June 2009 Archives


Back in November 2007, Spy Blog commented: Countering terrorism with more quangos - more detail of Gordon Brown's security statement

The Labour Government has now published, without bothering to consult the general public, its first public UK Cyber Security Strategy, "coincidentally" in the same week as the US government re-launched their own military Cyberspace Command plans.

Cyber Security Strategy of the United Kingdom - safety, security and resilience in cyber space - June 2009 (.pdf 32 pages)

New Cyber Organisations

The Cyber Security Strategy sets out the Government's plans to establish two new organisations, both of which will be established in September 2009, and will be operational by the end of March 2010:

ocs_logo_258.jpg

An Office of Cyber Security (OCS) to provide strategic leadership for and coherence across Government. The OCS will establish and oversee a cross-government programme to address priority areas in pursuit of the UK's strategic cyber security objectives.

csoc_logo_300.jpg

A Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) that will bring together existing functions: to actively monitor the health of cyber space and co-ordinate incident response; to enable better understanding of attacks against UK networks and users; and to provide better advice and information about the risks to business and the public.

[...]

3.22 Both new structures will be established in September 2009 and will be operational by the end of March 2010.

Some obvious Spy Blog questions:

Does either the Office of Cyber Security or the Cyber Security Operations Centre

  • have an elected Cabinet Minister directly responsible for it, and democratically accountable for its failures (or, in theory, responsible for its successes) ?

  • have even a junior elected Minister directly responsible for it, and democratically accountable for its failures (or, in theory, responsible for its successes) ?

  • have even a senior Civil Servant of Permanent Secretary rank directly responsible for it, and professionally accountable for its failures (or, in theory, responsible for its successes) ?

  • have any independent budget to spend on Cyber Security ? If so, then how much ?

  • replace any of the other existing bureaucratic agencies, offices, departments, quangos, non-departmental government bodies etc, ?

  • have any planned strong statutory legal enforcement powers i.e. criminal prosecutions with fines and or prison sentences ?

  • have any planned weak statutory legal enforcement powers e.g. like the Information Commissioner ?

  • have the power to cancel or amend Government IT projects and IT contracts if they are fail the Cyber Security standards ?

  • have the power to cancel or amend Government IT projects and IT contracts if they fail the Privacy and Liberty Proportionality criteria ?

  • be easily and securely contactable by the general public via secure SSL/ TLS encrypted web response forms, or PGP encrypted emails or by (freephone) telephone ?

  • be easily and securely contactable by the people who look after Critical National Infrastructure systems via secure SSL/ TLS encrypted web response forms, or PGP encrypted emails or by (freephone) telephone ?

  • be easily and securely contactable by the general public or by Critical National Infrastructure people, most of whom work in the private sector, 24hours a day, 7days a week, including holidays ?

If, as we suspect, the answers to most of these questions is "no", then this UK Cyber Security Strategy is worse than useless, and is just some more Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something political propaganda.

This "strategy" looks like something which the now defunct Office of the e-Envoy and the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit both failed to achieve.

Wading through the "engagement / stakeholder / addressing / combating" etc. spin doctor / management consultant nuspeak, some paragraphs do stand out:

The Twitterverse and the mainstream media seem to be convinced that Twitter and Facebook etc. are important in getting first hand reports and images and videoclips, past the Iranian government censors.

Others acknowledge that these have helped to spread the story in the West, but are a bit more sceptical about what is actually being used successfully in Iran at the moment, They are also rightly critical of the pointless attempts at Denial of Service attacks on Iranian government websites etc.- see Ethan Zuckerman: Iran, citizen media and media attention

What then, can the more than merely internet literate readers of Spy Blog do, to help ?

If you are not doing so already, then you could help Iranian democracy, and similarly repressed people in Burma, China, Tibet, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Cuba etc. by running a Tor Relay or even a Tor Exit node.

Tor - The Onion Routing network

You would be giving something back to the community, which you yourselves will increasingly have to make use of,in order to escape from the Labour Government's "Eye of Sauron" Intercept Modernisation Programme / Communications Data Bill plans for retaining and snooping on your Communications Traffic Data etc. .

There is evidence that Tor is being used in Iran, even though various internet ports may have been temporarily blocked by the Iranian regime.

new_tor_iran_450.jpg

The official Tor blog has some details about Measuring Tor and Iran

See also the Renesys blog, for details of the temporary outages and congestion of Iranian international internet connections: Iran and the Internet: Uneasy Standoff

Download the Tor / Vidalia software bundle from:

https://www.torproject.org/easy-download.html.en

Spy Blog, whilst not yet hosting a full mirror, is hosting a copy of the Tor download mirror sites information page.

If you are desperate, here is a copy of the Tor / Vidalia / Tor Button / Privoxy bundle for Windows (approximately 8Mb) - currently version 0.2.0.34.

Remember to read and understand the warnings about the ways in which you can still betray your real IP address, even if you are using Tor.

Some discussions about setting up Tor and other proxy servers, and other advice for Iranian election protestors:

  • http://iran.whyweprotest.net/ discussion forums.

  • Eric S. Raymond, a famous Open Source software advocate is publicly spearheading the public point of contact for a collaborative effort to set up anonymous Squid proxy servers, for the benefit of Iranian demonstrators and the rest of us, called NedaNet (named after one of the people killed in the street violence, rather than the Iranian ISP)
    See - Dispatches from the Iranian cyberfront.

  • Austin Heap's blog is helping with sorting out configuration files on different platforms and collecting and testing) the IP addresses of open Squid proxy servers and communicating these to the Iranian protestors without tipping off the Iranian regime's censors.

Feel free to ask Spy Blog questions about the use of Tor, or other technologies to help preserve your anonymity, and to circumvent internet censorship by repressive regimes, either in the comments or via email (or via PGP encrypted email)

A few tips about Tor:

  • TOR Bridge relays
  • ADSL broadband Bandwidth issues
  • Tor relay exit policies

Some sections the UK political blogosphere and of the newspapers, are discussing the implications of the recent failed attempt by a blogger to obtain an injunction preventing The Times newspaper from publishing his name as the author of an "insider,"on the job" blog based on his experiences as a serving Police Detective Constable

See the ruling by Mr. Justice Eady: The Author of A Blog v Times Newspapers Ltd [2009] EWHC 1358 (QB) (16 June 2009)

Justice Eady's ruling does not really change the legal privacy protection currently enjoyed by bloggers in the UK i.e. none whatsoever.

Bloggers are threatened by the UK's appalling "libel tourism" laws, which favour rich people can afford the financial legal risk of large legal fees, and by various repressive bits of UK Government legislation for "national security" or "serious organised crime" purposes, but which have been used for political purposes, or to harass critics of the Police and the bureaucracy.

Perhaps insider police, or other public service, "on the job" blogs will now become even rarer, as a result of the revelation of Detective Constable Richard Horton identity as the author of the Night Jack blog.

N.B. you can still see many of the entries by subscribing to it via an RSS feed aggregator like Bloglines , even though the Wordpress hosted blog has been nominally deleted.

To "delete" a blog more thoroughly, each of the entries should have first been censored and then re-published, to infect the RSS feed caches with an updated censored or blanked out version of each article, and then the blog can be deleted or unpublished, with less of a persistent data shadow. Even so, there will still be many copies of the now embarrassing or offending blog somewhere on the internet.

Such ongoing "on the job" blogs, are not usually primarily for whistleblowing purposes, but they do give a valuable picture of life at the sharp end of such public service organisations,

Where they highlight or just hint at abuses and incompetence, such blogs should actually be read and acted upon by the senior management (and external regulators) of such organisations, not just suppressed and covered up.

However, The Times newspaper has further damaged its reputation over this affair, because it is not at all clear that there is any public interest in "naming and shaming" the author of this blog, and they were simply wrong to manufacture this "story" in the first place.

The reporter Patrick Foster, whose byline accompanies the story, also has a history of "breaking the rules":

The BBC reported that Patrick Foster was rusticated from Oxford University in 2005

Oxford pair suspended for hacking

for having, with an accomplice,

infiltrated the university's computer systems and said they were able to view live closed circuit material and access information about students' computer use.

Why should any whistleblower or other confidential journalistic source trust Patrick Foster, Media Correspondent or any of the other journalists at The Times ?

If what Patrick Foster claims, in a follow up article, Writer advised on how to evade long arm of the law is true

Mr Horton was adamant that he had taken great pains to keep his identity secret. But on his blog, he also described his visits to a jiu-jitsu club, adding a hyperlink to the website of the organising body for the martial art. Lancashire Constabulary jiu-jitsu club lists only one member who is a detective -- Detective Constable Richard Horton.

Mr Horton was also a member of a number of social networking websites. Those who logged on to his account on the Facebook website could follow posts written by his brother, Roger, who currently lives in Texas. The pair had conducted a conversation about the blog on a publicly accessible part of the website.

then it appears that Richard Horton did not really go to any great lengths to hide his identity online, apart from using a pseudonym, and shared blog space in the USA, especially since since he linked to various social networking sites etc. and mentioned details which were very specific to his local, Lancashire based private life.

Obviously there are other, somewhat more cumbersome and stealthier ways of publishing information - see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers etc. - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc. (and other political opponents of Gordon Brown).

The Times' claims that the details and opinions published by Night Jack about some notorious local criminals, somehow might have been a breach of confidence etc, which might, in theory prejudice a fair trial, seems to be rather far fetched.

However it was only after the criminal trials were over, and the names and details of the offences were publicised by other local newspapers, that Patrick Foster was able to link the names and offences, to the opinions and anonymised skeleton facts, published on the Night Jack blog.

Spy Blog agrees with Mr. Justice Eady that it would have been wrong for Night Jack / Richard Horton's attempt at getting an injunction to muzzle the The Times to have succeeded, since whenever the Law meddles with free speech and privacy issues, there always seem to be second order knock on effects, way beyond the specific case,

There is no benefit to society as a whole, in giving "meedja reputation" lawyers like Schillings any more legalistic tricks and threats to use to try to suppress bloggers rights.

If Mr. Justice Eady is correct that

10. ... Although the Claimant here is not a journalist, the function he performs via his blog is closely analogous. I see no greater justification for a reasonable expectation of anonymity in this case than in that concerning Mr Mahmood.

11. I consider that the Claimant fails at stage one, because blogging is essentially a public rather than a private activity.

then surely this could and should be applied to anonymous Whitehall public relations spokesmen, briefers, spin doctors and lobbyists as well ?

Presumably they cannot now expect to get a legal injunction to suppress the "detective work" by other journalists or bloggers, who might expose their names "in the public interest" ?

Will this ruling affect our, and other people's, Freedom of Information of Information Act requests, where the names and or job titles of civil servants are redacted or censored ?

Other informed coverage of this case:


Researchers from the Policy Engagement Network, based in the London School of Economics Information Systems and Innovation Group, have produced a 57 page report, which is essential reading for anyone worried about the Home Office's EU Directive based mandatory Communications Traffic Data Retention laws, and their vague plans for extending this even further the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), the review of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) codes of practice and legislation .

It is also relevant to Sir John Chilcot's Privy Council Working Group review of Intercept as Evidence, and to GCHQ's Mastering the Internet plans, and to other Surveillance Database State policy issues like the National Identity Register / ID Cards scheme:

Briefing on the Interception Modernisation Programme (.pdf 57 pages)

Abstract

In this briefing we aim to provide some depth of understanding of the nature of the Home Officeʼs latest proposals on communications surveillance. We are sympathetic with the needs of the law enforcement community and we agree with the Home Office that the communications environment is changing. However we question whether the Home Office fully understands the extent to which the way in which surveillance activities are authorised would change were its wishes granted, in turn leading to a tipping of the balance in favour of state power and away from the individual. We are also concerned that there is a significant under-estimate of the burdens being placed on Communication Service Providers at a time where elsewhere in government there is a demand for universal broadband internet provision which industry is supposed to fund. This report was not drafted to respond to the Home Officeʼs Consultation document, but rather we are adding more expertise to the public deliberation on this policy. The report is the result of research we conducted with key experts across the UK and internationally.

Table of Contents:

Today' saw the announcement of the appointment of Sir John Sawers KCMG as the new Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6

He is presumably now in the process of being briefed, to take over this role, when the present incumbent Sir John Scarlett retires in November.

Sir John Sawers is currently the United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

However, according to The Times: Outsider Sir John Sawers appointed new head of MI6

Despite the fact that Sir John is not a current MI6 employee he did begin his career with the espionage agency, serving in Yemen and Syria. He then switched to the Diplomatic Service in the mid-1980s, following a more conventional path as a British envoy, and was appointed political director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2003. From 1999 to 2001 he was the foreign affairs adviser to Tony Blair.

On the positive side is his having studied Physics and Philosophy at a non-Oxbridge University, rather than subjects like history or the law etc., usually taken by Whitehall mandarins at Cambridge or Oxford.

On the negative side is his apparent political closeness to Tony Blair.

We wonder what former British Ambassadors and bloggers Craig Murray and Charles Crawford think of this appointment.

[UPDATE this blog post was temporarily unpublished, in error, and in the meantime, Charles Crawford has published his positive views about his friend Sir John Sawers, Superspy]

Will Sir John Sawers make any of the necessary changes in the running of SIS/MI6, which is still far too secretive and hard to contact via the internet, compared with their foreign rivals, and even compared with their sister agencies in the United Kingdom e.g. the Security Service MI5 ?

Spy Blog has a few suggestions in this regard, which the people at Vauxhall Cross SIS HQ are welcome to have (for free) - - contact us through email etc.

Although it seems that the Labour Government has delayed the Parliamentary rubber stamping, originally scheduled for this Wednesday, to sometime later, perhaps next month, a couple of the Secondary legislation Draft Statutory Instruments which list some more of the the devilish detail of the National Identity Register compulsory centralised biometric database and ID Cards scheme are now available online.

See the previous Spy Blog article: National Identity Cards Scheme creep - 4 Draft Orders laid before Parliament under the Identity Cards Act 2006

The two new Draft SIs are:

There are two major issues with the detail of this latter SI, both to do with the extra information which ALL Applicants (for a new entry on the National Identity Register, or for a Modified Entry, within 3 months of when their circumstances have changed) .are REQUIRED to supply.

These data are not included in the statutory list of Registrable Facts listed in the Identity Cards Act 2006 Schedule 1 Information that may be recorded in Register

e.g.

(a) full name by which the applicant is commonly known for official purposes,

(b) any other names by which the applicant is or has been known for official purposes and details of the period during which the applicant is or has been so known ,

What exactly are these "official purposes" ?
Official purposes of the Home Office?
Any other UK Government Department ?
Any UK non-Governmental agency like the Police or your semi-privatised National Health Hospital Trust ?
Any other European Union Government Department or agency ?

Any and all of these are capable of misspelling your name on their plethora of incompatible computer systems.

Why should you have to help the Home Office to propagate errors and mistakes, on a database that will haunt you for the rest of your life, and beyond ?

Much more sinister, is the demand for :

(m) a contact telephone number for the applicant,

(this phrase occurs in three different Schedules to these Regulations)

Why is this REQUIRED to be supplied by ALL applicants ?

It may come as a surprise to the Home Office, but not everyone in the UK actually has a "contact telephone number" !

Note that there is no provision for a contact email address !

Postal addresses, even for those who are homeless, are already covered in the rest of the Regulations.

Who will the Home Office be handing this contact telephone number data over to ?

N.B. "contact telephone number" is not going to be stored on the National Identity Register database or the ID Card itself, but it must still be supplied as part of the registration or modification process. Therefore it is exempt from the vague promises made by the Labour politicians and apparatchiki, about the privacy and security of the actual National Identity Register database itself.

So why is there this demand for for a "contact telephone number", for which there is no good reason for the Home Office to be told about, and kept updated for the 5 to 10 year lifetime of each ID Card, and cumulatively for the rest of your life ?

This has all the appearance of a sneaky attempt to link Names and Addresses to unregistered pre-paid mobile phone handsets, something which would fit in with the rest of the Home Office's Communications Traffic Data retention and snooping plans.

It also looks suspiciously like the sort of data which the Home Office would like to sell to private sector companies, like the controversial, data hungry 118800 mobile phone directory service. (see The Register - Mobile directory made legal threats to get personal details)

There is no easy or cheap error correction mechanism, set forth in this series of complicated Statutory Instruments.

All the power is with the bureaucrats, or their sub-contractors, and all the legal responsibility, risk and expense in chasing up errors, is lumped on to the innocent members of the public, on whom this ID cards scheme is being inflicted.

Will any Members of Parliament actually bother to scrutinise these Draft Statutory Instruments in detail, or will they simply be rubber stamped, as usual ?


The Sunday Times seems to have been anonymously briefed again by Home Office and Downing Street spin doctors.

Why does this Labour Government persist with such media manipulation and propaganda ?

What harm would it do for the Home Secretary to officially announce such a Review of the policy ? Why do they have to sneak it out via a Sunday Newspaper briefing ?

The Sunday Times
June 14, 2009

Alan Johnson eyes ID card U-turn

Jonathan Oliver, Political Editor

ALAN JOHNSON, the home secretary, has launched an urgent review of the £6 billion identity card (ID) scheme, paving the way for a possible U-turn on one of Labour's flagship policies.

Johnson, who was promoted in Gordon Brown's latest cabinet reshuffle, is understood to be "sympathetic" to critics who claim identity cards will undermine civil liberties.

The home secretary told officials that he wanted a "first principles" rethink of the plan, which was launched by Tony Blair following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and has since been championed by Brown as a way of fighting terrorism.

"Alan is more sympathetic to the civil liberties arguments than previous home secretaries," said an insider.

"He is genuinely open minded. He wants to see all the evidence and then he will make his decision before the end of the summer."

[...]

A spokesman for No 10 said: "As you would expect, the new home secretary has asked for full and detailed briefing across a range of key issues including the principles and the progress of the identity cards."

Johnson said in a statement last night that ID cards remained a "manifesto commitment". He added: "We remain on course to bring in a policy that we believe has widespread public support."

You can write to the Home Secretary Alan Johnson, to express your fears, concerns about, and opposition to the database surveillance state aspects of the National Identity Scheme, ID Cards and the real danger, the national Identity Register compulsory centralised biometric database at:

Home Secretary
Rt Hon. Alan Johnson MP
c/o Direct Communications Unit
Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Home Office telephone: 020 7035 4848 (09:00-17:00 Mon-Fri)
fax: 020 7035 4745

email: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

You might also like to formally invite him to come to your local area to "listen" to your and other people's concerns, in person.

An acceptance of such an invitation,or even a refusal, is something worth reporting to your local ,or even national, news media organisations.

Contact your one of the NO2ID Campaign local groups for help with this.

NO2ID_logo-20082408.png

The article also says:

Ministers have shelved plans to push a series of regulations through the Commons that would allow the government to move forward with the next phase of the identy card scheme. The statutory instruments were due to be debated on Wednesday but the debate has been postponed until next month.

Presumably these are the Secondary Legislation Orders which would have revealed the real detail of the scheme, in preparation for the unnecessary Airport workers ID Card scheme - literally a "pilot scheme", as it is being inflicted on some airline pilots etc., who already have plenty of security passes and identity checks.

See the previous Spy Blog article: National Identity Cards Scheme creep - 4 Draft Orders laid before Parliament under the Identity Cards Act 2006

The Guardian has a follow up article giving some details of the mechanics of the unsuccessful "Hotmail plot" by the anti-Gordon Brown faction of Labour Members of Parliament

Why plot to oust Gordon Brown failed

The rebels switched from email to texts on a disposable mobile but bid to oust PM was doomed

* Allegra Stratton, political correspondent
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 June 2009 21.48 BST

At 3pm on Monday 8 June, 15 people met in an MP's office in the House of Commons to agree that, for the time being at least, the Hotmail Plot had failed.

[...]

"The difference between getting 50 and the necessary 70 will be the disloyalty factor," one told the Guardian when the plot was in full swing. The Hotmail Plot -- so called because of the email address, signonnow@hotmail.co.uk, which MPs were asked to sign up to, calling for Brown to go, remained undetected for days until the Guardian revealed it at noon, shortly after Blears had resigned.

By Wednesday evening, the covert tactic unravelled as thousands of emails arrived. Apart from the odd one from genuinely sympathetic MPs, spoofs, foreign emails, and junk emails flowed in.

Exactly as predicted in the Spy Blog article signonnow@hotmail.co.uk - The Email Address Most Likely To Be Snooped On ? - Labour in crisis: the Hotmail conspiracy

One rebel said: "We got one email from brownn@parliament.uk [the email address of the chief whip]. It might be that they were hoping we'd publish a list and not notice his name was in it and then he could show all the names were ridiculous."

Did they check the full email headers to see if it was sent from the parliamentary email servers e.g. hpux13x.parliament.uk, hp3k17m.parliament.uk etc. and the outsourced anti-spam and anti-virus email service run by messagelabs.com , or was it simply a trivially spoofed email return address ?

[...]

Instead, the rebels adopted a tactic favoured by organised criminals and bought an untraceable pay as you go mobile, encouraging sympathetic colleagues to get in touch that way. It became a text message plot.

The use of SMS text messages was suggested in the previous Spy Blog article above.

It is wrong to imply that only organised criminals have a need for an "untraceable pay as you go mobile" - there was nothing illegal in this anti-Gordon Brown faction's attempt to gather support, and certainly no justification for any police or intelligence agency snooping, but. since knowledge is power, the temptation to do so without proper authorisation,or on some flimsy excuse invoking "national security" or "the prevention, detection or prosecution of crime", might be too great, and we the public, have no way of checking up on this.

Why did the anti-Gordon Brown faction not use SMS text messages right from the start, before the Hotmail email idea ?

Each of the core "plotters", should have obtained at least one such mobile phone.

Did these MPs claim the cost of these mobile phones from their office expenses ?

Perhaps they should read our Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc. (and anti- Gordon Brown factions in the Labour party)

One cabinet minister due to meet a rebel for dinner had their meeting cancelled - there simply wasn't a restaurant in London discreet enough.

That simply is not true, unless the Cabinet Minister's police protection team cannot be trusted not to blab.

Does the anti-Brown faction believe that they were/are under surveillance ?

Instead, that evening they would have the first of three phone calls. The cabinet minister was interested in the nature of names, irrespective of whether they had arrived by email, text or carrier pigeon.

Remember that the Wilson Doctrine regarding the Interception of the phone calls of Members of Parliament, does not seem to apply to Communications Traffic Data snooping on mobile phones or landlines i.e. who called or sent SMS text messages to whom, and when, which would reveal most of what is of interest in this scheme, to people within the Downing Street bunker, or those who might be trying to curry favour and influence there.

[...]

On Monday at 3pm the rebels met. All their info was collated on a five-page spreadsheet across which names, mobile phone numbers, "other telephone numbers" and personal non-parliamentary email addresses were set out horizontally along with the initials of the rebel MP who had brought them on board and vouched for them.

Zealots who wanted Brown out were given the number zero and those newly persuaded the number one. Zero zealots made up most of the first page; ones extended onto the second and together they came to 54. Short of the 71 crucial figure but over the 50 they had briefed journalists would trigger publication.

[...]

But there were other categories on that spreadsheet. Number four indicated friends of Brown and category three were people whose opinions were not known.

The category that was by far the longest, stretching to about 120 was number two (yesterday one rebel rang to say: "I've just seen that two of our number twos have got jobs with the government. Patronage is a big problem for plots".) The number two denoted: "Possibles, if..."

Zero Zealots ?

Who would be likely to use such a logical computer programming style, yet utterly inhuman, numbering system starting from 0, to categorise the people on the list ? Charles Clarke has a degree in Mathematics and Economics, but that does not necessarily signify much.

Another way to snoop indirectly on these Zero Zealots, would be to target The Guardian
journalists who have been given access to these details.

The Daily Record reports:

Nightwatchman left tax files centre open and unguarded while he sneaked off for a burger

Jun 9 2009 By Stephen Stewart

A HUNGRY security guard left highly sensitive files at risk while he went in search of a McDonald's.

The nightwatchman quit his post at the Customs centre in Dundee and propped open a door so he could get back into the building as he had no keys.

Why was a night watchman left on his own in a building, without any keys ?

He then took a hire car that was left on the premises for the use of Customs staff and drove off in search of fast food.

The guard - who sneaked off at 1.30am on May 30 - even picked up a friend and went for a joyride.

But at 6am, he handed himself in at a police station, telling officers he'd taken the car without permission.

It was only then that the security breach came to light - prompting an investigation by Customs bosses.

The HM Revenue and Customs contact centre in Dundee is home to millions of confidential tax files which would be rich pickings for identity thieves.

The centre, employing 800 people, is in Sidlaw House and owned by property firm Mapeley, who are also responsible for security.

A Customs insider said yesterday: "It is one of the most bizarre things I have ever heard of. Management are obviously very embarrassed by this and have been trying to keep it very hushhush for obvious reasons.

"Mapeley are supposed to call hourly through the night to check on the lone security guard and send someone to the site if there is no reply.

A lone security guard, for millions of tax records, who then leaves the building unlocked and unguarded for several hours ?

That is unprofessional and probably criminally negligent.

It certainly breaches the 7th Principle of Data Protection, as per the Data Protection Act 1998 Schedule 1:

7 Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.

"There must have been several calls with no reply but no one attended."

It is understood Mapeley sub-contracted shifts to another smaller, local firm.

The entire Mapely and HMRC chain of management need to be investigated for criminal offences under the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of information which specifically applies both to civil servants and their private sector sub-contractors:


8 Safeguarding of information

(1) [...]

(a) being a Crown servant, he retains the document or article contrary to his official duty; or

(b) being a government contractor, he fails to comply with an official direction for the return or disposal of the document or article,

or if he fails to take such care to prevent the unauthorised disclosure of the document or article as a person in his position may reasonably be expected to take.

Hamish Drummond, of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: "The guy who disappeared was apparently normally a bouncer at a nightclub. There needs to be an overhaul of security."

A Revenue & Customs spokeswoman said: "HMRC are consulting with Mapeley."

A spokeswoman for Mapeley said: "We are aware of the incident which is now the subject of a police investigation."

A police spokesman said: "A 25-year-old man from Dundee was charged with road traffic offences. A report has been sent to the fiscal."

Mapely are a Guernsey (i.e.tax haven ) based property management company, which owns and then leases back and manages most of the outsourced offices and buildings used by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and the Home Office's Borders and Immigration Agency, including the Passport / ID Card interrogation interview centres.

This points to an obvious, serious security risk, that the computer and telecommunications and biometric equipment within these Interrogation Centres will be illegally tampered with or sniffed and intercepted.

To be fair, on current performance, even Ministry of Defence armed guards, would not guarantee that such tampering or interception could never happen in the future.

Craig Murray has confirmed that political blogger Edward Teague has died:

In Memory of Ed Teague, Postman Patel

The Postman Patel blog http://postmanpatel.blogspot.com/ was one of Spy Blog's favourite blogs, with particularly interesting facts and commentary about Climate of Fear terrorism hype and on Russian oligarchs etc.

He was kind enough to comment intelligently here on Spy Blog.

Edward Teague will be missed, but hopefully some of his wisdom and wit will be preserved in cyberspace digital archives.

Home Office ministers re-shuffled

| | Comments (1)

Gordon Brown has handed the poisoned chalice of the post of Home Secretary to Alan Johnson, presumably to diminish his chances of becoming Labour party leader, after Gordon Brown is removed or resigns.

Johnson is now the 6th Labour Home Secretary since 1997,and we have no expectation that he will be any more competent than his predecessors.

No matter how much he smiles on television, he has obviously subsumed any principles he ever had as a former post man, former (?) Communist, and former Post Office workers Trades Union leader. When he was Trade and Industry Secretary, he oversaw some of the decline of the Post Office - will he resign when Mandleson now sells off most of the Post Office, or not ?

As Education Secretary, he fell for the "Omega 7 fish oil capsules make children more intelligent / better behaved in school" hype and nonsense, and seemed to be advocating compulsory medication with the "snake oil".

See Alan Johnson considering behavior control Omega-3 supplements in schools

Alan Johnson has also spouted utter rubbish regarding the number of errors made by the Criminal Records Bureau.

"And Education Secretary Alan Johnson said the number of mistakes was only 0.03 per cent of the checks carried out.

He said: "We have to get it into context. This is not about unsuitable people being allowed to work with children, this is about erring on the side of caution and people who are suitable being caught in the system."

The Alan Johnson / NuLabour spin approach is to divide the 2700 into 9 million and get a figure of 0.03% , he then claims that this is a statistically insignificant number, which it is.

However if you divide 25,000 "unsuitable" people discovered by 9 million checks, that is also statistically insignificant i.e. only 0.28 %

However if you divide 2700 the number of falsely reported criminals, by the number of alleged criminals (which includes the falsely accused ones) 25000, you get 1 in 9 negative CRB checks are false i.e. refer to innocent people, which is far, far too high a percentage.

If there are 2700 people who have been falsely accused of being criminals due to mix ups with similar names and addresses, it is a reasonable hypothesis that at least the same number of criminals will have been given an "all clear" CRB check result, for the same reasons i.e. a false negative result.

Will he be equally confused by Home Office crime statistics ?

His time as Health Secretary has also been undistinguished - the wasteful and insecure NHS medical records data spine project and the continued losses of confidential NHS data continued under his stewardship. What happened to "Swine Flu" ?

The re-shuffle at the the Minister of State level, sees Vernon Coaker moved to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Presumably his replacement as Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security is to be the Rt. Hon.http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/david_hanson/delyn" target="_twfydh" title="TheyWorkForYou.com - David Hanson - new window">David Hanson, who has been moved the Ministry of Justice from being the Minister of State responsible for the National Offender Management Service and youth justice i.e. for Prisons etc.

Phil Woolas remains in place, presumably still in charge of Immigration (and with Treasury "responsibility for revenue protection at the border"), although he was no match for the charming Joanna Lumley, over the Ghurka Justice Campaign

Such is the incompetence of Labour Government re-shuffles and re-organisations of the Home Office, that these roles still need to be confirmed - the unlamented Tony McNulty (who has now left the Department for Work and Pensions and the Government, presumably due to his unseemly 2nd home allowance claims) and Liam Byrne (the former management consultant former "Android" and e-government software solutions salesman now seems to have been absorbed into the Treasury from the Cabinet Office) , swapped roles a few days after the split of the old Home Office which spawned the Ministry of (in)Justice.

Perhaps there will be further changes at the junior Parliamentary Private Secretary level - depending on who else the vindictive unelected Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his henchman, the unelected doubly disgraced Lord Mandelson further annoy and harass out of Government.

Will the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Identity Meg Hillier, who is so out of her depth when trying to promote the notorious ID Card and National Identity Register database scheme, remain, or will she join the several other women Ministers who have left, partly because of Gordon Brown 's misogynistic style of leadership ?

Will the undistinguished Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State responsible for Crime Reduction, Alan Campbell survive ?

How much longer can the unelected Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Security and Counter-terrorism, Admiral Lord West of Spithead stand this Government ?

Seven unelected Ministers (who do not have to pass any public appointment scrutiny hearings, like in, say the USA or the European Commission), is far too many, but it shows the dearth of talent amongst Labour MPs.

One of the rumours which Sky News and the other mainstream media were on about last week, was that Louise Casey, the controversial former Home Office civil servant and NuLabour "anti-social behavior tsar" apparatchik, might become a Minister, which would also require her ennoblement, although, conceivably, she might be inflicted on the Department for Communities and Local Government rather than on the Home Office.

Overall, the short BBC2 tv documentary series Who's Watching You ? was of considerable interest, but our initial criticism still stands - they tried to cover far too many "surveillance" topics, several of which need much more explanation and analysis, for the public and politicians to be properly informed about their implications.

Despite getting face to face interviews with important Surveillance Database State policy makers (or recently retired ones, at least), like the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (who was re-shuffled during the screening of the series) and Sir David Pepper KCMG, who retired as head of GCHQ in 2008 (replaced by Iain Lobban CB), they either did not ask enough questions, or, more likely, most of the interesting stuff was censored out before transmission.

Sir_David_Pepper_450.jpg

We have transcribed a few lines from this TV programme below, from the good quality interviews broadcast or streamed in clear English.

This process of transcription (try it for yourself), illustrates just how time consuming and expensive and error prone this must be, for poor quality recordings, with background noises, perhaps in foreign languages or obscure dialects, perhaps using innocent sounding code phrases, done in a hurry by GCHQ or other intelligence agency or police transcribers, translators and intelligence analysts.

The Times reports that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is still selling your private name and address details to dodgy Private Wheel Clamping companies, despite their previous promises, after the previous scandal hit the media back in 2005.

See the previous Spy Blog article and comments: DVLA database details sold to criminals - implications for the proposed National Identity Register

DVLA is selling drivers' details to rogue wheel-clamping companies

Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent

The DVLA is selling drivers' names and addresses to clamping companies that break industry rules by charging drivers more than £500 for minor parking breaches, an investigation by The Times has established.

The agency made more than £4 million last year by selling the details of 1.6 million drivers. It sold 900 names and addresses to Newline Securities and Parking Control Management, both of which have repeatedly double-charged drivers for parking breaches and inflated bills by adding spurious charges.

[...]

The agency has continued to sell drivers' details to the companies despite being aware of their behaviour. This contradicts the agency's claim that it carefully vets companies seeking access to the vehicle register. The agency also claims that it denies access to companies that have breached the industry code on parking enforcement.

[...]

The DVLA claims that there are safeguards covering each approach. Companies seeking automatic access must sign up to the British Parking Association's (BPA) self-governing industry code.

[...]

However, The Times has obtained evidence that the BPA fails to enforce its code and ignores evidence of breaches by its members, including Newline and PCM.

The owner of PCM, David Blake, sits on the BPA panel, which is supposed to ensure fair treatment for drivers.

That looks like a conflict of interest.

[...]

The BPA has admitted that PCM and Newline breached its code but it is refusing to suspend or expel either company.

The DVLA states on its website that "failure to comply [with the BPA code] could result in suspension and expulsion, and mean that they could no longer apply for information from the DVLA vehicle record".

[...]

Remember that there are plans to make your Driving Licence into a Designated Document for the purposes of the National Identity Register.

If the DVLA is ever allowed access to the NIR, then it is clear that all that information will simply be sold, in bulk, without any proper checks, to criminals or disreputable companies.

The Guardian newspaper has a story about The Email Address Most Likely To Be Snooped On over the next few days, which has some points of interest for political whistleblowers, political conspirators and investigative journalists and bloggers.

Labour in crisis: the Hotmail conspiracy

Over past month 'rebellion of all the talents' has never met but plotted by email, borrowing tactics from Trotsky

* Allegra Stratton, Patrick Wintour and David Hencke
* The Guardian, Thursday 4 June 2009

[...]

They decided there would be a "tree" - a stalking herd - which would fan out across the parliamentary Labour party. Unlike previous rebellions which relied on huddles in corridors or face-to-face tearoom meetings, this would be ­better done virtually.

Recess came, recess went and at 10am on Monday morning a very respected select committee chairman came up to one rebel and asked for a meeting. "Because I think we're going to go aren't we".

And so it was. The next day a Hotmail account was set up. The address gave nothing away: signonnow@hotmail.co.uk. The idea was that sympathetic Labour MPs would be encouraged to send an email endorsing a single sentence. This sentence would then be printed off and added to parliamentary notepaper, with a list of all those who responded to the email address listed with the two-word battlecry: "I agree".

Wouldn't a mobile phone SMS text message "friendship tree" be more likely to be effective ?

Presumably backbench Labour MPs do actually have the mobile phone numbers of some or all of their colleagues ?

One "branch" of the tree joined the team two days ago to become an eighth member. The Guardian met this MP in the corner of a Pugin-decorated dining room and discussed the plot as glasses were arranged and crockery assembled for an event.

This MP has been involved in the plot for only two days and said he had been moved to get involved by Brown's behaviour over expenses and the way in which five MPs had been disciplined by the NEC's star chamber over expenses claims revealed in the media. "A lot of us feel that Gordon Brown is taking Labour MPs outside one by one and shooting them. His already lamentable performance has just got worse in the last few days. Gordon Brown is a liability."

Within the tree, there are concerns about the method chosen to assemble the signatories. One member said: "One of the problems with what has come out already is that an email sounds very ­esoteric. We are asking MPs to send an email into the ether which says they believe that Gordon Brown should not be the leader of the Labour party. That is very high risk. As it is, the Labour party has never sent out a group email and if it did I bet you'd get back 150 emails saying 'account not recognised' or 'mailbox too full'. Labour MPs are not very electronic and I have to say I am worried about this method."

[...]

Presumably The Guardian newspaper has chosen to publish this email address in order to tip off those "not very electronic" Labour MPs and their, perhaps more computer literate, staff assistants.

This all seems a bit amateur - perhaps the Labour party MPs and the Guardian journalists should read a few of our free Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Activists etc. - http://ht4w.co.uk

Some obvious questions pertaining to the anonymity of the identities of the "plotters" :

Spy Blog is not aligned with any political party.

We have had some unsolicited email spam today from Sir Paul Judge's The Jury Team:

Return-Path:

[...]

(using TLSv1 with cipher DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA (256/256 bits))
(No client certificate requested)

Good! Using START TLS should be the default for your SMTP email server - at least some of the intermediate email forwarding will then be strongly encrypted, and relatively secure against content snooping in transit

N.B. this does nothing about Communications Traffic Data anonymity and privacy i.e. it does not obscure which email account is sending messages to which other accounts (email address information) , how much data is being transferred and when (time and date).

[...]

Received: from [88.208.194.215] (helo=localhost.juryteam.org)

[...]
for ; Tue, 02 Jun 2009 08:37:11 -0400
Received: from [192.168.113.15] (mail.paulrjudge.com [217.34.111.145])
by localhost.juryteam.org (Postfix) with ESMTP id 08532EA669;
Tue, 2 Jun 2009 13:37:06 +0100 (BST)
Message-ID: <4A251CF2.8070809@juryteam.org>
Date: Tue, 02 Jun 2009 13:37:06 +0100
From: The Jury Team
User-Agent: Thunderbird 2.0.0.21 (Windows/20090302)
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Thought you might like this...

This unsigned email simply advertises a supposedly "light hearted" website URL, which, indirectly, via links to mainstream media stories, points out the supposed "lazyness" of the UKIP party.

This website, www,wekip.org (sorry, no hyperlink, no GoogleJuice) fails to provide the name and address of who is publishing it, something which is surely an offence under Electoral law, given that The Jury Team are actually fielding a few candidates against UKIP (and the other political parties) in the European Parliament Elections this Thursday.

This is a disastrous bit of public relations, for a political group who are criticising others for their their lack of "transparency".

UKIP deserve to be pilloried for their systematic abuse of European Parliament expenses, which they have used to fund their UK political party activities and to enrich themselves individually (they even have had an MEP sent to prison for such abuse).

However, The Jury Team should not be using such email spam tactics for political campaigning.

Will the financial cost (or cost of donated services or equipment) for this political email spam and attack website campaign, be properly declared to the Electoral Commission ?

Perhaps some of the scandals which have been suppressed by the deliberate Whitehall political delays to Freedom of Information Act requests, may now be slowly starting to emerge.

Home Office Immigration scandal whistleblower Steve Moxon, writes:

Beverley Hughes is quitting 'cos she's just been found out to be a liar: new FOI disclosures

Beverley Hughes, MP and children's minister, is standing down, she says, to spend more time with her family.
Oh yes?
It's an old euphemism.
Just a coincidence then that she is not responding to her local paper's request to discuss the new Freedom of Information disclosures of Home Office documents proving she lied in the immigration scandal over which she presided?

Bev had to resign as minister for immigration back in 2004 for 'misleading the House (of Commons)' -- lying, IOW -- re what she knew of problems with visas at our Romanian embassy. This was in the wake of my coming forward as a 'whistle-blower' over systematic illegal non-application of immigration law across all immigration casework [rubber-stamping applications without checking them, in a procedure named BRACE -- 'backlog reduction accelerated clearance exercise' -- which was applied to all cases for periods].

What is new -- with the long-awaited disclosure from the Home Office after my FOI request back in 2005, when the Act first came into law -- is that it is now proven that she lied about the whole wider problem of illegal administration of immigration applications.

This shows that she is unfit to be either a minister (which she still is; though not of immigration, obviously) or an MP.

Below is my analysis re the most telling lines from the Home Office disclosure documents (which are archived in several small bundles on their website's FOI pages).

The documents are available at the Home Office FOIA disclosure page:

Information relating to "BRACE" (Backlog Reduction Accelerated Clearance Exercises) from 2004

These documents also provide a glimpse into the draughting and re-draughting of Government "Lines to take" by the Press Office civil servants and by Special Political Advisor spin doctors.

This is all even further evidence, that the notorious David Blunkett, who was in charge of the Home Office back in 2004, which failed to handle "Immigration" policy properly, should never be inflicted on us again as a Government Minister, no matter how desperate Gordon Brown is to re-shuffle his Cabinet.

The mainstream media are reporting that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is due to resign - good riddance !

When exactly will she go ?

No doubt the Westminster Village will concentrate on her expenses scandals, but it is the repressive yet incompetent Home Office polices which she should have resigned over.

Presumably Gordon Brown will cynically hand the poisoned chalice of the Home Office over to one of his political rivals, in order to taint their Labour party leadership ambitions.

The annual Hay Festival, held at Hay-on-Wye near the Welsh border, is a very genteel affair, but some of the authors and speakers who entertain the arts and meedja intelligensia and other Guardianistas venture into the realms of politics and society etc.

One such is Sir Richard Dearlove, who gave a talk yesterday Richard Dearlove talks to Philippe Sands

The Master of Pembroke College, who was head of the Secret Intelligence Service (known as 'C') from 1999 to 2004 discusses the security challenges facing government, the problems of past and contemporary terrorism, and the impact on UK foreign policy and national security of events in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Palestine and Iraq.

The first mainstream media reports about this talk seemed to concentrate on his comments about the policy of "extraordinary rendition" and torture of terrorism suspects, but he also sems to have expressed concerns about the Surveillance Society being inflicted on us by the current Government.

The London Evening Standard:

Former MI6 chief: Big brother society is eroding our liberties

"I'm a great believer in proportionality and as a citizen I worry about the loss of my liberties," Sir Richard said.

"But you know we have constructed a society which has great technical competence - and some of that competence isn't particularly regulated.

"I think the important thing in the UK is that there should be very strict legislation and strict legislative oversight."

He highlighted the 170,00 stop and searches the Met had carried out, compared with 200-300 in Manchester. "That is a mind-boggling statistic. That may well be an abuse of the law."

followed by The Daily Mail:

Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove warns against 'disturbing' surveillance society

The former head of MI6 has hit out at what he called 'striking and disturbing' invasions of privacy by the Big Brother state - claiming some are an 'abuse' of the law.

Sir Richard Dearlove, who led the Secret Intelligence Service from 1999 to 2004, publicly attacked the 'loss of liberties' caused by expanding surveillance powers, and described some police operations as 'mind-boggling.'


Both the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard used to be owned by Associated Newspapers, but thehe Evening Standard has been sold off earlier this year to a Russian businessman (who does not like to be called an oligarch), Alexander Lebedev.

He was, astonishingly, a former KGB foreign intelligence officer stationed in London in the late 1980's until he left the KGB / FSB in 1992, with the rank of lieutenant colonel , and then went on to make a fortune in banking, according to a The Sunday Times profile of him.

It is interesting how Sir Rich Richard Dearlove's comments seem to agree with those of Dame Stella Rimington, who in charge of MI5 the Security Service from 1992 until 1996, and even with those of Sir David Omand, the former head of GCHQ and former Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary and Security Intelligence Co-ordinator.

See Spy Blog:


About this blog

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

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

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

Email & PGP Contact

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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

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

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers