingly, the report in The Guardian on this part of the story claims that:

In a further letter, sent by an unidentified senior official in the NAO to Revenue & Customs, it emerged that the audit office had passed on all 25m names to the auditors KPMG. The NAO said last night this had been delivered by hand and it had asked for the information to be deleted.

Does this mean that there were actually 3 sets of physical transfers of the 25 million records, as unencrypted CDs, by the National Audit Office back in March / April e.g.

1) Delivery of the HMRC March CDs from by NAO, "by hand", to KPMG
2) Return (method undivulged) from KPMG back to NAO
3) Return (method undivulged) of the CDs back to HMRC on April 16th

Surely the NAO did not need to hand over the entire 25 million record Child Benefit Award database files on CDROM to KPMG back in March ? Why could they not just select the 1500 records that they intended to audit ?

Did NAO or KPMG staff make further copies of the CDs, or load them onto the hard disk of a portable laptop computer or onto high capacity USB flash memory media etc. to transfer to KPMG ?

Were any of these copies strongly encrypted ?

Even if there was only one single Child Benefit Award database record being transferred between HMRC and NAO and KPMG, rather than 25 million of them, then we expect that personal sensitive data to have been protected by strong encryption.

The National Audit Office (NAO), is strenuously trying to distance itself from the Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Child Benefit Awards database data privacy and security breach disaster, involving the loss of copies of 25 million people's sensitive personal data records.

NAO have published some censored emails and other correspondence, which mostly, and correctly, shifts the blame onto HMRC middle and senior management:

See child_benefit_data.pdf
.
N.B. this is the usual sort of .pdf file image scan, with various bits censored i.e. deliberately not possible to cut and paste, or to be indexed word for word by web search engines. This is a tactic used by organisations with something to hide from the public.

[hat tip to Ray Corrigan B2fxxx]

However, the National Audit Office are not entirely blameless, and despite their claims that:

The NAO attaches the highest priority to data security

and

...we will continue to ensure that our processes are in line with best practice. We shall review our arrangements accordingly though we have found no defects in them.

We beg to differ:

The NAO appear to have admitted to returning to HMRC the CDROM discs obtained in March, containing a copy of the unencrypted, full Child Benefit Awards database, including the sensitive personal data which they had, commendably, asked not to be included in the data extract.

Once they had extracted their 1500 or so records for audit, why did the NAO not securely destroy these CDROMS, instead of risking them again in transit, unencrypted, by sending them back somehow to HMRC, who had no possible use for them anyway ?

Why did they not raise a Security incident when they received so much unencrypted personal data the first time in March ?

That does not seem like "best practice"or "no defects" to us.

The BBC are reporting that there is a Written Statement in the Commons (not yet online), which says that there has been another Foot & Mouth disease virus leak from the Pirbright laboratories (the private Merial Animal Health vaccine production ones this time).

Supposedly the leak has not (yet) escaped into the environment.

So much for Gordon Brown's COBRA meetings and all the bureaucratic reviews, reports and changes to procedures.

Has any money actually been spent on improvements since the last disaster ?


It seems that controversial "uncensorable, anonymous whistleblowing" website wikileaks.org is now facing its first legal censorship attempt through the legal system via the shyster legal firm of Schillings, which has displayed such incompetence regarding the internet, over the Alisher Usmanov versus Craig Murray et al affair.

The wikileaks.org website, which is not based in the United Kingdom, has suffered from quite a lot of downtime recently, possibly as a result of high demand or denial of service attacks, when it published various US military documents to do with Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay .

They also seem to have recently abandoned their use of PGP encryption (their only published PGP key expired on 2nd November 2007) and their use of a Tor onion routing network hidden service, as an optional method of submission of whistleblowing documents no longer seems to work either.

Despite their technical infrastructure failures, they have managed to interest sections of the press and broadcast media with their "whistleblowing leaks".

This time, the shysters Schillings are on slightly stronger legal ground, as there appears to have been a High Court injunction against the Financial Times, but not against the Daily Telegraph regarding the publication information from a sales prospectus document for the ailing Northern Rock bank.

However, this must surely now be out of date after it expired nd the directors of Northern Rock resigned, last Friday, and following the Emergency Statement to the House of Commons by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair darling on Monday.

Will Schillings succeed in censoring wikileaks.org ? Are the whistleblowers, anlaysts and even readers of the wikileaks.org website at risk of legal sanctions ?

The excessive secrecy and failure to communicate with the general public, which surrounds the UK legal system, is itself an issue which should be of concern to bloggers and journalists.

As the wikileak.org blog which discusses, but is not associated with the wikileakS.org project says:

BBC1 TV Newsnight programme revealed last night, that after some evasive answers, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) admitted that the two lost CDROM discs containing the entire Child Benefit database personal details of 25 million people, which were lost in the internal mail were only "password protected" and were, as we suspected yesterday, not encrypted

Alistair Darling's feeble efforts at reassurance in the House of Commons are now online in Hansard 20 Nov 2007 : Column 1101:

[...] In March, it appears that a junior official in HMRC provided the National Audit Office with a full copy of HMRC’s data in relation to the payment of child benefit. In doing so, the strict rules governing HMRC standing procedures were clearly not followed. Those procedures relate to the security of and access to data as well as their transit to ensure that they are properly protected. That information should not have been handed over by HMRC in the way that it was. However, I understand that in this case the NAO subsequently returned all the information that it received in March to HMRC after auditing it.

It now appears that, following a further request from the NAO in October for information from the child benefit database, again at a junior level and again contrary to all HMRC standing procedures, two password-protected discs containing a full copy of HMRC’s entire data in relation to the payment of child benefit were sent to the NAO, by HMRC’s internal post system operated by the courier TNT. The package was not recorded or registered.

It appears that the data have failed to reach the addressee in the NAO. I also have to tell the House that, on finding that the package had not arrived at the NAO, a further copy of those data was sent, this time by registered post, which did arrive at the NAO. However, again HMRC should never have let that happen.

[...]

The missing information contains details of all child benefit recipients: records for 25 million individuals and 7.25 million families. Those records include the recipient and their children’s names, addresses and dates of birth, child benefit numbers, national insurance numbers and, where relevant, bank or building society account details. I regard this as an extremely serious failure by HMRC in its responsibilities to the public.

[...]

So, the entire HMRC Child Benefit personal data record data for 25 million people was sent, unencrypted, at least three times in a year to the National Audit Office.

The statement in the Commons by Alistair Darling reveals that the massive data privacy and security breach by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, is even worse than the initial TV reports.

The breach seems to have been instigated by the supposed auditing process by the National Audit Office (NAO)!

The potential data privacy and security breach involves:
25 million individuals (out of about 60 million people in the UK) including

  • 7.25 million families
  • names of all Child Benefit recipients i.e. the parents
  • names of their Children
  • dates of birth
  • addresses
  • Child Benefit Numbers
  • National Insurance Numbers (NINOs)
  • Bank or Building Society account details

Why was one junior civil servant allowed to have access to download the full database, when the National Audit Office didn't even request all of that data, only a small sample for audit purposes e.g. a dozen records ?

The two CDROM were sent initially in the internal mail, which is subcontracted to TNT couriers.

The two discs are supposedly "password protected" but that rather implies that they are not actually encrypted to normal commercial or Government approved cryptographic standards.

When the initial two discs failed to arrive at the National Audit Office, the "junior official" then sent another two copies via registered post, which did arrive ok.

It is irrelevant that this was all against the complicated HMRC Standard Operating Procedures, which had been supposedly strengthened after the previous incident which "only" affected 15,000 records being sent to an insurance company at the end of September.

Why was it possible for any one single junior civil servant to obtain a complete copy of the entire database ?

Alistair Darling only mentioned the financial risks of this massive potential data breach, but he ignored the confidential name and address information which could be life threatening to, say, battered wives and their children, victims of stalkers, people in witness protection schemes, families of Judges, police officers, prison officers, armed forces. intelligence agencies etc.

The Chancellor unconvincingly tried to claim that somehow Identity Cards would have prevented the risks of this data breach, because of the magic of "biometrics" - which is, of course, utter rubbish !

Surely this must affect public opinion and trust in the "database state" centralised databases such as the National Identity Register / ID cards, the National Health Service centralised patient records ("Data Spine") etc.?

The non-partisan NO2ID Campaign has been trying to raise public and political awareness of the risks of such "all your eggs in one basket" systems, which are so vulnerable to incompetent or corrupt authorised insiders.

We are awaiting with interest, the Emergency Statement to the House of Commons this afternoon by the Chancellor Alistair Darling.

Paul Gray, the chief civil servant at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has resigned.
.
TV news reports are talking of the "loss" of the personal and bank account details of up to 7.5 million (Sky News ) or perhaps 15 million (BBC) people claiming Child Benefit.

If it is Child Benefit details, then for "battered wives" who have fled their violent partners, or for victims of stalkers, or people in witness protection schemes, it is not just the worry of potential financial fraud, but also their actual physical safety which could now have been endangered.

There have been comparatively minor breaches, reported recently in October where "only" 15,000 people's data, customers of one insurance company, had their details lost in the post.

There has been spin and evasion about whether or not the CDROM was encrypted in that case

If this case, as reported, also involves CDROMs lost in the HMRC "internal" post, unless there is a clear and unambiguous claim that it was all strongly encrypted, then it is best to assume that it was not.

Remember, even if the missing CDROMS are eventually found somewhere, there can now be no guarantee that they have not been copied in transit.

Will anyone be prosecuted under the (weak) Data Protection Act ?

Will the Government actually pay to rectify some of the damage i.e. to cover the disruption costs of , say, changing millions of bank account details ?

Remember that these are the same systems, run by the same demoralised and overworked low level civil servants, facing job cuts, who are supposed to magically somehow guarantee the integrity and security of the centralised National Identity Register scheme.

Will Alistair Darling or any of his Treasury Ministers also do the honourable thing and resign ?

Any political blame for HMRC incompetence is really down to his predecessor i.e. the current Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The cross party, non-partisan grassroots NO2ID Campaign wants the people who signed the 'refuse to register for an ID card and will donate £10 to a legal defence fund' Pledge, to donate the promised money.

This Legal Defence Fund money will be kept separate from the general financial donations to the NO2ID Campaign, which are, of course, also welcome.

More details at: http://www.no2id.net/pledge

Please send your donation, by cheque made payable to 'NO2ID' to:

NO2ID (Legal Defence Fund)
Box 412
19-21 Crawford Street
London W1H 1PJ

If you also send in your contact details (we have no way to identify you otherwise - this message is forwarded by PledgeBank) we will keep you informed about the NO2ID campaign and how we can, working together, stop the disastrous National Identity Scheme. We will not pass your details to anyone else.

Other methods of donating money to the NO2ID Legal Defence Fund bank account:

On Thursday the appointment of appointment of Alex Allan as Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and Head of Intelligence Assessment was announced.

Alex Allan, who literally had the Yes, Prime Minister role of "Bernard", to both John Major, and for a time, to Tony Blair, first came to our attention when he was appointed by Blair as the supposed head honcho of the UK Government's Information Technology and e-government plans - the "e-envoy". He was, for a senior civil servant, at least computer literate, with his own web page devoted to family stuff and to the music of the Grateful Dead. (look it up for yourselves via a search engine)

UK Government web and email server security improved somewhat under his stewardship, but not by very much. There were some appalling blunders made during that period, which repeatedly left almost all of the main UK Government webservers vulnerable to remote "script kiddy" exploitation, propaganda website defacements, and the risk of fake government official announcements and press releases, which could well have been used to support "look at this embargoed press release on the official government website" type insider information frauds and scams involving market sensitive information in the City of London.

After a spell in Australia as an academic, he came back as the "Sir Humphrey" at the Department for Consitutional Affairs (and later the Ministry of Justice), when they were in charge of Freedom of Information policies.

Alex Allan's personal website has now generated some media stories, due to his appointment as the new Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

The Daily Telegraph claims to be the first to have discovered that his personal website revealed "sensitive terrorist target" information, followed by the The Daily Mail about 6 hours later

Is reprinting details and copyright photos, for profit, from a personal website all that "investigative journalism" consists of these days ?

It seems that Alex Allan has now removed the alleged "security risk" personal address and telephone and mobile phone number information from his website.

However, either he, or his IT security staff, have not yet succeeded in removing these details from the Google and Yahoo caches of his CV - have they asked nicely, or will they flex their securocratic muscles ?

Alex Allan's website domain name registration (if you use the extended version of whois for .com domains at the Network Solutions website) also reveals his home address in the UK. Paying the extra privacy fee may well be worth the extra $12 $9 a year.

Changing the previously published phone and mobile phone numbers might also be advisable, but whether moving home is really necessary, as The Daily Telegraph's anonymous Whitehall source claims, is debatable.

The prison like £3 million gilded cage ("Government house in Pimlico" , made notorious by the doubly disgraced Home Secretary / Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett is empty.

However, realistically, Alex Allan is in no more physical danger, than in his former senior Whitehall mandarin "Sir Humphrey" role.

Reading the text of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's statement outlining his attempt at a "hearts and minds" counter-terrorism strategy given to
to the House of Commons today, simply confirms our initial impression:- Gordon Brown - countering terrorism with more quangos ?

There was the announcement of the review of the physical building security. This may well provide advice, but no actual money to strengthen the bomb blast resistance of various public buildings or crowded terrorist targets, We fear that this will simply result in checkpoints at the entrances to such buildings which will create queues of people outside the perimeters, which will themselves be even more of a terrorist target, exactly as has happened in Iraq..

There was a re-iteration of the UK Borders force plans (another policy taken from the Conservatives by Gordon Brown, after years of opposing it). For no good reason, January is set to be the date when there will be a relaxation of the arbitrary and bureaucratic airliner hand baggage restrictions, although there still seems to be some token restrictions on liquids.

The statements mentions approximately :

  • at least 3 conferences
  • 2 academic reviews
  • 3 consultations
  • over 20 named Quangos or NDPBs
  • 11 new committees or forums
  • 2 3 new specialist units
  • 2 new national websites
  • 2 existing websites
  • 10 existing projects

All of which will presumably be getting some unspecified amount of tax payers' money.

Will all these new committees and bodies be stuffed full of Labour party apparatchiki, appointed and paid for through Government patronage and our money ?

The other item of note is the delay in the publication of the Privy Councillors' report into the use of electronic intercept evidence until January - they were meant to have reported in November i,.e. this month.

Is this a tactic to ensure that there is no informed detailed Parliamentary debate about this during the forthcoming Counter Terrorism Bill ?

Gordon Brown's Security Statement in Parliament this afternoon probably deserves some proper analysis later..

The existing CONTEST counter terrorism strategy has been a disaster on the "hearts and minds"and propaganda front, so it was interesting to hear Gordon Brown announce a flurry of activity involving departments other than the Home Office.

Is Al Quaeda really going to be defeated by a vast array of new and existing Quangos and Non-Departmental Public Bodies, Councils and Special Units etc ?

Is this a further expansion of Government patronage for Labour apparatchiki, with our public money ?

What measurable effect will roping in the National Gallery and the British Museum have on preventing the radicalisation of extremists ?

How is the mechanism of "twinning of schools" going to achieve this ? Are there really going to be student exchanges between British schools, and those in, say Pakistan, Afghanistan or Somalia ?

As with all of Gordon Brown's announcements, we will not be surprised if it turns out that the sums of money mentioned in this statement have already been announced or spent, and that there is nowhere near as much "new money" as he pretends.

More red tape and snooping on financial transactions, supposedly against terrorist financing, seems to be threatened, although how there is scope for more bureaucratic red tape than what Gordon Brown has already introduced when Chancellor of the Exchequer is a mystery, for now.

More thoughts later.


So where exactly are the detailed proposals to censor the internet, which European Commission Vice President Franco Frattini supposedly announced in the "Counter-terrorism package" this Tuesday 6th November 2007, after a couple of years of promising to somehow "ban" internet websites which contain "bomb making instructions" ?

The Register and Statewatch and Agoravox have analyses of the Proposal amending the 2002 Decision on combating terrism: COM (2007) 650

We wrote to Franco Frattini and asked some obvious questions about this back of a fag packet soundbite plan to censor the internet, and it was evident that he and his fellow eurocrats had little or no clue as to the practicalities or the knock on effects of such a policy. See the responses to our 17 Questions and the subsequent follow up etc. in the previous blog postings in the EU plans for internet censorship category archive.

So, after a year of vague consultation (not based on any detailed specific EU Commission detailed practical proposals) with vested securocrat interests, industry lobbyists, apparatchiki, quangos and some token legal and human rights organisations, etc, but not, repeat not, an actual public consultation with the citizens of the European Union, what exactly is now being proposed ?

We are astonished that the actual proposed amendments do not specifically mention the Internet or World Wide Web sites at all !

Have we somehow missed a secret EU Commission document, or have our modest writings and correspondence with Franco Frattini's office, been amplified by other voices of reason, who have managed to neuter his daft soundbite proposals for internet censorship ?

Here is the text of what is being proposed - ignore all the pre-amble etc. - this is the bit that would be legally binding in the amended Framework Decision:

Where was the Opposition in Parliament to the Serious Crime Act 2007, which has now been passed into law with the Royal Assent, and is awaiting commencement Orders ?

See the text of the Serious Crime Act 2007(.pdf version) , the HTML one is not yet online)

[UPDATE: the more user friendly HTML version of the Serious Crime Act 2007 now online]

Essentially all our initial fears which struck us back in January when the Bill was first published, seem to have been passed into law, and the Opposition (Conservatives, Liberal Democrats etc.) have been utterly useless in rejecting these disproportionate attacks on our freedom.

We are especially worried about the effect of the inchoate offences on potential Government whistleblowers, and on bloggers and journalists, because of the listing of the Official Secrets Act and the Terrorism Act 2006 as relevant Acts under the Serious Crime Act 2007.

The supposed defence of "reasonableness", means that, yet again, the burden of proof is reversed i.e. you as a defendant have to prove that your actions were somehow reasonable, rather than the prosecution having to prove the opposite, which runs counter to the normal way in which English justice works.

The dilemma which law abiding people who publish "dual use" technical information now face is similar to the issues about the amended Computer Misuse Act and dual hacking / security audit tools .

If you publish some information on a website, such as our Hints and tips for whistleblowers guide, which lists some legal technical tactics and techniques for preserving your or your sources anonymity, can you honestly say that they might not, at some time, some where, be abused by someone with criminal intent ?

Are such publishers then at risk of being arrested (and given the severity of the possible penalties, that means the whole panoply of legal harassment through DNA sampling, fingerprinting, photography, retention of data until your 100th birthday, seizure of computer equipment, communications traffic data and interception etc.) for "encouraging or assisting" ?

If you welcome information from Government whistleblowers, does that put you at risk of arrest for "encouraging or assiting" a possible offence under the Official Secrets Act ?

This could have a chilling effect on free speech and on political debate in the UK.

Somehow the Government and the Opposition have also colluded to get this Act to amend the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 to extend the criminal penalty of up to 51 weeks in prison, not just for "organiser" of demonstrations within the wretched Designated Area in the vicinity of Parliament, but to anyone who does anything to "encourage or assist".

Presumably this is intended to catch websites and internet campaigners and supporters ?

"Catch all" Serious Crime Act 2007 amendment to SOCPA 2005 section 136 Designated Area around Parliament criminal penalties - aimed at this website ?

What exactly was wrong with the Common Law offence of "incitement" which this Act abolishes ?

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to supress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

We know that there are decent, honest, trustworthy individual politicians, civil servants, law enforcement, intelligence agency personnel and broadcast, print and internet journalists etc., who often feel powerless or trapped in the system. They need the assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.

Email & PGP Contact

Please feel free to email your views about this blog, or news about the issues it tries to comment on.

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Our PGP public encryption key is available for those correspondents who wish to send us news or information in confidence, and also for those of you who value your privacy, even if you have got nothing to hide.

Current PGP Key ID: 0xA165A29480CFAA4C which will expire on 6th September 2014.

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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