HM Treasury Spending Challenge, online anonymity and the now insecure WikiLeaks.org

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We have been critical of the grasping information stealing powers which HM Treasury has abrogated to itself under the control freakery of the previous Labour government.

In spite of these unlimited powers, they do not seem to have a clue as to exactly where all the public money has been wasted.

It is therefore interesting to see the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government's new Web 2.0 (WordPress blog, promotion via Twitter, Facebook etc.) website entitled:

Spending Challenge

This attempts to solicit information about saving public money, from, initially, those people actually working in the Public Sector
i.e.

Armed forces
Central government
Education and training
Executive agencies & non-departmental government bodies
Local and regional government (including fire services)
NHS
Police (including civilians)
Private sector partners working with public sector
Third sector organisations working with public sector (e.g. charities)
Other

After July 9th, the wider general public, will, apparently, also be allowed to contribute ideas.

There is an encrypted web form, but no published email address for this Spending Challenge website.

Interestingly, this official UK Government website specifically mentions online anonymity and also the controversial and now insecure "whistleblower" website http://wikileaks.org


All ideas submitted to this site will be considered providing they meet the criteria below:


  • Your idea should relate to the question asked ('How can we rethink services to deliver more for less money?')
  • Anything you submit should contain a clear idea rather than containing a comment about the Spending Review or about the spending cuts in general

The Privacy Policy needs to be read very carefully:

Your idea should not include the following:

* Potentially libellous, false, or defamatory statements; nor should you impersonate or falsely claim to represent a person or organisation

Obviously sensible.

* Material which is potentially confidential, commercially sensitive, or which may cause personal distress or loss;

" may cause personal distress or loss;" is ok, but it should be separated out from
"potentially confidential, commercially sensitive,"

Can HM Treasury really not be trusted with "commercially sensitive information" which pertains to direct or indirect Government spending, waste or inefficiency ?

Since the "economic well being of the United Kingdom", is one of the vague definitions of "national security", surely HM Treasury, is under a legal duty to keep such information, if submitted, in the strictest confidence ?

* The names of individual officials of public bodies, unless they are part of the senior management of those organisations;

What exactly is the definition of "senior management" ?

* Language which is offensive, intemperate, or provocative. This not only includes obvious swear words and insults, but any language to which people review the questions could reasonably take offence.

Obviously sensible.

[...]

To submit an idea, you will be asked for your email address and which area of the public sector you work in. This will appear alongside your idea when it is reviewed by the Treasury. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can choose not to include your email address.

It is good to see that the authors of this website and hopefully their political bosses, recognise that without online anonymity, their attempt at getting good ideas online, especially from "insiders", will simply never work in practice.

When you make your contribution, you also need to be mindful of your obligations under your organisation's Code(s) of Conduct.

How does the Civil Service Code apply?

If you are a Civil Servant, in order for your idea or comment to comply with the Civil Service Code it should adhere to the following:

* Uphold the principles of impartiality, and not be party political in nature
* Avoid disclosing any confidential information
* Avoid being critical of government policies
* Not draw from papers or advice relating to the previous administration

You should familiarise yourself with the guidelines for Civil Servants on working with social media: http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/work/codes/participation-online.aspx

How it is possible for a Civil Servant to comply with these restrictions and to actually submit any detailed, useful ideas ?

You should also make sure that you comply with your organisation's IT Usage Policy.

If anyone is threatened or is actually disciplined, for submitting ideas on how to save public money, to an official Government website consultation, then please let us know anonymously via this blog's comments, or via email to blog@spy.org.uk, using , so that the petty bureaucratic jobsworths responsible can be named and shamed.

You should not post personally identifiable information such as telephone numbers or private addresses.

It is not a good idea to post these on a public blog, but surely HM Treasury should be able to keep these private, especially as they will be moderating any blog comment feedback before publishing it.

If you choose to share your email address and department, it may be used as part of our response process to ideas and suggestions. For more information please see our 'How the Challenge Works' page.

Traffic data is collected anonymously for the purposes of analysing visitor usage patterns only.

Really ? How can we be sure of that "Traffic data" is not abused for other purposes, given the "national security" snooping powers of HM Treasury ?

Please note that contributions are not 'protected' i.e. if an idea is submitted, the user should expect that it may be taken forward for implementation by HM Government and that the idea becomes the property of HM Government.

No worse than say, Facebook, in terms of stealing your intellectual property.

N.B. if your public money saving ideas relate entirely or mostly to the Government department you work for, then you should not expect any financial reward for coming up with a good money saving idea.

However, if your novel, practical idea for saving money, relates to a different department, or public body, which you are not directly or indirectly paid by, then surely there should be at least some sort of monetary prize incentive scheme, ideally on a percentage of public money saved basis ?

All personal data will be treated in line with:

Directgov Privacy Policy

Why does the original link to the Directgov Privacy Policy employ some sneaky javascipt Page Tracker code ?
i.e.

onclick="javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/outbound/article/www.direct.gov.uk');"

HM Treasury Privacy Policy



Does that mean that it will be left on a train, or copied to an insecure laptop computer, USB memory device or CD/DVD and then lost ?

Will the WordPress blog response form data be left on an insecure web or email server, open to the internet or to privileged internal snoopers ?

No HM Treasury Spending Challenge email address ?

Why is there no HM Treasury Spending Challenge email address e.g.

SpendingChallenge@hm-treasury.gsi.gov.uk
(suitable for the low level Restricted Protectively Marked document security classification)

or

SpendingChallenge@x.hm-treasury.gsi.gov.uk
(suitable for the medium level Confidential Protectively Marked document security classification)

for direct email contact or submissions of Spending Challenge ideas ?

Is it really too much to ask for the Spending Challenge team to also publish a PGP Encryption Key, for such an email address or for use as an extra layer of security via their online submission web form ?

Even without publishing a PGP Key, which not all people will be able to use, the HM Treasury Spending Challenge team could provide a reasonable level of whistleblower email encryption in transit over the internet, by ensuring that their email server(s) use the STARTTLS protocol, which major email providers like Google etc. honour.

Online anonymity and WikiLeaks.org

The 'How the Challenge Works' page. has this interesting paragraph at the end:

Although this process allows you to submit ideas anonymously, we respect the fact that some people will not want to contribute directly to a government website. As part of this exercise, we will monitor a range of blogs, social networks, forums and also http://wikileaks.org.

We wonder which "blogs, social networks, forums" will be monitored by, or on behalf of, HM Treasury ?

It is astonishing that the controversial and now insecure "whistleblower" website is actually mentioned and hinted at as a method for UK government insiders to "leak" good money saving ideas to the current Government.

Is the Conservatives / Liberal Democrat coalition government trying to sneak around the Sir Humphrey Appleby / "Yes Minster" style Whitehall mandarins, to gain access to "papers or advice relating to the previous administration" etc ?

The online response form on the Spending Challenge home page, is not ideal, in that it is run by a script on a non-UK Government webserver:


https://depts.theclubuk.com/build1001/wp-comments-post.php

theclubuk.com seems to be run by Steria, presumably under contract to the UK Government.

It would be more trustworthy if this webserver had an official UK Government (,gov.uk) domain name address, ideally a HM Treasury one (.hm-treasury.gov.uk).

However, to be fair, this web form does at least use SSL/TLS encryption with a current Digital Certificate, to protect the submitted information in transit over the internet.

Sadly, the same is no longer true of wikileaks.org.

  • WikiLeakS.org allowed the only PGP Public Encryption / Digital Signing which they publicised on their website, i.e. the only one which could be trusted, to expire on 2nd November 2007

  • WikiLeakS.org stopped their Tor Hidden Service method of accessing the website and of securely submitting whistleblower leaked document around Christmas 2009, when they took the website down to beg for more money. i.e. no more http://gaddbiwdftapglkq.onion/

  • When the WikiLeakS.org website returned partially after their fund-raising strike, the only method of securely submitting a document to them was via their SSL/TLS encrypted web page.

    This used an old , deprecated, RapidSSL Digital Certificate, with a potentially forgeable MD5 signed Digital Certificate. This Digital Certificate expired on 12th June 2010 and has not been replaced.

    The supposedly secure document submission system via https://secure.wikileaks.org has been disabled.

  • The current WikiLeakS.org website no longer even qualifies as a "wiki", as new online Comments or Discussions have been turned off.

  • There have been no new whistleblower leaked documents submitted via the website, actually published on WikILeakS.org for at least 6 months

See the WikiLeak.org blog for more details of the decline in security and trust which WikiLeakS.org has suffered from

Are the HM Treasury Spending Challenge team cynically aware that WikILeakS.org is no longer functioning as a secure online whistle-blower leak channel, which is why they have dared to mention it ?

We would urge any Public Sector "insiders" to read our Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for
Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

13 Comments

They claim to have had over 18,000 responses so far.

Are they keeping these safe and secure ?

Fuel Allowance and bus pass to be available at 70 (many 60 year olds are working and don't need these benefits)
Numbers of girls are to be seen every day on Bristol buses with babies...For many it has been a career choice where school has not worked..An attractive option when you get council housing too. The resultimg offspring have no male role model and join the "disadavantged" ar a great cost to the state. If under 21 the shiulf be obliged to stay in the parental home, or failing that, a hostel.
On the subject of babies, a quarter of all children born in the UK were born to foreign mothers. Who is paying the hospital bill?

The big issue around responding to the Government's 'Spending Challenge' is the sheer numbers - over 43,000 individual freeform responses so far, and its being opened up to the general public next week.

Given the popularity of telling uk.gov what you want, they'll have to spend millions just to analyse the responses because, as they aren't categorised in any way, a real person has to read every single one of them because of the pisspoor way that this 'system' has been set up... :\

Several of the current 25 or so "examples of suggestions" (from 60,000 ideas so far!) relate to replacing Microsoft operating systems with Linux.

Although this might potentially be a long term strategy, a much simpler and immediate saving could be adopted almost universally throughout government departments. Simply enforce use of Openoffice equivalents to EXCEL/WORD etc and thereby cancel 95% of future maintenance for MS/Office products. I don't know exactly how many MS licenses are paid for by government/local government/armed forces but I bet it's a gigantic figure.

Suppliers of new equipment should be obliged to install Openoffice on servers and standalone laptops/PC's etc as a matter of course.

Since most MS/Office users actually only utilize a tiny fraction of supported features, there will be no loss of function and, where absolutely necessary, a shared server/PC in the office could be used for the odd occasion a feature of the MS product itself is particularly important.

That is one license instead of multiple for entire departments.

Not only would implementing this be fast, it would be painless and reduce the balance of payments deficit too.

Reducing the frequency of Operating System upgrades would also reduce the need to spend huge amounts on re-purchasing latest versions of other software (eg MS/Office 2007 when M/S Office 2003 is perfectly adequate for most purposes - some would even say more adequate!)

I would suggest that the major way save money is that we cut the amount of money we send abroad in overseas aid, this could save you billions, then they would not be a need to increase taxes, also cut MPs wages to half they are now, stop all minersterial cars, these are a few things that I think will help the deficite hugely.


Sir.
Stop aid to India ..... This Country is buying a couple of nuclear submarines from Russia ( obviously has more than enough money to look after its own people ).

Stop giving money to young irresponsible teenage girls who are milking the system by having babies.

Lets all grow up and put an end to this Royal business firm. We can all go to Disney world to see Kings, queens, and Prince and Princesses.

@ ken - it is not as simple as that, unfortunately.

Not only would implementing this be fast, it would be painless and reduce the balance of payments deficit too.

There will be huge pain and vast sums of public money, will be wasted, in making such a change, if the current Whitehall IT management culture is allowed to persist !

Why do you think that OpenOffice or the hundreds of variants of Linux would in any way reduce the ongoing re-installation and support costs ?

None of these are really stable, bulletproof and future proof bits of software - they are forever being patched and upgraded and broken, just like the Microsoft products are.

The heavily discounted licence fees which Governments or large companies negotiate with Microsoft represent only a small fraction of an IT project.

If there was a very clear financial case for using something else, then why would it not have already beaten Microsoft in the marketplace ?


In response to your spending challenge i would like to suggest that the govt seriously consider either re-writing the human rights law, or scrapping it altogether,i would say a whole lot of money be saved.

I also think that the govt should take more control of the taxpayers money that local councils spend housing saylum seekers in two million mansions at an astronomical rent(Mail on Sunday 11/07/2010.

Stop foreign aid in cash form all aid for farming,building etc should be by voucher and may only be spent by buying Brtitish made goods in this country.
Ditch the human rights act and stop full benefits for all immigrants on arrival including legal aid for appeals and speed up the deportation process.
Prosecute underage school girl mothers and the child's father (if she knows who he is)and no state funded housing untill the age of 18.

@ wtwu - obviously I don't agree with your criticism of my simple idea. Firstly I never suggested using Linux (for the reason you stated), second, Openoffice is, as you willingly admit, just as stable (or unstable) as M/S office (although for most purposes, such as composing a monochrome letter using ARIAL 12 font or editing a simple spreadsheet application, a little instability will hardly be life threatening. This stability can, in any case, be mitigated using staged updates supplied from a trusted central IT source.

As for the overblown IT project costs - dreamed up by greedy IT suppliers - it is hardly surprising that the cost of MS Office is small by comparison!

In any case, who said the costs should be compared to (individual) IT project costs? The relevant costs are effectively ongoing annual maintenance or operating upgrade costs spread over a vast plethora of government sites.

That's gotta to be such an ironic thing to pursue. It's a nice way, yes, I guess to get ideas from, but censored and controlled, how constructive can that be?

:( oops so sorry for that dp! My pc controls sucks

DIVERSITY.
Govt. Depts.& Civil Service are paralysed by the growth and power of the Diversity Orgasation. Managers cannot make decisions fearful of transgression and individuals are stifled. It actually causes resentment among the various groups of employees.
Conclusion.
Disband Diversity Depts.Diversity issues should be handled as part of every day HR/Personnel Depts. duties (without extra staff being created). HR should be responsible for ensuring that individuals have recourse to them with any complaints re. Race, Religion, Gender etc.The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Developement (CIPD) could be consulted on how to achieve Best Practice. This would 'free up' staff to do their core business e.g. The Police Force complain about budgets and having to cut front line services. They should look beyond the front line and stop trying to frighten the general public.

HEALTH and SAFETY.
Much the same as Diversity. This huge growth industry resorts to justifyig a day at the office by coming up with ever more ludricrous, negative ideas. They stifle all aspects of business and individual activity. H&S power has grown out of all proportion, their negativity results in project delays and in many cases unnecessary expense.There is confusion with legislation being interpreted differently in different areas.H&S is necessary but in a much reduced role as advisors and not they who must be obeyed, that is for management to manage risks.
Conclusion.
A Govt. H&S Section(small) should be responsible for the issue of one interpretation only for any present or new UK/EU legislation.Cut H&S right back to Regional offices that work at the sharp end visiting places of work and leisure to ensure safety also to act in an advisory role to individual nominated H&S local staff in work areas and to liaise with Govt. H&S Section for any clarification points. They are not required to sit in an office, dream up and instigate local H&S rules.


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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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