December 2007 Archives

Privacy International have published their Leading surveillance societies in the EU and the World 2007, international Privacy ranking, which expanded on their original study last year.

The United Kingdom, is still, to our shame and to public fear, stll ranked in the worst category, i.e. an "endemic surveillance society" alongside the Russian Federation, China, the USA and Malaysia etc.

The incompetent Labour government has managed to further increase the size and scope of its "surveillance state" activities, without any effective transparent checks or balances. They have not achieved any extra "security" as a result of this snooping and spying on the public, but they have further lost public confidence and trust in centralised government bureaucratic systems e.g

The section of the survey on the United Kingdom, England * Wales and Scotland (which have slightly different legal systems) also makes dismal reading:

The right of centre political think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies has now published:

The 2008 Lexicon - A guide to contemporary Newspeak (.pdf 23 pages)

Political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” – George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”, 1946.

Politicians have always manipulated language, often motivated by the desire to create a sense of activity and purpose and thereby to justify their existence. And the language of bureaucracy has long provided a convenient disguise for government action, or inaction.

But New Labour has taken this disguise to new heights. In its desire to be seen to be solving every problem, and by the huge expansion of its public relations machinery, this Government has – whether wilfully or unwittingly – blurred the line between words and actions. Talking about a problem has come to mean the same as doing something about it. Newspeak has blossomed as a result.

[...]

This Lexicon contains a list of weasel words and euphemisms with which have polluted the political language, mainly but not exclusively, of Labour politicians and apparatchiki.

See the Wikipedia article on Orwellian Newspeak

The CPS authors call for comments and additions so here are few they missed. Please feel free to add your own definitions in the comments, or to point to those on your own blogs:

Prime Minister Gordon Brown uttered these Orwellian Labour newspeak weasel words in his speech "on Liberty" at the University of Westminster, on 24th October 2007:

Because liberty cannot flourish in the darkness, our rights and freedoms are protected by the daylight of public scrutiny as much as by the decisions of Parliament or independent judges.

So it is clear that to protect individual liberty we should have the freest possible flow of information between government and the people.

If the leopard really has changed its spots compared with Tony Blair's regime, then surely the Prime Minister should have published two annual reports, which are mandated by Act of Parliament, to be "laid before Parliament" "As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year"

Parliament is now in recess until 7th January 2008.

Where is the Annual report of the Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, for 2006 ?

Where is the Annual report of the Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, the Intelligence Services Commissioner, for 2006 ?

The previous Annual Reports were mostly submitted to the Prime Minister by July of the the year to which they refer and published by October or November (a scandalously long delay), except for Tony Blair's spin / incompetence last year,.

See last year's debacle, where these Reports for 2005 were not published until February 7th 2007, and then only after several Opposition Written Questions e.g. More RIPA Commissioners Annual Report suppression:

See Where are the missing RIPA Commissioners' annual reports for 2005 ? which quotes the relevant sections of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

What is so difficult about publishing an Annual Report (which is already censored of any sensitive details) , which has been legally mandated by Act of Parliament, every year ?

See the previously published Reports of the Commissioners page at intelligence.gov.uk

The Labour government has published the two Interim Reports announced by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling following their admission of incompetence and betrayal of public trust on November 20th regarding the scandal of the lost CDs containing the entire Child Benefit Award database for the whole country by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Neither of these reports shed any new light on what disasters have happened or on what detailed steps are going to be taken to prevent them happening again.

We suspect that the final versions of these reports, and all the other investigations and inquiries, will magically and conveniently for the Labour government, not actually be published until after the May 2008 Local Elections for the Mayor of London, Greater London Assembly, English local government authorities and mayors, and the local unitary local government in Wales, when these electorates will have the rare chance to express their disgust with the Labour regime politically.

The Labour Government have sneaked through an Order (i.e. without any proper Parliamentary scrutiny or the ability to vote on any amendments) which increases the complexity of the controversial Terrorism Act 2000 (and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002), and which creates new criminal offences, punishable by fines (up to level 5 i.e. £5000) or up to 3 months in prison for "tipping off" offences:

Statutory Instrument 2007 No. 3398 - Terrorism Act 2000 and Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Amendment) Regulations 2007 which come into force on 26th December 2007.

Why are brand new criminal offences, punishable by prison, allowed to magically appear without any actual Parliamentary debate or scrutiny ?

The stigma of being accused, or being falsely accused and not charged, let alone actually being convicted of even a minor offence under the Terrorism Act 2000, is in itself a massive punishment, which will never be expunged, under current practice, from criminal and national security intelligence databases, not just in the UK but worldwide.

Why could these amendments not have waited a couple of months to be included in the forthcoming Counter Terrorism Bill, where they could, in theory, have been properly examined and debated and, perhaps improved by Opposition amendments ?

Another week, and there is still no sign of the missing unencrypted CDs containing personal details of 25 million people, which were lost by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

It is clear that even the massive publicity over the HMRC affair has still not had any effect on the culture of incompetence, which has infected public sector organisations, who are continuing to betray their duty of trust and confidentiality when dealing with people's data , the protection of which they merely pay lip service to e.g. The Scotsman summarises::

First, it emerged two computer discs with details of more than 7,000 Northern Ireland motorists had got lost in the post after being sent to the DVLA in Swansea.

Then it was disclosed that confidential personal details of dozens of prisoners, including their criminal records, had been delivered to a private company instead of going to Norfolk Police.

And trade unions on Merseyside revealed that personal details of 1,800 health-authority staff, including their salaries and pension details, had been accidentally sent out to a number of private firms.

This is in spite of the Cabinet Office Review, of all Government Departments and Agencies, chaired by Robert Hannigan, the newly appointed Head of Intelligence, Security and Resilience, which was supposed to have reported on Monday 10th December 2007.

Will politicians and the media be pressing for this to be published, or will the Government spin doctors try to supress it until the New Year ?

See - How many Reviews will it take to sort out the HMRC and other UK Government data privacy and security scandals ?

The other Review, resticted to just Her majesty's Revenue and Customs, by Kieran Poynter, the senior partner at accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers (note the stupid "brand name" capitalisation) is due to report this Friday.

There do seem to have been some "locking the stable door" diktats at HMRC::

Of all the places in the United Kingdom, one would have expected that Her Majesty's Prisons could be kept free of illegal mobile phones.

It should be trivial for the mobile phone networks to detect any unauthorised mobile phones physically within Prisons and to alert the authorities automatically (after, no doubt, charging them a suitable Location Based Services fee). It should be technically easy to install radio triangulation equipment which spots and accurately locates a mobile phone within a Prison, as soon as it is switched on, even for a few seconds.

However, according to these figures published in Hansard, it appears that the Ministry of Justice (and the Home Office before them) are failing to prevent the smuggling of mobile phones into prisons.

They claim to have seized 3,473 mobile phones (or SIM cards) in the last year (October 2006 to September 2007)

This must also imply that there is a huge illegal drugs smuggling racket as well, and that it seems very likely that corrupt Prison Staff must be involved:

Dec 2007 : Column 1261W

[...]

Prisons: Mobile Phones

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many mobile telephones were seized in prisons in England and Wales in each of the last 12 months. [170463]

Maria Eagle: Prison establishments are required to send all seized mobile telephones to HMPS Security Group for interrogation. The following table contains the number of mobile phones (which includes handsets, handsets containing SIM cards, and individual SIM cards) seized and sent for interrogation in each month from 1 October 2006 to 30 September 2007.

5 Dec 2007 : Column 1262W

MonthTotal number submitted for interrogation
October 2006230
November 2006249
December 2006178
January 2007310
February 2007330
March 2007240
April 2007272
May 2007400
June 2007302
July 2007334
August 2007333
September 2007295
Total3,473


We would like to see some statistics on how long it takes for these illegal mobile phones to be detected and confiscated.

The figures for each individual Prison should be also be published.

A Further Thought:

Given that modern mobile phones can also include BlueTooth and/or WiFi,then the radio security defences of Prisons should also check these methods of sending messages. An extended range antenna and/or an illegal amplifier, in a vehicle in the car park or in neighbouring streets could well penetrate the walls of the Prison, without making use of the actual mobile phone network.

Cordless DECT phone handsets might also be illegally amplified to reach in and out of a Prison.

The BBC reports that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs have now, belatedly, offered a reward of £20,000 for the return of the missing unencrypted CDs containing the personal details of 7.25 million families / 25 million people.

Spy Blog was just at the point of offering a small reward for these CDs ourselves.

For the greater public good, Spy Blog now offers a free, "no questions asked" secure, anonymous channel of contact for anyone who might actually be in possession of the CDs, but who does not, for obvious reasons, want to contact the authorities or even the mainstream media, directly.

Please contact us via email: blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk
with or without the use of our PGP public encryption key or via the comment section of this blog if you know or suspect that you have the missing CDs in your possession.

There are a few obvious and not so obvious details about the CDs which we will ask for, simply to to weed out hoaxes.

If you are in possession of the CDs, or even if you are willing to reveal more of the background story to this scandal, then you might also wish to read our hints and tips for whistleblowers article, which will be relevant if you wish to remain anonymous.

We do not want a share of the reward, we only want to reduce the data security and privacy risk to the public (including our own families and friends), although we suspect that the chances of this happening are very slim.

£20,000 reward offered for discs

Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2007, 15:13 GMT

A reward of £20,000 is being offered for the return of the HM Revenue and Customs CDs containing the personal details of 25 million people.

It comes as the main searches end for the discs lost after being sent from the HMRC office in Newcastle to the National Audit Office in London.

Police say they are now extending the searches to "rule out" other locations.

And they are appealing to HMRC, NAO and Treasury staff to check "in case the package or discs have turned up".

[...]

The data on those discs could be worth millions of pounds to criminals, and far more than that to terrorists or foreign intelligence agencies.

£ 20,000 is a reasonable carrot to offer the civil servants and courier staff, to re-double their efforts to check that the CDs have not just been misplaced.

There does not, however, seem to be any offer of immunity from prosecution.

Even if this reward offer succeeds in getting the CDs found and returned, there can never be any proof that the data has not been simply copied from these discs.

Will HMRC now change all the affected National Insurance Numbers and Child Benefit Numbers ?


The Daily Telegraph has a report which confirms our initial fears about the scandal involving unencrypted data transfers of the whole Child Benefit Award database by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and by the National Audit Office. This involves far, far more than just the risk of financial fraud:

[hat tip to UK Liberty]

Lost data discs 'endanger protected witnesses'

by Andrew Porter, Political Editor
The Daily Telegraph
Last Updated: 10:36am GMT 05/12/2007

Hundreds of people in police witness protection programmes have been put at risk by the loss of millions of child benefit records, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The missing data discs are understood to contain both the real names and the new identities of up to 350 people who have had their identities changed after giving evidence against major criminals.

The development is one of the most serious so far in the missing data discs scandal, in which the child benefit records of 25 million people - including their names, addresses, birth dates, national insurance numbers and bank account details - were lost by HM Revenue and Customs.

The new identities of protected witnesses would be valuable property on the criminal market and, if they fell into the wrong hands, could place their lives and those of their families in jeopardy.

It will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds to provide the witnesses with yet another identity.

[...]

A senior police source said: "This is disastrous. People's lives could be in danger. It makes a mockery of the witness protection programme."

[...]

Why is there still no offer of a substantial financial reward and a promise of immunity from prosecution, in return for these missing CDs, forthcoming from the Government ?

What about all the other categories of people whose real names and home addresses could also have been revealed e.g. Police Officers, Prison Warders, Judges, Intelligence Agency employees, and frontline Military Personnel currently facing the risk of capture and torture by our enemies in Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran etc.?

The Labour Government still seems to be floundering and failing to properly reassure the public about their flawed centralised database schemes.

Here is another Written Answer to a Question published on Tuesday, about the ContactPoint national centralised database of children, re-iterates most of the points, with the same failings, as in the previous Answer on which we commented - see ContactPoint centralised national child database = Single Point of Failure - who guards the audit trail ?

The newly appointed junior Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and Families Keith Brennan, provided some more misleading details about how the scheme is allegedly "secure", against data loss and abuse, which do not impress us very much.

4 Dec 2007 : Column 1142W

Keith Brennan:

In line with best practice, ContactPoint will be routinely backed up. This will be done only by specifically identified system operators within Capgemini, with whom we have contracted for the build and initial host of ContactPoint. Two Capgemini staff will have to be present when back-ups take place. This dual control is considered best practice. The backup tapes will be encrypted, protected with a strong (complex) password and stored in a fire-proof safe in a secure room. The limited number of Capgemini staff who do have access to this data must have enhanced CRB clearance.

This implies that the backup tape fire-proof safe in a secure room is in the same physical building as the ContactPoint computer.

That might be "best practice" adequate disaster recovery resilience for, say, this blog, but not for a national scale system on 12 million children and their parents or guardians (i.e. about half the population of the country) , which is theoretically supposed to provide timely information which may be crucial in saving a child's life.

Can the Department for Children, Schools and Families really not afford off-site backup tape storage and / or off-site electronic encrypted backup copies via fast telecommunications links ? What exactly are they being charged £244 million by Capgemini for ?

There is no facility that would allow users to copy personal identifiable information to a file, other than when files need to be backed up as indicated in the last paragraph. The vast majority of users will only be able to view child data on the screen—they will not be able to extract files in a personally identifiable form.

So what ? That is not sufficient to prevent sensitive data on children from being abused or put at risk.

Is the Department for Children, Schools and Families going to pay for dedicated thin client PCs or dumb data terminals, connected via a secure ContactPoint only infrastructure, which specifically do not have any standard Screen Capture or Screen Printing capabilities ?

Ministry of Defence hacking

| | Comments (0)

Presumably the part time Minister of Defence, Des "Swiss Tony" Browne was not around to sign this Parliamentary Written Answer himself, so it fell to the unfortunate Bob Ainsworth instead.

3 Dec 2007 : Column 839W

[...]


Hacking

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many instances of cyber-attacks on his Department’s (a) public internet website, (b) non-classified intranet, (c) classified intranet, (d) non-classified e-mail system and (e) classified e-mail

3 Dec 2007 : Column 840W

system were reported in each month since 2005; and what the circumstances were of each incident. [169461]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: It would not be in the interests of the UK’s national security for MOD to confirm whether it holds information about attacks against its IT systems as this would enable individuals to deduce how successful the Department is in detecting these attacks.

This illogical reply implies that somehow all of the Ministry of Defence's enemies are magically acting in concert and sharing their reconnaissance probe and attack data with each other.

Even if this unlikely scenario were somehow true, then how could the revelation of 5 numerical figures, as asked for in this poorly worded Question, conceivably tell any attackers something they do not already know ? Such figures are not related to individual computers, which may or may not have been attacked successfully in a particular month, each of the 5 categories represents multiple systems - some of them tens of thousands of systems.

Is this a sign of a bunker mentality at the MoD, or just more contempt for transparency and open government ?

Does this policy mean that no foreign or UK hackers will ever be brought to trial for attacking Ministry of Defence systems, in case this reveals how weak those systems are ?


Various MPs are asking questions in Parliament about various central Government Department's data handling and security proecudres or failures.

The party line seems to be wait for the publication of the Review, i.e. the Cabinet office review by Robert Hannigan which is due to report next Monday on the 10th December, and then there will be a Departmental Statement.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has announced its own separate review of its controversial Children Database, badly re-branded this year as "ContactPoint", which evokes the data privacy horrors of the US based ChoicePoint commercial private sector data gluttons.

3 Dec 2007 : Column 927W

[...]

Kevin Brennan:

[...]

We have contracted with Capgemini for the purposes of operating the national system, maintaining data quality and technical system support. The computer system will be in a secure location, physically removed from the Department.

[...]

Doh ! - that implies that this centralised national database will become a Single Point of Failure in an unnecessary expansion to the UK's Critical National Infrastructure.

Given the fires, industrial explosions, floods and electricity suply failures which have affected Government and private sector data centres in the past few years, and not neglecting the fact that this will be Yet Another Terrorist Target, why is the Department not paying for at least two physical secure locations, at least 100 miles apart physically, served by different electricity generating sub-grids, with multiple redundant telecommunications links etc. ?

[...]

We acknowledge fully and understand that children and young people quite reasonably want reassurances about security and access.

How about giving them and their parents some actual practical, detailed, technical reassurances, and reducing the risks by not building another "all eggs in one basket" system ?

NO2ID_Pledge_banner_300.jpg

If the Labour government was serious about trying to recover the missing CDs in the ongoing HMRC Child Benefit centralised database insecurity scandal, then why have they not offered a large financial reward and immunity from prosecution for the safe return of the discs ? That would not re-assure us that the data has not been copied, but it might indicate a change in the contemptuous attitude with which the politicians and senior civil servants treat the general public.

Until such a change is apparent, then what can you do, personally, to try to stand up for your own rights and those of your family, against the Kafkesque, inept and secretive bureaucracy and political apparat which seems to have inflitrated our society ?

Obviously the non-partisan NO2ID Campaign would welcome a financial donation from you (to their general campaign funds or to their ring fenced Legal Defence Fund).

Today, the NO2ID Campaign has launched a new public Pledge, which involves asking for your commitment, common sense, in defence of your own self-interest, that of your family and of the country as a whole. Help to oppose the wretchedly mis-conceived and counter productive particular mess of a centralised national biometric database, the National Identity Register, which the Government is attempting to impose on us:

Phil Booth, NO2ID's National Coordinator, said:

"This is not a petition. This is not a request.

"This is real people saying: 'No, we’ve had enough. We are sick of the government snooping into our private lives, leaking or losing our most confidential personal information, and trampling the individual liberty that made this country what it is. It has to stop.'

NO2ID_Pledge_Certificate_300.jpg
Note: You don't have to download the certificate to take The NO2ID Pledge. It doesn't have to be done online, and can be done anywhere.

Please feel free to copy and distribute the text (below) by any other means. But please do not change the wording, which has been written by an expert in the National Identity Scheme. For best effect everyone should make the same undertaking.

I, made the following pledge on , as witnessed by :

I solemnly and publicly promise that:

  • I shall not register for a national identity card
  • I shall not supply personal details or fingerprints to a National Identity Register
  • I shall not apply for any document or service if joining the National Identity Register is a condition of obtaining it
  • I shall not co-operate with any Identity and Passport Service interview concerning my identity

I also promise by my example to encourage others to do the same.

Signed,

What YOU can do to stop ID cards and the database state:

About this blog

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

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

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

Email & PGP Contact

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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

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

pgp-now.gif
You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from www.pgpi.org
(available for most of the common computer operating systems, and also in various Open Source versions like GPG)

We look forward to the day when UK Government Legislation, Press Releases and Emails etc. are Digitally Signed so that we can be assured that they are not fakes. Trusting that the digitally signed content makes any sense, is another matter entirely.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

WikiLeak.org - ethical and technical discussion about the WikiLeaks.org project for anonymous mass leaking of documents etc.

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

Identity Project report by the London School of Economics
Surveillance & Society the fully peer-reviewed transdisciplinary online surveillance studies journal

Statewatch - monitoring the state and civil liberties in the European Union

The Policy Laundering Project - attempts by Governments to pretend their repressive surveillance systems, have to be introduced to comply with international agreements, which they themselves have pushed for in the first place

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

ARCH Action Rights for Children in Education - worried about the planned Children's Bill Database, Connexions Card, fingerprinting of children, CCTV spy cameras in schools etc.

Foundation for Information Policy Research
UK Crypto - UK Cryptography Policy Discussion Group email list

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

Open Rights Group - a UK version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a clearinghouse to raise digital rights and civil liberties issues with the media and to influence Governments.

Digital Rights Ireland - legal case against mandatory EU Comms Data Retention etc.

Blindside - "What’s going to go wrong in our e-enabled world? " blog and wiki and Quarterly Report will supposedly be read by the Cabinet Office Central Sponsor for Information Assurance. Whether the rest of the Government bureaucracy and the Politicians actually listen to the CSIA, is another matter.

Biometrics in schools - 'A concerned parent who doesn't want her children to live in "1984" type society.'

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

Front Line Defenders - Irish charity - Defenders of Human Rights Defenders

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

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

Reporters without Borders internet section - news of internet related censorship and repression of journalists, bloggers and dissidents etc.

Judicial Links

British and Irish Legal Information Institute - publishes the full text of major case Judgments

Her Majesty's Courts Service - publishes forthcoming High Court etc. cases (but only in the next few days !)

House of Lords - The Law Lords are currently the supreme court in the UK - will be moved to the new Supreme Court in October 2009.

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals under FOIA, DPA both for and against the Information Commissioner

Investigatory Powers Tribunal - deals with complaints about interception and snooping under RIPA - has almost never ruled in favour of a complainant.

Parliamentary Opposition

The incompetent yet authoritarian Labour party have not apologised for their time in Government. They are still not providing any proper Opposition to the current Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government, on any freedom or civil liberties or privacy or surveillance issues.

UK Government

Home Office - "Not fit for purpose. It is inadequate in terms of its scope, it is inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management systems and processes" - Home Secretary John Reid. 23rd May 2006. Not quite the fount of all evil legislation in the UK, but close.

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

United Kingdom Parliament
Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons.

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

FaxYourMP - identify and then fax your Member of Parliament
WriteToThem - identify and then contact your Local Councillors, members of devolved assemblies, Member of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament etc.
They Work For You - House of Commons Hansard made more accessible ? UK Members of the European Parliament

Read The Bills Act - USA proposal to force politicians to actually read the legislation that they are voting for, something which is badly needed in the UK Parliament.

Bichard Inquiry delving into criminal records and "soft intelligence" policies highlighted by the Soham murders. (taken offline by the Home Office)

ACPO - Association of Chief Police Officers - England, Wales and Northern Ireland
ACPOS Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

NewsNow Encryption and Security aggregate news feed
KableNet - UK Government IT project news
PublicTechnology.net - UK eGovernment and public sector IT news
eGov Monitor

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

Stand - email and fax campaign on ID Cards etc. [Now defunct]. The people who supported stand.org.uk have gone on to set up other online tools like WriteToThem.com. The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the stand.org website to the Home Office public consultation on Entitlement Cards is one of the factors which later led directly to the formation of the the NO2ID Campaign who have been marshalling cross party opposition to Labour's dreadful National Identity Register compulsory centralised national biometric database and ID Card plans, at the expense of simpler, cheaper, less repressive, more effective, nore secure and more privacy friendly alternative identity schemes.

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID bulletin board discussion forum

Home Office Identity Cards website
No compulsory national Identity Cards (ID Cards) BBC iCan campaign site
UK ID Cards blog
NO2ID press clippings blog
CASNIC - Campaign to STOP the National Identity Card.
Defy-ID active meetings and protests in Glasgow
www.idcards-uk.info - New Alliance's ID Cards page
irefuse.org - total rejection of any UK ID Card

International Civil Aviation Organisation - Machine Readable Travel Documents standards for Biometric Passports etc.
Anti National ID Japan - controversial and insecure Jukinet National ID registry in Japan
UK Biometrics Working Group run by CESG/GCHQ experts etc. the UK Government on Biometrics issues feasability
Citizen Information Project feasability study population register plans by the Treasury and Office of National Statistics

CommentOnThis.com - comments and links to each paragraph of the Home Office's "Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme".

De-Materialised ID - "The voluntary alternative to material ID cards, A Proposal by David Moss of Business Consultancy Services Ltd (BCSL)" - well researched analysis of the current Home Office scheme, and a potentially viable alternative.

Surveillance Infrastructures

National Roads Telecommunications Services project - infrastruture for various mass surveillance systems, CCTV, ANPR, PMMR imaging etc.

CameraWatch - independent UK CCTV industry lobby group - like us, they also want more regulation of CCTV surveillance systems.

Every Step You Take a documentary about CCTV surveillance in the Uk by Austrian film maker Nino Leitner.

Transport for London an attempt at a technological panopticon - London Congestion Charge, London Low-Emission Zone, Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, tens of thousands of CCTV cameras on buses, thousands of CCTV cameras on London Underground, realtime road traffic CCTV, Iyster smart cards - all handed over to the Metropolitan Police for "national security" purposes, in real time, in bulk, without any public accountibility, for secret data mining, exempt from even the usual weak protections of the Data Protection Act 1998.

RFID Links

RFID tag privacy concerns - our own original article updated with photos

NoTags - campaign against individual item RFID tags
Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products has been endorsed by a large number of privacy and human rights organisations.
RFID Privacy Happenings at MIT
Surpriv: RFID Surveillance and Privacy
RFID Scanner blog
RFID Gazette
The Sorting Door Project

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

DNA Profiles - analysis by Paul Nutteing
GeneWatch UK monitors genetic privacy and other issues
Postnote February 2006 Number 258 - National DNA Database (.pdf) - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2004/5 (.pdf) - published by the NDNAD Board and ACPO.

Eeclaim Your DNA from Britain's National DNA Database - model letters and advice on how to have your DNA samples and profiles removed from the National DNA Database,in spite of all of the nureacratic obstacles which try to prevent this, even if you are innocent.

Miscellanous Links

Michael Field - Pacific Island news - no longer a paradise
freetotravel.org - John Gilmore versus USA internal flight passports and passenger profiling etc.

The BUPA Seven - whistleblowers badly let down by the system.

Tax Credit Overpayment - the near suicidal despair inflicted on poor, vulnerable people by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown's disasterous Inland Revenue IT system.

Fassit UK - resources and help for those abused by the Social Services Childrens Care bureaucracy

Former Spies

MI6 v Tomlinson - Richard Tomlinson - still being harassed by his former employer MI6

Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

e-nsecure.net blog - Comments on IT security and Privacy or the lack thereof.
Rat's Blog -The Reverend Rat writes about London street life and technology
Duncan Drury - wired adventures in Tanzania & London
Dr. K's blog - Hacker, Author, Musician, Philosopher

David Mery - falsely arrested on the London Tube - you could be next.

James Hammerton
White Rose - a thorn in the side of Big Brother
Big Blunkett
Into The Machine - formerly "David Blunkett is an Arse" by Charlie Williams and Scribe
infinite ideas machine - Phil Booth
Louise Ferguson - City of Bits
Chris Lightfoot
Oblomovka - Danny O'Brien

Liberty Central

dropsafe - Alec Muffett
The Identity Corner - Stefan Brands
Kim Cameron - Microsoft's Identity Architect
Schneier on Security - Bruce Schneier
Politics of Privacy Blog - Andreas Busch
solarider blog

Richard Allan - former Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam
Boris Johnson Conservative MP for Henley
Craig Murray - former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, "outsourced torture" whistleblower

Howard Rheingold - SmartMobs
Global Guerrillas - John Robb
Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

Nick Leaton - Random Ramblings
The Periscope - Companion weblog to Euro-correspondent.com journalist network.
The Practical Nomad Blog Edward Hasbrouck on Privacy and Travel
Policeman's Blog
World Weary Detective

Martin Stabe
Longrider
B2fxxx - Ray Corrigan
Matt Sellers
Grits for Breakfast - Scott Henson in Texas
The Green Ribbon - Tom Griffin
Guido Fawkes blog - Parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy.
The Last Ditch - Tom Paine
Murky.org
The (e)State of Tim - Tim Hicks
Ilkley Against CCTV
Tim Worstall
Bill's Comment Page - Bill Cameron
The Society of Qualified Archivists
The Streeb-Greebling Diaries - Bob Mottram

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke - Freedom off Information campaigning journalist

Ministry of Truth _ Unity's V for Vendetta styled blog.

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security et al.
EUrophobia - Nosemonkey

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

Database Masterclass - frequently asked questions and answers about the several centralised national databases of children in the UK.

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

Brit Watch - Public Surveillance in the UK - Web - Email - Databases - CCTV - Telephony - RFID - Banking - DNA

BLOGDIAL

MySecured.com - smart mobile phone forensics, information security, computer security and digital forensics by a couple of Australian researchers

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

UK Liberty - A blog on issues relating to liberty in the UK

Big Brother State - "a small act of resistance" to the "sustained and systematic attack on our personal freedom, privacy and legal system"

HosReport - "Crisis. Conspiraciones. Enigmas. Conflictos. Espionaje." - Carlos Eduardo Hos (in Spanish)

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

Corruption-free Anguilla - Good Governance and Corruption in Public Office Issues in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the West Indies - Don Mitchell CBE QC

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

PJC Journal - I am not a number, I am a free Man - The Prisoner

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

The Caucus House - blog of the Chicago International Model United Nations

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

The 4th Bomb: Tavistock Sq Daniel's 7:7 Revelations - Daniel Obachike

OurKingdom - part of OpenDemocracy - " will discuss Britain’s nations, institutions, constitution, administration, liberties, justice, peoples and media and their principles, identity and character"

Beau Bo D'Or blog by an increasingly famous digital political cartoonist.

Between Both Worlds - "Thoughts & Ideas that Reflect the Concerns of Our Conscious Evolution" - Kingsley Dennis

Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair - the rich Uzbek businessman and his shyster lawyers Schillings really made a huge counterproductive error in trying to censor the blogs of Tim Ireland, of all people.

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

Henry Porter on Liberty - a leading mainstream media commentator and opinion former who is doing more than most to help preserve our freedom and liberty.

HMRC is shite - "dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of the HMRC, who have to endure the monumental shambles that is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)."

Head of Legal - Carl Gardner a former legal advisor to the Government

The Landed Underclass - Voice of the Banana Republic of Great Britain

Henrik Alexandersson - Swedish blogger threatened with censorship by the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishement, their equivalent of the UK GCHQ or the US NSA.

World's First Fascist Democracy - blog with link to a Google map - "This map is an attempt to take a UK wide, geographical view, of both the public and the personal effect of State sponsored fear and distrust as seen through the twisted technological lens of petty officials and would be bureaucrats nationwide."

Blogoir - Charles Crawford - former UK Ambassodor to Poland etc.

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

Lords of the Blog - group blog by half a dozen or so Peers sitting in the House of Lords.

notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society - blog by Dr. David Murakami Wood, editor of the online academic journal Surveillance and Society

Justin Wylie's political blog

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
Mayor of London Blog
London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at http://nuclear-weapons.info

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers