November 2008 Archives

Some people refer to the unpopular Labour Government as "New Labour" or "NuLabour", or, to draw parallels with the evil dictatorship of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe as "ZANU Labour".

Most people with an interest in politics in the UK take this joke / mild insult in their stride, but surely even members of the Labour party must feel scared by the news that the Conservative MP Damian Green, their frontbench Home Affairs spokesman on Immigration, has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police, and has had his homes and offices searched, including his office at the Palace of Westminster, by "Counter Terrorism Police".

Counter-terrorism police arrest Conservative frontbencher

The police action followed the arrest 10 days ago of a government employee who had allegedly leaked four documents to Green, who in turn passed them to the press. They were:

• A home office memo, which appeared in the Daily Mail on 13 November 2007, which showed that the home secretary Jacqui Smith had been warned four months earlier that thousands of illegal immigrants had been cleared to work in sensitive Whitehall security jobs. The memo emerged days after the Sunday Mirror disclosed that at least 5,000 illegal immigrants had been cleared by the Security Industry Authority to work sensitive Whitehall locations.

• An email to the then home office minister Liam Byrne in February this year which showed that he was informed about an illegal Brazilian immigrant who faked an identity pass to working parliament. The memo, which was published in the Sunday Telegraph on 10 February this year, said Byrne was informed on 31 January. Byrne was accused of a cover up.

• A list of Labour MPs who were likely to rebel against the government's plans to detain terror suspects for up to 42 days without charge. This appeared in the Sunday Times on 20 April 2008.

• A letter from Jacqui Smith to Gordon Brown warning that a recession would lead to a rise in crime. This appeared in will papers, including the Guardian, on 1 September this year.

None of these stories involved any breach of security, only political embarrassment for the incompetent Labour party politicians.

The BBC in that intensely annoying way of theirs, have almost completely re-written their report of this story, but kept the URL the same Senior Tory arrested over leaks - new window">Senior Tory arrested over leaks

They quote a statement from the Metropolitan Police Service (which does not, of course, appear on the Met's website):

"The investigation into the alleged leak of confidential government material followed the receipt by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of a complaint from the Cabinet Office.

"The decision to make today's arrest was taken solely by the MPS without any ministerial knowledge or approval."

There was no need to waste scarce "Counter Terrorism Police" resources on this blatantly political investigation. Are ordinary Policemen no longer capable of searching an office ?

It is irrelevant whether or not Gordon Brown or any other senior Labour politicians were aware of Thursday's arrest beforehand, or not, they are to blame politically.

This affair also reflects badly on Sir Paul Stephenson, the deputy to Sir Ian Blair, who is taking over as Acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. If he is seen to be continuing Sir Ian Blair's NuLabour political policing style, then he must not be allowed to be promoted into that job full time.

We strongly suggest that any other Home Office or Treasury etc. whistleblowers, and any investigative journalists, bloggers or opposition politicians should read our Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Activists - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers

Some Obvious Questions:

Why is it that our politicians, both in the UK and in the rest of Europe, seem to be so weak, that they have allowed themselves to be manipulated by the terrorist threat, and vested securocrat interests, to weaken our fundamental freedoms and liberties, without any noticeable gain in actual security. ?

Privacy International have a new report on the "effects of new counter-terrorism laws on media and free expression rights in European countries".

Speaking of Terror: A survey of the effects of counter-terrorism legislation on freedom of the media in Europe (.pdf)

Contents

Executive summary, page 3
I. Introduction, page 5
II. Effects of international bodies on Council of Europe member states, page 7
United Nations, page 7
The Council of Europe, page 8
The European Union, page 10
III. Limits on access and gathering information, page 13
Access to Information Laws, page 13
State Secrets Legislation, page 15
Limits on Photography, page 17
IV. Limits on freedom of expression, page 19
V. Protection of journalists' sources and materials, page 25
VI. Wiretapping and surveillance of journalists, page 29
VII. Conclusion, page 35
VIII. Appendix, page 37
Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council
of Europe on protecting freedom of expression and
information in times of crisis, page 37
Declaration on freedom of expression and information
in the media in the context of the fight against
terrorism, page 40

Summary of findings:

Tony Blair and phone security

| | Comments (1)

ABC News in the USA has a whistleblower story: Whistleblower: U.S. Snooped on Tony Blair, Iraqi President

Initially this whistleblower David Murfee Faulk alleged illegal snooping on the phone calls of innocent US citizens, including journalists and the families of US soldiers serving in Iraq. He has worked as a US Army Arabic language translator at the National Security Agency "Black Hall" listening post at Fort Gordon, Georgia, before becoming a local news reporter. These allegations have been taken seriously enough for a US Congressional investigation into them to have been started.

He claims that he had access to a secret database called Anchory, formerly known as the SIGINT Online Intelligence System i.e. a signald intelligence database run by the National Security Agency.

Given that the British press are following the ABC News scoop, it is sad to see them getting simple details from the original wrong:

The Daily Mail has spoiled its report of the story with the following inaccuracy and misspelling:

Mr Blair was given the code named "Anchory" as his private telephone calls were routinely listened into and recorded.

The Daily Telegraph and the Press Association reports do not make that mistake, although somehow The Guardian's headline to the syndicated PA story more accurately describes him as an "ex-Navy Operator", (see the previous ABC News report which describes him as a "former Navy Arab linguist") even though the PA story text says "US Army Arabic linguist"

Such simple errors call into question the accuracy of the rest of these stories, and of these mainstream media organisations as a whole.

These UK media reports , whilst bemoaning some alleged "unwritten rule" about not spying on allies, miss the obvious question of how it was technically possible for anyone to intercept the phone communications of a British Prime Minister, no matter who they are.

  • Is Gordon Brown's mobile phone or voicemail also being intercepted by the US National Security Agency ?

  • How much UK mobile phone and landline and internet traffic is currently being handed over in bulk to the US National Security Agency by UK Government agencies like GCHQ ?

  • Is the United Kingdom's GCHQ intercepting President Bush or President-Elect Barack Obama's mobile phones ?

  • If GCHQ and the Whitehall securocats securocrats cannot even keep information of a "personal nature" about a British Prime Minister's "private life" out of the clutches of foreign intelligence agency phone interception systems, then why should they be trusted with the massive Communications Traffic Data centralised database, which Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is planning to inflict on tens of millions of innocent British people ?

The BNP Membership List publication affair demonstrates how blogs and internet web sites can be 2 or 3 days ahead of the mainstream media regarding some news stories.

We have been getting tens of thousands of visitors to our 21st December 2006 article:

Encryption and the BNP membership list - does your political party or campaign group protect your personal details with encryption ?

commenting on the laudable use of encryption by the BNP of their membership list details, something which is, obviously in this case, still vulnerable to betrayal by a privileged insider, just like so many UK Government centralised national databases are, despite the weasel words from the Labour party politicians..

We have been getting thousands of search engine queries, and actual , obviously fruitless blog search button searches for terms such as "bnp membership list", "bnp members list", "bnp member list", "bnp list", "bnp membership" etc., which have been growing exponentially for the last 3 days or so.

The alleged list is available online elsewhere, but obviously not here on this data privacy and security campaigning blog e.g. try the WikiLeakS.org controversial whistleblower website in Sweden, which, yet again, seems to have been overloaded by the mainstream media hyped demand for a voyeuristic peek at something illegal or forbidden, or Cryptome.org

  • How many of the alleged December 2007 BNP members are actually still in the party, after all the scandals and splits in the last year ?

  • Are there fake entries which have been added maliciously to these internet published versions of the alleged list ?

  • Have there been some sneaky deletions of certain members details ? The media reports give widely varying numbers of records on the alleged lists.

  • Is the BNP actually benefiting from the "oxygen of publicity" ?

  • Will these names and addresses now be added in to Hazel Blears' "community tension monitoring" databases ? see Hazel Blears and Sergeant Flanderka - "tension monitoring" i.e. snooping on local communities

  • Will the membership lists of other UK political parties and organisations now be "leaked" onto the internet ?

  • Will any such lists be used as target lists for "hate crimes" and discrimination, or even "sectarian violence", "ethnic cleansing" and genocide, as has happened in the past around the world, and in Northern Ireland ?

  • Will organisations which run such a list or database of personal details, urgently review the technical security barriers and human personnel aspects of their data security and privacy operations, or will they sit back complacently in the belief that such a data privacy breach "could never happen here" ?

Those lovers of awful Orwellian control architecture, the Home Office, which festered for years in the creepy, brutal and impractical 50 Queen Anne's Gate buildings, with their notorious heating and ventilation systems. have set up a Competition for Architects and Designers:

Home Office launches counter terrorism competition for design students

It is easy to partially protect buildings for the elite, against suicide truck bomb attacks, through the use of ancient fortification techniques like moats and a raised piano nobile - which were originally designed against ancient or medieval battering rams and rioting mobs of peasants.

Many drab Government or Corporate buildings feature lots of reinforced concrete, small toughened safety glass windows, net curtains (with a large amount of slack at the bottom to gather up flying debris) etc., and vast numbers of intimidating or sneaky CCTV cameras, but to protect large crowds of the hoi polloi, is an altogether much more difficult task.

The actual competition brief is available from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, commonly known as the RSA.

Public spaces, safer places - designing in counter terrorism (.pdf)

A project for students of architecture and design

Developed in collaboration between the Home Office and NaCTSO (National Counter Terrorism Security Office), the RSA and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), this project aims to draw attention to the issues of security and counter-terrorism in the process of designing places visited and used by the public.

[...]

The Project Brief seems to be rather unrealistic

Two suicide PBIEDs and two suicide VBIEDs were deployed in Vincent Square, a piazza full of people enjoying lunch on a warm, sunny day. One VBIED was able to enter the front atrium of an office block facing onto the piazza. The resulting blast caused the building to collapse. The two PBIEDs were detonated within the crowd of people on the piazza and the second VBIED managed to get close to a building but was unable to penetrate it. Although there was extensive damage to the building it did not collapse

Not even the largest Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices have managed to penetrate a building atrium and collapse a modern building in recent years e.g. neither.the US Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983, nor the Baltic Exchange in City of London in 1992, nor the Arndale Centre in Manchester in 1996, nor the London Docklands South Quay attack in 1996, nor the very recent the Marriott Hotel bomb last month in Islamabad Pakistan.

Buildings which did suffer collapsed floors e.g. the FBI building in Oklahoma City in 1995 either had car parking access under the building or collapsed after subsequent fires. Even a bomb in an underground car park right up against the structural supports in not guaranteed to cause a building collapse - the World Trade Center in New York survived such an attack in 1993.

N.B. the current chief executive of the RSA, is the notorious Mathew Taylor, the NuLabour apparatchik who was Tony Blair's "chief political advisor", who verbally attacked the UK political blogosphere, but somehow now publishes his partisan Labour party political thoughts on his own blog which is, inappropriately hosted, on the Royal Society of Arts website.

Will anyone researching an entry for this competition, who takes photos of public buildings and their existing anti-terrorism "features", be harassed by jobsworths in the current "War on Photographers" ?

Will anyone researching an entry for this competition who does some proper calculations and research into bomb resistant materials, designs and techniques, be arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 collection of information "thought crime" law ?

Will the winners of this competition be snapped by companies competing for the planned new replacement for the "prize winning architect" designed US Embassy in Grosvenor Square ?.

Apart from retaining the Communications Traffic Data on millions of innocent people (with plans for even more extensive snooping under the Communications Data Bill), and admitting to the electronic bugging of Member of Parliament Sadiq Khan (now a junior Government Minister) when visiting his constituent Babar Ahmad (who has not been charged with any offence in the UK, but is awaiting extradition to the USA, without any prima facie evidence having been brought against him in a UK court) in prison, what has this labour government done about the ongoing scandal of thousands of mobile phones in Prisons ?

See Spy Blog: Thousands of Mobile Phones seized in UK Prisons - evidence of corruption ?

What has Jack Straw and his Prisons Minister David Hanson, who made vague promises to the BBC, actually done about this scandal in the last year ?

The 2007 - 2008 Independent Monitoring Board annual report for Wandsworth prison (.pdf), which holds the largest number of prisoners in the UK, makes dismal reading in this regard.

Access to mobile phones:

- For the past three years in this report we have asked the Home Office and then the Ministry of Justice to implement an effective jamming system to curtail the use of mobile phones. We have been promised that trials are taking place but nothing is happening in the large Local prisons to jam the use of mobile phones. Within Wandsworth it is estimated that the drugs trade would be halved if phones were jammed. As with drugs mobile phones are very freely available within HMP Wandsworth. Last year 307 were found and the numbers being found in the first six months of this year show an alarming increase. Phones are not just used to drive the drugs trade in Wandsworth. We have seen a phone seized by Security which had the most graphic and violent images taken in another prison, including forced sex and stabbings. With the possession of mobile phones within prisons now being a criminal offence we look forward to the Police taking a more active role in arresting and charging those found with mobile phones in prison.

The Labour government have, as is so typical of them, legislated unnecessarily in the Offender Management Act 2007 section 22 Conveyance of prohibited articles into or out of prison , which amends section 40 of the Prison Act 1952, to make smuggling mobile phones into a prison a criminal offence, pretending that it was not already illegal under drug dealing or prison escape conspiracy laws.

However they seem to have done nothing to actually implement any sort of mobile phone blocking or precise location tracking of handsets, (the controversial Path Intelligence Footpath technology used in some shopping centres, could be used for this).

Astonishingly, at HMP Wandsworth, it appears that the available metal detector anti-mobile phone smuggling technology is not being used !

We had very high hopes last year that the BOSS (Bodily Orifice Security Scanner) chair would be used to try and detect more phones being brought in by prisoners. Unfortunately it has hardly been used at all.

Is this because there is only the one BOSS chair, which cannot cope with the large number of movements in and out of the security perimeter every day ?

Or is there resistance to its use from corrupt prison staff ?

- Availability:

Drugs appear to be more widely available than at any time previously. The Mandatory Drugs Tests targets have been met with difficulty until recently primarily because of the relatively low level of drugs usage in Onslow. The current target for positive tests is 14%. The current annual market for drugs in Wandsworth was recently estimated to be worth £1million .Drugs of any sort are freely available.

[...]

Drugs enter the prison within prisoners, through visits, over the wall or via staff. Considerable progress appears to have been made to curb supplies through the first three categories of supply. There are concerns that a small number of staff is responsible for bringing the lion's share of drugs into the prison. Clearly this is an area for intensive investigation and the creation of the Ministry of Justice's new Anti-Corruption Unit is to be welcomed.

Who is holding Labour Ministers and Senior Civil Servants to account for their utter management failures e.g.

Spy Blog: Home Office and PA Consulting lose the names and addresses of all the most serious criminals in the UK

Given the years of failure by both the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice to sort out both the drugs and mobile phones scandals in prisons throughout the UK, one has to ask if the corruption extends beyond individual corrupt prison staff, and includes senior civil servants, private sector companies and Labour politicians as well ?

They are either incompetent, or corrupt, or both - they cannot be innocent of any blame.

The House of Lords has voted to accept a minor Opposition Amendment regarding the removal of innocent people's DNA profiles, human tissue samples and fingerprints from centralised Government database, during the first part of the Report stage of the controversial Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008

See the debate and the vote: Tuesday, 4 November 2008 Counter-Terrorism Bil

The wording of the amendment:

"National guidelines on fingerprint and sample database

(1) The Secretary of State shall by regulations publish national guidelines for governmental agencies establishing--

(a) a procedure by which a person can request a statement of what information relating to fingerprints and samples is held on them or on a dependent;

(b) a procedure by which a person can request that such information held on them or a dependent is destroyed

(c) the circumstances in which a request under paragraph (b) may be refused.

(2) If a request made under paragraph (1)(b) is refused under paragraph (1)(c), the relevant agency shall write to the person setting out why such information will not be destroyed and when such circumstances as prevent it being destroyed may no longer apply.

(3) In drawing up guidelines under subsection (1), the Secretary of State shall consult such bodies as he thinks appropriate.

(4) Regulations under subsection (1) shall not be made until a draft copy is laid before, and approved by resolution of, both Houses of Parliament."

Given that there are no penalties for any bureaucrats or politicians who refuse to comply, or who deliberately delay this process, it is unlikely that any such new regulations will make any practical difference.

The Government could simply copy the existing ACPO Guidelines, which make it as hard as possible for innocent people to have their DNA profiles and samples and fingerprints, removed.

The only positive aspect of this wording "national guidelines for governmental agencies " is general enough so that it is not restricted to just the sneaky Counter-Terrorism DNA Database, run by the Metropolitan Police Service, which is what is under "clarification" in this part of the Bill, but it applies to all Government and Police DNA and fingerprint databases, including the controversial National DNA Databases.

UPDATE: 19th November 2008

The House of Commons has rejected even this minor amendment.

See the Public Whip for the detailed list of how MPs voted.

Why is the Opposition to this Labour Government so useless ?


It is said that a fish starts to rot from the head first, so it comes as no surprise that the ambitious, arrogant, yet inept, Government Minister with direct responsibility for the Government Gateway passwords etc. USB memory device scandal (see the immediately previous Spy Blog article) is James Purnell, the former Labour party apparatchik and now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

The Sunday Mirror reports that:

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell leaves red box secrets on train

By Kelly Jenkins and Vincent Moss, Political Editor 2/11/2008

CABINET Minister James Purnell has sparked a security row after losing confidential documents on a packed train.

The rising Labour star - tipped as a future PM - broke strict guidelines by taking documents out of his "red box" on the trip.

Ministers are warned against taking their Cabinet briefcases on public transport amid fears secret papers could be lost or stolen.

The embarrassing gaffe comes days after civil servant Richard Jackson was fined for leaving top secret documents relating to al-Qaeda and Iraq on a train.

Shocked passengers told how Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Purnell left his red box wide open while he wandered around the train making calls on his mobile.

To make matters worse, the 38-year-old then raced off the train, leaving a file of documents behind.

When can we be rid of such dangerously incompetent and arrogant people from positions of trust and power?

The Mail on Sunday has a scoop report, picked up by the other mainstream media, under a somewhat misleading headline, Yet Another Government IT Security Failure:

Tax website shut down as memory stick with secret personal data of 12million is found in a pub car park

By Daniel Boffey
Last updated at 11:06 PM on 01st November 2008

Ministers have been forced to order an emergency shutdown of a key Government computer system to protect millions of people's private details.

The action was taken after a memory stick was found in a pub car park containing confidential passcodes to the online Government Gateway system, which covers everything from tax returns to parking tickets.

An urgent investigation is now under way into how the stick, belonging to the company which runs the flagship system, came to be lost.

The Department for Work and Pensions insisted that the system's security has not been breached, but a computer expert told The Mail on Sunday that in the wrong hands the data on the memory stick could enable hackers to access personal details of the 12million people who have registered on the system, including their passwords.

Users trying to log on to the site yesterday were met by the message: 'The Government Gateway is temporarily offline. We apologise for any inconvenience. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.'

The Government also closed down access to self-assessment tax applications via the Revenue and Customs website.

The HMRC income tax self assessment system is still the Government department which uses the Government Gateway website, even after all of these years of alleged "joined up e-government".

The Government Gateway website appears to be back online, for now.

[...]

The lost memory stick was found two weeks ago outside a Brewers Fayre chain pub in Cannock, Staffordshire, but the Department of Work and Pensions, which owns the Government Gateway, was made aware of its loss only last week when the 2in device was passed to this newspaper.

An expert who examined it for The Mail on Sunday said it contained confidential passwords, security software and the technical blueprint to the system known as the 'source code'. The memory stick is now in the hands of the police.

Therefore this USB memory device must have been unencrypted

About this blog

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

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

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

Email & PGP Contact

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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

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

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers