Intelligence and Security Committee Report 2009-2010 - interference by the Cabinet Office, MI5 DIGINT, Northern Ireland terrorism, new Cyber Defence bureaucracy but CESG financially bankrupt ?

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The Intelligence and Security Committee Annual Report 2009-2010 (.pdf) has been published, exactly as we predicted in our previous blog article:
Intelligence and Security Committee publishes Two annual reports - Gordon Brown keeps one still secret

i.e. only on the actual day of the debate in the Commons, presumably to deliberately restrict the number of Members of Parliament and members of the public who would actually read and analyse it.

The covering letter to the prime Minister Gordon Brown by the outgoing Labour ISC Chairman the Rt. Hon. Dr Kim Howells, MP

"I am grateful that you have agreed to publish both Reports before the House of Commons debate on our work on 18 March."

Gordon Brown broke this promise !

The backbench Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay, pointed out that the 2009 - 2010 Report had not been published "in good time" for the debate on 18th March:

18 Mar 2010 : Column 1049

[...]

I put the problem simply: approximately 600 MPs do not know of the existence of the 2009-10 report because they are not here in the House of Commons today. When I went to our own dear Vote Office-I make absolutely no criticism of its staff-to ask for papers for today's debates, I was given the 2008-09 report; only when I came into the Chamber and listened to the Chairman of the Committee did I realise that there was another document worth looking at.

18 Mar 2010 : Column 1050

It is a mickey-take of Parliament when that sort of thing happens and I just wonder who is to blame. Will anyone own up to that cavalier handling by Parliament? We need to watch that in the future. To be candid, I think it is indicative of the cavalier way in which the scrutiny of our security and intelligence services has been dealt with by a number of people, including Ministers and, I have to say, my colleagues on the ISC.

Technically, since the debate on 18th March 2010 was only about the 2008 - 2009 report, MPs could in theory have another debate on the 20009 - 2010 report, but do not hold your breath in anticipation.

There appears to have been some sort of petty interference from the Cabinet Office and / or the Prime Minister and his henchmen, with the running of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

7. [...]

According to the legislation which established the Committee, it can set its own procedures. These have, naturally, evolved over the last 16 years through written agreements and verbal assurances. It has become very clear to us, however, that corporate knowledge of these procedures within Government has been lost over time and there was now very little awareness of our procedures, some of which date back to when the Committee was first established. This has led in some cases to misunderstandings as to the statutory independence of the Committee and its work and the nature of the relationship between the Committee and the Prime Minister.

This Report includes an appendix making a plea by the ISC to divorce themselves from reliance on the Cabinet Office for facilities and budget. The Cabinet Office is belatedly now seen to have a conflict of interest regarding Intelligence matters by the ISC, which rightly feels that the public perception of its supposed Independence from Government has been compromised.

This potential conflict of interest was obvious to outside observers since the very inception of the ISC.

A few crumbs of information from the 2009 - 2010 report:

As usual, this heavily censored Annual Report does not give sufficient detail for the public to be reassured that United Kingdom's intelligence agencies are either spending public money properly, or that they are working effectively and democratically.

Why do they bother censoring total annual headline expenditure figures ? These multi-million pound totals do not give away any useful tactical information to an enemy, since the individual projects which they represent are not broken down in any detail.

The public does deserve to see how much money of their money is being spent or wasted by these supposed public servants.


GCHQ

Administration

28. During 2008/09, 600 new staff joined GCHQ resulting in a small net increase in staff numbers of 3% (from 5,051 to 5,296 staff20). Its new recruitment target for 2008/09 was its largest to date (at over 700): GCHQ told the Committee that "recruitment of the much sought after Internet Analysts, those with rare language skills and Information Assurance specialists continue to be our main challenge".21

20 These figures do not include military personnel and inward secondees.
21 Oral evidence - GCHQ, 9 February 2010.

This recruitment drive by GCHQ, is almost certainly the reason that the BBC's Security Correspondent Gordon Corera, was allowed to record a 40 minute radio documentary within the GCHQ Cheltenham "doughnut" building, interviewing several employees, together with Clifford Cocks one of the (secret) inventors of Public Key Cryptography and Iain Lobban, the Director of GCHQ: GCHQ: Cracking the Code (still available online via the BBC iPlayer for the next few days)


Security Service MI5

31. As we mentioned in our last Annual Report,23 the focus for Security Service investment over the rest of this CSR period is the Intelligence Programme (IQ) and the Service's IT infrastructure. However, an emerging area which will require major investment is digital intelligence (DIGINT). We were told this year that the Service had embarked on scoping work aimed at ensuring that "in five years' time we are still able to do what we can do today when the use of IT has continued to change as rapidly as it is at the moment" 24

The cost of the new DIGINT programme was not yet clear, but the Director General estimated that it was likely to be "tens of millions over the next 12 months".

23 Cm 7807.
24 Oral Evidence - Security Service, 26 January 2010.

What exactly is digital intelligence (DIGINT) ? Is it simply an ongoing investment in upgraded desktop and backend server IT systems ?

How does it different from GCHQ's "Mastering the Internet" programme ?
Does it attempt to duplicate any of this e.g. snooping on Voice over IP telephony ?

Non-ICT work

34. During 2008/09, the Security Service allocated 13% to Irish-related terrorism. The Director General told us that "what was not anticipated when we went into this spending period was the way in which the situation in Northern Ireland has degenerated ".26 In

January 2010 the Service had "considerably more what we would call priority 1, i.e. life-
threatening investigations, in Northern Ireland than we do in the rest of Great Britain
".
As a result of the increased threat from dissident republican terrorists in Northern Ireland, the Service is planning to increase its effort in this area during 2009/10 to 18%.

Some acknowledgement at last, that the Real IRA / Continuity IRA dissidents, who have actually murdered people and planted and detonated large car bombs, are actually more of a current threat, than Islamic or neo-Nazi or Animal Rights extremists.

35. During 2008/09 the Service allocated 3% of its overall effort to hostile foreign activity in the UK. The main threats continue to be posed by Russia and China, both in the conventional and cyber spheres. The Director General told the Committee that "there's no doubt that the internet27 is a strong vector of threat as far as espionage is concerned".28

For 2009/10, the Service planned to increase its effort in this area to 4%.

Administration

36. During 2008/09, 610 new staff joined the Service. Overall, there has been a 40% increase in Security Service staff between April 2006 and April 2009. However, this expansion is set to slow in pace. The Service aimed to recruit a further 253 staff by April 2010 (an increase of 7%).

25 Oral Evidence - Security Service, 26 January 2010.
26 Oral Evidence - Security Service, 26 January 2010.
27 Further detail on the threat from electronic attack and cyber security is covered in paragraphs 48 to 51.
28 Oral Evidence - Security Service, 26 January 2010.

This seems to be the only bit of the report which caught the attention of the mainstream media:

37. The Service has also been reviewing its staff profile. One particular area of concern was the level of IT skills. The Director General told us that "I think some of the staff perhaps aren't quite the ones that we will want for the future "29 and that, as a result, a programme of both voluntary and compulsory redundancies were being introduced.

29 Oral Evidence - Security Service, 26 January 2010.

Voluntary and Compulsory redundancies at MI5 ? How many of these people will move via the revolving door into Private Military / Security Contractor companies ?

Why has the Intelligence and Security Committee still not bothered to investigate the use of such Private Military / Security Contractor companies in intelligence and surveillance roles, in the United Kingdom and overseas ?

Secret Intelligence Service MI6

Administration

44. During 2008/09, SIS grew from 2,084 staff to 2,252 (an increase of 8%). SIS aims to increase further to 2,527 during 2009/10 (an additional 12%). Last year we noted that SIS's plans to increase overseas deployments significantly had been affected by security concerns. This year we were told that challenges remain with regard to the staffing of SIS stations in both *** and *** mainly because of the numbers of staff required and the high turnover, however, SIS has informed us that:all posts in *** and *** are currently flled. We have been able to achieve this because of improvements in our planning and the support that we provide to staff flling these posts.35

35 Letter from SIS, 4 February 2010.

The recruitment and staff vetting processes for SIS MI6 must surely come under review, after the Daniel Houghton case.

Daniel Houghton - caught in a counter-intelligence sting trying to sell MI6 and MI5 "intelligence gathering techniques" secrets stored on USB memory devices


40. The Committee has previously criticised SIS for 'end-of-year surges' in its spending. However, an end-of-year surge was also seen in 2008/09 and we were told that a similar surge is expected towards the end of 2009/10. We have questioned SIS in detail on its financial management. We have been told that since the Treasury removed end-year spending flexibility, departments are now forced to spend their capital budgets within the financial year or risk losing them. Since this risks uncontrolled spending and a 'spend it or lose it' mentality, SIS has put in place rigorous control and prioritisation processes for capital spending. However, these processes inevitably delayed spending, and it was this that was leading to surges in spending at the end of the financial year.

Who exactly is the official or politician responsible for this discredited 'spend it or lose it' policy at the Treasury ?

This has never been the proper way to manage the public finances of even a Local Authority, let alone the Intelligence Agencies !

Still no Resilient Backup Data Centres

46. Another key aspect of business continuity is that of IT backup. The Security Service and SIS are planning to establish a joint data centre to provide secure storage for both Services' data records outside London. SIS and the Security Service are splitting the cost of the project which is estimated to be approximately £***m over eight years. The data centre is expected to be operational by 2011.

47. GCHQ is not - at least in the short term - taking part in the joint data centre project despite the fact that, as we have previously highlighted, it is vulnerable with so much of its key operational equipment in one area.40

This is primarily because it does not have the funding at present. We were also told that GCHQ was not planning to participate in the joint data centre currently being developed by the Security Service and SIS because it: doesn't offer sufficient space for our requirements or indeed a resilient solution. It's just effectively another data centre. But there is an option, and we have an option to consider participation with that project at a later phase as and when we may have funding.41

Given the disruption and near disaster caused by the Severn River floods to GCHQ's operations, there is no excuse for not finding the money for a "fully resilient backup data centre", by , for example, scrapping the wretched National Identity Scheme.


Electronic attack and cyber security

Electronic attack and cyber security

The threat

48. Last year we raised concerns about the potential threat posed to the UK from electronic attack. We recommended that the UK accord the area a similar priority and resources as do the US and Canada.42

The Chief of SIS told the Committee this year that "the whole question of cyber security is shooting up everybody's agendas" and that it is "a major new challenge to the intelligence community". 43

The Director General of the Security Service observed that "I don't think we are where we need to be" and that "it's a difficult threat to grasp".44

49. GCHQ informed the Committee that it is not known whether terrorist groups intend, or have the capability, to launch significant attacks over the internet but this, along with extremist use of the internet, remains an area of considerable concern. Nevertheless, we have been told by GCHQ that the greatest threat of electronic attack to the UK comes from State Actors, with Russia and China continuing to pose the greatest threat. The Director General of the Security Service told us that: At the moment my understanding is that there will be considerable impact if a state, be it Russia or China, and probably those are the most likely, decided to do serious damage to us one way or another.45

Machinery

50. The Cyber Security Strategy46 published in June 2009 established two new organisations, the Office of Cyber Security (OCS) and the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC):

i. The OCS is based in the Cabinet Office. Its role is to provide strategic leadership and coherence on cyber security issues across Government and to "drive delivery of the strategy through a cross-government programme".47

As of 1 November 2009 it had 11 staff, drawn from across a range of departments and agencies with a further seven staff expected to join by March 2010 (full capacity is expected by April 2010).

42 Cm 7807.
43 Oral Evidence - SIS, 19 January 2010.
44 Oral Evidence - Security Service, 26 January 2010.
45 Oral Evidence - Security Service, 26 January 2010.
46 Cm 7642.
47 Cm 7642.

ii. The CSOC was established in September 2009 and is hosted by GCHQ. The role of the CSOC is to: monitor the health of cyber space and co-ordinate incident response, enable better understanding of attacks against UK networks and users, and, provide better advice and information about risk to both business and the public.48

As of 1 November 2009, the CSOC had 11 staff, drawn from across a range of departments and agencies, with 19 staff planned by the end of March 2010.

51. In addition to this work being done by the OCS and the CSOC there are a number of other bodies working in this feld including: the Network Defence Intelligence and Security Team (NDIST) and the Internet Operations Centre (INOC), which are part of GCHQ, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), and the Technical Counter-Intelligence Team at SIS. The Cyber Strategy states that "there is no intention to replace or duplicate existing work".49

However, with such a number of units operating in this area this must be a concern. We note the comments made by Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller that: This area is covered by acronyms; there are lots of different units and organisations. But... the focus should be on what improvements result from these new structures, not the structures and their names themselves.50

48 Cm 7642.
49 Cm 7642.
50 Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, Hansard, House of Lords, 4 February 2010.
51 Cm 7171.

F. The Committee welcomes the new developments in the field of cyber security which indicate that the threat of electronic attack is now being taken seriously across both Government and the intelligence and security Agencies. However, we are concerned that there is a risk of duplication of effort in this important area.

Apart from the obvious risk of duplication of effort, the lack of transparency makes it impossible for the people at the sharp end of "cyber attacks", whether they be members of the public or for private sector companies, or even for other Government departments to even know who to try to contact in this mess of acronyms.

Which of these organisations runs a secure public website, staffed by knowledgeable people, which publishes 24 / 7 phone and email contact details, with a PGP public encryption key for sending sensitive details over the internet ? None of them do.

Incredibly, what used to be the main UK Government advisory body on "cyber defences", CESG appears to be bankrupt !

Information Assurance and Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG)

27. CESG is the national technical authority for Information Assurance (IA) services17

Last year we reported that GCHQ, via CESG, was providing IA services to a grow customer base, and that this would require greater resources.18

This year GCHQ told us that the increasing demand for CESG's services meant that the current repayment model was not viable and there was a shortfall in funded work of several million pounds

I want to move from a model where repayment from other Government departments is the norm to one where more work, especially that needed to keep us ahead of technology, is funded centrally... I believe there is a strong argument that as Government becomes more and more dependent on IT... we need to consider what proportion of Government IT spend should be going towards making the systems secure and resilient. I have been recommending to the Cabinet Secretary that we should stop charging Government departments for CESG services with effect from April this year [2010], if not from April this year, April next year [2011].19

D. The Committee considers that the Information Assurance work carried out by the Communications-Electronics Security Group is important for Government as a whole and that - whatever the suggested funding arrangements might be - they are resolved as a matter of priority.

17 'Information Assurance' relates to the integrity, confidentiality and reliability of Government ICT systems and data.
18 Cm 7807.
19 Oral evidence - GCHQ, 9 February 2010.

How can there be any effective UK Government "Cyber Defence" against terrorist or "Russian" or "Chinese" or just as likely USA based "cyber attacks", if CESG is no longer being properly funded ?

Intercept as evidence - "full retention of interception materia" ?

Intercept as evidence

58. Since our last Annual Report, work (led by the Home Office) to examine whether a system could be devised to enable the use of intercepted material in court, which simultaneously satisfied the requirements for a fair trial and safeguard national security has continued. On 10 December 2009 the Home Secretary published a further update report.

56 The report concluded that the model which had been developed and tested would not be legally viable and that: The collective view of the departments, intercepting agencies and prosecution authorities engaged in the work programme is that despite best efforts to design, build and test the model, it does not provide a viable basis for implementation, without breaching the operational requirements57 set out by the Privy Council.58

59. The report went on to note that the implementation of the original legal model would in fact "weaken and not enhance our ability to protect the public and to identify and bring the guilty to justice".59

60. However, further work would be done on three areas that were outside the scope of the original programme which might address some of the current failings. These areas are: further enhancing judicial oversight, exploring options for the full retention of interception material, and considering whether advances in technology could make full retention and review more manageable. The results of this additional work are expected to be reported to Parliament before the Easter recess in 2010.

55 Statement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 10 February 2010.
56 Cm 7760.
57 We reported on these operational requirements in our 2007-2008 Annual Report, Cm 7542.
58 Cm 7760.
59 Cm 7760.

The "results of this additional work" have not been published by Easter 2010 !

What exactly are the proposals for the " full retention of interception material, and considering whether advances in technology could make full retention and review more manageable" ?

This sounds suspiciously like previous, supposedly abandoned plans for Yet Another Even Bigger Database System, which scoops up and retains the private data of millions of innocent people.

SCOPE contract failure details still secret

63. SCOPE Phase 2 has been beset by problems and delays. In our 2008-2009 Annual Report we noted that we were continuing with our investigation into the exact circumstances surrounding the Cabinet Office's decision to abandon Phase 2 of SCOPE, and that we would detail our findings in this Annual Report. Although we have taken further evidence on this matter, and were in a position to report our findings, both parties remain engaged in a contractual dispute process61 and we have been advised to postpone publishing further details until this process is completed. Our findings will be provided to our successor Committee for them to publish at an appropriate time.

60 Cm 7542.
61 The Cabinet Office informed the Committee in October 2009 that mediation had taken place in September 2009 which had failed to produce a resolution, and that the dispute was about to move to arbitration.

Someone has now managed to keep the details of what went so horribly wrong with this IT project away from any proper scrutiny, for two ISC Annual Reports.

Somehow we doubt that next year's report will shed any more light on this scandal, or that those to blame will be named and shamed.

Will the new Intelligence and Security Committee actually provide the public reassurance that the UK intelligence Agencies are actually doing their jobs properly without destroying our democratic values, something which the current setup fails to do, despite the best efforts of those involved. ?

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.

We wiil use this verifiable public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels, as appropriate.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x122B3C4FD0BD0FB3 which will expire on 1st October 2018.

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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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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National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

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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