Surveillance: Citizens and the State - HoL Constitution Committee report

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House of Lords Constitution Committee 2008-2009 session - Second Report: Surveillance: Citizens and the State

This report is important, bur we fear that the usual Labour Government combination of technological fantasist ignorance, together with their "nanny police state knows best" political arrogance and media spin, will try to cherry pick it, and will ignore its most important recommendations.

There is a good summary of this report published by the Open Rights Group:

Lords Constitution Committee report on surveillance and privacy

The Constitution Committee recommends

* Encryption of personal data should be mandatory in some circumstances
* Fines on data controllers for deliberately or recklessly breaching the data protection principles
* Remove people who are not convicted from the National DNA Database
* Tidy up the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act
* Oversight for surveillance carried out by public authorities
* Changes in organisational cultures, leadership, accountability, transparency, training and awareness
* Appropriate use of encryption throughout the public and private sectors
* An independent review of the proclaimed but largely unproven benefits of CCTV

The two areas missing from the report are comments on the government's current plans for a new national database containing the electronic communications data of the entire population and the powers for unrestrained information sharing granted in Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, currently being debated in Commons Committee.

What happens next? The Government will provide a written response to the report within the next two months. After that, a debate will be scheduled in the House. The more pressure we can bring to bear on Government, the better. The subject of the report is enormously important. Privacy is essential to a free society. Without it, the state is all-powerful.

The NO2ID Campaign press release One piece missing from Lords surveillance report sums up our reaction:

Phil Booth, NO2ID's National Coordinator said:

`The report screams - Stop! Stop unwarranted surveillance. Stop abusing, misusing and losing citizens' information. Stop building the database state.

`But the government has just stamped on the accelerator. It is not listening.'

CHAPTER 9: Recommendations:


452. We regard privacy and the application of executive and legislative restraint to the use of surveillance and data collection powers as necessary conditions for the exercise of individual freedom and liberty. Privacy and executive and legislative restraint should be taken into account at all times by the executive, government agencies, and public bodies. (paragraph 144)

Recommendations relating to the commissioners

453. Before introducing any new surveillance measure, the Government should endeavour to establish its likely effect on public trust and the consequences for public compliance. This task could be undertaken by an independent review body or non-governmental organisation, possibly in conjunction with the Information Commissioner's Office. (paragraph 110)

454. The Government should consider expanding the remit of the Information Commissioner to include responsibility for monitoring the effects of government and private surveillance practices on the rights of the public at large under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. (paragraph 137)

455. We regret that the Government have often failed to consult the Information Commissioner at an early stage of policy development with privacy implications. We recommend that the Government instruct departments to consult the Information Commissioner at the earliest stages of policy development and that the Government should set out in the explanatory notes to bills how and when they consulted the Information Commissioner, and with what result. (paragraph 231)

456. We welcome the Government's decision to provide a statutory basis for the Information Commissioner to carry out inspections without consent of public sector organisations which process personal information systems, but regret the decision not to legislate for a comparable power with respect to private sector organisations. We recommend that the Government reconsider this matter. Organisations which refuse to allow the Commissioner to carry out inspections are likely to be those with something to hide. In addition, the protection of citizens' data may in the absence of legislation be vitiated given the growing exchange of personal data between the public and private sectors. (paragraph 238)

457. We welcome the new powers for the Information Commissioner to levy fines on data controllers for deliberately or recklessly breaching the data protection principles, and we recommend that the Government bring these powers into force as soon as possible. The maximum level of penalties should mirror that available to comparable regulators, and should not be disproportionate. This must be subject to an appropriate appeals procedure. (paragraph 243)

The amount of money and resources which the Information Commissioner's Office operates on, supposedly to safeguard a huge section of then national economy and the private lives of all of the people in the UK, is far, far less than that of many much more limited quangos and government agencies e.g. the Health and Safety Executive or the Financial Services Authority.

Privacy and security and data protection ,is so fundamental to our 21st century lives, that there should really be a Cabinet level ministry, with the full resources of a Government department scrutinising the rest of Government and the private sector data users and abusers.

This should not simply be full of lawyers and jobsworths, but should include plenty of technologically literate people as well i.e. not the Ministry of Justice,

458. We recommend that the Chief Surveillance Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner should introduce more flexibility to their inspection regimes, so that they can promptly investigate cases where there is widespread concern that powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 have been used disproportionately or unnecessarily, and that they seek appropriate advice from the Information Commissioner. (paragraph 257)

459. We recommend that the Investigatory Powers Tribunal publicise its role, and make its existence and powers more widely known to the general public. (paragraph 259)

How can the RIPA Commissioners and the information Tribunal really give the public any assurance that the secret state is being run properly and ethically, when they themselves are so secretive and unapproachable ?

It is only people like the regular readers of Spy Blog who even know of their exiatance, let alone how to contact them to complain about something.

See our UK Commissioners list of contact details.

460. We recommend that the Government amend the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 so as to make it mandatory for government departments to produce an independent, publicly available, full and detailed Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) prior to the adoption of any new surveillance, data collection or processing scheme, including new arrangements for data sharing. The Information Commissioner, or other independent authorities, should have a role in scrutinising and approving these PIAs. We also recommend that the Government--after public consultation--consider introducing a similar system for the private sector. (paragraph 307)

461. We believe that the Information Commissioner should have a greater role in advising Parliament in respect of surveillance and data issues. We therefore recommend that the Government should be required, by statute, to consult the Information Commissioner on bills or statutory instruments which involve surveillance or data processing powers. The Information Commissioner could then report any matters of concern to Parliament. (paragraph 370)

462. We recommend that the Government, in conjunction with the Information Commissioner, undertake a review of the law governing citizens' consent to use of their personal data. (paragraph 397)

463. We share the Information Commissioner's disappointment that the Government have not made a specific commitment to working with the Information Commissioner's Office to raise public awareness. We recommend that the Government reconsider this matter and commit to a plan of action agreed with the Information Commissioner. (paragraph 436)

Recommendations relating to the National DNA Database

464. We believe that DNA profiles should only be retained on the National DNA Database (NDNAD) where it can be shown that such retention is justified or deserved. We expect the Government to comply fully, and as soon as possible, with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom, and to ensure that the DNA profiles of people arrested for, or charged with, a recordable offence but not subsequently convicted are not retained on the NDNAD for an unlimited period of time. (paragraph 197)

465. Whilst a universal National DNA Database would be more logical than the current arrangements, we think that it would be undesirable both in principle on the grounds of civil liberties, and in practice on the grounds of cost. (paragraph 200)

466. We recommend that the law enforcement authorities should improve the transparency of consent procedures and forms in respect of the National DNA Database (NDNAD). We believe that the DNA profiles of volunteers should as a matter of law be removed from the NDNAD at the close of an inquiry unless the volunteer consents to its retention. (paragraph 208)

467. We are concerned that the National DNA Database (NDNAD) is not governed by a single statute. We recommend that the Government introduce a bill to replace the existing regulatory framework, providing an opportunity to reassess the rules on the length of time for which DNA profiles are retained, and to provide regulatory oversight of the NDNAD. (paragraph 212)

There is no excuse why innocent peopl's DNA tissue samples, DNA profiles and fingerprints should boy already have been removed from the national databases, following the European Court of Human Rights Marper judgment.

However,, so far, the Government has been dithering, again, and nothing has happened.

Do not be fooled by the protestations by Government Ministers in evidence to this Committee, that they do not intend a universal DNA satanase - that skirts over the technological fact that it is already possible to do speculative Familial DNA database trawling i.e. only one identifiable member of your family needs to be on the DNA database, for you and all the rest of your relatives to become criminal suspects or intelligence agency or political repression or genocide targets.

These same politicians would , hypocritically, react with horror, if you accused them of discriminating on the basis of Racial group on the colour of someone's skin, but they are happy to classify millions of innocent people by means of their much more specific DNA information.

Recommendations relating to CCTV

468. We recommend that the Home Office commission an independent appraisal of the existing research evidence on the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing, detecting and investigating crime. (paragraph 82)

469. We recommend that the Government should propose a statutory regime for the use of CCTV by both the public and private sectors, introduce codes of practice that are legally binding on all CCTV schemes and establish a system of complaints and remedies. This system should be overseen by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners in conjunction with the Information Commissioner's Office. (paragraph 219)

Spy Blog has been calling for a level playing field of nationally applicable, legally enforceable regulations covering CCTV camera surveillance systems, for over 10 years now.

Get on with it now !

Recommendations for legislation and the legislative process

470. We welcome the UK Computing Research Committee's suggestion that the encryption of personal data should be mandatory in some circumstances. Organisations should avoid connecting to the internet computers which contain large amounts of personal information. We recommend that the Government introduce appropriate regulations. (paragraph 117)

This needs to be backed up with criminal penalties, including prison sentences, for senior civil servants and company directors etc. who fail to ensure that their underlings always encrypt sensitive personal data in transit.

471. We recommend that the Government undertake a review of the administrative procedures set out in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 so as to resolve the contrasting views expressed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Office of Surveillance Commissioners about the effectiveness of the current legal framework and the system of authorisations. (paragraph 159)

472. We recommend that the Government consultation on proposed changes to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 should consider whether local authorities, rather than the police, are the appropriate bodies to exercise such powers. If it is concluded that they are the appropriate bodies, we believe that such powers should only be available for the investigation of serious criminal offences which would attract a custodial sentence of at least two years. We recommend that the Government take steps to ensure that these powers are only exercised where strictly necessary, and in an appropriate and proportionate manner. (paragraph 177)

Electronic surveillance (phone and email tapping) and Intrusive Surveillance (planting bugging devices, using informers or infiltrators or spies or double agents) powers under RIPA should be removed from Local Authorities and from non-police or intelligence agency Government Departments, who do not have the regular experience and training to deal with these situations professionally.

If a criminal investigation has become serious enough to trigger the RIPA test of proportionality i.e. "likely to leaf to a prison sentence of at least 3 years, for a first time offender if convicted", then the Police etc. should be the ones handling that aspect of, possibly , a joint investigation, not Local Authority trading standards or environmental health officers or even the tax inspectors at HMRC.
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473. We are concerned that three different offices overseeing the operation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) may result in inefficiencies and disjointed inspection. We recommend that the Government examine the feasibility of rationalising the inspection system and the activities of the three RIPA Commissioners. (paragraph 252)

474. We are concerned that primary legislation in the fields of surveillance and data processing all too often does not contain sufficient detail and specificity to allow Parliament to scrutinise the proposed measures effectively. We support the conclusion of the Joint Committee on Human Rights that the Government's powers should be set out in primary legislation, and we urge the Government to ensure that this happens in future. We will keep this matter under close review in the course of our bill scrutiny activities. (paragraph 357)

475. We urge the Government to give high priority to post-legislative scrutiny of key statutes involving surveillance and data processing powers, including those passed more than three years ago. The statutes should be considered as part of a whole, rather than in isolation. This post-legislative role could be carried out effectively by a new Joint Committee on surveillance and data powers. (paragraph 379)

Other specific actions for the Government

476. We recommend that the Government should instruct government agencies and private organisations involved in surveillance and data use on how the rights contained in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights are to be implemented. The Government should provide clear and publicly available guidance as to the legal meanings of necessity and proportionality. We recommend that a complaints procedure be established by the Government and that, where appropriate, legal aid should be made available for Article 8 claims. (paragraph 134)

477. We recommend that the Government consider introducing a system of judicial oversight for surveillance carried out by public authorities, and that individuals who have been made the subject of surveillance be informed of that surveillance, when completed, where no investigation might be prejudiced as a result. We recommend that compensation should be available to those subject to unlawful surveillance by the police, intelligence services, or other public bodies acting under the powers conferred by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. (paragraph 163)

478. We recommend that the Government's development of identification systems should give priority to citizen-oriented considerations. (paragraph 268)

479. We agree with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Human Rights that the role of data protection minister should be enhanced and its profile elevated, and are disappointed that the Government's response has not grasped the main point about the need for more effective central leadership. The Government should report to the House through this Committee on the feasibility of having Ministry of Justice (MoJ) lawyers working in other departments and reporting to the MoJ on departmental policies with data protection implications, and of certification of legislative compatibility with the Human Rights Act 1998. This should be in conjunction with the current system of certification of compatibility by the Minister in charge of each bill going through Parliament. (paragraph 290)

480. We support the recommendations made in the Thomas-Walport Data Sharing Review Report for changes in organisational cultures, leadership, accountability, transparency, training and awareness, and welcome the Government's acceptance of them. We urge the Government to report on their progress to Parliament. (paragraph 292)

481. We recommend that the Government devote more resources to the training of individuals exercising statutory surveillance powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, with a view to improving the standard of practice and respect for privacy. We recommend that the principles of necessity and proportionality are publicly described and that the application of these principles to surveillance should be consistent across government. (paragraph 323)

482. We believe that encryption has a vital role to play in ensuring the security of data, and that the Government should insist upon its use as appropriate throughout the public and private sectors. (paragraph 331)

483. In the interests of strengthening the protection of personal data, we urge the Government to make the Manual of Protective Security subject to regular and rigorous peer review. (paragraph 342)

484. In the light of the potential threat to public confidence and individual privacy, we recommend that the Government should improve the safeguards and restrictions placed on surveillance and data handling. (paragraph 345)

The penalties for individuals and organisations who breach these supposed safeguards, should be at least as severe, as the criminal penalties (prison and unlimited fines), for currency counterfeiting, for exactly the same reason.

Currency counterfeiters can never hope to devalue a currency to the extent that the issuing Government monetary policy can do, but it is vitally important that public trust and confidence in the system as a whole is not undermined by fake pound notes in circulation.

Exactly the same issue of public trust and confidence applies to securing secret or personal sensitive data, and the criminal penalties should be the same.

485. We recommend that the Government review their procurement processes so as to incorporate design solutions that include privacy-enhancing technologies in new or planned data gathering and processing systems. (paragraph 349)

486. We recommend that the Government bring together relevant research councils, polling organisations and government research and statistics bodies to examine ways of improving the independent gathering of public opinion on a range of issues related to surveillance and data processing. (paragraph 400)

487. We recommend that the Government and local authorities should help citizens to understand the privacy and other implications for themselves and for society that may result from the use of surveillance and data processing. Government should involve schools, learned and other societies, and voluntary organisations in public discussion of the risks and benefits of surveillance and data processing. (paragraph 427)

488. We recommend that the Government should undertake an analysis of public consultations and their effectiveness, and should explore opportunities for applying versions of the Citizens' Inquiry technique to surveillance and data processing initiatives involving databases. (paragraph 432)

489. We recommend that the Government improve the design of the Information Charter, and report regularly to Parliament on the measures taken to publicise the Charter and on their monitoring of the public response to it. (paragraph 440)

490. We support the Government's acceptance of the Council for Science and Technology's recommendations for public dialogue and engagement in terms that commit them to the further development of techniques, governance structures, and relationships both within government and with external bodies. We recommend that the Government report to Parliament on the formal requirements which they are placing on departments and agencies to ensure that this commitment extends to policies and practices involving surveillance and data processing. (paragraph 445)

491. We believe that the Government should involve non-governmental organisations in the development and implementation of surveillance and data processing policies with significant implications for the citizen. (paragraph 451)

Recommendations relating to Parliament

492. We welcome the Government's plans for better data handling. We recommend that the Government's report on progress on data handling and security be scrutinised by parliamentary committees. (paragraph 337)

493. We encourage the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee to apply the tests of necessity and proportionality to all secondary legislation which extends surveillance and data processing powers, and to alert the House in the normal way where there are any doubts about the appropriateness of the instruments. (paragraph 365)

494. We recommend that a Joint Committee on the surveillance and data powers of the state be established, with the ability to draw upon outside research. Any legislation or proposed legislation which would expand surveillance or data processing powers should be scrutinised by this Committee. (paragraph 376)

Recommendation relating to all public and private sector organisations

495. As surveillance is potentially a threat to privacy, we recommend that before public or private sector organisations adopt any new surveillance or personal data processing system, they should first consider the likely effect on individual privacy. (paragraph 103)

Please feel free to comment on any of the Committee's recommendations below:

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.

We wiil use this verifiable public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels, as appropriate.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x122B3C4FD0BD0FB3 which will expire on 1st October 2018.

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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Follow Spy Blog on Twitter

For those of you who find it convenient, there is now a Twitter feed to alert you to new Spy Blog postings.

https://twitter.com/SpyBlog

Please bear in mind the many recent, serious security vulnerabilities which have compromised the Twitter infrastructure and many user accounts, and Twitter's inevitable plans to make money out of you somehow, probably by selling your Communications Traffic Data to commercial and government interests.

https://twitter.com/SpyBlog (same window)

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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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National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

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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