September 2009 Archives

China tries to block Tor

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The official Tor blog reports that:

Tor partially blocked in China

Posted September 27th, 2009 by phobos

On September 25, 2009, the Great Firewall of China blocked the public list of relays and directory authorities by simple IP address blocks. Currently, about 80% of the public relays are blocked by IP address and TCP port combination. Tor users are still connecting to the network through bridges. At the simplest level, bridges are non-public relays that don't exit traffic, but instead send it on to the rest of the Tor network.

If you want to help people in China get access to the uncensored Internet, run a bridge.

Feel free to mirror this post, or the Tor website. We have a list of mirrors at https://www.torproject.org/mirrors.html.en or search for tor mirrors via Google, Yahoo, Baidu, etc.

Links to other helpful sites (not run by us):

We knew this day would come, https://blog.torproject.org/blog/torproject.org-blocked-gfw-china%3A-soo....

You can see from Max Berger's Tor statistics site, that China used to host about 50 Tor Relays or Exit nodes,

country_CN_28sep09_450.gif

but currently the number of Tor Relays or Exit Nodes visible to the rest of the world is zero - see the BlutMagie Tor Router Status page.

Obviously the thousands of Tor Client software users in China are also being blocked..

Does this signal a new crackdown on political and religious dissidents in China ? Is there some new corruption or incompetence scandal amongst the Communist party hierarchy, news of which they are trying to suppress ?

Spy Blog, whilst not yet hosting a full mirror, is hosting a copy of the Tor mirror information page, and, if you are desperate, here is a mirror copy of the Tor / Vidalia / Tor Button / Privoxy bundle for Windows (approximately 10 Mb) - currently the stable Tor version is 0.2.1.19. and the front end control application Vidalia is at version 0.1.15

The Tor Browser Bundle which is designed to work standalone, e.g. from a USB flash memory device, which comes with a privacy configured version of the Firefox web browser and some Instant Messaging software configured to run over Tor. Here is our mirror copy of the Tor Browser Bundle version 1.2.9 (about 25Mb)

N.B. we avoided using the normal Tor software URLs in this blog posting, because it seems that the Chinese government censors may be doing some Phorm style Deep Packet Inspection analysis of web pages , in order to block them,so here they are as a graphic image:

Tor_software_download_pages_now_blocked_from_China.gif

We have also mirrored the Tor Bridges documentation page

Feel free to let us know about any Tor Bridges you set up to help route around the Chinese censorship (ideally via PGP encrypted email), but obviously do not publish their details in public via the blog comments below.

We will then pass them on to some contacts in China.

The Daily Telegraph has a disturbing report about an alleged compulsory plan to insert RFID microchip transponders in all dogs in the UK, and Yet Another National Database of human names, addresses and telephone numbers, which will not solve the underlying problems, and which will pose a Privacy and Security risk to millions of innocent people.

All dogs to be microchipped with owner's details to 'help track pets'

All dogs in Britain will be fitted with microchips which contain their owner's details, under cross party plans designed to track family pets.

By Andrew Hough
Published: 7:00AM BST 28 Sep 2009

Owners will be forced to install the microchip containing a barcode that can store their pet's name, breed, age and health along with their own address and phone number.

barcode ? Surely not ! How exactly do you read one of those opticaly, when it is implanted under the skin and fur ?

Presumably the author means an implantable RFID transponder chip

This sort of glass encapsulated RFID transponder chip implant, designed for animal tagging, uses a low frequency of around 125KHz, with a reading range of about a metre. High or microwave frequency, faster data rate, longer range RFIDchips etc. are of no use for implants, as those radio frequencies are strongly absorbed by living tissue.

The barcode's details would then be stored on a national database which local councils could access in a bid to easily identify an owner's pet.

What is the justification for this being a national database ?

Why not local Council based databases, with the minimum amount of data needed i.e. just the RFID chip serial number and a description of the dog, but with no names and addresses of humans whatsoever, except of those people who have actually reported a lost dog ?

The new scheme, supported by the Tories and Labour, is designed to curb the trade in stolen dogs, prevent the use of animals in anti-social or violent incidents and reduce the record number of stray dogs being found on British streets.

It is ludicrous to suggest that drug dealers or those involved in dog fighting etc. will ever submit their real details to such a National Dog Owners Database.

If your dog gets stolen by professional thieves, then it will be easily "re-chipped", or "un-chipped" . There is no economic incentive for them to do so at present, but as soon as compulsion is inflicted, the criminals will easily tool up.

Unscrupulous "puppy farm" breeders of pedigree dogs and dog thieves have been forging dog "identity papers" for hundreds of years, and this scheme will not prevent that either.

If your dog gets lost and you have had it chipped, then it is fair enough to include some minimal contact details and the RFID chip serial number, when you report it lost or stolen, but that does not justify creating another insecure national database containing the details of millions of dog owners who have not lost their dogs.

If an owner failed to insert a chip, at an estimated cost of about £10, they could be fined or face the possibility of having their pet taken away.

Why will it be any more successful than the compulsory Dog Licence, which was abolished in 1987 under the then Conservative government, since it was unenforceable in practice, without an army of petty spies and snoopers, with around half of the dogs in the UK not having been registered. ?

See the House of Commons Library Research Paper 98/6: Dogs

The chip would be installed once but if the owner's personal details change the information on the database can be changed.

The chip, said to be the size of a rice granule, is implanted into the pet either behind the ears or between the shoulder blades.

Experts say the procedure is relatively painless for the animal and is over in a matter of seconds.

Not a "barcode " then.

Most pet and farm animal tagging systems only have enough memory to store a serial number in the RFID chip capsule. - it is a bit hard to read an optical barcode which has been inserted inside the animal.

There is no way of protecting any human name, address and telephone number data unless the chip is at least as complex and as expensive as that in the biometric Passports or the planned ID Cards.

The plans, to be unveiled at the next election, were backed by animal charities, who say it was a quick, cheap and painless way of keeping tabs on animals.

So this is really more about controlling humans than about controlling dogs, a National Identity Register by stealth, for the millions of pet owners in the UK.

Who exactly is planning to set up this National Database ?
How much will it cost ?
How will it ever be secure against corrupt insider attacks ?
Who will regulate it ?
Who will enforce the mandatory registration aspect of it ?
What actual cost benefit will there be ?

The Labour government has never managed to come up with satisfactory answers for their National Identity Register scheme, so there is little chance that a compulsory National Dog Owners Register would be any different.

DVLA_5UX_450.jpg

Various motoring blogs etc.(e.g. Honest John) have been reporting about the Castrol motor oil company's (ab)use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology for roadside "snoopvertising" billboard marketing purposes.

This Mail on Sunday report, however, uncovers Yet Another "data sharing without prior, individual, informed consent" scandal involving the notorious Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Drivers' details sold by DVLA are used in bizarre roadside adverts for Castrol

By Christopher Leake

The Government's controversial Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has launched an investigation into how the car registrations of millions of motorists were sold for use by a giant oil firm.

Castrol spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on a campaign promoting its oils, using giant advertising billboards on five major routes in London.

But when The Mail on Sunday contacted the DVLA on Thursday, the campaign - which has also raised safety fears - was halted, just four days after it began. It was due to run for two weeks.

The DVLA says it restricts the release of data chiefly to car parking enforcement companies, solicitors, finance firms and property companies - but insists that in every case the privacy of motorists is 'properly safeguarded'.

That is obviously a lie.

However, the agency does sell data, including the registration number, engine size, year, make and model of individual cars, to a number of organisations, including five motor industry data providers.

This is used to ensure garages fit vehicles with the correct tyres, batteries and replacement parts. But sources have admitted that in the Castrol campaign, the DVLA data was passed on by one of the five companies to a third-party contractor, which then used it in contravention of the ban on the use of registration numbers for marketing purposes.

Both the DVLA and Castrol have refused to identify the data firm at the centre of the scandal while the official inquiry is being carried out.

Presumably these are the DVLA Accredited Trade Associations:

* The British Parking Association (BPA) - www.britishparking.co.uk
* The Association of British Investigators (ABI)- www.theabi.org.uk
* The Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) - www.fla.org.uk
* British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) - www.bossuk.org
* Consumer Credit Trade Association (CCTA) - www.ccta.co.uk

Which one of these betrayed the DVLA data ?

Who is the "third-party contractor" ?

A spokeswoman for Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, the data watchdog, said last night that its officials had contacted the DVLA to seek assurances that drivers' personal details had not been released.

Remember that the definition of "personal data" includes partially or poorly "anonymised data", which can easily be cross referenced with another system e.g. Vehicle Number Plate and just the first part of the Post Code of the Registered Keeper address will be enough to identify the driver , in most cases.

The new Information Commissioner Christopher Graham needs to prove that he is not tainted by having been in charge of the Advertising Standards Authority, and therefore having had previous dealings with the Ogilvy advertising agency and with the Clear Channel Outdoor advertising billboard company, who seem to involved in this scheme - see our comments on the Clear Channel Create press release below.

A DVLA spokesman said: 'We have not provided any vehicle information to Castrol or received any fee from them in relation to their campaign. As soon as we became aware that vehicle information had been used inappropriately we contacted the organisation concerned to ensure this was stopped and are urgently investigating the case.'

There are two parts to the DVLA, the Vehicle data and the Driver data. This quote evades any mention of Driver data which might have been supplied to Castrol.

So what action will the DVLA actually take to punish those individuals and companies responsible ?

Chris Sedgwick, Castrol's UK & Ireland marketing director, said last night: 'We conducted this campaign as a short-term extension to the long-term service we have been running by web and text for years and believed it was entirely in line with the service provided by our data supplier.

'As soon as we were alerted to the issue we took steps to cease the interactive trial.

Castrol does not have direct access to DVLA data.'

So Castrol are trying to say that they are somehow not to blame either - what a surprise.

Will they punish their advertising agencies and other sub-contractors ?

This Clear Channel Create press release names some of the advertising people who have unprofessionally ignored, or sought to sneak around, the internationally recognised laid down in the Data Protection Act 1998.

The senior officials at the DVLA and the Directors of each of the companies mentioned are personally legally responsible for safeguarding the public's personal data.

The Clear Channel press release raises all sorts of Data Protection and personal Privacy and Security questions:

Castrol leads the way with UK's first personalised billboard advertising campaign

It has taken over 4 years for David Mery and his wife to receive an apology from the Police:

On 28th July 2005, I was unlawfully arrested at Southwark tube station when attempting to take the tube after work to meet my wife. Chief Superintendent Wayne Chance, Metropolitan Police Service Borough Commander for Southwark, has eventually apologised to my wife and I for their actions and the trauma it caused us:

I would like to apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service for the circumstances that arose on 28 July 2005 including your unlawful arrest, detention and search of your home. I appreciate this has had a deep and traumatic impact on your lives and I hope that the settlement in this case can bring some closure to this.

I shall ensure that the officers concerned are made aware of the impact of the events of that day and also the details of the settlement in this case.

We are happy to be able eventually to put this behind us.

More details of this saga: Metropolitan Police Service apologises for unlawful arrest -

4 days would have been too long for an innocent man to get an apology, and to have his tainted data records removed from the police computer systems.

Many other people who have been abused by the police and (in)justice system in this way, have not had the knowledge or persistence required to pursue his legitimate complaints as David has done.

This sort of stupid and unnecessary delay completely undoes any of the good work in the Prevent strand of the UK government's CONTEST counter terrorism strategy, and effectively hands the terrorists a victory, for free.

We know several people, holding key positions within the UK's Critical National Infrastructure who are much less likely to cooperate with the Police or the Intelligence Agencies etc. as a result of this case, and the counterproductive bureaucratic attitude it demonstrates.

If frontline military , intelligence and police officers are willing to their lives at risk to protect us from our enemies, then why cannot their senior commanders and political bosses swallow their pride, and make rapid, fulsome public apologies for the inevitable mistakes ?

Why can they not wipe the tainted database records of innocent people immediately ?

If the Rt Hon Sir Stephen Rose had been more transparent and explicit in his (censored) Annual Report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2008-200 (.pdf) under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Police Act 1997, which fails to "name and shame" the culprits at the "public authorities" who have been acting illegally, the perhaps today's story in the Daily Telegraph, about the increasingly meddlesome and authoritarian function creeping "Executive Non-departmental Public Body ", the Environment Agency, would already have been dealt with over 2 years ago.

Government officials track cars and trespass on private property, report shows

Government officials have been improperly tracking cars and trespassing on private property after receiving advice from the Home Office on circumventing the law, internal documents seen by The Daily Telegraph have disclosed.

By Jon Swaine and Holly Watt
Published: 5:32PM BST 21 Sep 2009

Reports from the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC), a Government agency, found that staff from the Environment Agency investigating the illegal disposal of waste may have broken the law.

The OSC uncovered evidence that the Home Office may have improperly advised the Environment Agency on how to circumvent strict laws governing the use of covert surveillance.

Despite the alleged breaches being uncovered last year, the documents - released following a Freedom of Information request - show that the Environment Agency has continued to use the controversial tactics.

Last night, the Environment Agency said that it was suspending use of the tactics pending a legal judgement on whether they were acceptable.

However, the agency is also trialling a register of secret informants who report suspected waste offences in the north east of England, and eventually plans a national spy network, the Commissioner reported.

"a register of secret informants" or "a national spy network" ? How soon before all their names and addresses etc. are dumped onto an unencrypted USB memory stick to be lost or stolen ? Or will they simply be sold by insiders to criminals ?

Why should anybody trust the untrained, inexperienced Environment Agency with the recruitment and handling and protection of Covert Human Intelligence Sources ?

The Home Office Identity and Passport Service has announced:

Home Secretary appoints first Identity Commissioner

14 September 2009

The first Identity Commissioner, Sir Joseph Pilling, was confirmed today by the Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

The first Identity Commissioner, Sir Joseph Pilling, was confirmed today by the Home Secretary Alan Johnson. He will take up his appointment on 1 October 2009 in time for the issue of the first identity cards to people in Greater Manchester.

The new Identity Commissioner will act independently and on behalf of the public to ensure that information held on the National Identity Register is accurate and secure as well as monitoring the use identity cards are put to by both public and private sectors.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:

"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Sir Joseph Pilling as the first Identity Commissioner.

"The public has the right to expect the National Identity Service to be run to the highest standards. The Identity Commissioner will champion their interests, providing a strong and independent voice, holding the Identity and Passport Service to account and ensuring information collected under the Service is kept securely.

"He will also deliver independent scrutiny of the uses to which identity cards are put by public authorities and private organisations."

Sir Joseph Pilling said:

"I am delighted to accept this post, and plan to be an independent voice in my work towards safeguarding the public's privacy and identity rights, as Parliament intended.

"In the early weeks and months as I work out how best to do the job I intend to listen to the people across the National Identity Service and to people outside the system with views about my new role."

A test of how "independent" of the Home Office he really is, will be how long he delays meeting with the NO2ID Campaign and everyone else who is opposed to this National Identity Register scheme.

The Identity Commissioner will report to the Home Secretary at least annually on the way the National Identity Service functions are carried out and the report will be laid before Parliament.

All government departments will have a statutory duty to provide whatever information the Commissioner and his staff need to carry out investigations and the Commissioner will have the resources he requires in order to carry out his functions.

The Identity Cards Act 2006 sections 22 and 23 cripple the role of the National Identity Scheme Commissioner. He only reports annually to to the Home Secretary, who can censor this report, especially if the Home Office is criticised, just like the feeble Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act Commissioners' Annual Reports, and unlike,even the weak and ineffective Information Commissioner, who reports directly to Parliament.

The NIS Commissioner has no power, or budget, to investigate complaints from the general public.

He has no legal sanctions to deploy against the NIS bureaucracy or their private sector sub-contractors when, not if, they cock things up or mistreat members of the public.

The Church Times seems to have a photo of Sir Joseph Pilling:

Sir_Joseph_Pilling_373.jpg

The Mail on Sunday reported :

Hackers steal £1m in online tax scam

By Stephen Condron and Christopher Leake
Last updated at 9:11 AM on 13th September 2009

Police are investigating how criminals managed to steal £1million from the taxman by accessing a Government computer system and granting themselves rebates.

The thieves filed returns online using the passwords of genuine self-assessment taxpayers - then diverted the money to bogus accounts.

The sting prompted concern yesterday that the fraudsters may have obtained the passwords from one of the many Whitehall laptops stolen over the past few years.

And it is expected to lead to renewed criticism of the Government for making it difficult for people to make their tax returns on paper. So far, six million people have been persuaded to switch to filing them online.

Except, of course for the secret categories of people, whose Tax Returns are singled out
for "special" handling.

See our long running Freedom of Information Act request: HMRC tax record special categories

The system penetrated by the thieves, the Government Gateway, was set up at a cost of £18million as part of Tony Blair's vision for services to be administered electronically. It allows users to fill in forms online for anything from paying parking tickets to claiming child tax credit.

UK Government Gateway

The thieves are understood to have diverted the money to bank accounts set up fraudulently using the names of the password holders.

Scotland Yard's specialist e-crime unit, which arrested a man last week in connection with the case, is investigating whether the fraudsters used sophisticated software to find a weakness in Gateway or whether they targeted the computers of the people whose identities they stole.

The Police, not HMRC, should also be investigating possible HMRC insider staff collusion or corruption.

The Government Gateway also prints out authentication credentials, on special "security" stationary, which is supposed to make it difficult to read the contents without opening the envelope, like that used for credit card PINs, and sends them to your registered address via conventional paper postal mail.

Has this aspect of this massive security breach been investigated ?

Last November, The Mail on Sunday revealed how Ministers were forced to order an emergency shutdown of Gateway after a computer memory stick was found in a pub car park.

Officers are investigating whether this could have played a part in the latest breach, as the computer stick contained passcodes to the system.

[...]

Last October, the Information Commissioner revealed there had been 277 data breaches since the loss of 25million child benefit records was disclosed in November 2007.

HMRC has taken the attack on its system so seriously that it has provided a template for a letter accountants can send to clients to apologise and reassure them that their tax affairs will not be affected.

A 32-year-old man was arrested on September 3 and bailed to return to Bethnal Green police station in East London on December 3.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: 'The investigation into what is suspected to be more than £1million of fraud began in June after HMRC detected an e-crime attack on their system.'

An HMRC spokesman refused to comment on the case but said: 'In common with all commercial financial organisations, criminals try to steal from us. HMRC is determined to bring to justice anyone responsible for trying to obtain fraudulent self-assessment repayments.'

That HMRC statement does not appear on their public website - www.hmrc.gov.uk

Where is the assurance that it is now safe and secure to file your income tax self assessment forms online ?

There needs to be a public statement by the Minister responsible, i.e. by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling,

It is no good making the usual sort of meaningless "we are taking this Extremely Seriously" type of statement, given the department's appalling record of data security mismanagement, and the suspicion bordering on hatred, which many people now have for this Government.

If the security vulnerabilities have not already been dealt with, and independently tested, then Alistair Darling should resign, and the senior civil servants at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. should be sacked.

If everything has been sorted out properly, then why not say so immediately, with proof that the appropriate actions have been taken ?

How many people read the News of the World tabloid newspaper ? Quite a lot on Sundays, when the weekly paper edition is published . How many people read the News of the World's multi-authored "politics blog" on a Saturday ? At guess, hardly anyone at all.

Even the usual blog search engines do not seem to pay much attention to that newspaper blog.

However, when an online article published on the Saturday is picked up by a "real political blogger", in this case Iain Dale, then other bloggers and commentators (and the search engines) will take note. This precisely the opposite of the usual information relationship between newspapers and bloggers.

This particular News of the World blog article seems to scream "disinformation", and deserves some sceptical comment, which will end up in the search engines for posterity.

Politics

News of the World

CIA freeze intel over Libya
Saturday, September 5

BRITAIN was facing the likelihood of an increased terror threat last night -- after America's CIA chiefs threatened to stop sharing vital intelligence with us following the Lockerbie bomber's release.

The Americans have already warned British intelligence services that sending cancer-stricken Abdelbaset al-Megrahi home to Libya has destroyed our "special relationship".

What "special relationship" ? The one where US politicians and officials blab details about alleged terrorist plots in Pakistan, which force the UK authorities to arrest their suspects here in the UK far too soon to gather any real evidence against them, like the mythical "gas limos" plot ?

The Sunday Times carries this interesting announcement by the TaxPayers' Alliance, of a new campaign called "Big Brother Watch".

Their website www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk currently states that this is due to launch in October.

The fight against the "surveillance state" is obviously necessary, but what exactly can this new campaign achieve, that the existing campaign groups could not do just as well, or much better, if they had some more money ?

From The Sunday Times
September 6, 2009

Think tank: Be warned, Big Brother, I've got my eye on you

Matthew Elliott begins a campaign against our surveillance state

Matthew Elliott

In June, Stewart Smith, who suffers from arthritis, was handed a £50 fixed penalty notice after dropping a £10 note in the street. Last year Gareth Corkhill, a father of four, had to pay £225 and got a criminal record when magistrates found him guilty of leaving the lid of his wheelie bin open by a mere four inches. Last month Stephen White's sister Helen was rung several times and visited at her house by police officers wanting to know the whereabouts of her trainspotter brother, who had been using her car while taking pictures of trains in Pembrokeshire.

What is going on? Over the past 10 years our government has become increasingly overbearing, creating a nation of criminals out of good British citizens. We are subject to ever more officious laws and intrusive means of surveillance. Britain has 1% of the world's population but about 20% of its CCTV cameras; it has one camera for every 14 people in the country.

Nobody, but nobody, actually knows how many CCTV cameras there in Britain today.

There could well be far more than the "4.2 million cameras, 20% of the world's CCTV cameras / monitored 300 times a day" soundbite, which was only a guesstimate, made over 6 years ago.

See Spy Blog: "monitored on CCTV 300 times a day" etc. soundbites

Last year local authorities, the police and the intelligence services made 504,073 requests to access private e-mail and telephone data -- that is nearly 10,000 requests every week.

This figure is for Communications Data access requests, the vast majority of which are made by the Police an Intelligence Agencies, not from "local authorities".

The majority of such requests from Local Councils are from their Trading Standards or Environmental Health departments, and are for telephone subscriber details only, unlike the much more intrusive Police and Intelligence Agency ones, which usually also include Location Data for mobile phones, and compile "friendship trees" of who calls (or emails) whom, when and where.

Lumping these categories together is playing the Labour government's numbers game, to hide the true extent of the intrusion into innocent people's lives.

Documents leaked earlier this year revealed that GCHQ, the government's spy centre, had already awarded £200m to suppliers as part of Mastering the Internet, a mass surveillance project designed to enable the monitoring of all internet use and phone calls in Britain.

Not leaked to the Taxpayers' Alliance though, but to The Register and the Sunday Times: Jacqui's secret plan to 'Master the Internet'

An Englishman's home is no longer his castle: some 266 laws now grant the state the right to enter private homes.

It could be more than thatnumber, given the vast amount of Secondary Legislation and Regulations.inflicted on us by this Labour government.

And if they can't get you on tape, online or in your home, in recent months a slew of websites has appeared encouraging citizens to shop people dropping litter or acting suspiciously. Just as in Orwell's dystopia, Britain is being turned into a nation of narks.

It is time to fight back. The TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) has already led the field in exposing the outrageous waste of taxpayers' money and malpractice throughout all levels of government.

The TaxPayers' Alliance are to be congratulated on exposing such waste of taxpayers' money.

Our campaigns on MPs' expenses, the growth of the quango state and the rise of public sector fat cats have helped to shape public opinion and the policies of both the government and opposition. Now we are launching Big Brother Watch as a check on the surveillance state.

Why exactly is Yet Another Campaign Organisation required to fight the Government and their henchmen on these issues.?

In what way are they going to be better (or, from a financial donors point of view, more cost effective) at gaining mainstream media attention, lobbying politicians and Whitehall mandarins, or raising the awareness of these surveillance state issues, amongst the general public, than other, existing organisations, including the cross party NO2ID Campaign ?

The campaign will be headed by Alex Deane, a barrister and David Cameron's first chief of staff, supported by Dylan Sharpe, Boris Johnson's press officer for his London mayoral campaign.

There is nothing wrong, per se, with these people obviously being influential Conservative party supporters, if this appalling Labour Government is kicked out of office at the next General Election.

Big Brother Watch plans to produce regular investigative research papers on the erosion of civil liberties in the UK, beginning with a detailed investigation of the ways in which individual local authorities have encroached upon the lives of the ordinary British citizen, whether it be placing microchips in rubbish bins or snooping on your private telephone records. We will name and shame the local authorities most prone to authoritarian abuses.

Good.

However, such snooping crosses the mainstream party divides, and there are evil Conservative and Liberal Democrat Local Councils, who have abused their statutory powers, as well as Labour controlled ones.

All Local Councils should have their snooping powers curtailed - if the crimes they are investigating stray from the petty to the serious, thereby justifying the use of covert surveillance, then it should be the Police who do this - they are better trained have much more experience of applying the proportionality test, than local council officials.

We will also champion individual cases. We want to use the legal system to help the man in the street fight injustice and regain his personal freedom. We are building up a legal fund to back cases in which we feel a key principle is at stake.

How much money is there in this legal fund, if any ?

Is it coming from small individual donations or from a few rich donors with vested interests ?

What are the criteria for supporting individual legal test cases ?

Why will the Big Brother Watch campaign be better at doing this than, say, Liberty Human Rights are ?

The NO2ID Campaign has a legal fund, made up from contributions by tens of thousands of people, to help fight a test case against the Identity Cards Act 2006, when the National Identity Scheme is finally inflicted on us.

Wouldn't financial donors be better off contributing to these existing, experienced and very effective campaign organisations ?

Not many people realise they can use the Freedom of Information Act to demand to see data held about themselves by the authorities.

This bit of the article is very odd, since the Taxpayers Alliance is quite experienced in making FOIA requests.

You cannot use the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to find out information held about yourself or about other individual people - that is specifically excluded under section 40 Personal Information

You need to make your own personal Data Protection Act 1998 subject data access request instead.

The Human Rights Act, which came into force in 2000, makes it unlawful for any public body to act in a way that is incompatible with the European convention on human rights.

Not quite.

The Human Rights Act 1998 does not include European Convention on Human Rights Article 13

    ARTICLE 13

    Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.

So even if, say the Home Office or a Local Authority, does something unlawful under the ECHR, unless there is a specific criminal offence under UK law, the Ministers and bureaucrats face no legal penalty at all.

The convention includes the right of access to documents and we want to help people to use this and other provisions to extend our right to government information.

Where exactly in the European Convention on Human Rights is there any mention of "the right of access to documents" ?

In the same way that the TPA has pioneered the use of the Freedom of Information Act to bring transparency to government spending and expose the full horrors of the wastage, wages and expenses of our public representatives, we intend to unearth the reality of the Big Brother state.

Last year the TPA produced a report that put the total cost of Big Brother government at about £20 billion -- or almost £800 per household. We want Big Brother Watch to become the central hub for the latest on personal freedom and civil liberty -- a forum for information and discussion on something that directly affects British citizens in their everyday lives.

Why exactly should this become "the central hub for the latest on personal freedom and civil liberty" ?

Is this some sort of attempt at political control of what is currently a cross political party issue ?

Big Brother Watch also aims to expose the extent to which the web has become the first line in state surveillance. Recent examples of web companies being leant on to release personal data have opened the floodgates for the co-opting of internet activity into the state's control. Safeguards are needed before it's too late.

Agreed.

We hope Big Brother Watch will become the gadfly of the ruling class, a champion for civil liberties and personal freedom -- and a force to help a future government roll back a decade of state interference in our lives.

Why exactly should Spy Blog, or anybody else who cares about these issues, support Yet Another Campaign Organisation rather than existing ones like:

etc. etc.

Matthew Elliott is chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance and founder of Big Brother Watch (www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk)

Even this obscure Spy Blog, appears to know a bit more about the details of the Surveillance State and about Freedom of Information Act requests, than Matthew Elliot does at present.

Please feel free to email us for advice.

The www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk website currently says that the campaign will start in October:

Coming this October, Big Brother Watch is the exciting new campaign from the founders of the TaxPayers' Alliance, fighting intrusions on the privacy and liberties of ordinary Britons.:

This BBC article has some background details about the TaxPayers Alliance: The campaign group: Taxpayers' Alliance

The MI5 Security Service website design was officially re-launched on the 1st of September 2009. - New version of Security Service website

We have also introduced a new Freephone number (0800 111 4645) to make it easier for members of the public to contact us to report suspected threats to national security. This is in addition to our existing Public Telephone Number (0207 930 9000).

N.B. the exisiting telephone number should "officially" be written as 020 7930 9000.

If, as stated in the they really are trying to recruit agents and informants from overseas , as well as from within the UK, then the international dialing code prefix would also help: +44 (0)20   +44 020 7930 9000.

Given how little content there is overall on the MI5 website, the "other language" versions could easily have been full translations of the whole English language website, rather than just cut down versions.

More worrying, is the inconsistent, or entirely missing foreign language versions of the SSL encrypted secure web contact form.

The English language secure web form, correctly, goes to an SSL encrypted web page (https://) , and then properly processes the potentially very sensitive personal details or intelligence tip off, with a server side script, again protected via SSL, even if you follow a link from the default unencrypted web pages.

The Arabic version secure web form also does this correctly..

However, the Welsh language web contact form, but it does not, by default, make use of SSL encryption. (It can be made to do so, if you change "http://" to "https://" by hand). We suspect that very little use will be made of this Welsh language form, but Welsh is one of the legally defined official languages of the United Kingdom.

The French, Russian, Urdu, Farsi and Chinese language versions do not bother to offer a link to a translated version. These foreign language pages even hide the navigation links to the original English version of the secure web contact form.

The Chinese language version has a broken web link to what was probably former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's official ministerial biography on the Home Office website.

The Farsi version of the website has a translated contacts page, which mentions Secure Sockets Layer (spelled out in English) , but does not bother to use it. The postal address also misses out the word "Desk" from "The Enquries Desk. PO Box 3255, London SW1P 1AE "

How relevant or interesting to the rest of the world, are the relatively detailed explanations about UK legislation like UK Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 etc., which is what much of the translated versions seem to concentrate on ?

Still missing from the English version, let alone the foreign language ones, is an SMS text message short code method of contact (mobile phones are much more common than internet connected computers) ,

There is still no MI5 Security Service published PGP public encryption key or a public email address - why not ?.

The MI5 Security Service MI5 Contacts Us web page is still much better than, that of the MI6 Secret Intelligence Service, or even the Metropolitan Police Service Anti-Terrorism Hotline contact pages (which does at least have an encrypted web form).

Some of the new features such as the MI5 News and Updates RSS syndication feed had already been sneaked in back in July, without any fanfare.

We wonder if this new website design (not very different from the old one) has actually been properly security penetration tested, following the Cross Site Scripting vulnerability demonstrated back in July. - see Which was worse - the MI6 website spelling mistakes or the MI5 website Cross Site Scripting vulnerability ?

The graphical images chosen and, presumably officially approved at the highest level, to represent the MI5 "corporate brand image" or "look and feel" give the impression of a sinsister, Kafkaesque bureaucracy:

MI5_introduction_home_1_450.jpg
MI5_introduction_the_threats_1_450.jpg
MI5_introduction_about_us_1_450.jpg
MI5_careers-home.jpgMI5_MI5_what-you-can-do.jpg
MI5_security-advice.jpgMI5_what-to-look-for.jpgMI5_WhatYouCanDo_1_11.jpg
MI5_weapons-of-mass-destruction-thumb.jpgMI5_espionage-thumb.jpgMI5_what-we-do.jpg
MI5_shadow_people.jpg


Note how many blurred images, or people with their backs to the camera, or with their faces otherwise obscured etc. there are in this selection of graphics from the website, which seem to depict the organisation and its targets and the general public as "shadow people".

The counterproductive and enormously expensive Labour government plan for a compulsory national centralised biometric database i.e. the National Identity Scheme, is creeping slowly onwards, regardless of all the criticisms, and the utter lack of a detailed technical specification or a detailed business plan for the scheme, even after 7 years of dithering by the Home Office, which has cost hundreds of millions of pounds so far.

The following Statutory Instrument comes into force on the 1st October 2009, at which point the National Identity Scheme, could , in theory have commenced,with a few unlucky token people having been forced to Register their biometrics and other personal details on the nascent National Identity Register.

Statutory Instruments
2009 No. 2303 C. 100

Identity Cards

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2009

Made

25th August 2009

The Secretary of State, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 44(3) of the Identity Cards Act 2006(1), makes the following Order:
Citation

1. This Order may be cited as the Identity Cards Act 2006 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2009.

Commencement

2. The following provisions of the Identity Cards Act 2006 shall come into force on 1st October 2009 -

(a) Section 22 (Appointment of National Identity Scheme Commissioner);

(b) Section 23 (Reports by Commissioner);

So who is foolish enough,or greedy enough, to serve as the National Identity Scheme Commissioner i.e. the Labour Government's political scapegoat for when things go disastrously wrong with the National Identity Register ?

The post of National Identity Scheme Commissioner does not provide proper independent public scrutiny of the wretched scheme, since the incumbent will merely report annually to the Home Secretary, who will censor anything too embarrassing. This Commissioner will, no doubt, just like the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act Commissioners, deliberately not be given the budget or resources, to deal directly with the general public.

See the Identity Cards Act 2006 sections 22 to 24 Supervision of the Act

(c) Section 24 (Jurisdiction of Intelligence Services Commissioner and Tribunal); and

(d) Section 42 (General interpretation) so far as necessary for the interpretation of the provisions specified above.

Brett

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State

Home Office

25th August 2009

That would be Lord Brett, who has signed this Order, rather than any of the elected Labour politicians at the Home Office.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

(This note is not part of the Order)

This Order brings into force on 1st October 2009 the provisions of the Identity Cards Act 2006 listed in article 2

Please join or support or contribute financially to the cross political party (all of the major ones except for Labour), the NO2ID Campaign, against the creeping database state and this particular, embarrassingly inept, yet intrusive and repressive National Identity Scheme.

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

syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
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."

SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

gchq_logo.gif
Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

da_notice_system_150.gif
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