May 2009 Archives

Another Secret Intelligence Service MI6 anonymous briefing to the Sunday Times:

From The Sunday Times
May 31, 2009

MI6 woos home renegade ex-spy Richard Tomlinson

David Leppard

THE renegade former MI6 spy Richard Tomlinson has finally come in from the cold.

After more than a decade in exile, where he lived in fear of arrest and extradition to face trial in the UK, Tomlinson has at last buried the hatchet with Sir John Scarlett, chief of MI6.

Sir John Scarlett has now been in charge of SIS for just over 5 years, so is presumably due to retire very soon (both his predecessors were in place for 5 years as well).

Presumably his successor will be announced after the 100th birthday celebrations of SIS, according to the Rupert Murdoch owned sister paper of The Sunday Times, the New York based Wall Street Journal

The deal between the head of Britain's overseas spies and the whistleblower who claimed MI6 had a secret "licence to kill" follows a decision to send a mediator to negotiate with Tomlinson in Spain.

As a result, MI6 has agreed to let him return to Britain, unfreeze royalties from his book

The most interesting technical spy tradecraft tidbit revealed in that book (The Big Breach) was the claim that MI6 officers have used standard commercial (and therefore deniable) Pentel Rolling Writer rollerball pens, for their "offset Secret Writing" capability i.e. writing your message with the normal Pentel rollerball pen, onto a sheet of paper, with another sheet underneath. The water based ink tends to leak through and produce Secret Writing on the paper underneath, invisible to the naked eye, but easily developed with the appropriate (unnamed) chemical.

This probably does not work with the allegedly Non-Toxic water Gel based inks, which some newer models of Pentel pens (and those from other manufacturers) now use.

and drop the threat of charges. It has also apologised for its unfair treatment of him.

In return, the former spy who was sentenced to a year's jail for breaking the Official Secrets Act in 1997, has agreed not to speak to the media or make further damaging disclosures about the shadowy work of his former employer.

Quite a rapprochement, if true.

Can either side actually be trusted to keep to the terms of such a deal ?

[...]

Last week, Tomlinson was unavailable for comment. His father, David, declined to discuss the matter. Friends of the former spy say, however, that he has already been back to Britain. "He was determined not to give in to them . . . He'll probably feel at a bit of a loss now," said one.

We would have liked the Sunday Times / David Leppard to have asked the Whitehall briefers about whether or not the amendment to the Terrorism Act 2000, brought in by the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 section 76 Offences relating to information about members of armed forces etc. was instrumental in this rapprochment.


Terrorism Act 2000

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

(1) A person commits an offence who--

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

(i) a member of Her Majesty's forces,

(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or

(iii) a constable,

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

(b) publishes or communicates any such information.

[...]

There are no exceptions whatsoever in the wording of this stupid legislation, which came into force on February 16th 2009. It clearly applies to all current and former intelligence officers, including Richard Tomlinson, for the rest of their lives.

It even applies to defectors and double agents actually working for foreign intelligence agencies or criminals etc. !

It must also make the further chill the publication of any autobiographies or histories or investigative journalism, which attempts to research or publish any names or identifiable information about former military, intelligence or police people into a Serious Terrorist Criminal Offence,punishable by up to 10 years in prison (if convicted) , and blacklisting on terrorism watchlists and financial sanctions and criminal records employment checks databases worldwide, even if you are never charged or convicted.

The words "attempts to elicit" also catch unsuccessful queries for such information.

Therefore you could be risking 10 years in prison (a serious enough penalty to allow the UK authorities to demand your extradition from a foreign country) simply by asking Spy Blog to reveal Richard Tomlinson's address, something which we have no idea about.

Obviously this does not actually prevent foreign intelligence agencies, serious organised criminal gangs and terrorists from gathering such target intelligence on their individual opponents in the UK military, intelligence agencies or police forces.


38 Degrees website (not a very snappy name - it could imply "one degree of fever" above normal body temperature of around 37°C) has launched, which hopes to somehow emulate the success of "grassroots" political campaign movements like MoveOn.org, which successfully harnessed the internet to recruit activists and supporters and to raise money, in the USA.

It seems to be initially funded by various "green" environmental backers, principally from the legacy left by Anita Roddick of the Body Shop retail empire, and claims not to be tied to any political party.

Is there really enough funding available during the Economic Recession, for Yet Another "grassroots" campaign organisation in the UK ? Will existing campaigns suffer as result of this American style new entrant ?

This may well be good and "progressive" (whatever that really means).

However, there is a lot of snooping on "communities",on "political opponents" and on "grass roots" political campaign activists:which goes on in the United Kingdom, and which is intensifying under the unpopular Labour Government's "scorched earth" policies on freedom and liberty, and the right to protest peacefully, whilst they cling on to power until the next General Election e.g.

What Data Protection precautions are 38 Degrees taking, to protect the Security and Privacy of their supporters ?

The 38 Degrees Privacy Statement gives details of

The Data Protection Manager
38 Degrees
8 Angel Gate
City Road
London EC1V 2SJ

There does not (yet) seem to be a published Register of Data Controllers entry for 38 Degrees, but that may be just due to the usual Information Commissioner's Office backlogs and delays.

There is, however, a Register of Data Controllers entry No. 4251274 for "Progressive Majority", who operate from the same address.

This one has all of the Data Purposes set to Worldwide.

There are good reasons for hosting the web site and email systems of a political pressure group outside of the United Kingdom, to preserve some privacy from political snooping and harassment by this Labour Government, by Police bureaucracy and commercial vested interests.

However, the 38 Degrees Privacy Statement makes the false claim that:

5. International data transfers

We do not and have no plans transfer data to countries outside the EEC and will change our privacy policy should this situation change.

"EEC" normally means the obsolete European Economic Community. Do they really mean the European Union (EU) or the wider European Economic Area (EEA) , which is includes the EU and other neighbouring non-EU countries. It is the EEA which is normally cited under the Data Protection Act, as they have relatively strong Data Protection laws.compared with those in the USA etc.

38 Degrees mention Google Analytics and Paypal, in their Privacy Statement (although the website does not yet carry a PayPal link), which make a nonsense of the "International data transfers" statement, as these are both based in the USA.

Their email MX records point to Googlemail.com, also on the USA

The actual 38 Degrees website [www.38degrees.org.uk - 69.25.201.226] is hosted on Blue State Digital's infrastructure, which is also physically, logically and legally in the USA.

We always worry about Data Privacy, when we see that Blue State Digital are being employed by a UK Political Campaign or Non Governmental Organisation etc., on the back of their involvement with the Barack Obama US Presidential campaign, since part of their toolkit of sophisticated email tracking technology, operates without Prior Informed Consent and seems to be unethical and illegal in the UK.

See our previous blog article: How sneakily are Blue State Digital tracking NGO political campaign emails ?

Neither the Email Sign Up form, nor the Financial Donations Enquiry form, nor the Paid Job / Volunteer interest form, make use of SSL / TLS Digital Certificate session encryption (https://) i.e. your personal name, address, phone number and email details are sent over the Atlantic unencrypted, in plain text, and easily snooped on by your local systems administrator or UK or USA based Internet Service Providers, or by the UK or US Governments etc.

The 38 Degrees website also includes a feature which should be boycotted by any sane UK political activist, namely the Load Email Contacts feature on the Send to A Friend page.

This involves handing over your Username and Password to one or more of several popular web email accounts, just so that Blue State Digital can automatically access those email accounts and slurp your Contacts list, to save you the alleged "effort" of copying and pasting such contacts as you might wish to email a campaign support message to.

Email_Password_grab_450.jpg

This seems to use a Google API, and targets Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, MSN, Fastmail, Lycos and Mac email accounts.

Since the Send to a Friend form is limited to 10 contacts, there really is no excuse that someone might want to upload their entire Email Contacts book in this stupidly insecure way, so the suspicion must be that it will simply be abused as an email harvesting system.

The idea appears to be to pester your friends and acquaintances with a political message which they may or may not be happy to get, very akin to email spam attacks.

Why should 38 Degrees and Blue State Digital ever be trusted with the passwords to your email account(s) ?

They do not appear to have heard of the Data Protection concept of "informed prior consent", nor of Communications Traffic Data snooping and "guilt by association", as practiced by the Labour Government and its apparatchiki here in the UK..

Unless and until 38 Degrees are more honest in their Privacy Policy, and take some cheap and easy precautions to safeguard your personal data in transit, such as SSL Digital certificates, and provide an assurance that the data collected on their servers is subsequently strongly encrypted, then you should think twice about signing up with them, in the UK Surveillance State.


The Guardian and the BBC (see BBC2 tv documentary Who's Watching You ? starts Monday 25th May 9pm) seem to have found out a little more about Yet Another Ministry of Defence Data Privacy / Security Scandal and the subsequent Coverup:

Stolen RAF vice files spark blackmail fear

Vetting data included drug abuse and use of prostitutes by senior officers

* David Hencke, Westminster correspondent
* guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 May 2009 22.30 BST

Sensitive files detailing the extra marital affairs, drug taking and use of prostitutes by very senior officers in the RAF have been stolen, raising fears within the Ministry of Defence that personnel could be vulnerable to blackmail.

Up to 500 people in the service could be affected by the theft. They have been interviewed individually about the possible consequences to them and to their families.

The potentially damaging information was stored on three computer hard drives that went missing from RAF Innsworth, Gloucestershire, last September. The files were not encrypted, so could be opened easily. The RAF disclosed the loss of the hard drives two weeks after they went missing, revealing only that the bank details and home addresses of 50,000 servicemen and women were on the computers.

It kept secret the fact that the "vetting" information about 500 staff had also disappeared. The defence secretary at the time, Des Browne, was not told, nor was Sir Richard Thomas, the then information commissioner. The details were also withheld from parliament.

[...]

The outgoing Information Commissioner Richard Thomas may well be in line for knighthood, but he is not yet "Sir" Richard.

What exactly was the point of this coverup by Ministry of Defence bureaucrats ?

Will any of them be punished ?

What use have the Burton and Hannigan reviews of data handling security been in this case ? Less than zero.

In a further statement to the Guardian, the ministry added: "All individuals identified as being at risk received personal one-on-one interviews to alert them to the loss of data, to discuss potential threats and to provide them with advice on mitigating action.

"There is no evidence to suggest that the information held on the hard drive believed to have been stolen from the secure ... site at MoD Innsworth has been targeted by criminal or hostile elements."

So have these "one to one interviews" determined which of these people had the strongest motive for helping with, or instigating, "an inside job" to suppress their own "vetting secrets" ?

How the Ministry of Defence can really be so sure that this data is not in the wrong hands, is a mystery.

Does their definition of "hostile elements" also include supposedly friendly allied foreign intelligence agencies and UK Private Military Contractor / Mercenary companies who employ former UK military personnel ?

Are the current copies of these file now strongly encrypted or not ?

UPDATE:
Details of the FOIA requests and the coverup are available from the Jess the Dog blog of the retired RAF officer mentioned at the end of the BBC tv documentary:

***Exclusive: What happens when the Government loses your secret data***

wwy.jpg

A new television documentary series:

Who's Watching You ?

begins on Monday, 25 May, 2009 at 2100 BST on BBC Two.

According to the BBC web pages:

  • Episode 1: Surveillance society?


    Richard Bilton meets people who watch us and those who have fallen foul of modern surveillance

    A new three part series looks at why the UK has become one of the most watched places in the world - with millions of CCTV cameras, a growing network of number plate recognition cameras, one of the largest DNA databases in the world and government plans for the basic details of all our phone calls e-mails, and every internet site we visit to be logged and kept.

    We all benefit from better crime detection and from easier and cheaper services. The government argues that: "If you've got nothing to hide, then you've got nothing to fear."

    Richard Bilton explores the hidden world of surveillance.

    He goes inside the CCTV nerve centre, sees how all of our journeys can be monitored, and meets undercover agents, those who are watched and those who have fallen foul of modern surveillance.

    Who's Watching You? explores why increasingly we are all being watched and why some think we have already become a surveillance society.

    Monday, 8 June, 2009, BBC Two, 2100 BST

  • Episode 2: The business of surveillance


    Richard Bilton delves into the world of those who have made our private lives their business including former soldiers, corporate spies, hackers and blaggers.

    From watching our neighbours, to being watched at work, online and on the move, surveillance is everywhere.

    Information about every bit of our lives is valuable to somebody.

    Richard Bilton meets those who have made our private lives their business including former soldiers watching suspected workplace thieves, corporate spooks trawling companies' rubbish for lucrative secrets, suppliers in the booming trade in tracking devices, secret cameras and hidden microphones.

    And Who's Watching You? delves in to the criminal underworld of hackers and blaggers who steal and sell our information.

    Surveillance can benefit us all, helping make businesses more profitable and the services we use more convenient. But, as Richard discovers, surveillance has a darker side too.

    Monday, 1 June, 2009, BBC Two, 2100 BST

  • Episode 3: The intelligence race


    Richard Bilton speaks to leading figures from the shadowy world of secret intelligence and see how effective it is tackling serious crime and terrorism

    Intelligence insiders reveal the difficult task they face with an ever-evolving threat and a constant arms race between the state and criminals over surveillance technology.

    Richard Bilton talks to former insiders who question the government's argument that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, and who say that is an argument for total surveillance and a total security state.

    Monday, 8 June, 2009 BBC Two, 2100 BST

We have been involved peripherally with some of the people doing background research for this series, and will be watching it with interest.

Will the Metropolitan Police and other Police forces curtail their "Surveillance State" abuses of photographs and videos of innocent people, following this legal Judgment in the England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) ?

Wood v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2009] EWCA Civ 414 (21 May 2009)

For an expert legal view, see the Panopticon blog

Privacy and the Police - Important Court of Appeal Judgment

It is important to note that the result of the Court of Appeal's judgment is that the taking of the photographs did not per se constitute a unlawful interference with Mr Wood's right to privacy. Rather what was unlawful was the excessive retention of the photographs beyond a time when there was any reasonable basis for supposing that Mr Wood may engage in criminal conduct at the arms fair. On the question of whether this judgment sets a precedent on the question of whether the police can generally take photographs of ostensibly law-abiding citizens, it is worth noting Lord Collins' concluding comments: 'it is plain that the last word has yet to be said on the implications for civil liberties on the taking and retention of images in the modern surveillance society. This is not the case for the exploration of the wider, and very serious, human rights issues which arise when the State obtains and retains the images of persons who have committed no offence and are not suspected of having committed any offence' (paragraph 100).

Whether this Judgment actually leads to the destruction of the millions of images of innocent people, which are currently being stored and retained by Police Forward Intelligence Teams and on other "intelligence" databases and files etc., remains to be seen

Will the "in your face" photographic harassment by FIT police and civilian cameramen of political activists and journalists, especially at public demonstrations, (see examples, and the counter reaction which this provokes, at the FIT watch blog) and the whole infrastructure of CCTV snooping and monitoring come under proper, critical, value for money and privacy oriented scrutiny ?

Or will these matters be swept under the carpet again, through bureaucratic inertia, buck passing and fatuous excuses like "the Olympics" or the "security of crowded places" ?

Will this Government or the next one, actually repeal the stupid and repressive laws and policies which are used to harass innocent photographers in public places ?

The Home Office has been recently citing a review of published academic studies on Closed Circuit Tele Vision (CCTV).

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker even managed to use the word "privacy" in the same breath as "CCTV", which may be a first for a Labour Home Office Minister, or it may just be more NuLabour Orwellian newspeak re-definition of a common English word, to have virtually the opposite meaning.

18 May 2009 : Column 1202

House of Commons debates
Monday, 18 May 2009

Oral Answers to Questions -- Home Department
Topical Questions

2:30 pm

Christine Russell (Chester, City of, Labour)

Most people find the presence of CCTV in their neighbourhoods reassuring, and most police officers find them very helpful in assisting the detection of crime and the reduction of antisocial behaviour. However, there is also a strong view out there that they can result in a real invasion of an individual's personal liberty. Has the Department commissioned, or will it consider commissioning, a fully independent survey of the effectiveness of CCTV cameras?

Vernon Coaker (Gedling, Labour)

My hon. Friend has raised an important point about the balance between the rights of the individual and the protection of the community. The Home Office is examining the way in which we manage CCTV systems throughout the country, and also the possibility of establishing a national CCTV board.

According to a recent report from the Campbell Collaboration crime and justice group, CCTV has

"a modest but significant desirable impact on crime".

See:

Title Effects of closed circuit television surveillance on crime (.pdf)
Institution The Campbell Collaboration
Authors Welsh, Brandon P. Farrington, David C.
DOI 10.4073/csr.2008.17
No. of pages 73
Last updated 2 December, 2008

The report says that it is most effective in reducing crime in car parks and targeting vehicle crime, and that it is more effective in reducing crime in the United Kingdom than in other countries. I think that that is an endorsement of CCTV, but we must of course consider the impact on the privacy of the individual as well.

Of course the Home Office has actually commissioned research as far back as 1993, which also concluded that Car Parks (with improved Lighting) were where there was the only demonstrable Crime Reduction effect of CCTV.

This research has obviously been ignored by the Conservative and Labour politicians in power and by Home Office policy makers ever since.

See:

Understanding car parks, crime and CCTV: evaluation lessons from safer cities (.pdf)
Author:: Nigel Tilley
Crime Prevention Unit Series Paper No. 42
Home Office, Policing and Reducing Crime Unit
Research, Development and Statistics Directorate
United Kingdom
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 40
.


It is hard to see how Yet Another Censored Report by the Intelligence and Security Committee into the 7th July 2005 London bomb attacks will satisfy the victims and their families and many others, who want an actually independent Public Inquiry.

They still have not bothered to examine any possible links with the failed 21st July 2005 attacks.

Review of the Intelligence on the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 (published 2009) [PDF 1,401KB, 108 pages]

There are a couple of points of more general interest, such as a graphical illustration of searching for a needle in a haystack involved in Communications Data Traffic Analysis, and some explanation of some technical jargon, which might interest tv and film scriptwriters or fiction novelists.

The scale of Operation CREVICE is demonstrated by the following diagram. It shows all calls assessed to relate to international counter-terrorism, between unique parties, between 1 January and 1 April 2004 (with each line representing one or more calls). There are *** unique numbers (tens of thousands) with *** links between them. Of these, 4,020 are linked to CREVICE. The vast majority of these were eventually assessed not to be related to the bomb plot itself, or even to the wider facilitation network, and were in fact wholly innocent or irrelevant. Each was a potential lead, however, that had to be checked to see if it was relevant or not. The diagram identifies two numbers which were later associated with Mohammed Siddique KHAN.

ISC_Comms_Data_Traffic_Link_Analysis_450.jpg

Of course, Jacqui Smith's plans for Communication Data Traffic Retention and Data Warehousing would simply throw several more haystacks full of data at such a problem - a waste of resources, with horrible privacy and security implications for millions of innocent people.

The MP's expenses scandal seems to have paralysed the "Westminster village" of professional politicos for the last couple of weeks or so.

Given Spy Blog's interest in Whistleblowers and in the privacy and security of anonymous whistleblowing sources (see our Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Political Bloggers and Activists - http://ht4w.co.uk) , in the public interest, we read with interest today's story in the Sunday Times, and the later one on the Mail on Sunday website, who name the intermediary brokers of the whistleblower CDROMs containing the uncensored MPs expenses documents, as John Wick and Henry Gewanter,

They were first named by the Wall Street Journal, which appears to have betrayed whistleblower source confidentiality - why should any whistleblower or other confidential journalistic source ever trust them again ?

If whistleblowers are forced to go to the mainstream media, rather than through their management systems or independent confidential whistleblower complaints systems, then there is no moral question about money.

The mainstream media like the Daily Telegraph profit financially from setting the news agenda with a big journalistic "scoop", so whether or not the actual whistleblowers get paid, or whether it is only their advisors and intermediaries who get paid, is not very important if the allegations are true, as they obviously are in this MPs expenses scandal.

Will the publicity about John Wick and Henry Gewanter now actually protect them somewhat, from the vindictiveness of those in power, who they have helped to expose ?

Will the media and political attention focus on them as intermediaries, rather than on the actual whistleblower source(s) ?

See:

The secretive Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has published its

SOCA Annual Report 2008/09 (.pdf) (72 pages)

The Times recently published a comment, with which we agree:

The budget for Soca is about £400 million, compared with the £2.5 billion a year designated for counter-terrorism, leading to criticism that the Government has never taken organised crime seriously.

SOCA has its own telephone interception capabilities, which it uses on behalf of other Police forces, and it is heavily involved in the Home Office's mass snooping plans like te Interception Modernisation Programme:

Maintenance of an effective interception and call data capability, managing the challenges of interception modernisation effectively.

Telephone intercept intelligence and communications data played a role in all significant SOCA operations, and in many where SOCA provided support to other agencies' criminal justice casework. This was notably the case with police forces throughout England and Wales, for whom SOCA continued to provide telephone interception services. Many of those forces had seconded police officers to SOCA to carry out this work, under SOCA supervision. The roll-out of new systems and improved coordination of the use of SOCA's range of covert collection capabilities meant that these resources were better focused and more efficiently deployed. With regard to maintaining capability into the future in the face of fundamental technological changes, SOCA continued to be a key contributor to the Home Offce-led Interception Modernisation Programme

The most interesting section of the Report, which hints at crime problems which neither SOCA nor the Police nor any other UK Government department, are providing the general public with timely, detailed crime prevention advice on, is Appendix III: SOCA Reports and Assessments 2008/09

Production of a steady flow of well-informed Assessments and other reporting that identifies for government and others where changes in policy, legislation or practice would reduce the harm caused by serious organised crime.

In addition to the annual UK Threat Assessment, in 2008/09 SOCA produced 182 assessments and reports for law enforcement, government and others, a 44% increase on the previous year. Those issued are listed an [sic] Appendix III to this Report. These were designed to inform policy makers and provide support for operational activity where timeliness and relevance were critical.It was therefore pleasing that readers expressed themselves content with their usefulness and timeliness.

The list of 182 titles of documents, stretches over 8 pages, with 19 of those listed as Title Confidential

In order to provide something for web search engines which do not index (.pdf) files, here is a web page version of this list of titles, in a new window.

However the majority of these titles are not censored , and might be of interest to Spy Bog readers, for crime prevention and deterrence, academic and journalistic purposes, and to see if SOCA is actually being advised properly about the realistic capabilities of, say telecommunications technology etc..

A selection of potentially interesting titles:

  • Technology Enabled Crime: The Use of Information and Communications Technology by Serious Organised Criminals March 2009

  • Fiscal Fraud: Accommodation Addresses as a Fraud Enabler March 2009

  • Technology-Enabled Crime Recent Developments in the Governance of Internet Domain Names and the Potential Impact on Criminal Use of the Internet March 2009

  • Money Laundering: The Creation of Complex Financial Structures by Specialist Money Launderers March 2009

  • Criminal Finance and Profits: Service-based Money Laundering through Music Tours and Nightclub Events February 2009

  • Internet Crime: Activities of a Russian-language Online Criminal Forum February 2009

  • Suspected Criminal Use of Pre-Paid Cards reported in SARs in 2008 February 2009

  • Criminal Use of Electronic Currency Systems and Stored Value Cards January 2009

  • Class A Drugs : Command-and-Control Communications Structure Identified January 2009

  • Suspicious Activity Reports Data Matching January 2009

  • Proceeds of Crime: Analysis of Suspicious Activity Reporting from UK-Registered Online Betting Exchanges January 2009

  • Internet Crime: Activities and Identity of Internet Criminal November 2008

  • Prisons: A Method of Smuggling Contraband into HM Prisons, including Class A Drugs November 2008

  • Cross-Cutting Threats: The Abuse of the Pseudo Trader Unique Reference Number (TURN) System by Serious Organised Criminals November 2008

  • UK Borders: Use of Corrupt Airport Workers by Serious Organised Criminals November 2008

  • The Threat to SOCA from Private Investigators and Others Seeking Unauthorised Access to Information October 2008

Do SOCA interpret every legitimate request for information as a "threat" ?

  • UK Borders: The Dutch Law Enforcement View of the Risk from General Aviation October 2008

  • Commercial Burglary: The Theft of High Value Communications Hardware ("Blades") October 2008

  • Criminal Finances and Profits: Use of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals Within Bookmakers to Launder Criminal Finances and Profits October 2008

  • Identity Fraud: The Use of Identity Fraud as an Enabler in Serious Organised Crime September 2008

  • Internet Crime: Implications of New Restrictions Imposed by Canadian Internet Registration Authority for Law Enforcement Requests for Information September 2008

  • Criminal Techniques: The Changing or Cloning of IMEI Numbers in Mobile Telephones by Criminals August 2008

  • Criminal Techniques: The Use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) by Serious Organised Criminals August 2008

  • Internet Crime: How the Russian Business Network (RBN) has attempted to Evade Law Enforcement and Industry Countermeasures May 2008

  • UK Borders: The Use of the UK-Ireland Border by Serious Organised Criminals April 2008

  • Organised Immigration Crime: Serious Organised Criminals' Attempts to Ingratiate Themselves with UK Authorities April 2008

  • Class A Drugs : Analysis of UK Mobile Telephone Number Featuring in Multiple Heroin Trafficking Operations April 2008

  • UK Borders: How Serious Organised Criminals Exploit Vulnerabilities in the UK's Border Controls April 2008

Unfortunately, for now at least, SOCA is exempt from the list of Public Authorities which have to comply with Freedom of Information Act Requests.

Some of these titles would appear to be useful to the supposedly informed public debate about Communications Traffic Data, Intercept as Evidence, and RIPA reform public consultations and Government policies.

Will any Parliamentary Committees or individual Members of Parliament probe SOCA about what these publications and assessments actually mean in detail ?

Why is Gordon Brown still Prime Minister ?

Both the BBC and The Times (UPDATE: and the official transcript of the speech on the number 10 Downing Street website) quote him, without seeming to notice or care about exactly what nonsense or deceit he was uttering:

Mr Brown told a crime conference in west London: "We face new kinds of crime - especially knife crime, organised crime, e-crime and identity theft

On which planet can "knife crime" be described as a "new kind of crime" ?

We understand that politicians, especially Labour politicians have little or no grasp of complicated modern technology, but low tech "knife crime" has been with us since pre-historic times !

The Times also notes, just as Spy Blog has done in the past, that:

The budget for Soca is about £400 million, compared with the £2.5 billion a year designated for counter-terrorism, leading to criticism that the Government has never taken organised crime seriously.

We await tomorrow's publication of the SOCA annual report with no real expectation of reassurance.

The Labour Government seem to be intent on their freedom and civil liberties "scorched earth" policy of inflicting the controversial centralised biometric database National Identity Register on us ahead of the General Election.

Will Parliament rubber stamp these 4 new Statutory Instruments published today, and kick off the National Identity Register, even before a National Identity Scheme Commissioner is appointed ?

Will the BALPA and UNISON trades unions who represent airside workers at Manchester and London City Airport, take industrial action and finance test cases through the courts, against this discriminatory imposition of ID Cards on them ?

What they want is a single security credential, capable of opening doors and barriers to gain access "Airside", which is valid at all UK airports. This National ID Cards is just another bit of plastic to look after, which will do nothing to provide any extra security at airports whatsoever.

Please join or support the cross party NO2ID Campaign who will be will marshalling some effective opposition to this Database State function creep.

4 Draft Orders laid before Parliament under the Identity Cards Act 2006, for approval by resolution of each House of Parliament:

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Information and Code of Practice on Penalties) Order 2009

2. In paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 to the 2006 Act (information that may be recorded in the Register) after paragraph (g) insert--

(ga) particulars of every person who has been named as a referee by the individual on an application for an ID card or a designated document, so far as those particulars were included on the application;".

[...]

(i) any credit reference agency which, at the time when the particular requirement is imposed under section 9 of the 2006 Act, is a party to a contract for the supply of information for the purposes of the carrying out by the Secretary of State of functions under that Act.

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Fees) Regulations 2009

Prescribed fees

2.--(1) Subject to regulation 3, the fee for an application to be entered in the Register is £30.

(2) Subject to regulations 3 and 4, the fee for an application for the issue of an ID card is £30.

Exemptions for airside workers

3. No fee is payable for an application to be entered in the Register or for the issue of an ID card, if at the relevant time the applicant--

(a) holds an airside pass in respect of Manchester or London City Airport;

(b) holds employment for which such a pass is required; or

(c) has been offered employment for which such a pass is required.

General exemptions from the fee for an application for the issue of an ID card

4. No fee is payable for an application for the issue of an ID card in a case where--

(a) the application accompanies an application to be entered in the Register; or

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Provision of Information without Consent) Regulations 2009

Provision of information to another person

3.--(1) Subject to regulations 4 and 5, information that may be provided under any of sections 17 to 20 of the 2006 Act to--

(a) a chief officer of police;

(b) the Director-General of the Security Service;

(c) the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service;

(d) the Director of the Government Communication Headquarters;

(e) the Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency; or

(f) subject to paragraph (5), the Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs,

may be provided instead to another person if the conditions set out in paragraph (2) are satisfied.

and

(b) make a record of--

(i) the name of the person requesting the information under any of sections 17 to 20 of the 2006 Act;

(ii) the date and time of the request;

(iii) the reason for the request, including the reason why it was considered necessary and proportionate to request all the relevant information; and

(iv) the information which was provided pursuant to the request,

and retain that record for 12 months from the date the request was made, unless the Commissioner and the Secretary of State are satisfied that the record no longer needs to be retained;

5 (2) (c) (ii) the use of an ID card;

Why are the HMRC tax inspectors going to have access, without your consent to the supposedly confidential biometric personal data and to audit trail of each and every electronic verification of the of the ID Card against the centralised NIR database ?


The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Designation) Order 2009

2) In this Order -

"airside pass" means a pass allowing the person to whom it has been issued unaccompanied access to a restricted zone or to part of a restricted zone;

"person subject to immigration control" means a person who under the Immigration Act 1971(2) requires leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom (whether or not such leave has been given); and

"restricted zone" means an area designated by the Secretary of State under section 11A of the Aviation Security Act 1982(3) (Designation of restricted zones).

UPDATE: The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Information and Code of Practice on Penalties) Order 2009 brings into force the:

'The Identity Cards Act 2006, Code of Practice on Civil Penalties (.pdf)

As usual with this complicated legislation, the Government fails to explain why sneaky exemptions to natural justice and the rule of law are being smuggled in to this legislation e.g in the The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Provision of Information without Consent) Regulations 2009

Why are there exemptions from reporting

Provision of information requirements

[....]

5 (2)

d) inform the Secretary of State if that person, or anyone acting on that person's behalf, has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an individual has committed or is attempting to commit an offence relating to the Register or an identity document, unless doing so would prejudice--

(i) the prevention or detection of crime; or

(ii) the interests of national security;

(e) co-operate with any investigations by the Secretary of State into suspected fraudulent activity relating to the Register or an identity document, unless doing so would prejudice--

(i) the prevention or detection of crime; or

(ii) the interests of national security;

Why should the duty to inform or cooperate with investigations by the Secretary of State about attempts to compromise the integrity or security of the National Identity Register database or an individual identity document be prevented ?

Can the Home Office not be trusted with such information ?

Just in case you thought that that was the end of the bureaucratic and legalistic red tape, there are a further 6 planned Statutory Instruments, making it 10 in all:

Hopefully none of the Forensics Experts mentioned in the previous Spy Blog article

Operation Alegbra child rape convictions in Scotland: open WiFi tracking, digital camera image forensics

will get treated like the UK Digital Forensics expert Jim Bates, who, despite 30 years experience as an expert for both the Prosecution and the Defence, in many cases involving child porn images on computers, seems to have been targeted by the Police, and arrested, on exactly the same charges as most of the people in the Operation Algebra case were convicted of i.e. "conspiracy to possess indecent images of children".

See The Register Paedo case expert Jim Bates arrested on child porn charge

Presumably this has something to do with the disastrous handling of the massive Operation Ore investigation, where Jim Bates acted for some the defendants, and where it was proven that many of the thousands of people who were suspected of being in possession of "child porn, had actually had their credit card numbers stolen and used on the FBI run child porn website, or had suffered from pop up child porn adverts, when browsing legal adult porn websites.

See investigative journalist Duncan Campbell's article in The Guardian: Operation Ore flawed by fraud

Last week saw the publication of the successful High Court Appeal by Jim Bates, against the validity of the search warrant used by the Avon and Somerset Police to search his home in September 2008.

See the text of the Judgment on the BAILII website: Bates & Anor v Chief Constable of the Avon and Somerset Police & Anor [2009] EWHC 942 (Admin) (08 May 2009), which explains the legal background to this extraordinary case:

Mr Justice Owen :

28. I consider that Mr Jones' submission is well founded. Given their knowledge of the first claimant's role as an expert witness over many years, I do not consider that either the officers or the justice could have been satisfied that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the first claimants' computers would not contain material subject to legal privilege or special procedure material. It seems clear that they did not address the question. Had they done so, they must have come to the conclusion that the first claimant's computers might contain such material. In those circumstances there was a means by which the police could have examined the computers for material relevant to their investigation, namely by exercising the power of seizure contained in sections 50-52 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, but as I have already observed, they did not do so. Accordingly in my judgment there was no jurisdiction to issue the warrant in the form in which it was sought and issued. Accordingly I would quash the warrant on this ground, and grant the relief sought, namely a declaration that the entry and search of the premises, and the seizures made in the course of the search, were unlawful.

GROUND (d)
29. Ground (d) is directed at the extension of the search. DI Cawsey gave evidence in her witness statement that she authorised the extension of the search under section 19 when it was reported to her that a large number of computers and hard discs had been found in the course of execution of the warrant. But if the warrant was not lawfully issued, it could not have been extended under section 19; and it follows that the seizure of the materials the subject of the purported extension was also unlawful.

Lord Justice Richards :

30. I agree.

Hopefully the Crown Prosecution Service will now drop the charges against Jim Bates and Chris Magee.


"Child Abuse" is one of the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse regularly invoked as a justification for ever more Government snooping and censorship of the internet, even though these problems have existed for thousands of years before the internet was invented.

Nevertheless, it is true that some, but not all, of the people obsessed with "child porn" images, collected, or swapped via the internet, are actual baby rapers of the most disgusting variety.

Last week in Scotland, the Operation Algebra case resulted in the conviction of a couple of such evil men, and 6 other of their child porn swapping / collecting associates

The mainstream media has reports about the shocking rapes and abuse, not just of children but of infant babies by the chief perpetrators David Rennie and Neil Strachan, who are being considered for "whole life custody" prison sentences.

Edinburgh based journalist Mike Wade, has published, on his Wades world blog, a fuller version of his article Paedophile gang preyed on children of close friends published in The Times, Friday 8 May, 2009, which includes some of the more interesting technical details of the investigation, which have been edited out.

See Wade's world: The men who preyed on their friends' kids

However, from a computer security, privacy and civil liberties viewpoint, the case has several points of interest.

  • No use of Encryption ?
  • Mobile Phone videos
  • Communications Traffic Data
  • Mutual Legal Assistance avoids RIPA ban on email intercept evidence ?
  • Tracking down a target computer abusing open WiFi connections
  • Digital Photo and Camera Forensics

The smug and complacent, yet incompetent and untrustworthy, Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and her side kick Vernon Coaker, have been spinning their grudging response to the European Court of Human Rights Judgment against them in the Marper case, regarding their illegal and immoral retention of innocent people's DNA human tissue samples and analysed DNA profiles on the Police National DNA Database. This also applies to the 10 finger and palm print Fingerprints of innocents on the IDENT1 database.

Read their latest fake "public consultation" (as if anyone believes now that they will somehow "listen" to the public who bother to submit formal responses):

Annex B contains a list of the the names of the data fields which currently make up a DNA Database profile record.

Annex C has some academic research commissioned by the Home Office from the Jill Dando Institute to explain the Home Office's dubious choice of 6 and 12 year retention periods. This paper by the criminologist Professor Ken Pease OBE, is based on a "sample" of Metropolitan Police Service cases, in the "No Further Action" (NFA) category, not from the entire National DNA Database.

There is a hint that the Home Office were lobbying for 15 years data retention in the case of Fingerprints. Note that Professor Pease mentions the evils of Eugenics, something which the NuLabour police / nanny / database / surveillance state politicians, apparatchiks and spin doctors did not dare to mention in their press releases and interviews.

Annex D has a "monetised impact assessment" full of obscure figures e.g. they assume it costs 90p per year to refrigerate each DNA human tissue sample.

All of these figures look to be guesses, or evidence of bloated costs e.g. £15,000 to write and test a computer program to automatically delete records off the databases after a set period of time, something that should only take a couple of lines of computer code to program (such standard routines almost certainly already exist in the data backup software)

These new style "impact assessments" are starting to appear across Government, but they still do not provide enough detail of the basic assumptions and omissions, to make much sense.

There is no good reason why the other "samples" which the Police are legally empowered to take from you (by force, without your consent, if necessary) should not also be destroyed once they have been properly forensically analysed and processed:
i.e. oral swabs (skin cells from the inside of the mouth, used for DNA analysis) , saliva, blood, urine, semen, pubic hair, other human tissue.

That should also apply to the Non-Biological Samples i.e. photographs ("mug shots"), footwear impressions and dental impressions (classified as "intimate" samples), and to Samples taken for non-DNA analysis purposes e.g. alcohol or drugs related analyses.

N.B. Obviously none of this applies to Crime Scene samples.

Read the GeneWatch UK Press Release, who, like all the other numerate and principled people who oppose this potentially genocidal policy, are unlikely to be mollified by these "fake consultation" documents.

Home Office drags its feet on DNA database removals

The Daily Telegraph newspaper, used to be seen as a Tory leaning newspaper, but recently, it seems to have become a Labour government / Whitehall bureaucracy official mouthpiece. As such, it seems to be the only mainstream media publication which carries a denial of the report by The Sunday Times and The Register, regarding the internet snooping capability upgrade investment supposedly being made at the Government Communications Head Quarters GCHQ, electronic communications spying agency.

That story was sparked off by the job advertisement which mentioned the Mastering The Internet programme, as part of the Interception Modernisation Programme

See:

The Daily Telegraph report of the denial by the secretive GCHQ, published is without a named journalist's byline.

GCHQ - the Government's secret electronic eavesdropping agency - has denied that it was pressing ahead with plans to monitor all internet use and telephone calls in the UK.

Last Updated: 10:16PM BST 03 May 2009

However, there is actually an official GCHQ Press Release on their website:

GCHQ: our Intelligence and Security mission in the Internet age

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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  • anon: The FSB and Russian TV news has named the alleged read more
  • wtwu: The FSB have now released some recordings / translated selected read more

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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