October 2008 Archives

Today's guilty plea by Richard Jackson, to a single offence under the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of information

The BBC reports Official fined over missing files

A senior civil servant has been fined after pleading guilty to leaving top secret documents on a train.

Richard Jackson admitted negligence by losing the files on a service from London Waterloo to Surrey on 10 June.

City of Westminster Magistrates Court heard the documents "had the potential to damage national security and UK international relations".

Cabinet Office official Jackson, 37, of Yateley, Hampshire, was fined £2,500 and will have to pay £250 costs.

[...]

See also the report in The Guardian Civil servant fined £2,500 for leaving secret al-Qaida files on train


Richard_Jackson_OSA89_s8_guilty_300.jpg

[...]

A member of the public found them inside an orange cardboard envelope on a train from Waterloo station to Surrey and passed them on to the BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.

Would this scandal have been covered up if the member of the public had simply not returned the documents, or had not used the BBC to do so ?

One of the documents was a seven-page report by the joint intelligence committee entitled Al-Qaida Vulnerabilities.

Classified as top-secret, the intelligence assessment on al-Qaida was so sensitive that every document was numbered and marked "for UK/US/Canadian and Australian eyes only". It is understood the assessment also contained reports on the state of the Islamist terror network in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan.

The document reportedly contained names of individuals or locations that might have been useful to Britain's enemies.

The second document, commissioned from the committee by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), contained an analysis of Iraq's security forces. It included a top-secret and in some places "damning" assessment of Iraq's security forces.

Jackson was on secondment to the Cabinet Office from the MoD at the time the documents were lost.

The court heard that the intelligence files "had the potential to damage national security and UK international relations".

This is an extraordinarily lenient "punishment" for potentially tipping off terrorists and foreign intelligence agencies to the UK intelligence communities highest level strategic intelligence assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of our enemies.

What assurance is there that the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Joint Intelligence Committee, and their Assessments Staff, have made it physically and culturally impossible for such highly classified documents to actually be printed out and taken physically out of a secure reading room in Whitehall ?

Why are there no airport style, pat down searches, "see through your clothes" body scanners and physical searches of bags and briefcases, on every one of the small number of people who are handling such top secret documents, without exception, to physically prevent them from ever taking such unencrypted documents home, either deliberately or by accident ?

Unless and until, the Labour Government and the Whitehall bureaucracy, at the senior level at which Richard Jackson worked at, can demonstrate a real change in attitude and culture to our data security and privacy concerns, they simply cannot be trusted with national scale databases of our personal data.

This case contrasts sharply with the Official Secrets Act trial of Corporal Daniel James, a foreign born interpreter who worked for General David Richards in Afghanistan, who has now been promoted to be head of the British Army.

Despite the much more severe risk to UK anti-terrorism and national security, which Richard Jackson's negligence or arrogance put at risk, he has not been vilified in the mainstream media or by the prosecution, in court, like the Iranian born Corporal Daniel James has.

It is worth reading the blog articles by Michael James Smith, who has an insider's perspective of machinations in such Official Secrets Act cases, having served time in prison after having been convicted of passing technical defence contractor documents to the KGB in 1993, which he is trying to have overturned. He has actually visited and interviewed Daniel James in Wandsworth prison (what are the chances that this prison visit was electronically snooped on ? )

See Daniel James - the sacrificial lamb

The prosecution case against Corporal Daniel James appears to rest on 7 unencrypted emails between Daniel James and the Iranian military attache in Kabul, Afghanistan, which must have been intercepted whilst he was back in the United Kingdom, awaiting a return to duty.

Presumably these are therefore US government intercepts of UK email communications, being used in a British civilian court case, something which is forbidden by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 section 17 Exclusion of matterd from legal proceedings,

This has implications for the ongoing Chilcot Review of Intercept Evidence - see the Spy Blog article Privy Council Chilcot Review report on Intercept Evidence - more ***

It also has implications for Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's totalitarian Communications Data Bill and her attempts to piggyback a secret centralised communications data traffic database onto the GCHQ Intercept Modernisation Programme.

Meanwhile, there does not appear to be any prosecution over the incident which emerged a few days after the Richard Jackson stupidity, also involving HM Treasury and sensitive terrorist financing and money laundering documents, also left on a train:

See the previous Spy Blog article: Terrorist financing and money laundering Treasury documents left on a train - time for Whitehall mandarins and Ministerial heads to roll

Is this because a favoured political apparatchik was the culprit ?

Regular readers of Spy Blog will not be surprised by any of the revelations in tonight's BBC TV Panorama documentary, BBC1 8.30pm, You can run... but can you hide? which illustrates how easy it is for your personal data privacy and security to be abused, by supposedly trustworthy Government and Corporate authorised insiders, who sell or carelessly give out your data.

Perhaps some of the politically active tv audience may just start to question the Labour government's betrayal of our individual rights to the security and privacy of our personal data.

Icelanders are NOT Terrorists !

| | Comments (4)

The bungling Labour Government and Gordon Brown's mis-handling of banking and financial market regulation, as Chancellor and as Prime Minister, makes him personally at least as much to blame as anybody else on the planet, for the current international financial and banking crisis of of confidence. Even when the financial markets sort themselves out, there will be long lasting damage to the international reputation of Gordon Brown, and, unfortunately, also to that of United Kingdom.

There is a recent recent Hollywood film called How to Lose Friends & Alienate People , and that is exactly what Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling have managed to do to our friends and allies, in the strategically vital country of Iceland.

Icelanders_are_NOT_terrorists_banner_300.jpg

Icelanders are not terrorists

Help us stop abuse of the Anti-terrorism Act

Gordon Brown unjustifiably used the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 against the people of Iceland for his own short-term political gain. This has turned a grave situation into a national disaster, affecting families in both Iceland and the United Kingdom. Help us avert greater damage by signing this petition now.

See Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 Part 2 Freezing Orders

On Wednesday October 8th, the British Government invoked Anti-terrorist legislation, which was in effect aimed at the people of Iceland. This devastating attack on our society was received with disbelief here in Iceland. The people of Iceland have always considered themselves great friends of the United Kingdom. Our nations have a long history of mutually beneficial trade and have been close allies in NATO and Europe.

Hour by hour and day by day the actions of the British government are indiscriminately obliterating Icelandic interests all over the world and, in so doing, diminishing the assets that could be used to reimburse depositors with Icelandic banks in the United Kingdom and Iceland. The government's actions are also endangering the future of nearly all Icelandic companies and of the entire nation, in addition to over 100,000 employees of British companies with Icelandic connections. In this regard we would like to stress that the Icelandic authorities have always maintained their intention to honour their obligations in this matter, contrary to claims made by Chancellor Alistair Darling and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

In these trying times, it is vital that we all work together to meet the troubles that lie ahead. We cannot let leaders, like Gordon Brown, destroy the long-term relations of our nations for their own short-term political gain. Mr. Brown would never have reacted to the collapse of a bank from a larger and more powerful nation by tarnishing its people as terrorists and criminals.

We, the people of Iceland, ask you, our friends from the United Kingdom and elsewhere, to join us in the common cause of ending diplomatic hostilities between the Icelandic and UK governments. It is our hope that this will stop the unnecessary economic damage on both sides, so that we can start to rebuild and make amends.

Sign the on-line petition

The Government media spin line is that somehow the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 is not just "anti0terrorism" legislation, but that is not how it was sold to Parliament and the public at the time, with worthless promises of safeguards by Ministers, who did not actually amend the detailed text of the legislation accordingly, a political trick which has been used time after time by this Government and its torrent of complicated repressive legislation.

The toothless Intelligence and Security Committee, tried, in producing their Annual report for 2004 / 2005 (.pdf), to get a single, coherent definition of "the Economic Well-being of the United Kingdom", which is one of the vague definitions of "National Security", in various bits of legislation.

They failed in this seemingly simple task - each Whitehall department and agency seems to have its own slightly different definition (most of which are kept secret from the public).

Some of you may remember the empty promises made by Gordon Brown back in July,

The proposals published in this green paper, 'The Governance of Britain', seek to address two fundamental questions: how should we hold power accountable, and how should we uphold and enhance the rights and responsibilities of the citizen?

See : 'The Governance of Britain (.pdf 63 pages)

There is a Chapter called:

2. Making the executive more accountable

Paragraphs 89 to 96 promised to reform, ever so slightly, the secretive and defective (in terms of public scrutiny and transparency) Intelligence and Security Committee of "experienced" Parliamentarians.

This supposedly keeps a democratic check on GCHQ, the Secret Intelligence Service MI6, the Security Service MI5, and the Defence Intelligence Staff, and perhaps the Serious Organised Crime Agency SOCA, with the occasional mention of what used to be regional Police "Special Branch" units and the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, through the totally inadequate mechanism of a heavily censored Annual Report, which the House of Commons cannot even be bothered to debate every 12 months.

The ISC does not seem to bother to scrutinise other intelligence gathering and snooping organisations such UK military Special Forces e.g. the SAS or the Special Reconnaissance Regiment etc. or the ACPO National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (who concentrate on animal rights extremists and on environmental and peace camp demonstrators), or any of the Treasury's terrorist finance financial snooping and asset freezing units, or HM Revenue and Customs etc. It does not scrutinise any of the European Union intelligence agencies to which the UK is signed up to e.g. Eurojust, Frontex , Europol or SitCen etc. It does nothing to question the supposed "special relationship" with United States intelligence agencies.

There is no evidence whatsoever of any reform at all, given that a new Labour chairman of the Committee i.e. Yet Another Ex-Minister, has been been appointed by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, without any public hearings, consultation or debate.

Written Ministerial Statements Tuesday, 21 October 2008

21 Oct 2008 : Column 8WS

Prime Minister
Intelligence and Security Committee

The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): In accordance with section 10 of the Intelligence and Security Act 1994, I have appointed my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Kim Howells) to be the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) for her distinguished leadership of the Committee in providing effective and independent parliamentary oversight of the work of the Security and Intelligence Agencies.

Will we see Kim Howells grilling the Ian Lobban, the newly appointed Director of GCHQ and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, over her attempts to subvert this obviously necessary investment in new equipment for GCHQ under the Intercept Modernisation Programme, and to sneak in a democratically and judicially unaccountable secret data mining database of all Communication Traffic Data in the UK, thereby spying on millions of innocent British citizens, thereby circumventing the existing, audit trails and weak safeguards under the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 ?


Just a reminder that the remaining Committee stages of the dreadful Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008, being debated in the House of Lords today, still contain plenty of things which should not be allowed onto the statute book. e.g.

The Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008 Clause 83 Offences relating to information about members of armed forces etc.

UPDATE: this clause has now been re-numbered to be Clause 75, in the version of the Bill which goes forward to the Report stage in the House of Lords.

(1) After section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (c. 11) (collection of information)

insert--

"58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc

(1) A person commits an offence who--

(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been--

(i) a member of Her Majesty's forces,
(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or
(iii) a constable,

Why are all police constables covered by this ?

Why not current and former Judges, prosecutors and prison warders ?

Why are witnesses not "protected" in this way either ?

which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or

(b) publishes or communicates any such information.

(2) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section
to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for their action.

Why should you have to prove that you are innocent ? It should be the prosecution who have to prove that you are guilty.

The increasingly common "reverse burden of proof" evil, which the Home Office keeps inflicting on everyone - they really do not like the traditional "golden thread" of English justice, that of "Innocent until proven guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, on actual evidence", do they ?

Surely this will have a chilling effect on journalists , bloggers and biography writers etc. ?

Will the study of military history be illegal ?

All the senior members of the Royal Family are current or former military officers. Will the vast publishing and media industry which surrounds them now be deemed to be illegal ?

It is likely that this law will be used by petty jobsworths, to try to harass anyone who takes a photograph of any military , or police personnel.

Since it also covers former members of the armed forces, surely this will chill any reporting of, or even the organisation of, Remembrance Sunday / Poppy Appeal memorial parades and events etc ?

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable--

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to a fine, or to both;

(b) on summary conviction--

(i) in England and Wales or Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;

(ii) in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.

(4) In this section "the intelligence services" means the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ (within the meaning of section 3 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 (c. 13)).

[...]"

Why is any of this necessary given the "thought crime" over broadness of the existing Terrorism Act 2000 section 58, which has been used to convict Abu Bakr Mansha to 6 years in prison, for the possession of a single, out of date address of a serving British soldier ?

Given the hundreds of thousands of military names, addresses and other personal details which have been lost or stolen recently, what use is this clause 83 in practice ?

See the previous Spy Blog article: Counter-Terrorism Bill Clause 83 - chilling effect on reporting or speculation about military or intelligence service or police personnel ?

How long does it take to list the obvious impracticality and totalitarian evil of the idea of inflicting "identity checks" on the purchases of mobile phones and some sort of vague, inherently insecure registration plan for the 40 million or so unregistered prepaid mobile phones in the UK, as "leaked" or briefed, in today's Sunday Times article Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones ?

Try it and see, and then compare your list with the many valid, reasonable objections, raised in the informed comments on the NO2ID Campaign's discussion forum: Times: Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones

We will eventually get around to fisking Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's Communications Data Bill and dodgy history of terrorism speech, but here is another "database state" function creep announcement:

It appears that Northgate Information Solutions, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Lothian & Borders Police, regarding some sort of Automatic Number Plate Recognition data mining service. This is not some enhanced add on anlysis software package simply for use internally, to help the Police make sense of the masses of ANPR data which they are collecting, the vast makority of which is on innocent motorists.

This deal follows the recommendation by Sir Ronnie Flanagan in his final report that police forces should ensure they are taking an entrepreneurial approach to policing in ethical income generation and in creating and exploiting business opportunities.

Examples of how the new service can be used include -

• Several robberies have occurred in a region - the services can be used to establish what vehicles were in the vicinity, allowing further investigations to be undertaken including direct access to the regional force crime and intelligence systems to establish what is known about these vehicles;

• An incident involving a vehicle has occurred and the police have nothing to go on other than the make, model and colour of the vehicle. Using the services the police can establish which registrations match with this make, model and colour and which of these have been spotted in the vicinity of the incident.

The vast majority of these vehicles and registrations in these two example scenarios will be of innocent drivers.

Presumably Northgate Information Services are hoping to sell this service, and the raw data and data mining analyses, including the traffic movements of innocent people caught by the ANPR surveillance infrastructure, to other Police Forces or other Governments or commercial companies, for a commercial profit, without the informed prior consent of any of the innocent motorists.

Northgate Information Systems used be McDonnell Douglas Information Systems. and are still American owned.They do a lot of business with central and local government, and had some of the Government websites and servers which they run, including the offical Labour Party website whisch they hosted at the time, disrupted by the massive Buncefield fuel depot fire and explosion near Hemel Hempstead, literally across the road from some of their offices.

See the Northgate Information Systems Press release Police forces across the UK to benefit from innovative new intelligence service:


Do you trust Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, not to further encroach on our freedoms or liberties whenever possible ?

Her record in office to date, is at least as bad as her notorious Labour predecessors as Home Secretary, therefore we are worried by this announcement of some forthcoming "guidance" to the Police:

Written answers Tuesday, 14 October 2008 Home Department Terrorism: Stop and Search

Dominic Grieve (Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers; Beaconsfield, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance her Department has given to the police on the exercise of their power under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to stop and search those taking photographs in public places.

Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary; Redditch, Labour)

Guidance on stop and search powers under section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 was issued by the Home Office in Home Office Circular 038/2004 on 1 July 2004 covering the authorisations for the use of the power.

Operational guidance on the use of section 44 stop and search powers was issued by the National Policing Improvement Agency and the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2006.

Following a commitment given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in October 2007, the operational guidance issued to the police on section 44 is currently being reviewed by the Home Office, the police, community groups and other stakeholders. The National Police Improvement Agency will issue revised guidance to all police forces in November. This will cover the taking of photographs in public places, although the general position is that there is no legal restriction on photography in such places.

At a guess, this "guidance" will not appear before the Glenrothes by-election on 6th November, because of the Labour government's usual attempts at political media spin and news propaganda management.

Before we try to decipher Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's speech which she made on Wednesday, there are a couple of clues to some more potential repression of innocent people, which she seems to be endorsing in the near future.

In the perfunctory "going through the motions without actually informing Parliament of any details", Ministerial Statement on her "informal" meeting with a select few of her European Union police and "security" Ministers, the so called G6 group, together with the USA.

This supposedly "informal" G6 group usually seem to manage to "policy launder" their decisions via the wider, full membership of the European Union, and then they can pretend that their latest Orwellian control fantasy which they are inflicting on our freedoms and liberties, has somehow been imposed on them by the EU, and is necessary to meet "international commitments", even though they themselves instigated the original policy.

Why the US Government gets a say in such European Union policy making, is a mystery - there is certainly no reciprocal vetting or influencing of US Federal laws and policies, by the European Union, is there ?

Written Ministerial Statements Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Home Department G6 and United States Counter-Terrorism Symposium

Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary; Redditch, Labour)

The informal G6 group of Interior Ministers from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom met in Bonn, Germany on 26 and 27 September 2008, along with the United States State Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This was the third G6 plus US counter-terrorism symposium meeting (previous meetings took place in Venice in May 2007 and Schwielowsee in November to December 2007). I attended on behalf of the United Kingdom.

The symposium was divided into four substantive discussion sessions:

[...]

remote searches of computer hard drives;

[...]

Is this a further development of what the German government has been attempting recently ?

Presumably this involves intrusive access to remote computers, by means of some sort of spyware, computer virus, trojan horse backdoor etc., or by on the fly deep packet inspection and sniffing of passwords or other security credentials,

Officious or corrupt bureaucrats will, presumably, be made exempt from criminal prosecution, or from having to pay financial compensation for disruption or loss of legitimate business, or the invasion of the privacy of innocent people, simply by uttering the magic spells "national security" or "for the prevention, detection or prosecution of crime" etc.

Remember that we do not have any Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution style protection against unlawful searches, the results of which are then not admissible in court as being "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree"

A Ministerial Written Statement confirms the story in The Sun, and our speculation that it was the TAFMIS (Training Administration and Financial Management Information System) database which has been lost, yet again:

See the previous Spy Blog article - The Sun: MoD data on 1m is missing - EDS again

13 Oct 2008 : Column 28WS
Data Security


Hat tip to David Mery, for spotting this before us:

The Court of Appeal has recently ruled on a case involving the Regulation of Investigatory powers Act 2000 Part III Investigation of electronic data protected by encryption etc section 49 notices and section 53 prosecutions regarding law enforcement access to encryption keys or forcing the hand over of de-crypted material etc.

The British and Irish Legal Information Institute has now published the text of the recent Court of Appeal ruling which upholds that a refusal to hand over your secret decryption keys, after being served with a RIPA section 49 notice, does not attract the limited legal protections against self incrimination i.e. the appellants can be prosecuted under RIPA section 53 for refusing to hand over their decryption keys or the unencrypted files:

S & Anor, R. v [2008] EWCA Crim 2177 (09 October 2008)

"Furthermore, by way of emphasis, we can see no possible ground for a successful application that the prosecution under section 53 of RIPA should be stopped as an abuse of process."

The Court of Appeal takes the view that simply handing over your encryption key is not an admission of guilt, and that if the de-crypted material is innocent, then you have nothing to fear.

If the encrypted material was something which was hard to misinterpret e.g. a simple financial transaction, we might agree,

However, we disagree, when the encrypted material, as in this case, will be potentially misinterpreted according to the subjective interpretation and prejudices of police officers and prosecutors, in this case under the "thought crime" Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 collection of information which has the catch all wording:

(a) he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism,

This also goes for any encrypted data which may or may not be considered "obscene" in the opinion of a particular police constable.

Media reports about the Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008, currently being debated in the House of Lords, seem to be focussed exclusively on the 42 days internment without charge issue, which may or may not be dropped by the obstinate, unelected, Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The Labour Home Office Minister, former naval Admiral, and military intelligence chief, Lord West of Spithead, attempted to defend the indefensible:

9 Oct 2008 : Column 350

Lord West of Spithead (Labour)

[...]

We have to be careful that we do not move towards a Big Brother-type society. I know that the Committee is conscious of that; I certainly am when I am sitting at my desk in the Home Office looking at these issues.

The Orwellian doublethink of this Labour Government, and of their security bureaucrats, apparatchiki and political commissars is always evident when they shy away from the accusation of creating a Big Brother surveillance society, whilst simultaneously plunging ahead with creating exactly the omnipresent surveillance and snooping infrastructure which forms the foundation of such a society.

According to the novel, doublethink is:

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies -- all this is indispensably necessary.

Lord West then went on to use a weasel worded bait and switch justification, that the proposed Clause 19 Disclosure and the intelligence services powers, regarding DNA samples and analyses and databases, used for Counter Terrorism, which are currently not "on a firm legal footing" i.e. are actually illegal, should be made legal, to allow DNA checks and sharing with foreign intelligence agencies DNA samples e.g. those found at "terrorist training camps".

The "bait and switch" is that this Counter-terrorism Bill grants powers under Clause 18 Material not subject to existing statutory restrictions which are not strictly limited to terrorism investigations, but are generally applicable all crime, no matter how petty.

18 Material not subject to existing statutory restrictions

[...]

2 (b) for purposes related to the prevention or detection of crime, the
investigation of an offence or the conduct of a prosecution, or

[...]

Lord West went on to say:

Lords Hansard 9 Oct 2008 : Column 396

According to The Sun, the UK Ministry of Defence appears to have lost Yet Another Unencrypted Hard Disk With Over a Million Sensitive Personal Data Records on it.

MoD data on 1m is missing

By TOM NEWTON DUNN
Defence Editor

The Sun
Friday 10th October 2008

A COMPUTER hard-drive with 1.6million pieces of personal data about the armed forces is missing, The Sun can reveal.

Up to one million people could be affected by the scandal.

The names and private details of around 100,000 serving personnel -- half the armed forces -- are believed to be on the drive.

There are also next-of-kin details, 600,000 potential services applicants and the names of their referees.

The data can be used to steal the IDs of servicemen and women on the frontline. It is the worst information security breach to hit the MoD. And it is the second largest ever for the Government since the Datagate scandal last year when the Inland Revenue lost the details of 25million people.

Here we go again. See the Spy Blog category archive - MoD security and privacy breach

Incompetence or malicious "data traitors" ?

It is believed the hard-drive was NOT encrypted.

After the previous data security and privacy scandals, and after Sir Edmund Burton's Review into the MoD recruitment laptop theft scandal, why was this not properly encrypted ?

New Defence Secretary John Hutton was last night "spitting with anger" about the loss, which affects all ranks across the Army, Royal Navy and RAF.

The drive includes passport numbers, addresses, dates of birth, driving licence details, names and contact numbers for family doctors and dentists, and religion groups. Officials admitted there is probably a "small amount" of troops' bank account details.

The hard-drive belonged to the MoD's main IT contractor EDS and was used by the firm -- based in Hook, Hants -- to test MoD computer equipment.

What possible testing requires a full copy of the live personnel database rather than synthetic test data ?

The drive was discovered missing on Wednesday -- but it could have disappeared weeks ago.

A source close to Mr Hutton said: "John believes it is a breach of trust which forces' personnel put in the ministry. EDS's contract will be examined and, if necessary, heads will roll."

An MoD spokesman last night confirmed the loss.

t.newtondunn@the-sun.co.uk

The fact the EDS are involved again, and the amount of data involved, we suspect that this is another copy of the previous, unencrypted TAFMIS-R(H)SQL database on a laptop computer hard drive, which was stolen from a parked vehicle in Birmingham back in January 2008.

We wonder if any of this data has been handed over or sold to the various Private Military Contractor companies who recruit former UK military service personnel.

Given what has already happened, there should also be an Official Secrets Act 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of information prosecution, not just of the EDS defence contractor staff but of the Ministry of Defence managers who have failed again to protect such valuable and potentially life threatening data..

It looks as if the combined efforts of the WhatDoTheyKnow.com FOIA request submission and tracking website, together with the interest in the topic shown by the BBC Radio 4 iPM programme - Share What They Know?, has eventually resulted in the disclosure of the "missing" Statutory Code Of Practice, which is supposed to regulate the infinite powers under the Serious Crime Act 2007, for public authorities to share your personal sensitive data, without your prior informed consent, with private sector "specified anti-fraud organisations".

See our previous blig article The next Home Office data security and privacy disaster ? Sharing all our financial details with private sector "specified anti-fraud organisations"

See our resulting FOIA request via the WhatDoTheyKnow.com website:

Home Office - latest copy or draft of the Serious Crime Act 2007 Code of practice for disclosure of information to prevent fraud

The actual Code of Practice is available from the WhatDoTheyKnow.com website entitled:

Data Sharing for the Prevention of Fraud (.pdf 277Kb)

Code of practice for public authorities disclosing
information to a specified anti-fraud organisation under
sections 68 to 72 of the Serious Crime Act 2007

Incredibly, in spite of all the recent lost sensitive private data scandals, this Code of Practice, which has been partly written by the Information Commissioner's Office, somehow manages not to make a single mention of strong encryption !

Surely the mandatory use of strong encryption should be clearly spelled out in this Code of Practice, instead of vague weasel words like

having agreed, secure methods for transferring data;

which have failed so spectacularly at HM Revenue and Customs or the Ministry of Defence in the last year or so ?

There is no clue as to why, when the Code of Practice was presented to Parliament on their return from the Summer recess, on Monday 6th October, but the accompanying Statutory Instrument came into force on 1st October.

Why could the Home Office not have made the legal powers only come into force at the same time, or after the publication of the Code of Practice has been discussed in public and in Parliament ?

Were they planning to dither and prevaricate and not bother publishing this weak Code of Practice for several months longer ?

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's desperate attempt to save his political career by playing musical chairs with his inept crew of Ministers is being ignored somewhat by the main TV broadcast media.

Neither the BBC News 24 nor Sky News have given this Cabinet Re-Shuffle story their top billing, and have concentrated on the twice disgraced Peter Mandleson, who oozes back to his former job at the Ministry of Trade and Industry , subsequently re-branded misleadingly as BERR, the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform.

Our main fear about this is that if someone as loathed as Mandleson is brought back into the Cabinet despite having resigned from it in disgrace not once, but twice, then the same might happen to the equally hated and controversial David Blunkett, who is also a multiple offender against the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

The Home Office sees the departure of Tony McNulty to become Minister of State (Employment), Department for Work and Pensions, and Minister for London

Who will replace him as Minister of State for Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing at the Home Office ?

Given the number of Home Office scandals which he has had more than a hand in as the responsible Minister of State (Prisons, Immigration, Policing, ant-terror hyoe etc) , it is remarkable that he is still a Minister.

Similarly Liam Byrne moves to the Cabinet Office as Minister for the Cabinet Office; and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Who will replace him as Minister of State for Borders and Immigration at the Home Office in charge of the ill fated e-Passports and the wretched National Identity Register and ID card schemes ?

Good riddance to both of them.

Bring back the veteran Margaret Beckett to be Minister of State (Housing), Department for Communities and Local Government now leaves a vacancy for the Chair of the supposedly independent Intelligence and Security Committee, which is alleged to scrutinise the Security Service MI5, the Secret Intelligence Service MI6, the Government Communications Headquarters and GCHQ and the Defence Intelligence Staff etc. (but not the Serious Organised Crime Agency SOCA or the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Command).

Des Browne, who failings on adequate provision of equipment to the British military forces, and his public relations disasters over the cuts to Scottish Regiments, his non-attendance at a war memorial service, the mockery made of the Royal Navy by the Iranians, and the Ministry of Defence's incredible data security bungles on his watch as the Minister responsible, and his previous tainted association with steering the controversial Identity Cards Act 2006 through Parliament,

Lord Drayson seems to come back from his motor racing sabbatical, to become Minister of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, something which presumably leaves his former post as Minister of State for Defence Procurement at the Ministry of Defence now vacant.

Perhaps the planned defence cuts are such that Gordon Brown is not bothering with a Defence Procurement Minister ?

Who seriously believes that there is less "cyber crime" in the United Kingdom in 2008 than there was back in 2001 ?

Presumably the Home Office does, given its announcement of the paltry £3.5 million over three years funding which they are spending on the new Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU - hardly a memorable acronym),

See the Home Office Press release: New £7m specialist e-crime unit launches

Note the misleading headline figure of "£7 million" which is really only £3.5 million spread over 3 years, with the rest of the sum coming from the existing Metropolitan Police Service's Computer Crime Unit.

The PCeU will receive £3.5M of Government funding and £3.9M from the Metropolitan Police Service over three years

Who would have thought that Jack Straw's £25 million (again over 3 years) back in 2001, which set up the now defunct National Hi Tech Crime Unit would seem to be more generous ?

See:

A copy of the NHTCU launch press release via Cyber Rights 18 April 2001 Launch of the United Kingdom's first National Hi-Tech Crime Unit

Spy Blog article from 2006: Serious Organised Crime Agency website launch signals a very low priority for Computer Crime

Parliamentary Written Answers on NHTCU and SOCA budgets and manpower:

At least as important as the (lack) of funding for this new Unit, is how accessible and accountable it actually is to the general public and businesses.

We are not holding our breath to see if they launch a highly secure, highly available and informative website, with encrypted web form and email and 24/7 "real person who at least understands the technical jargon" phone line crime reporting and advice communications channels,

It looks as if other IT security professionals are similarly unimpressed - see this Silicon.com report Can £7m dent £105bn cyber crime menace?

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