Apart from an open mind, there are several things which you can bring along to the Convention on Modern Liberty - Bloggers Summit on Saturday. The list of speakers is interesting enough, but the real benefit of such events is the chance to meet and interact with like minded people, face to face, and to to establish a foundation of trust in future online communications.
"You can't save the world via e-mail."
The organisers of the event, quite reasonably, hope that it will spark off further political campaigning and pressure to help to change the counterproductive repressive policies of the current Labour Government.
It seems that even formerly passive middle class people are now expected to "cause trouble" according to "Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan police's public order branch" quoted in The Guardian: Britain faces summer of rage - police - Middle-class anger at economic crisis could erupt into violence on streets
What is to stop the new Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) , set up by the increasingly unaccountable and politicised Association of Chief Police Officers, ( Secret police unit set up to spy on British 'domestic extremists' according to the Daily Mail) from snooping on the Convention on Modern Liberty attendees and speakers and organisers ?
It is always easier for the secret police to expand their bureaucratic empires, by snooping on or harassing peaceful middle class protestors and political activists . Real extremists are much harder to infiltrate, and they pose less of a political threat to the apparatchiki currently in positions of power and influence.
What can attendees of the Convention on Modern Liberty do to resist this ?
It is all very well for Spy Blog to point bloggers and others at some practical advice online, to help you and your contacts resist some of the political or commercial or bureaucratic snooping and dirty tricks, which those of you brave enough to have signed up to attend the Convention on Modern Liberty, might face in the near future.
e.g. Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc. by Spy Blog http://ht4w.co.uk
Naturally this is a Work in Progress, which would benefit from your suggestions, but it should provide at least a couple of valuable hints, even to experienced bloggers and journalists and activists.
However, since you can read this online at your leisure, what else can you do, to help to defy, frustrate and oppose the machinations of the Surveillance Snooper Stalker Nanny Secret Police State and Bureaucracy, and some of the other, powerful non-Government vested interests who are also after your personal details, especially if they guess that you may now be actively , rather than passively opposed to them ?
Obviously attendees of the Convention on Modern Liberty should join and financially support some of the campaign groups like the NO2ID Campaign or the the Open Rights Group etc. , who welcome people from across the political spectrum. No doubt you can sign up to these at the event on Saturday, as well as online.
However, there are some things that you can only do face to face, with like minded people, physically at the Convention on Modern Liberties:
Modern Liberty swap shop
Here are a few ideas for stuff to bring along to the Convention on Modern Liberty this Saturday, and to physically swap or sell to some of the thousand or so people who you might meet face to face at this event.
Even if you never personally actually make regular use these Swapped Items, you will have increased the entropy and freedom of others, and will have helped to frustrate the control freaks somewhat.
"Anonymity Loves Company"
If you do swap or privately sell (for a nominal cost covering fee, for example, to reimburse stored monetary value or unused credit) things at the Modern Liberty swap shop, you should hopefully be out of sight of CCTV spy cameras and you will be hidden amongst a large crowd of equally, or more suspicious looking, political dissidents and opponents of the Surveillance Police State:
- Oyster Cards
Transport for London's Oyster Card is a contactless Smart Card, linked to a centralised database,
It is not just a convenient payment system, it is also intended to track journeys from one Underground Station or Bus stop to another, something for which TfL have timetable, route planning and optimisation business needs for.
However, such travel network planning statistics do not actually require your individual Name, Address, Post Code or Credit Card or Bank Account etc. details to be associated with the Oyster Card journey pattern audit trail.
All of this travel pattern (start / end of journey, time and date), top up payment location and financial details (which may include credit card or bank account details if you do not pay cash), together with all of TfL's CCTV surveillance and ANPR Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone Automatic Number Plate Recognition camera footage, processed data, and financial payment data, is now routinely handed over to the Metropolitan Police Service, in bulk, in real time, without your informed prior consent, under an exemption certificate signed by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, which exempts these data transfers from the already weak Data Protection Act.
Nobody objects to this data being used for narrowly targeted investigations of real criminal suspects, but it is obviously being used in secret for bulk data mining and trawling, which will throw up lots of false positives, which unfairly place innocent people under suspicion, without any proven effect on catching real criminals or terrorists.
Retain the benefits to TfL planning, and the convenience and fare discounts of Oyster Travel cards, but make it very hard or impossible for the Oyster Card to be used to track you personally, by swapping yours with someone else's at the Convention on Modern Liberty.
Before you arrive at the Convention, check how much credit you have left on that particular Oyster Card and settle up the difference with the person or persons you swap with directly or at the bar.
It will be easiest to swap non-registered, prepay Oyster cards, but there is no reason not to swap ones where a name and (out of date) address has been registered.
People with season ticket or reduced travel or automatic credit card debit linked Oyster cards will probably not wish to swap.
If you are worried about your Oyster Card being secretly read remotely (and you should be), then use some cheap aluminium foil to shield it in its plastic wallet.
See Foiling the Oyster Card
- Supermarket Loyalty Cards
The control freaks in Government like to claim that their schemes like the ID Card will not collect as much personal data about you as, say, a supermarket loyalty card.
The big difference is that such cards are voluntary and Tesco etc. are willing to spend a lot of money to protect their valuable customer data, from their commercial rivals, and, therefore as a by product, they provide you with a reasonable amount of privacy. The Government bureaucracy has no such incentive, rather the reverse.
As with Oyster Travel cards, the information collected for retail store location planning, or for stock control and product ordering or display purposes, does not actually need to identify your real name and address, to be useful in anonymous bulk, to the supermarket.
Allow them to continue planning and running their businesses efficiently, and continue to benefit from the loyalty discounts, but break the link with your personally identifiable name and address data,by swapping your Tesco Club Card or your Nectar Card etc.with someone else at the Convention on Modern Liberty.
Remember to cash in any outstanding discount vouchers on that card, or make a note of them before you arrive, and then make any necessary financial adjustment with the person with whom you swap the card.
- Mobile Phone handsets
Many of you will have more than one pre-paid mobile phone handset in your possession.
Bring along your old or spare ones, (ideally with the batteries and chargers) and swap them with other people at the Convention.
Obviously there might need to be negotiations about swaps of very dissimilar models, or ones with different amounts of pre-paid credit on them
Contract phones are probably not suitable for swapping, but that is not a hard and fast rule.
Such perfectly legal swaps of unregistered, or even formerly registered, mobile phones, will help to frustrate Jacqui Smith's control freak Communications Data Bill and Interception Modernisation Programme centralised database plans, to some extent at least.
Mae a note of your phone's International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) , usually on a label underneath the battery, or it is normally displayed by entering *#06# (and then the typically green call button) .
The IMEI ends up in the Mobile Phone Network 's Call Detail Records along with the SIM Card phone number details, for every call or SMS sent or received.
It it technically possible,on many phone handsets, to simply re-program this number,but that is illegal in the UK under the
Mobile Telephones (Re-Programming) Act 2002 which was amended to now even impose a penalty of up to 5 years in prison, potentially even for just advertising offering such a service (which is legal in other countries), or for the mere possession (not the actual proven use for a crime) of software and equipment capable of doing so (i.e. just about any laptop computer and a data cable to the phone)
Remember to delete contact details stored in the SIM card and in the memory of the handset.
Remember to delete any voicemail messages, and to re-set the PIN to the default or tell he person who you are swapping it with, what the vbx PIN is.
The same applies to any keyboard or power on security PINs which have been set.
Optionally, swap or create some real or imagined contacts numbers for powerful people, which may give the Police Community Support Officer or Police Constable who is illegally rifling through your mobile phone contacts, when your are stopped and searched under the notorious Terrorism Act section 44 stop and search without reasonable cause (secret) powers.
Setting a non-default security PIN code on your mobile phone, may well be enough to prevent casual (illegal) snooping by PCSOs etc.
You should include the 24 hour contact lines for a couple of firms of solicitors who are experienced in defending political activists in such situations e.g.
telephone: 020 7833 4433
or Kaim Todner - telephone: 020 7353 6660
- Unactivated SIM cards
There are periodic offers of free or cheap SIM cards for existing customers (back to whom there is an audit trail).
Bring your spare , as yet unactivated SIM cards along to swap with fellow Modern Libertarians.
Remember that one of the data records demanded by the Home Office from the Mobile Phone Networks under their "voluntary", and now (since October 2000) the mandatory Communications Data Retention scheme, is the time, date and Cell ID location of when and where a new SIM Card is first activated onto the mobile phone network.
- Mobile phone numbers for SMS alerts
Using the above swapped mobile phone handsets and / or SIM cards, exchange a mobile phone number with your fellow Convention on Modern Liberty attendees - this may be useful for SMS news alerts or Twitter feeds etc.
Remember that you can get one phone to forward calls or SMS messages on to another
Remember to change the default PIN code on your mobile phone voicemailbox, once you have activated your SIM, otherwise you may be vulnerable to snooping like the News of the World carried out against the Royal Princes.
- Pre-Shared Secrets
Either as part of the PGP Key Signing or exchange below, or simply because it may be useful or interesting in the future, you could take the opportunity of exchanging one or more Pre - Shared Secrets (PSS) with the people you get into friendly chats with.
Such PSS can be used to help to authenticate email or SMS text or voicemail or answerphone etc messages in the future, asking for help or giving urgent warnings etc.
Simply write down or print out some word / number / punctuation copy yourself, and give another copy to the person you are swapping a Pre-Shared Secret with.
It may be convenient to use a book of pairs of laundry / lottery ticket numbers.
If they do the same, then you will have the ability to establish a chain of trust in the future (for one message and response at least)
- PGP / GPG Key Signing Party
For the slightly more technically minded bloggers who are planning to attend the Convention on Modern Liberty, this will be an opportunity to hold a PGP / GPG Key Signing Party
You do not have to physically bring along computers etc. to do this, just bring , for convenience, some printed copies of your PGP / GPG Public Key IDs and /or fingerprints.
Once you have swapped these with other people, (with or without some pre-shared secrets above), then you can initiates a PGP secure key exchange or you can trust a published PGP key on a website or on a PGP Keyserver.
You can then , optionally decide to sign the other person's key, establishing that st least someone purporting to be the owner of the key has met you physically.
Higher levels of trust are possible
Simply swapping PGP key details without actually signing and re-publishing the signed keys is also worth doing at this event, on a one to one basis.
- USB memory device swaps
Many of you will have multiple USB flash memory keys, sticks,
camera or phone memory etc. etc.
This technology is cheap and convenient, but , since it does not work like hard disk or floppy disk or cassette or video tape i.e. it does not use strong>magnetism, and so it is much harder to securely delete data from
There may be some USB devices which you could swap with other people, so that you are no longer in physically possession of secret or potentially incriminating or mbarrassing data which can be tied to you.
Obviously handing over your unencrypted Government Gateway source code USB to a stranger, or losing it in a pub car park is unlikely to happen again for a while, at least.
You can swap campaign ideas, security and privacy hints and tips, or confidential information, with Spy Blog and other political bloggers and activists, this Saturday 28th February at the Convention on Modern Liberty Bloggers Summit - Logan Hall, 13.00 - 14.00 (wifi available).