United Kingdom (England & Wales) Census Day - Sunday 27th March 2011 - will you boycott the intrusive, snooping questions ?

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The Census is set to be inflicted on us on Census Day / Night - Saturday 27th March 2011

Since it has, unfortunately, become impossible to trust this or any future Government with our Data Protection Act 1998 section 2 Sensitive Personal Data, the forthcoming Census, which appears to be a huge increase in the amount of bureaucratic snooping compared with the previous Census, is going to be very controversial.

SInce the data is being collected by US Defense Contractor Lockheed-Martin to data process, it will inevitably be handed over to the US Government, by hook or by crook, regardless of any legal contract signed with this weak Labour Government.

Why has the Whitehall bureaucracy been allowed to ignore the Principles of Data Minimization recommended by the Thomas and Walport Data Sharing Review?

Will the political Opposition manage to get any of these unnecessarily intrusive questions removed from this Draft Statutory Instrument, or will they just rubber stamp it "on the nod", as usual ?

Draft Statutory Instruments 2009 No. 0000

Census, England And Wales The Census (England and Wales) Order 2009

Most of the potential benefits to members of the public, in terms of planning of future government services, simply needs just the number of people living in a particular area, and does not justify these intrusive Census questions

How many of these Sensitive Personal Data Questions about Names and Addresses, Medical Data, Disabilities, Racial Ethnicity, Religious Beliefs, Recent Job History, Accommodation Details and Familial Relationships. will you try to avoid or deliberately lie about ?

Remember that Census Data is not "anonymised".at the point of collection.

[UPDATED on 30th October to include this section on the removal of the supposedly absolute confidentiality of the census data]:

Remember also that, unlike previous Censuses, the supposedly cast iron guarantee of the Census Act 1920 to prevent the sharing of this supposedly confidential census data with the Police or Intelligence agencies or the Tax authorities etc. has now been abolished by a combination of the general "get out of jail for incompetent bureaucrats" clause introduced in by the amendments sneaked in to the Census Confidentiality Act 1991

1 Unlawful disclosure of information

In section 8 of the [1920 c. 41.] Census Act 1920 (penalties), the following subsections shall be substituted for subsection (2)--

[...]

(4) It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (2) or (3) to prove--

(a) that at the time of the alleged offence he believed--

(i) that he was acting with lawful authority; or

[...]

When this is combined with the

Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 section 39. Confidentiality of personal information

(1) Subject to this section, personal information held by the Board in relation to the exercise of any of its functions must not be disclosed by--

(a) any member or employee of the Board,

(b) a member of any committee of the Board, or

(c) any other person who has received it directly or indirectly from the Board.

[...]

(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to a disclosure which--

(a) is required or permitted by any enactment,

(b) is required by a Community obligation,

(c) is necessary for the purpose of enabling or assisting the Board to exercise any of its functions,

(d) has already lawfully been made available to the public,

(e) is made in pursuance of an order of a court,

(f) is made for the purposes of a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings (whether or not in the United Kingdom),

(g) is made, in the interests of national security, to an Intelligence Service,

(h) is made with the consent of the person to whom it relates, or

(i) is made to an approved researcher.

There is now no legal defence for the Office for National Statistics to stand up to the police, intelligence agencies, tax authorities or even High Court Orders brought by rich clients and their expensive lawyers, or other data snoopers, who want to use the census data for their own data trawling purposes to hunt down a particular individual or their family.

Here are the details of the Intrusive, and No Longer Confidential Questions which are to be demanded from you, under the threat of a fine of up to Level 3 on the Standard Scale i.e. £1000:

Articles 6(1)-(4)

SCHEDULE 2

Particulars to be stated in returns

Resident particulars

1. For each usual resident at the address, the first name, last name, connection to the household or accommodation and whether or not an individual return has been issued for that person.

2.The total number of usual residents at the address.

3. For each usual resident--

    (a) except in a case to which (b) applies, the relationship to the first person named in the return and the relationship to each of the previous persons named in the return;

    (b) in the case of any person named seventh or at any higher number in a return, the relationship to the first person named in the return and to any other person named at a previous number higher than six in the return.

At the very least fill out a separate form for each person, so that you do not have to betray your familial relationship to the Census database snoopers.

Visitor particulars

4. For each reckonable visitor at the address, the first name, last name, sex, date of birth, connection to the household or accommodation and usual address or country of usual residence if outside the UK.

5. The total number of reckonable visitors at the address.

Demographic particulars

6. Sex and date of birth.

7. Current legal status as to marriage or civil partnership.

8. Whether a student (including a schoolchild) in full-time education and if so, whether living at the address to which the return relates during term-time or at another address.

9. Country of birth.

10. If not born in the UK, the month and year of most recent arrival to live in the UK, and if that event was on or after 27th March 2010, the length of intended stay in the UK.

All 450 million European Union nationals(including UK citizens) have the right of freedom of travel throughout the European Union, without having to Register with the local government, unless they stay for more than 3 months. The responses to this Question will be statistically meaningless.

11. Country of passport held.

12. Whether or not the person stays at another address for more than 30 days a year, and if so, either the address (if within the UK), or the country (if outside the UK), and in either case the type of address.

13. Whether or not the person suffers from any health problem or disability which has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months and which limits that person's day-to-day activities.

14. Whether the person's health is in general very good, good, fair, bad or very bad.

15. Whether or not the person looks after or gives help or support to family members, friends, neighbours or others because of long-standing physical or mental ill-health or disability or because of problems related to old age and, if so, the number of hours a week spent on this, excluding anything done as part of any paid employment.

Medical Data like this is Sensitive Personal Data - do not answer this / do not answer this truthfully !

16. Whether the person describes themselves as: English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, British, or any other national identity (stating which) and which one of the following--

    (a)White and whether English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British, Irish, Gypsy or Irish Traveller, or any other White background (stating which);

    (b) Mixed/multiple ethnic group and whether White and Black Caribbean, White and Black African, White and Asian, or any other Mixed/multiple ethnic background (stating which);

    (c) Asian/Asian British and whether Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese or any other Asian background (stating which);

    (d) Black/African/Caribbean/Black British and whether African, Caribbean, or any other Black/African/Caribbean background (stating which); or

    (e)Arab or other ethnic group (stating which).

This is perfect data for anyone planning "ethnic cleansing" or genocide.

This will not be of any use in combatting illegal immigration !

The understandable fear is that this data will be used for Rich Picture and Tension Monitoring snooping and spying on ethnic and religious communities by the Police and UK and Foreign Intelligence Agencies.

17. Whether the person describes themselves as: of no religion, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, or of any other religion (stating which).

What happened to "Jedi Knight" ?

Religious Belief is Sensitive Personal Data - do not answer this / do not answer this truthfully !

18. Whether main language is English (or for returns in Wales, Welsh or English) or another language (stating which).

19. If main language is one other than English (or for returns in Wales, Welsh or English), whether the person can speak English very well, well, not well or not at all.

This will not be of any use in combatting illegal immigration !

It will not be of any use in providing English As Foreign Language training either.

20. Whether on 27th March 2010--

Make your minds up - do you mean 2010 or 2011 ?

(a) the person was a usual resident--

    (i) at the address to which the return relates;

    (ii) at a student term-time address (and if so, that address); or

    (iii)at another address in the UK (and if so, that address); or

(b)the person's usual address was outside the UK (and if so, in which country).

Is this a crude attempt to try to hunt down non-domiciled tax avoiders ?

Education and Employment particulars for each person to whom article 6(2)(d)(ii) or 6(3)(b) applies

21. The levels of educational qualifications obtained (if any) and whether any of the following have been obtained --

    (a)professional qualifications;

    (b)vocational or work-related qualifications;

    (c)foreign qualifications.

Why is this information required, and by whom ?

22. Whether that person during the week preceding census day was--

    (a) working as an employee;

    (b) on a Government sponsored training scheme;

    (c)self-employed or working freelance;

    (d) working paid or unpaid for own or a family business;

    (e) doing any other kind of paid work;

    (f) away from work ill, on maternity leave, on holiday or temporarily laid off; or

    (g) none of the above.

23. If not working during the week preceding census day, whether or not that person was--

    (a) actively looking for any kind of paid work during the last four weeks;

    (b) available to start work within two weeks;

    (c)waiting to start work, having obtained a job;

and whether that person was--

    (d) retired;

    (e) a student;

    (f) looking after the home or family;

    (g) long term sick or disabled; or

    (h) not working for any other reason.

24. If not working during the week preceding census day, whether that person has ever worked and if so, the last year of work.

25. For the main job done during the week preceding census day, or if not working then, for the last main job--

    (a) whether working as an employee, or self-employed with employees or self-employed/freelance without employees;

    (b)the full title of the main job;

    (c) what was done in the main job;

    (d) whether or not supervising any other employees;

    (e) the main business activity of the employer at the place of work; and

    (f) either the name of the organisation worked for (including own organisation if self-employed) or whether there was no such organisation.

26. In respect of any person who was working during the week preceding census day--

    (a) the workplace address for the main job, or whether mainly working at or from home or at an offshore installation or whether there is no fixed place of work;

    (b) the mode of transport used for the longest part, by distance, of the usual journey to work; and

    (c) the number of hours a week usually worked in the main job.

This is only a couple of questions short of "signing on" for state benefits etc. !

These Questions also fall foul of spirit of the Terrorism Act 2000 section 58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc - what if you are employed at a Military Base or Police station or Intelligence Agency HQ ?

Do not answer this / do not answer this truthfully !

Accommodation particulars

27. Whether the living accommodation occupied by the household to which the return relates is--

    (a) a whole house or bungalow (and whether detached, semi-detached or terraced (including end-terrace); or

    (b) a flat, maisonette or apartment (and whether in a purpose-built block of flats or tenement, part of a converted or shared house (including bed-sits) or in a commercial building); or

    (c) a caravan or any other mobile or temporary structure.

28. Whether or not the accommodation is self-contained.

29. Excluding any bathrooms, toilets, halls or landings, or rooms that can only be used for storage, the number of rooms for use only by the household (and the number of these rooms that are designed for use as a bedroom).

30. Whether or not the accommodation has central heating, and if so whether the type of heating is gas, electric, oil, solid fuel or other type.

31. The number of cars and vans owned, or available for use, by one or more members of the household to which the return relates.

32. Whether the household to which the return relates--

    (a) owns the accommodation outright;

    (b) owns the accommodation with a mortgage or loan;

    (c) part owns and part pays rent;

    (d)rents the accommodation; or

    (e) lives in the accommodation rent free.

33. Where the household to which the return relates rents or part rents the accommodation or lives in the accommodation rent free, the type of landlord.

The only possible reason for these questions must be fo try to crudely detect "benefits cheats" or for a Local Authority to tax you more .

Do not answer this / do not answer this truthfully.

Additional particulars for Wales

34. In respect of any person, whether able to--

    (a)understand spoken Welsh;

    (b) speak Welsh;

    (c) read Welsh;

    (d)write Welsh; or

    (e)do none of the above.

Why is this not next to the English Language Question ? Why are the categories of language skill not exactly the same for English and Welsh

Additional particulars for individual returns

35. Whether the accommodation is a private or family home, or a communal establishment.

36. If the accommodation is a communal establishment whether or not the respondent is answering the questions on behalf of someone else and whether the person with whom the return is concerned is--

    (a) a resident in the establishment; or

    (b) a member of staff or the owner of the establishment; or

    (c) a family member or partner of a member of staff or of the owner of the establishment.

20 Comments

I wish I could remember what I put last time. If they are using this data for dubious purposes then presumably they are also checking against the previous census.

OTOH, they're not necessarily using this information for anything. It seems to me just as likely that we've got into a situation where we're being asked intrusive questions for no rational reason at all.

Which would still be wrong, of course.

I think the census has a use. It is going to be scanned and at a future date it will be released.

That makes it a great means of being used as a time capsule. Use it to leave a message to future generations. For example, you can now see the 1911 census (paid for). The 1901 likewise. However these were filled out by census enumerators.

With this census you can fill the form out and avoid the dodgy questions above. You could also write on the form all sorts of comments. It will be scanned and future generations will be able to read it.

Nick

@ Nick - you risk a fine of up to Level 3 i.e. £1000 if you "falsify" any part of the Census form, or fail to complete one.

I'm sure it's an innocent error, but on the Census site if you go to "What is a census?" and click "How the information is kept confidential" you currently get a 404 (page not found) error.

Ed

@ Edgard - that is not very reassuring !


http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/what-is-a-census/How-the-information-is-kept-confidential/index.html

It is a hugely difficult, and probably impossible problem for something on this national scale

What happened to the previous incumbent for this advertised job vacancy - did they leave in frustration ?

Census Security Manager (Census Field Operations and associated services & Compliance) (Grade 7)

http://www.ons.gov.uk/jobs/current-vacancies/census-security-manager--census-field-operations-and-associated-services---compliance-/index.html

The old 2001 Census form is here:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/pdfs/H1.pdf

It did not ask any questions about your level of proficiency in English (or Welsh)

It did not include questions about your Passport

Instead of just "Country of birth" on the 2001 form, the 2011 Question asks for much more detail:

10. If not born in the UK, the month and year of most recent arrival to live in the UK, and if that event was on or after 27th March 2010, the length of intended stay in the UK.

It did not ask about second homes or foreign residency or student addresses in addition to the main address.

12. Whether or not the person stays at another address for more than 30 days a year, and if so, either the address (if within the UK), or the country (if outside the UK), and in either case the type of address.

[...]

(ii) at a student term-time address (and if so, that address); or

(iii)at another address in the UK (and if so, that address); or

The collection of these multiple addresses is reminiscent of the National Identity Register.

It did not ask you to identify yourself as a "Gypsy or Irish Traveller"

The Ethnic / Racial profiling is now more detailed, now trying to separate African Blacks from Caribbean Blacks etc.

I am beginning to think I should take the £1000 hit, and the criminal record, instead of the NIR entry that I believe you rightly suggest will follow.

It was the first census that IBM helped the Germans with which did most damage to the targeted populations later.

I worked on the last census while I was a poverty-stricken student.

We were told that as long as people filled in their name, DOB, sex and marital status, they weren't concerned about the rest of the form and even allowed the rest of the form to be left blank.

Article updated with a section on the removal of the old legal protection of the Census Act 1920 to allow the sharing of census data with the police, the courts , the intelligence services, the tax authorities, "approved reseachers" etc.


I'm not sure the Census Confidentiality Act made any practical difference.
See, for example, this extract from page 48 of 'The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5' by Christopher Andrew, Alan Lane, 2009:

=====

By December 1913 the Counter-Espionage Bureau's secret Register of Aliens was almost complete except for London (where about half the aliens lived), and Kell wrote to the Home Office 'to express our gratitude to the Chief Constables and their Superintendents for the excellent work they have done for us during the last three years' and to request that their local registers 'be kept under constant current revision'. Kell's original plan to use police forces around the country to compile a secret register of all aliens from probable enemy powers (chiefly Germany) had proved difficult to complete because of the scale of the exercise and the limited resources of both Bureau and police. The Home Office had also insisted that no alien was to be asked any question 'of an inquisitorial nature'. The results of the National Census of 1911, however, made it possible to complete a more limited and focused Register of Aliens. During 1913 the Census returns were used to record the particulars of all male aliens aged eighteen and above of eight nationalities (in particular Germans and Austrians) living in areas which would be closed to aliens in wartime. Information on aliens taken from the Census was then circulated for checking to chief constables, who were also asked to take note of those on the Register in their areas.
Kell's Registry entered the aliens information received from the 1911 Census and chief constables on what were known as 'Special Cards': the beginning of Ml5's card index. The Registry was among the most up to date of its era.

The control freaks are still not satisfied, they want to snoop on us in even more detail, without any extra safeguards or criminal sanctions against abuse of this sensitive personal data whatsoever.

From The Sunday Times
November 15, 2009

Name, age... are you gay? Census may get personal

Marie Woolf, Whitehall Editor

EVERYONE in Britain could be asked if they are gay, straight or bisexual under controversial plans being examined by the government.

Ministers working for Harriet Harman, who is in charge of equality policy, are considering including a question about sexual orientation in the 2011 census.

[...]

Remember that there is now no longer any legal protection against this data being handed over to UK or foreign law enforcement or intelligence agencies or tax authorities etc.

They also get a handwriting sample. Do they get a signature, thumbprint? Or if done by computer, other issues abound. Will some people need to use ink that cant be lndered? Could the results be rigged per computer or postal or other ballot-rigging methods? Will anything be analysed by those who don't know the truth that eben the current questions obviously not only can be used to violate people, butthat differnt people for different reasons will answer the same question for different, and that many of the questions are bad from a systems and cultural point of view.
The questions also may be abused to look for nationalists etc.
The sample polulations were most interesting to the defence industry.
It is not just the UK whose census will be handled by defence companies.
The EU nations (2011)and India (see also UN) are having censii.
Some questions ask for number of bedrooms used for bedrooms and/or storage. I read a newsreport where a hospital patient was asked ho many rooms she had. I am concerned about people being picked on or stealth taxed by inter alia by forcing fee-demanding social or other service on them, or people being told they are under or overcrowded in their private propoerty, or being accused of harboring criminals or aliens, also the use and abuse of data to increase taxes - council or others. Fortunately some British couples have a trdition of sometimes sleeping in different bedrooms for p&q, some don't, some are generous and hospitable to friends and family and needs and choices rationally flux and change from time to time, making a mockery of many of the questions.
As anyone who has worked on systems know, everything can be hacked, data is misenterd, systems imperfect, combining data from different systems inaccurate, bugs always exist.
Most people realise that people will look up info about themselves, their riends, their enemies, their competition, those they have disputes with.
As caring, honest and upright citizens we all need to answer the census bearing in mind that criminals as well as competitors of British business or people with their differeing agendas and needs and assumptions about what the questions and data fields really mean will all come to slightly differing decesions about what an individual census question answer or an individual's answers to all the questions mean about the person, and will all come to their own unique view of the person, with sometimes good, and sometimes terrible and unjust or stupid resulting actions by them.
While are average people, we are all also unique, and individuality and that traditional british "eccentricity" motives can be misjudged.
I also saw articles on the web stating or implying that some obvious missing questions would be derived from other sources and attached to questionnaires and that other authorities and entities would use the info. ditto those with climate change and social policy et alone other stuff.
How as good citizens do we fill in this form and protect anyone we know who is vulnerable or who works or knows anything about anything that hackers or foreign spies or any individuals with bad motives or who get used by the nefarious. The whole of British business, reaseach, government as well as the lives of citizens are at risk.
When they try and join mismatching, incompete medical, social, government etc data - they will get a morass of mistakes, contradictions and resulting garbage.
I suggest we all are very careful including between now and the censii.
I think will fail to help those who want data for good purposes and be exploited by those who wish to abuse people, communities and the country.

I've read this with disquiet. As far as I recall, the 2001 census only required the disclosure of people who'd stayed the previous night at the address - if my household stayed the night in a b&b, could I legitimately provide no information/omit everyone's name on the form?

What happens if you are conveniently abroard on the census date?

In 2001, when the census lady visited, I simply refused to comply. She informed me that I was liable to a £1000 fine. I told her I would happily face the extremely remote prospect of her threat being implemented, rather than tell the state anything about my private life. She left, and I heard nothing more.

I imagine that events will take a similar course this time as well.

Judge convicts Saskatchewan woman who wouldn't fill in long-form census

http://www.thestarphoenix.com/Judge+convicts+Saskatchewan+woman+wouldn+fill+long+form+census/4103779/story.html

That’s a bit eyebrow raising. I know, different country, but Canada’s closer legally to the UK, than, say, the United States. Plus, Canada is far more privacy-conscious than the UK. Their recent replacement of the long-form census with a voluntary survey shows this.

The real concern is that officialdom is always looking to other nations. Officials who had never considered something or who thought it was a bad idea, upon seeing it happening in another country, can decide they’d like to have a go at copying it. We’ve got no written constitution or charter of rights that puts explicit limits on government, not that that’s helped Sandra Finley so far. Looking at the Census Act 1920, as amended, it says “summary conviction.” That’s before magistrates, isn’t it?

Who would be responsible for bringing a prosecution, if there were ever an analogous case in the UK?

@ Charles - yes a "summary conviction" is handed down by a Magistrates' Court in England & Wales and also in Northern Ireland. In Scotland it would be a Sheriff Court.

It will be the Office for National Statistics in England & Wales, the Northern Ireland Statistics & Rresearch Agency or the General Register Office for Scotland which will decide whether or not to prosecute you.

THE ONS brought 38 cases for "Non-compliance" after the 2001 Census, with only one "dismissal".

See:the 2001 Census http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/noncompliancees.asp" target="_2001nces" title="2001 Census - Non-Compliance - Executive Summary - new window"> Non-Compliance - Executive Summary

The Non-Compliance Evaluation Executive Summary was updated on the 14th April 2003 to include the outcome of the one outstanding case.

[...]

Legislative Requirements

Under the provisions of section 8(1) of the Census Act 1920 it is an offence for someone to fail to comply with the Act or any Order or regulations made under the Act by refusing to make a census return.

Participation in the 2001 Census was thus compulsory with the exception of the question on religion.

Underlying Policy

It is particularly important, in pursuing a non-compliance policy, that prosecutions brought to court are not lost as this would:

* attract adverse publicity;
* let the field staff down; and
* give exactly the opposite message to that which ONS is trying to promote.

Therefore ONS follows a policy of only prosecuting in cases where it has obtained clear and sufficient evidence of a refusal that more or less guarantees success in the courts. Measured by this yardstick, the 2001 Census non-compliance exercise may be deemed to be a success since only 1 out of the 38 cases heard to date has been dismissed.


As an ex member of the Armed Forces, I take it that I can fill in Name, DOB, Gender and Marital status and leave the rest as being contrary to Terrorism Act 2000, section 58A?

Additionally I believe that in part or parts of this census there is an input from the EU. For those who believe, as I do, that Britain's membership of the EU lacks legitimacy and object to Brussels' interference in our affairs, both personal and national I wish to invoke:

1351 Act of Praemunire.
1559 Act of Supremacy.
1689 Bill of Rights (that forbids any threat or promise of a fine or forfeiture, before you have been found guilty of an offence in one of Her Majesty’s Courts of Law is void and unlawful.)

Is the feasible/legal/lawful?

@ Mike -
1351 Act of Praemunire.(only dealt with the Pope and the Vatican)
1559 Act of Supremacy.

These have been repealed by later Acts of Parliament

If you are unlucky enough to be prosecuted under the amended Census Act 1920, it will be in a proper Court, with a "Standard Scale" Fine of up to £1000 imposed by the Court, rather than a fixed Penalty Notice imposed by low level bureaucrats, so the 1689 Bill of Rights does not apply.

@ Mike - that legal defence only comes into play once a case has actually got past the arrest stage.

It is also a "reverse burden of proof" situation i.e. not the normal "innocent until proven guilty"

There are no exemptions whatsoever from Terrorism Act 2000 section 58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc - it applies to all current and former members of the armed forces, police constables or members of the intelligence agencies, whether they are decorated heroes or disgraced traitors.

Under this clause, there is no need for the accused to have any terrorist intent whatsoever, to fall foul of actual or attempted "eliciting, publishing or communicating information".

This stupid legal wording is far too wide and general, but it can and should be used against this over intrusive and no longer absolutely confidential Census.

Simply being arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 is enough to ruin your life, regardless of whether you are ever charged or are acquitted in Court.

You will be DNA sampled, photographed, fingerprinted and have all your homes, offices, computers, bank accounts etc. seized and searched.

Your details will be automatically passed on to foreign governments, as a "terrorist suspect", who will not care, or may never be informed, that you are "innocent".

So in Game Theory terms, you are facing a potential downside of up to a £1000 fine but the individual Census bureaucrats are facing the lifetime hell of being branded a "terrorist suspect" forever, and up to 10 years in prison.

Who will blink first ?

Provided that you make some attempt at returning the Census Form, rather than an outright refusal, you should be able to omit or the answers to the intrusive questions.

See the more recent Spy Blog article:

Civil Disobedience or lulz with the 2011 UK Census Form

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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Follow Spy Blog on Twitter

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

https://twitter.com/SpyBlog

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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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