January 2008 Archives

The Law Lords have published their Judgment which overturns the writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum which had been granted to Farid Hhilali.

Hilali was the first person to be arrested in the UK under the new, allegedly rapid, European Arrest Warrant extradition procedure under Part 1 of the controversial Extradition Act 2003.

See also the Press Release from his solicitor, the controversial Muddassar Arani, in the comments on one of our previous blog articles about the Farid Hilali case.

This case is of interest to us, partly because of the European Arrest Warrant, and also because the evidence seems to be rely on mobile phone intercept evidence and voice recognition evidence, in an alleged terrorist plot case, a topic which politicians and pundits should be debating here in the UK, if the secret Privy Council review under Sir John Chilcot, of Intercept Evidence is actually published before the relevant clauses of the new Counter-terrorism Bill are debated.

The veteran former Labour Foreign Minister Rt. Hon. Margaret Beckett MP has been appointed as the replacement Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

She certainly has relevant Ministerial experience of reading classified material, but whether she is the right person to usher in the alleged new powers and more transparency into the Committee, which is what Prime Minister Gordon Brown was promising last summer, remains to be seen. We are struggling to recall any notable successes in her long Ministerial career.

The Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual Report for 2006 - 2007 (.pdf 51 pages) has also been published.

Why this 51 page censored report took only 7 weeks for the Prime Minister to publish, whilst the much shorter Interception Commissioner and Intelligence Services Commissioner reports (less than 8 pages each) took him 3 months, is a mystery.

There are some points to look out for if you can be bothered to read the censored Report:

Interception of Communications in Prisons etc.

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The Annual Report for 2006 of the Interception of Communications Commissioner Rt.Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy is very bland, and lacking in detail, but there is an area of concern, by omission - the safeguards, if any, when tracking or monitoring smuggled mobile phones in Prisons.

About half of all the site visits and re-visits (about 120) by Sir Paul Kennedy and his team of 6 Inspectors appear to be to Prisons.

However, technically, Sir Paul has no legal powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to supervise the Interception of postal or electronic communications in Prisons.

26. I have, at the request of the Home Secretary, continued in a non-statutory role, the oversight of the interception of communications in prisons, which was undertaken by my predecessor.

Perhaps the situation has not yet arisen, but, in theory, the management or staff of a privatised Prison or Detention Centre (or even a state run one) could , perfectly legally, refuse to cooperate with Sir Paul and his Inspectors, perhaps on the grounds of cost or perhaps when working to rule during a pay dispute, especially if they are not under the threat of a forthcoming contract renewal.

There is nothing wrong in principle with Sir Paul and his team inspecting the interception regimes in Prisons, but this really should be done on a proper statutory basis, and, given the large number of visits involved, some money should be allocated from the Ministry of Justice who have now been lumbered with responsibility for Prisons.

Since the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice love to tinker with Legislation, why can they not bring Prisons and Immigration Detentions Centres etc. under the legal scrutiny of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act ?

Sir Paul obliquely hints that all is not well in the Prison Service:

When Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne admitted to the theft of an MoD recruitment laptop computer, containing over 600,000 personal records, he and his briefers, attempted to downplay just how disastrous a security breach this represents, by claiming in his Ministerial Statement on 21st January that

In some cases the record may be no more than a name, but I am advised that for about 153,000 people who progressed as far as submitting an application form to join the forces, more extensive personal data are held, including passport details, national insurance numbers, driver's licence details, family details, doctors' addresses and national health service numbers; for about 3,700 people, banking details were also included.

Yesterday's Parliamentary Written Answer admits to 605,757 addresses

28 Jan 2008 : Column 37W

Departmental Personal Records

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of those individuals who had their personal details lost as a result of the theft in Edgbaston on 9 January of an MOD computer from the vehicle of a Royal Navy Officer are domiciled in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland, (d) England and (e) elsewhere. [182396]

Des Browne: Where a record of domicile is held, the following figures were recorded on the database at the time of the entry of the record.

 Number
Scotland59,553
Wales37,546
Northern Ireland14,223
England459,778
Elsewhere34,667

So, in fact, the vast majority of the stolen records consist of at least a name and address, and are not merely "no more than a name"

This unencrypted data security breach could easily pit the lives of serving or former members of the armed forces, and their families, at risk from terrorists and foreign intelligence agencies. Even people who never actually joined the armed services, but just expressed an interest in doing so, could be at risk, especially if they have, say, easily identifiable Muslim names, or an address in an area that is familiar to fanatics.

The missing, illegally delayed RIPA Commissioner's Annual Reports for 2006 have now been published in 2008

28 Jan 2008 : Column 3WS

Prime Minister
Intelligence Services Commissioner/Interception of Communications Commissioner (Annual Report)

The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): I have today laid before both Houses the annual reports for 2006 of the Intelligence Services Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Peter Gibson (HC 253), and the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Paul Kennedy (HC 252). Some sensitive information has been excluded from both reports in accordance with Sections 58(7) and 60(5) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

I am grateful to the commissioners for their reports and the work that has gone into preparing them.

We will link to the censored online copies once these are available in the next week or so. If you spot them online before us, please publish the URL in the comments below.

UPDATE both reports are now online (thanks to Doctor_Wibble for the pointer in the comments below).

They were both submitted to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown on 24th October 2007, so why could he not lay them before Parliament, as he is required to by law, before the end of the calendar year i.e. before the Christmas holiday ?

Neither report says very much different from the previous ones.

HMRC have published some media spin to try dampen down the furore over their special categories for Westminster Politicians and Celebrities, which tries to divert attention from the inadequacies of their back office systems,

See our previous blog article:
HMRC tax record security only for a minority of the privileged, but not for the rest of us
for some background and Obvious Questions about this.

HMRC Online Services - secure and safe to use

Some newspapers and broadcast media have claimed that HMRC's online filing systems are not secure because Members of Parliament and a small number of other taxpayers cannot use the Self Assessment service.

This is completely untrue. A small minority of taxpayers, including MPs, cannot currently use online services because the additional internal safeguards on their records mean that their taxpayer reference numbers are not recognised on the authentication system.

This therefore has nothing to do with the security of our online services. HMRC online services use the highest levels of encryption generally available and authentication processes similar to online banks.

[...]

The security of the encrypted web session segment of the online tax return workflow process was not in question ! It is what could happens to everyone's tax returns once they are within HMRC shared infrastructure of back offices, internal postal courier and internal electronic networks, accessible by large numbers of low paid staff, that is the problem.

Focusing on just the encrypted web front end, and not examining the whole end to end workflow, is deliberate media manipulation by the HMRC spin doctors, which, unfortunately, may well bamboozle some of the mainstream media journalists and editors.

By adding an extra digit to the tax code of people in these Celebrity / Westminster Politician special categories, and, perhaps also to categories of people who are actually at more risk of physical danger if their home addresses are revealed, HMRC are making things less secure not more so.

If the various Poynter / Hannigan / Thomas and Walport / Burton and other Reviews, bother to look into the depths of the voluminous Ventral Government Departmental Standard Operating Procedures and Security Procedures, they will see, that it is standard practice to make sure that sensitive data does not stand out when it is being transported along common office or electronic network infrastructure, along with allegedly less sensitive data or documents.

This even extends to instructing, say, British Telecom, not to specially label data cables in their exchanges, as carrying Central Government Departmental data.

This is a common sense approach to reducing the risk of casual snooping or opportunistic thievery by internal staff who have potential access, if they make an effort, to specially marked or easily identifiable "juicy" VIP or Celebrity documents or data records, or highly Protectively Marked Material,

These HMRC special categories should be abolished, on the grounds of equality and actual security.

Rachel from North London's blog article What's going on with the ISC?, reminds us that a knock on effect of the ongoing series of sleazy and incompetent Labour party political donations scandals which led to the resignation Peter Hain from the Cabinet, has resulted in the appointment of Rt. Hon. Paul Murphy MP as the replacement Welsh Secretary.

Paul Murphy was the Chairman of the supposedly independent Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), a post he surely cannot continue to hold as a minor Government Minister.

Paul Murphy failed to satisfy the survivors of the 7th July 2005 bomb attacks in London, or the rest of the public, that the ISC reports into the intelligence agency failings, were either rigorous or impartial, as the transcript of his interview on Newsnight, reproduced by Rachel, clearly shows that he had already pre-judged the "whitewash" outcome of his second report into the matter, even before it was written.

Paul Murphy and the Intelligence and Security Committee also failed to take seriously, the Questions which we raised with them in private, about the botched MI5 website update email notification system affair, which was either the result of spin doctor led political interference, or utter management incompetence, riding roughshod over the available IT security expertise.

Surely this deserves a paragraph or two in the ISC Annual Report for 2007 ? We cannot tell, because the Report is still being kept secret (see below).

Presumably Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in consultation with the Opposition Party leaders, will try to appoint another Labour Privy Counsellor as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. The current list of Privy Counsellors, who are Labour backbench MPs and are not already in the Government, or who have not already resigned in disgrace as Ministers, is very limited.

The Daily Telegraph reports on another disturbing Soviet style bureaucratic practice of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs: they seem to have two classes of tax record - one for the ruling elite of "celebrities, Members of the Royal Family and Members of Parliament", and then another, less secure category for all the rest of us.

This does not appear to be on any physical risk based criterion e.g. protected witnesses, members of the Special Forces or Intelligence Agencies, undercover policemen, or victims of stalkers etc, but simply on vague notions of celebrity or political office.

N.B. it should be made clear to terrorists, that Members of Parliament, even members of the Government, who are supposedly serving the Public, not just themselves, are not a worthwhile target, since we, as a society will simply replace them democratically, whilst mourning any individual casualties.

This is not the first time that such creepy and sycophantic behaviour has been detected with centralised national bureaucratic databases - it seems that there are similar plans afoot to exempt "celebrities" and possibly others, from having to register their details on the Children Database / ContactPoint , as well.

Why have Labour politicians instituted and approved such institutional discrimination ?

Online tax system 'too risky' for the famous
By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
Last Updated: 2:04am GMT 26/01/2008

The security of the online computer system used by more than three million people to file tax returns is in doubt after HM Revenue and Customs admitted it was not secure enough to be used by MPs, celebrities and the Royal Family.

Thousands of "high profile" people have been secretly barred from using the online tax return system amid concerns that their confidential details would be put at risk.

This provoked anger from consumer groups and accountants who said the same levels of security should be offered to all taxpayers regardless of their perceived fame.

The word "anger" does not come close to the level of fury and hatred which this policy will provoke amongst the majority of the public who are being treated as inferiors by the HMRC bureaucrats and Labour party politicians.

After a series of NuLabour Climate of Fear propaganda insults from the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, and, especially from her junior Minister, Tony McNulty, the dreaded Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008 has now been published

Sadly, we fear, that yet again, the Government, the Opposition and the Media will focus on the extremely controversial sections regarding the extension of pre-charge internment to 42 days, and the other controversial and obscure sections of this Bill will not be properly scrutinised.

We will have more to say about this in detail later, but we have immediately been struck by the planned destruction of all notions of legal, medical, financial or any other statutory or common law duty of confidentiality, for disclosures to the intelligence agencies i.e. the Security Service MI5, the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 and GCHQ. This is not merely for "national security" or even for the list of "terrorist related offences", but, generally for the "prevention and detection of serious crime" and the "proper discharge of their duties".

There are no extra checks and balances on this new power to disclose and share information, even with foreign Governments or private sector companies.

Similarly the further extension of the the powers to take fingerprints and "non-intimate samples",and to retain human tissue samples and DNA profiles etc., without any chance of them ever being removed from an intelligence agency database, is frightening.

Despite the latest Privy Council review headed by Sir John Chilcot, which was due last November, then allegedly in mid January", but which seems to have been deliberately delayed so as not to be available by the time Parliament starts to debate this Bill, there is some mention of Intercept Evidence in this Bill, This is in regard to Inquiries, Inquests and Asset Freezing hearings.

There is also a section with new "Offences relating to information about members of armed forces"- which are already covered by plenty of other existing legislation, This appears to be a substitute for proper action to secure Ministry of Defence laptop computers and other Government centralised databases.

Why are further such draconian powers really necessary, over an above the vast array of existing legal power ?

According to the Minister of State for Policing and Security Tony McNulty:

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith seems to reacting to tabloid newspaper column inches and broadcast "news" reporting of murders and other attacks involving Knives in Schools, with some vague plan to install Metal Detectors at School Gates - despite the fact that most of the high profile cases in the news recently have involved knife attacks outside of school premises, and the lack of secure perimeters in most schools, allowing such equipment to be easily bypassed.

Instead of wasting money, and putting untrained, unprotected school staff at risk, no money should be wasted on such a scheme, until every Prison and detention centre is properly equipped with metal detectors, which, scandalously, they are not.

Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne's statement to the House of Commons this afternoon on the stolen MoD recruitment laptop computer scandal

See: Commons Hansard 21 Jan 2008 : Column 1225 MOD (Data Loss)

  • 153,000 people who submitted detailed application forms
  • 5.700 bank account details
  • Initial belief that the data was encrypted
  • Dubious claim that "the level of encryption used by the Ministry of Defence on its computers is stronger than that used for commercial applications"
  • Dubious implication that MoD encryption systems can actually be broken in practice
  • Admissions that the data was not encrypted at all
  • Blames the media for reporting the leaked information scandal
  • No mention of Army recruits' data, despite the Army handling the data for all three armed services
  • Dubious claim about "no indication" that the data has fallen into terrorist or foreign intelligence agency hands
  • Admission about 2 previous stolen recruitment data laptops
  • Useless Cabinet Office review of data handling
  • Yet Another Review - Sir Edmund Burton
  • No resignations by Ministers or senior MoD staff

Some comments on some extracts from the statement:

The Ministry of Defence appears to have been infiltrated by Data Traitors:

MOD confirms loss of recruitment data

[...]
The Ministry of Defence can confirm that a laptop was stolen from a Royal Navy officer in Birmingham last week, on the night of 9/10 January, and as a result, a large quantity of personal data has been lost.

[...]

The stolen laptop contained personal information relating to some 600,000 people who have either expressed an interest in, or have joined, the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force

The information held is not the same for every individual. In some cases, for casual enquiries, the record is no more than a name. But, for those who progressed as far as submitting an application to join the Forces, extensive personal data may be held, including passport details, National Insurance numbers, drivers' licence details, family details, doctors' addresses and National Health Service numbers.

The Ministry of Defence is treating the loss of this data with the utmost seriousness. We are writing to some 3,500 people whose bank details were included on the database. Action has already been taken with the assistance of APACS [Association for Payment Clearing Services] to inform the relevant banks so that the relevant accounts can be flagged for scrutiny against unauthorised access.

[...]


Given all the recent publicity over the still not yet resolved HMRC data privacy and security scandal, there is no possible excuse of ignorance for the Ministry of Defence generally, and their Recruitment bureaucracy in particular, to have allowed this latest data security breach, involving a stolen laptop computer, which, for no good reason, contained over 600,000 people's records.

These are not just random members of the public, they are people who have expressed some interest, or who have actually supplied extensive personal details, as part of the process of being recruited into our Military frontline and support forces.

After all the HMRC and other recent data security and privacy breach publicity, this incident cannot be the result of ignorance.

There must be some malice involved, an actual betrayal of trust and national security which potentially puts people's lives at risk i.e. the people responsible are Data Traitors

Have they been bribed or coerced, or are they working to deliberately put such data at risk, for ideological reasons ? Is this the work of Al Quaeda or Taliban sympathisers, or of Russian or Chinese spies ?

When will the Labour politicians and civil service mandarins who draught and approve very complicated Acts of Parliament and Secondary Legislation red tape Regulations, get some basic training in the well known Principles of Data Protection under Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998 ?

For example:


The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Barred List Prescribed Information) Regulations 2008

Other information that the IBB must keep in respect of an individual included in a barred list
[...]

4) (d) relevant police information provided to the IBB but which the IBB must not take account of for the purpose of deciding whether or not the individual should be barred, in accordance with paragraph 19(5) and (6) to Schedule 3 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (information which the chief officer of a relevant police force thinks that it would not be in the interests of the prevention or detection of crime to disclose to the individual);

Will, for example, sensitive,possibly life threatening data on Police or Intelligence agency Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Confidential Informants), or people in witness protection schemes, some of whom may very well have criminal records for violent or serious crimes be unnecessarily put at risk by being copied and retained to the Independent Barring Board data systems, even though the IBB is not allowed by law to actually make use of such data ?

Surely such information should remain solely on the secure(?) Police intelligence systems and should never be copied to the less secure Independent Barring Boards national database systems in the first place ?

The Independent Barring Boards and the Independent Safeguarding Authority quango, seem set to hold data on around 8 million mostly innocent people, not just those who might work with children, but also vulnerable adults and people in positions of trust.

Given their plans for "continuous monitoring" and for web based access to such barring list data, there seems to be plenty of scope for future data privacy and security disasters.

Prisoners 'to be chipped like dogs'

Given the poor reputation of the Independent on Sunday regarding the accuracy of their reporting on technical matters like WiFi radio network health risks etc., this story needs to be treated with some caution.

However, the article, by their Whitehall Editor does have quotes from a "senior Ministry of Justice official" and from a "senior Minister".

Is this a typical NuLabour / Whitehall leak or anonymous briefing to a Sunday Newspaper, to test the strength of public or political or media opposition to their ill conceived ideas, instead of publishing a proper public consultation document, a detailed cost benefit analysis and regulatory and privacy and security impact assessments ?

The newly retired former Government Chief Scientist Professor Sir David King described, in Saturday's edition of The Times, the "scientific vacuum" amongst the higher echelons of the Whitehall Sir Humphreys and Labour Ministers, especially at the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Presumably, some of the 200 senior Home Office staff and the ex-Home Office Ministers i.e. the ones in charge of Prisons, who were described by the former Home Secretary John Reid as "not fit for purpose" have now further infected the newly created Ministry of Justice with their ignorance.

Prisoners 'to be chipped like dogs'

Hi-tech 'satellite' tagging planned in order to create more space in jails
Civil rights groups and probation officers furious at 'degrading' scheme

By Brian Brady, Whitehall Editor
Published: 13 January 2008

Ministers are planning to implant "machine-readable" microchips under the skin of thousands of offenders as part of an expansion of the electronic tagging scheme that would create more space in British jails.

Amid concerns about the security of existing tagging systems and prison overcrowding, the Ministry of Justice is investigating the use of satellite and radio-wave technology to monitor criminals.

But, instead of being contained in bracelets worn around the ankle, the tiny chips would be surgically inserted under the skin of offenders in the community, to help enforce home curfews. The radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, as long as two grains of rice, are able to carry scanable personal information about individuals, including their identities, address and offending record.

Read on below for some obvious objections to this evil idea.

The Guardian reports: some good news about the dropping of an Official Secrets Act prosecution of a Foreign & Commonwealth Office civil servant whistleblower:

'Victory for press freedom' over leaks?

Chris Tryhorn and agencies
guardian.co.uk,
Wednesday January 9 2008

A Foreign Office official accused of leaking confidential documents to the New Statesman and the Observer was cleared today after prosecutors dropped charges against him.

Derek Pasquill was alleged to have breached the Official Secrets Act by leaking letters and memos about the government's attitude to secret CIA rendition flights and contacts with Muslim groups.

But today prosecutors told an Old Bailey judge that documents to be disclosed as part of legal proceedings would have undermined its case that the leaks were damaging.

[...]

The New Statesman's editor, John Kampfner, said today's decision was "a spectacular and astonishing victory for freedom of the press".

"This was a misguided and malicious prosecution, particularly given that a number of government ministers privately acknowledged from the outset that the information provided to us by Derek Pasquill had been in the public interest and was responsible in large part for changing government policy for the good in terms of extraordinary rendition and policy towards radical Islam," Kampfner said.

The Observer described Pasquill as "an honourable civil servant who stood up for the best liberal values of his country".

"The stories we and the New Statesman published highlighted critical issues facing Britain and led to vital changes in government policy," the paper said in a statement.

"The threat of prosecution was vindictive and wrong-headed, and we consider that the decision not to continue the action is essential for the freedom of the press and its right to air vital issues of national interest."

The Foreign Office said Pasquill could still face in-house disciplinary action.

[...]

This seems to be good news for the whistleblower and the journalists involved.

However, given the clear Public Interest regarding the illegal CIA kidnap and torture flights and the official British contacts with Islamic extremist groups, it really does make us wonder what the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and their Labour political masters are playing at.

What other politically embarrassing revelations are they keeping secret from the British public ?

Obviously Foreign & Commonwealth Office whistleblowers and journalists or bloggers who they may be in contact with, need to take heed of some of the elementary tradecraft suggestions in our whistleblowers hints and tips, which were originally inspired by Home Office whistleblower leaks.

[via Ideal Government]

The House of Commons Procedure Committee is tentatively seeking public views on the idea of having Parliamentary e-Petitions, equivalent to old fashioned paper based ones.

[...] The Committee has been asked by the House of Commons to propose an e-petitions system with the following key elements: Members should be engaged with e-petitions as they are with written petitions; e-petitions should be open for the addition of e-signatures for a certain period before formal presentation; once presented they should have the same status as written petitions. [...]

Working on the assumption that Parliamentary e-Petitions are genuinely meant to be a 21st century mechanism to re-engage a distrustful, fearful, disenfranchised public with the seemingly out of touch politicians in the Palace of Westminster, here are a few thoughts:

  • Will my signing an e-Petition actually influence our Parliamentary democracy and Government policy ?

    The recent record of Parliament exercising proper detailed scruiny of Government policies and legislation is very poor. Perhaps if MPs were made more directly aware of the strength of public feeling via e-Petitions, instead of through tabloid newspaper and broadcasters headlines, they might serve the public better.

  • What is the potential risk to me as an individual, if I do dare to put my head above the parapet and electronically record an expression of a facet of my political views, at a certain time and date ? Will this be held against me in the future when I may have changed my mind ?

  • If extremist, criminals or terrorist also support the same e-Petiton on a controversial topic, will I become tarred with "guilt by association" according to the "Rich Picture" being developed electronically by the law enforcement and intelligence agencies, both in the UK and overseas ?

  • Will I become a target for commercial direct marketers or spammers or fraudsters ?

  • Will MPs or political parties be seeking my votes and / or my money, directly as a result of my signing such an e-Petition ?

  • Will this e-Petitions system offer more facilities to a signer than a paper based one ?

Why exactly does DEFRA need to snoop on the Electoral Register and on unlisted landline telephone details to provide Flood Warnings ?

Security fears over flood alert

* Jo Revill
* The Observer,
* Sunday January 6 2008

Environment officials are asking for access to thousands of ex-directory phone numbers so that they can alert people when their homes are in danger of being flooded.

However, following lapses in data security, with the government criticised over missing computer disks containing details on millions of child benefit claimants, there may be nervousness about allowing the Environment Agency access to numbers.

Nearly half of households with a landline in the UK now have an ex-directory number. The government's information commissioner, Richard Thomas, will make the decision whether to allow the agency, which is overseeing the UK's floods strategy, the right to have them.

Baroness Young, the agency's chief executive, said: 'Being able to communicate with people fast is really important when it comes to flooding. It may be serious enough to be talking about evacuation. Flash flooding can happen very quickly.'

Very true, however, the Environment Agency does not provide any Surface Water Flash Flood Warnings at all, something which may not even be technically possible without a massive investment in a new sensor infrastructure, covering areas well away from actual rivers etc.

    Flood Warnings

    [...]

    A flood watch alerts people that we are expecting minor flooding to low-lying land and minor roads. Flood Watches are issued to the media (who broadcast to the public) and directly to people who have an operational response such as your local authority, farmers and the emergency services.

    Most members of the public do not need to receive a Flood Watch directly, however you can register to receive Flood Watches if you feel they will be useful for you. Please be aware that they can be issued at any time of the day or night and are not warnings of flooding to your property.

    It is not our responsibility to provide flood forecasting or warning for surface water flooding."

More than 55,000 homes and businesses flooded last summer in the worst deluges since 1766. They caused huge disruption in Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, with transport links, schools, power and water supplies hit. Thousands were left without drinking water and £3bn of damage was done.

No early-warning system was available for 35,000 homes. Although the agency has a flood warnings system, only 41 per cent of those eligible to receive the free service, because they live in an area with a high risk of flooding, have signed up for it.

A review into last summer's floods, carried out by Sir Michael Pitt, recommended that there had to be a better system for delivering flood warnings, despite the extra costs.

He called on the government to grant the Environment Agency access to its full electoral roll, including phone numbers.

Sir Michael Pitt's interim review of the 2007 summer floods, is available as a series of .pdf files from the Cabinet Office website.

Learning lessons from the 2007 floods. An independent review by Sir Michael Pitt (.pdf 165 pages 6.2 Mb)

This review appears to be full of mostly common sense recommendations. Most of these e.g. sending people to physically "knock on doors" at every building within the predicted flood zones, are so obvious, that it beggars belief why they have not already have been implemented years ago .

N.B. we cannot see any mention of the "electoral roll" in Sir Michael Pitt's report. Perhaps the Observer has been briefed verbally by someone else.

Our unelected Prime Minister Gordon Brown still does not seem to have grasped the fundamentals of his NuLabour compulsory centralised biometric database the National Identity Register scheme according to this propaganda interview with The Observer newspaper this Sunday

Gordon Brown demonstrated how shockingly out of touch with the real world, by trying to justify the multi-billion pound compulsory national population surveillance and control infrastructure that is the National Identity Register, partly because of some small scale, unproven fingerprint biometric trials in some US and, allegedly, European shops, even though there have been no such successful trials in the UK, and no major UK retailer has decided that the idea is worth spending money on nationally.

The Yorkshire Ranter got in ahead of us, to point out some of the obvious flaws in Gordon Brown's muddled answers to the rather soft and friendly questioning by The Observer regarding so called "ID Cards".

    Maybe when you go to a supermarket, as happens in some parts of the States and Europe, you are going to be safer, instead of carrying a credit card which can easily be stolen, to use your biometrics to shop.

This has to be some kind of record for biometric scienciness; the Government has historically always handwaved reality-based objections to ID cards away by claiming that we wouldn't need them very often, whilst also floating insanely grandiose visions of biometric imperialism. Charles Clarke, we may recall, advertised them as "making it easier to rent videos"; as well as offering horrific new possibilities for total surveillance, this would have blasted the Government's hazy costings down to nothing, demanding vast numbers of readers and numbers of transactions per second that even telecoms engineers would consider ambitious. To say nothing of insulting our intelligence.

This idea is both ridiculous, and, typically for Gordon Brown, a re-tread of a previously announced idea - see Gordon Brown - part 3 of the Chatham House speech on the 10th of October 2006, when he was still Chancellor of the Exchequer, trying unsuccessfully to pretend that he had a grasp on "security" and foreign affairs.

See also this NO2ID discussion forum thread on this latest spin by Gordon Brown.

See also Ideal Government, for another dissection of Gordon Brown's ideas on "ID Cards" as outlined in the Observer interview.

We have not forgotten the other recent, dishonest and misleading attempts by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and by his "no longer a safe pair of hands" sidekick Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, who tried to pretend that the ongoing missing HMRC data .privacy and security breach scandal , which has not gone away, for which they are personally responsibler, would somehow have been less serious, if the the wretched biometric National Identity Register had been in place and linked to the missing Child Benefit Award database.

These political lies were punctured elegantly by this open latter from leading academic experts, who described them as a "fairy-land" scenario.

[Hat tip to Dr. Richard Clayton at the Light Blue Touchpaper group blog - Hacking tool guidance finally appears]

The Crown Prosecution Service appear to have published (6 months later than promised !) some Guidance to Prosecutors regarding the Computer Misuse Act 1990, which has been amended by the Police and Justice Act Act 2006 sections 35 to 38. It seems that these amendments may perhaps come into force this April 2008.

Chapter s Computer Misuse Act 1990 Guidance (.pdf 6 pages)

However the CPS Guidance is flawed, as it does not address the fact that the Amendments also criminalise "dual use" data as well as computer programs.

Neither does this CPS Guidance consider the effect of the controversial and inept Identity Cards Act 2006 section 29 Tampering with the register etc., which criminalises denial of service attacks against the National Identity Register infrastructure, and any of the tens of thousands of systems which will be connected to it, and also forbids strike action by Trades Unionists etc.

The controversial aspects of these amendments, which did not receive proper Parliamentary scrutiny due to the guillotines on debate, include


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