March 2010 Archives


hostile_reconnaissance_13Apr2010_450.jpg

Event:

Hostile Reconnaissance a pre-election rally on Terror Laws, Civil Liberties and Press Freedom

When:

7pm, Tuesday 13th April 2010

Where:

Friends House (formerly known as the Friends Meeting House) opposite Euston mainline Railway and Tube station.

Friends House
173-177 Euston Road
London
NW1 2BJ

Google Street View of the main entrance on the Euston Road.

N.B. for those of you who may wish to enter or leave more discretely, there is also a back entrance in Endsleigh Gardens. (Google Street View)

Agenda:

Hostile Reconnaissance

13th April, 2010

The London Photographers’ Branch is proud to announce a pre-election rally on Terror Laws, Civil Liberties & Press Freedom at 7pm on the 13th of April at Friends Meeting House in Euston.

The rally will be chaired by award winning photographer Jess Hurd and speakers include:

More speakers are TBC and will include high-profile photographers, journalists and lawyers who have dealt with the raft of terror laws that we face today.

Supporting the rally are the National Union of Journalists, NUJ London Central Branch and the I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! campaign group.

FacebookFacebook Event Google MapsGoogle Map

Remember that not a single real terrorist or mere terrorist suspect, who was not already under intense surveillance by the authorities, has ever been caught in the act of conducting" hostile reconnaissance" of potential terrorist targets.

SInce you do not need any special equipment to do so, even the most innocent tourist or business journey can be misconstrued as "hostile reconnaissance", once the dirty allegation of terrorism has been leveled at you.

Recently, there has been a bland and ineffective re-packaging of the old "Crowded Places" advice / training / "Climate of Fear" propaganda, which has been directly responsible for some of the slanderous incidents leading to harassment of innocent members of the public by various "useless jobsworths".

See the Home Office's Office for Security and Counter-terrorism's Working Together to Protect Crowded Places guidance

The main document:

Working Together to Protect Crowded Places guidance - March 2010 (.pdf)

See Chapter 4: Reducing Vulnerabilities: What works ? which mentions

  • Project Argus (general propaganda awareness interactive DVD session - 3 hours including coffee break),

  • Project Griffin Police and Security Industry Authority accredited security guards one day course.

  • Operation Lightning - "a police coordinated hostile reconnaissance operation, to identify those who might be concerned in terrorist activity and /or domestic extremism.

    N.B. We are also "concerned" about "terrorist activity and /or domestic extremism", but that does not mean that we participate in any !

See also the Spy Blog article

How much "war on terror" training for "tens of thousands" of people is the Labour government providing ? As little as 3 hours (including a coffee break)

How can , for example the notorious Terrorism Act section 44 stop and search without reasonable suspicion legal power, act as a deterrent, when the supposedly strictly limited geographical location and the supposedly limited time period is kept secret by the Home Office and the Police ?

Also of relevance to this "pre-election rally" is our (failed) Spy Blog Freedom of Information Act request:

ICO Decision Notice FS50198733 - Home Office: Terrorism Act 2000 s44 stop and search Authorisations


Spy Blog Hints and Tips for attending this sort of anti-surveillance state public event:

  1. Tell all your friends and family about the meeting, eben if they are not interested in attending themselves, at least have someone worry about you if you are late home from such a meeting.

  2. Although there will obviously be journalists at this particular event, tell any other journalists or broadcast media contacts you have about it - these issues affect them and their readers / audiences, it not not just a a London thing.

  3. Switch off your mobile phone(s) when you are within, a couple of blocks, or Tube or train or Bus stops from Euston. Even if you do not make or receive a voice call or send or receive an SMS text message or use your mobile phone internet connection, then your phone will register its Location every 10 minutes or so with the nearby mobile phone Cell tower base stations, simply to be ready for any such normal mobile telephony uses.

    This will generate Communications Traffic data including Location Based Services data, which will be trawled through, en masse, by various police and intelligence units with an interest in trying to identify and track some or all of the attendees of this meeting.

  4. Take note and photographs if possible, of anybody seeming to record or photograph vehicle number plates of nearby parked cars or the people entering or leaving the meeting rooms / building etc.

  5. If you are "stopped and searched" under the Terrorism Act 2000 section 44, you do not have to give your name and address (although this can be demanded if you are actually arrested under the vast swathe of other legislation ).

  6. Remember that Police Community Support officers have no powers under the the Terrorism Act 2000 section 44, unless they are being physically supervised by a real , sworn, Police Constable in Uniform (plain clothes or undercover police also have no section 44 powers)

  7. Neither Police Constables nor PCSOs can demand that you delete any photographs or video you have taken on your camera or mobile phone (that is potentially "destruction of evidence") .

  8. This is a peaceful meeting, but just in case you are arrested, or stopped and searched etc. do have the contact details of a firm of solicitors who deal with criminal law and human rights etc. Say nothing until you have access to proper, independent legal advice.

  9. Do not rely on keeping these solicitors details in your mobile phone - that is one of the first things that will be taken away from you by the police - memorise them and / or keep them on paper as well.

  10. Set a security PIN code on your Mobile Phone. This will not prevent the police from examining it forensically if you are actually arrested, but it may be enough to prevent casual, illegal, snooping by Police Constables or by ill trained Police Community Support Officers.

  11. Delete all your stored SMS text messages (sent, received and draft). These can be forensically recovered or reconstructed from central records, but again, there is no need to give anything private away to nosey snoopers who might have your phone in their possession.

  12. Ideally, do not take your normal mobile phone to such a meeting - use a cheap / disposable, prepaid, unregistered mobile phone, with little or no Friendship Tree history or stored contacts or SMS messages.

  13. Leave your passport, driving licence, union membership card, credit cards, bank ATM cards, supermarket loyalty cards, airline travel miles, car breakdown service cards, library cards, club membership cards, business address cards or registered Oyster travel cards etc. at home. These will be used to obtain your name and address without your consent, if you are "stopped and searched" or arrested. Surely none of you will have been so stupid as to obtain and carry a new National Identity Card to such a meeting ?

  14. Since this meeting will be in the run up to the General and Local elections, do please make very clear your views on the creepy Labour Surveillance State and its counterproductive effect on innocent people, to any politicians who might be trawling for votes at or near the meeting.

  15. If you are going to publish any photos or articles or emails or blog entries or tweetsl or other reports about this meeting, especially if you are inspired to participate in or plan some sort of peaceful action against the Labour Government or Whitehall, or other tentacles of the surveillance state, then please bear in mind our http://ht4w.co.uk - Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers etc. - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

It is very frightening that this "pre-election rally" meeting is needed at all, in our supposedly liberal western democracy.

The bureaucratic surveillance police state which this unpopular, inept, yet desperate to cling on to power Labour government, has encouraged, make these simple precautions worth considering, even for a peaceful public meeting.

BBC 4 is showing a 3 part series of one hour documentaries entitled The Great Offices of State by Michael Cockerell.

The first one, about the notorious Home Office, entitled The Dark Department was shown last night, but it is available online via the BBC iPlayer, for the next few days.

Marsham_Street_Peel_building_026_450.jpg
(26 seconds into the programme)

Obviously there are a lot of "talking heads" interviews, including all the current Labour Government''s six Home Secretaries (politicians),

  • Jack Straw 2 May 1997 - 8 June 2001
  • David Blunkett 8 June 2001 - 15 December 2004
  • Charles Clarke 15 December 2004 - 5 May 2006
  • John Reid 5 May 2006 - 27 June 2007
  • Jacqui Smith 28 June 2007 - 5 June 2009
  • Alan Johnson 5 June 2009 -

Also interviewed were three of the four Permanent Secretaries (top civil service mandarins like the fictional - Sir Humphrey Appleby from the classic TV comedy / satire Yes, Minister) i.e. the people who really run the Home Office, in spite of the meddling and ill thought out polices imposed by the by the politicians.

  • Sir David Normington 2006- Sir_David_Normington_626_450.jpg

  • Sir John Gieve 2002-2006
    Sir_John_Gieve_4506_450.jpg

  • Sir David Omand 1997-2002 (not interviewed)

  • Sir Richard Wilson 1994-1997 (now Lord Wilson of Dinton)
    Lord_Wilson_2417_450.jpg

Several politicians and civil servants from the previous Conservative and Labour governments were interviewed as well.

There was a brief look at some of the catalogue of disasters which the Home Office has been responsible for in recent years, and quite a bit of mention of the out of touch, "bunker mentality" of the Home Office collectively as an institution.

No doubt the politicians babbled on at great length, but the soundbites which each of them got to broadcast, do seem to make them all seem a bit more human, given the impossible tasks which the Home Office claims to be able to deal with, and which they claim to be able to reform.

However, we do wonder about John Reid's extraordinary attack by implication. on the Secretary of State for Defence !

I believe, very very strongly, that there should be one Minister at Cabinet level, one Secretary of State, eh, eh, who got up, every morning, and thought, my main task today, is the safety, and security, of the people of this country. And , the Home Secretary can now do that.


(c.f. around 52 minutes and 18 seconds into the programme)

So no Secretary of State for Defence thinks daily about the "safety and security of the people of this country" ? Really ? The Labour incumbents in charge of the Ministry of Defence (including John Reid himself) may well have all been as incompetent and useless in practice, as the Labour Home Secretaries, but it is unlikely that any of them did not bother to think daily about the "safety and security of the people of this country".

The most interesting bits of the programme, were those filmed on the day of the arrival of the newly appointed, current Home Secretary Alan Johnson at the Marsham Street headquarters of the Home Office.

He was met by the current the Permanent Secretary Sir David Normington and
was shepherded about under the auspices of Simon Wren, the Home Office media spin doctor.

Simon_Wren_David_Normington_Alan_Johnson_405_450.jpg
(4 minutes 5 seconds into the programme)

Censorship and Personnel Security

Presumably whole committees of Home Office civil servants and securocrats and BBC bureaucrats checked the BBC footage, in case it inadvertently reveled some sensitive information.

The scene (at around 9 minutes 23 seconds into the programme) where Sir David Normington shows Alan Johnson into his new office, displays a "blurred out" sign on the wall, the top half of which presumably might identify the location of the Home Secretary's office within the 3 building Marsham Street office complex.

Home_Secretarys_office_name_plate_censored_923_450.jpg
(9 minutes 28 seconds into the programme)

Surely this is minor risk, compared with the complete lack of any censorship of the vehicle number plates of the Ministerial Jaguar

Ministerial_Jaguar_254_450.jpg
(2 minutes 54 seconds into the programme)

and the presumably armed escort Audi vehicle

Escort_Audi_308_450.jpg
(3 minutes 8 seconds into the programme)

in the underground car park "meet and greet" scenes ?

Obviously Spy Blog has censored these vehicle number plate images, but the "cat is out of the bag".

The unobscured faces of the Ministerial Driver and the presumably Metropolitan Police armed bodyguard, were also clearly visible in several scenes.

Some of the old Home Office ways still linger on

Was it really necessary to allow the audio sound to identify "Natasha" as the member of the Private Office staff who sits physically nearest to the Home Secretary's office, and who handles the Secret and Top Secret (paper) document folders ?

Top_Secret_3712_450.jpg
(37 minutes 12 seconds into the programme)

Top_Secret_Natasha_3720_450.jpg
(37 minutes 20 seconds into the programme) - pixellation by Spy Blog.

Surely there should be a consistent policy for such censorship ?

We simply cannot be bothered to alert the BBC or the Home Office to these potential security risks - they usually ignore such warnings (the Home Office certainly does its best to try to evade or ignore our Freedom of Information Act requests), or they try to "shoot the messenger".


The controversial whistleblower website WikiLeakS.org, despite being still "on strike" to plead for financial donations, continues to publish a few headline grabbing "leaks", without the full wiki system which used to allow readers to analyse and comment on them on the website itself.

They are sensationally claiming that:

U.S.Intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks

http://file.wikileaks.org/files/us-intel-wikileaks.pdf

We cannot see much evidence of any actual "plan", only a statement of the obvious, that if US Military whistleblowers are tracked down and disciplined or prosecuted, this may have a deterrent effect on future leaks, in general and to Wikileaks in particular.

WikiLeakS.org point out that none of that has happened, as yet, in the couple of years since this intelligence report was compiled.

There is mention of foreign i.e. non-USA potential Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) and / or Computer Network Attacks (CNA) on wikileaks, but with no mention of any US military capabilities or policies in these areas.

This document appears to be:

SECRET//NOFORN

ACIC Home

(U) Wikileaks.org--An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?

NGIC-2381-0617-08

Information Cutoff Date: 28 February 2008
Publication Date: 18 March 2008


[...]


Prepared by:

Michael D. Horvath


Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch
Army Counterintelligence Center

External Coordination: National Ground Intelligence Center[1]

This product responds to HQ, Department of Army, production requirement C764-97-0005.

ACIC Product Identification Number is RB08-0617.

[...]

(U) This special report assesses the counterintelligence threat posed to the US Army by the Wikileaks.org Web site.

It is interesting that this SECRET / NOFORN (NOFORN = Not releasable to Foreign Nationals, equivalent to "UK Eyes Only") document cites this Spy Blog article 3 times e.g.:

(U) Spy Blog. ―Is Wikileaks.org the Right Idea for a Whistleblowing Website? 5 January 2007.
URL: http://p10.hostingprod.com@spyblog.org.uk/blog/2007/01/is_wikileaks.org_the_right_idea_for_a_ whistleblowing_website/html. Moved from URL: www.spy.org.uk/spyblog. Accessed on 17 December 2007.

This URL has got mangled somewhat, so interested readers should go to:

Spy Blog, January 5, 2007 2:09 PM:
Is WikiLeaks.org the right idea for a whistleblowing website ?

The WikiLeak.org blog (no "s") has also discussed many of the technical and ethical issues raised by this US Military Intelligence analyst.

The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, who are supposed to provide the public with independent scrutiny of the secret intelligence services, has actually written two Annual reports in the last 9 months.

11 March 2010: The Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual Report for 2008-2009 was laid before Parliament today by the Prime Minister. A copy of the Report can be found here. A copy of the Government Response to the Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual Report 2008-2009 can be found here.

The Committee has issued an accompanying Press Release, which can be found here.

These Annual Reports are not an adequate mechanism for holding the secret intelligence agencies to account, either for their waste of public money, or for how well they are doing their job.

See:

Perhaps there is some good reason for the 8 month publication delay of this supposedly Annual 2008 - 2009 report , but since nobody trusts Gordon Brown not to lie by omission, we assume that there was some sort of petty political reason for the unnecessary delay.

Dr. Kim Howell's, the outgoing Labour chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who will not be standing for re-election at the forthcoming General Election, seems a bit frustrated with the

"We also sent our Annual Report for 2009-10 to the Prime Minister on Friday 5 March 2010.
This is a shorter report, given the duration of the Parliamentary year, however it covers some
fundamental issues.

[...]

We have been assured by the Prime Minister that this Report will also be published in good time before the debate next week.

This is an opportunity for Gordon Brown to show his respect or contempt for Parliament and the British public.

We would like to be proved wrong, but we assume that Gordon Brown will break this promise to Kim Howells.

The debate on the Intelligence and Security Committee Report is scheduled for this Thursday 18th March 2010.

On past performance, we expect a few paper copies this 2009 - 2010 report to have been made available a few minutes before, or perhaps even during this debate, in the Vote Office, giving MPs and others no time to read and analyse it beforehand.

We doubt if it will be published on the web until after the debate in the Commons.

Here are a few points which stood out for Spy Blog, when reading this censored ISC report:

Neither the Defence nor the Prosecution lawyers have sufficient security clearance !

The Magistrates Court bail hearing hearing is adjourned until Thursday 25th March 2010.

The Western Morning News (which covers the West of England, including Devon, where Daniel Houghton's family is based) reports:

Spy case delay over secrets clearance
Saturday, March 13, 2010, 10:00

A FORMER MI6 spy charged with trying to sell top secret files to a foreign country has not been able to brief his lawyers because they do not have security clearance to speak to him.

Daniel Houghton, whose family live in Holne, near Ashburton, Devon, and who studied graphic design in Exeter, remains in custody and cannot apply for bail until lawyers are given clearance.

Houghton, 25, is accused of attempting to sell confidential electronic files, including memory sticks and a laptop hard drive detailing MI5's intelligence-gathering techniques.

However, his lawyers and the legal team prosecuting him, found they would be in breach of the Official Secrets Act and could be charged with breaking the law themselves if they went ahead with the case.

This is suspiciously odd.

Previous Official Secrets Act trials have not needed specially cleared defence and prosecution lawyers.

Surely a Judge can be trusted to decide what secret evidence to include or exclude from an Official Secrets trial ?

Prosecutions under the Official Secrets Act need the consent of the Attorney General, so has she changed the rules, without any Parliamentary scrutiny or debate ?

Why are Crown Prosecution Service lawyers chosen for an Official Secrets Act case somehow not to be trusted ? Perhaps this media report is a bit misleading

"security cleared" lawyers are not necessary for the more serious charge (with a longer potential prison sentence) against Daniel Houghton under the Theft Act.

[...]

Piers Arnold, prosecuting, outlined the dilemma during a brief hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He said: "What the joint proposal is today is that the matter be put off for a period of two weeks with a view to carrying out the relevant security clearance procedures for the defence so they are in a position to take full and mindful instructions from their client."

Michael O'Kane, defending, said: "In order to get instructions from Mr Houghton with a view to ascertaining whether a full bail application can be made, we would be falling foul of the Official Secrets Act and exposing him to further offences as well as ourselves."

District Judge Timothy Workman adjourned the case until Thursday March 25, when a bail application is expected to be made.

[...]

How can the defence lawyers be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act, when their conversations with their client are supposedly Legally Privileged ?

Why do the lawyers, on either side, need full access to all the secret information allegedly being sold, simply for a bail hearing ?

Who will security vet the Judge in the case ?

"security vetting", is obviously no guarantee of any sort, since many other accused spies in the past have had a very high "security clearance", which proved to be worthless.

There is no legal basis, under the Official Secrets Act 1989, for any exemptions from prosecution for anybody, even if they actually do have a "security clearance", something which is not mentioned at all in the wording of the Act.

There is still no mention of why Houghton is not being prosecuted under the Terrorism Act section 58.

There is still no mention of which country's intelligence agency Houghton is accused of thinking that he was selling the top secrets to.


When is an "above Top Secret" e.g TOP SECRET ATOMIC document no longer a secret ? When it has been officially de-classified and is available via the National Archives in Kew, after say 30 or 50 years.

However to make sense of these often very technical documents, you need a lifetime of relevant expertise.

Have a look at this well researched and fascinating website, by a retired British nuclear weapons programme engineer:

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

Here is an example of the sheer engineering elegance and precision which British engineers and scientists used to be capable of, over 50 years ago:

OHcropped_450.jpg


The Orange Herald spherical warhead installed in the centre section frame of a Blue Danube casing prior to the Operation Grapple tests at Christmas Island. Although smaller at approx 36 inches diameter than the Green Grass warhead of Violet Club at 45 inches, the Green Grass warhead would appear to be very similar. A notable difference would be the 72-lenses of the Green Grass implosion system, derived from the Green Bamboo design, unlike this photograph showing 32 lenses and detonators. The Blue Danube derived firing switch (the large circular item attached to the frame at top left) is clearly seen, with the firing cables leading to each detonator also clearly visible. Because the timing of the firing signal was so important, each cable was of exactly identical length, with duplicated cables to the nearest detonators having to be coiled. The nose and tail units of the casing fix to the large circular frame of the modified Blue Danube casing. Photo: MoD


Apart from the "Rubber bag full of steel ball bearings" alleged safety mechanism, some of the most powerful British weapons relied on trust in human beings, rather than technical safeguards e.g.


WE.177:

kemble-keys-1w_450.jpg

Strike Enabling keyset at the Bristol Aero Collection, Kemble airfield. The hexagon (Allen) key inserted into the centre of each dial to set the burst and drop conditions. The yellowish barrel-shaped object is a gripper device used to grip and remove a cover over the keyhole while wearing NBC gloves. (157) Photo: Brian Burnell.

[...]

Only one key was needed to activate the weapon preparatory to a strike.

There was no dual key system manned by two keyholders. There were no secret code numbers or secret code words. There was only one officer holding one key.

The insane logic of the nuclear arms race threw up some astonishing weapons, to specific threats (real or imagined). somehow the designers and promoters of these weapons systems (US, UK and Soviet) managed to ignore their wider practical or ethical drawbacks.:

e,g, the Davy Crockett (US) and the identical Wee Gwen (UK):

davy_crockett_200.jpg

Wee Gwen was a British project name for a small, lightweight, low yield unboosted fission warhead intended for a British Army version of the US Davy Crockett close support infantry weapon. The US Army's Davy Crockett spigot mortar was available in two versions, either vehicle mounted, or a lighter model as a manpack, which broke down into three major components, each light enough to manpack. It was for use very close to the front line by the infantry, and was probably the first known use of a neutron weapon, designed to kill and incapacitate enemy troops by neutron and gamma radiation, rather than by blast and heat, although at the time the warhead was designed for use as an anti-aircraft warhead, the concept of battlefield use of neutron warheads had not yet evolved.

[...]


The W-54 warhead's small size and weight was noted by other prospective users, and it was adapted for use with the Davy Crockett spigot mortar and a manpacked ADM (Atomic Demolition Munition and landmine) both for use by the US Army.

[...]

Studies showed that in order to detonate these nuclear weapons safely, but close to friendly front-line troops, the best choice of yield was 10-20 tons. A greater yield was not especially useful, since the killing power of the weapon used against advancing enemy troops in armoured vehicles and in the open was greater by neutron and gamma emission than by the more conventional effects of heat and blast. (14) Armoured troops in particular were mostly unaffected by blast on the scale of this weapon, but armour provides little protection from radiation emissions of Wee Gwen, casualties would be unlikely to survive longer than 36 hours. Enemy troops in the open at up to 70 yards (64m) would have loss of co-ordination within one minute, be incapacitated and death would follow within 36 hours. A 10 ton yield warhead could be detonated as close as 600 yards (550m) to friendly troops.


[...]

While the weight of the fissile core is not known, and may never be known, a reasonable estimate is a minimum of 4 kg, and possibly much more.

Note that enemy troops who have received an incapacitating or lethal dose of radiation will still usually be able to fire their weapons and kill some or all of the troops being "defended" by such "frontilne" atomic weapons.

The chances of "friendly fire" or "blue on blue" casualties from such weapons which were not capable of being be accurately aimed, appear to be huge.

We suspect that the various terrorist groups who were active in the 1950's and 1960's were perfectly well aware of the potential of such devices, so the interest of al-Queada in acquiring or building such devices is nothing new, no matter what the "climate of fear" propaganda claims.

If today's terrorists did somehow manage to acquire even such a "small" fission weapon, the UK and US authorities would no doubt panic and attempt to evacuate or disrupt a vastly larger area than the "safe radius" for friendly troops specified by the designers of these weapons.

The Daily Telegraph reports that former the MI6 employee Daniel Houghton, who is being tried under the Theft Act and the Official Secrets Act, for ineptly trying to sell alleged MI6 and MI5 "intelligence gathering technique) secrets to undercover UK counter intelligence agents, used DVD / CD and USB flash memory technology to smuggle out and store the alleged top secret and secret documents:

Spycatchers trap MI6 man 'trying to sell secrets'

A former MI6 spy has been accused of trying to sell "top secret" intelligence files to a foreign government for £2m.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent
Published: 5:12PM GMT 03 Mar 2010

Daniel Houghton, 25, was caught in a sting operation after allegedly approaching a foreign intelligence agency offering to sell them information he had collected while working for the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6.

The files, which belonged to the domestic security service MI5, allegedly related to the capabilities of the security and intelligence services and the techniques they have developed to gather intelligence, sources said, and were labeled "top secret" and "secret."

Houghton, who worked for MI6 between September 2007 and May 2009, allegedly telephoned the foreign intelligence service three months after leaving MI6 to try and arrange a deal.

He telephoned a "foreign intelligence service" and expected not to alert the UK counter-intelligence units ??

But undercover MI5 officers, known as "spy catchers", met him in February to view the material on his laptop and allegedly negotiated a price of £900,000, while recording the meeting with hidden listening devices.

If the alleged "top secret" documents really deserved that level of classification, then some people and organisations would be willing to pay much more than that.

Houghton allegedly told them he had downloaded the information onto a number of CDs and DVD disks which he then copied onto a secure digital memory card of the type used in cameras.

He also allegedly told the undercover MI5 officers that he had copied material onto a second memory card which he had hidden at his mother's home in Devon.

They arranged to meet him again at a central London hotel where he allegedly showed them the material on a laptop and then handed over two memory cards and a computer hard drive.

Sources said he was allowed to leave the hotel room with £900,000 in a suitcase before he was arrested as he waited for a hotel lift by plain clothes officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.

It is understood Houghton told them: "You've got the wrong man."

Police have conducted a series of raids since the arrest on Monday at Houghton's shared flat in Hoxton, east London and at his mother's home, a farm house in Holne, near Newton Abbot in Devon.

They are understood to be looking for any copies of the material he may have downloaded and any other material he may have stolen.

Sources said they had found additional hard copies of material marked "top secret," "secret" and "restricted."

[...]

According to The Press Association etc

The two detailed charges he is facing are: Between September 1, 2007 and May 31, 2009 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court he stole property, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, belonging to the British Security Service. Contrary to section 1(1) Theft Act 1968.

The other charge is that on March 1, 2010 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, being a person who has been a member of the security and intelligence services, without lawful authority he disclosed articles relating to security or intelligence, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, which were in his possession by virtue of his position as a former member of the British Secret Intelligence Service. Contrary to section 1(1) Official Secrets Act 1989.

  • Does this imply that the authorities have no proof as to exactly when Houghton is alleged to have stolen the secret and top secret documents and have just bracketed his entire period of employment with MI6 ?

This case shows that trusted employees, even of MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service, can use easily concealed USB flash memory devices to smuggle out secret documents from supposedly heavily guarded buildings or computer networks.

This should be of interest to other, more honourable and less corrupt whistleblowers - see our Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

However, this case also shows a lack of professionalism by the wannbe corrupt spy, who seems to have revealed rather too much personal information about himself and his family to his supposed "foreign intelligence agency" customers. Meeting them in person a hotel room in London (rather than in a foreign country), not making use of Dead Letter Drops or encryption and expecting to simply walk away with £900,000 in cash in suitcase (without being robbed or murdered) after handing over the secrets , seems rather arrogant, naive, and obviously illegal.

  • Did Houghton work on a joint MI6 Secret Intelligence Service and MI5 Security Service operation ?

  • if not how did he have access to MI5 secrets when working for MI6 ?

  • Why did he leave the employment of MI6 last year ?

At the age of 25, he must have started stealing secrets only a year after leaving the University of Birmingham. Given the six months or more it can take for recruitment and Developed Vetting (DV) security vetting clearance, he must have started stealing secret stuff almost immediately that he had access to it.

According to the Daily Mail: Ex-MI6 agent appears in court charged with trying to sell top secret files 'for £2million'

Born in Holland, Houghton has dual British-Dutch nationality and is fluent in English and Dutch. Educated at Dartmouth Community College in Devon where his family live in nearby Holne, Houghton studied graphic design at Exeter College.

At Birmingham University, he studied computer interactive systems, achieving top marks which brought him to the attention of the security services

  • Did he hack in to their supposedly secure computer systems from the inside ?

We doubt that Daniel Houghton was employed as an "agent" or as a "spy" i.e. a Covert Human Intelligence Source (usually foreign but also within the UK) as the mainstream media headlines claim.

  • Was he employed as an Intelligence Officer or was he employed to work on their Information Technology systems ?

  • Which "foreign intelligence agency" did he think that he was betraying and selling the secrets to ? There really is no good reason for keeping that a secret from the British public.

  • Was he working alone, or did he have accomplices ?


Why the Theft Act 1968 but not the Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 Collection of information ?

  1. The Official Secrets Act 1989 section 1 (1) carries a penalty(defined in section 10 Penalties of "only" up to 2 years in prison and / or a fine (per offence), is obviously applicable to a former member of MI6.

  2. Unless Houghton was stupid enough to steal and to hand over the original CDs, DVDs or the computer hard disk, which physically belonged to his former employer MI6, then how does the Theft Act 1968 apply ?

    There would be no need for all the civil Copyright legal cases, if somehow, a mere digital copy of information or data could be misinterpreted as Theft as defined by the Theft Act 1968 section 1

    (1)A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it;

    [...]

    This cannot apply to digital copies of the information or documents - it can only apply to the originals or master copies on physical media or hardware.

    The theoretical maximum of up to 7 years in prison is for major thefts of property or money.

  3. Why is Daniel Houghton not also facing a Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 Collection of information charge, which attracts a penalty of up to 10 years in prison ?

    Surely "top secret" MI5 "intelligence gathering techniques" is obviously "information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" ?

    This is a catch all offence which does not require proof of any actual terroristic intent, only knowledge of the fact of its potential usefulness to terrorists.

    These documents, if accurately reported above, would be much more useful to terrorists, than the stuff which several people are in currently in prison for, which they downloaded from the internet.

Anonymous briefing before Court Reporting Restrictions apply

It is also worth questioning why the authorities seem to have anonymously briefed Duncan Gardham, the Security Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph in so much detail ?

This report (and our blog analysis of it) comes before any media reporting restrictions have been ordered, as Daniel Houghton is not yet facing trial by jury.

This seems to be a feature of recent national security trials - the accused is found guilty in the mainstream media, well before he faces an Judge and Jury, on the basis of anonymous leaks from nameless Whitehall bureaucrats, given to selected, favoured mainstream media journalists.

N.B. if the UK Government or legal system authorities want bloggers not to comment on a trial in progress, then they will have to inform us directly via email or through a comment posting, or through a prominent online public announcement that there are actually reporting restrictions in place and the details of exactly what they cover. We are reasonably intelligent, but not psychic.

Those of you taking an interest in this, or similar cases, should download and save your own copies of any relevant newspaper or blog articles to your own (secure and encrypted ?) computer systems, since the online versions could easily be be censored through secret injunctions or takedown notices, or just the threat of expensive legal action.

Two years after a Spy Blog FOIA request, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has now disclosed some information regarding their seemingly counterproductive practice of having a two tier, Us and Them policy for extra "security safeguards" on tax records.

See FOIA disclosure regarding HMRC tax record special categories

Remember that HMRC lost / misplaced the sensitive personal details of the entire Child Benefit database - names, addresses, details of children, National Insurance Numbers and some bank account details, affecting over 23 million people - every family in the UK.

There is no excuse for a "two tier" system - everyone's tax records should be secure from targeted or casual snooping, regardless, not just those of "Special Category" members of the Soviet style nomenklatura who have flourished under this authoritarian and secretive Labour government, and who far outnumber the people who are genuinely under the highest threat of violence, if their sensitive personal details are snooped on or leaked or lost or stolen.

The best way to reduce such security risks, is to vastly simplify the bureaucratic and over complicated taxation system, and to ensure that HMRC obeys the principles of Data Minimisation, and does not collect and store excessive amounts of personal data on individual citizens in the first place.

Categories and Numbers, excluding those subject to the s23 exemption or the s44
exemption

As at April 2008

Class of individualNumber of records*
HMRC staff [for reasons of propriety]   95,000
Certain [e.g. criminal justice] investigators in Govt depts; certain members of the police and judiciary   25,600
Protected for personal reasons: eg transsexuals,Gender re-assigned cases, domestic abuse and witness protection cases   24,500
Ministers of the Crown, Elected representatives, researchers and certain former Elected representatives   8,120

* We believe that in the majority of cases the number of records will equate to the number of individuals in a category, but there is a small possibility that they may include more than one record for a few individuals.


[...]

[The records of "celebrities" are not protected by additional safeguards.]

Note that by far the largest group, larger than all the rest combined, to whom this "Special Category" status of extra "safeguards" for their tax records is accorded, are HMRC staff themselves !

What exactly does [for reasons of propriety] mean ?

Some possible further FOIA request questions:

  • Why are "researchers" of Elected Representatives given "special category" status". Presumably the context of the use of that term implies political or parliamentary "researchers", employed by Elected Representatives, presumably Members of Parliament (646 MPs) at the Westminster House of Commons, rather than, say, biomedical researchers who are targets for harassment or violence by animal extremists.

  • Does "Elected Representatives" include Members of the European Parliament (72 UK MEPs 741 in total), Members of the Scottish Parliament (129 MSPs), Assembly Members (60 AMs) of the National Assembly for Wales and the Members of the Legislative Assembly (108 MLAs) in Northern Ireland Assembly ? Does it also cover County, Local and Parish Council Elected Members ?

  • The figure of 8,120 seems very high for just current Elected representatives since the figure above add up to only 1684 (only 1015, if only UK MEPs are counted) and "certain former" Elected Representatives.

  • What about non-elected Representatives i.e. Members of the House of Lords ?

    The various Labour Lords who have been appointed as unelected, unaccountable Ministers, do seem to qualify.

  • Will HMRC reveal the list of "Special Employers", in general terms ?

  • It is noticeable that the vast majority of Military or Police or Prison Officer personnel are not given any "Special category" protection, even though their names, addresses and family details are of significant interest to terrorist and foreign intelligence agencies and serious organised criminal gangs etc.

  • Who is the current "head of SSD (Special Section D)", and what are his / her contact details ?

  • Is there a secure and confidential means of contacting Special Section D, without involving the main HMRC postal, telephone and internet infrastructure ?

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: 0x80CFAA4C 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.

FreeFarid_150.jpg
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