July 2010 Archives

As always, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner tends to reveal a little more than either the Interception of Communications Commissioner or the Intelligence Services Commissioner ever do in their Annual reports.

Annual report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2009-2010 (.pdf)

Unlike the other two RIPA Commissioners, Sir Christopher Rose does actually have something to report about RIPA Part II:

CHIS = Covert Human Intelligence Sources
i.e. spies , undercover agents, paid informers, unpaid informers etc.

CHIS

4.8 There were 5,320 CHIS recruited by law enforcement agencies during the year; 4,495 were cancelled (including some who were recruited during the previous year) ; and 3,767 were in place at the end of March 2010. The figures for the previous year which were 4,278, 4,202 and 3,722 indicate a slight increase in usage.

4.9 During the current reporting year other public authorities recruited 229 CHIS of whom 182 were cancelled during the year with 90 in place on 31 March 2010.

During the previous year 234 were recruited, 153 cancelled and 106 were in place at the end of the year. Again just over half of CHIS usage was by government departments. The light use of RIPA/RIP(S)A powers by local authorities is even more pronounced in relation to CHIS recruitment. 97% recruited five or fewer and 86% did not use CHIS.

There are some criticisms of CHIS management and tradecraft:

5.9 There are too many occasions when inspections reveal poor tradecraft in managing CHIS. Infrequent physical meetings and reliance on communication by text messages are rarely adequate. There have also been instances where law enforcement officers have pretended to be the CHIS when communicating with his associates online, without properly providing the CHIS with an alibi. It seems to me that this is an unsafe practice.

The protection of CHIS is one of the main reasons cited for the vast amount of secrecy and lack of freedom of information and transparency in the Police and Intelligence Agencies etc.

Such amateurism in the handling of CHIS should be punished by removal of those responsible from any positions of power or authority involving CHIS - they could literally get people killed through such incompetence.

Encryption Keys and RIPA Part III

At last a few details about RIPA Part III:

NTAC = National Technical; Assistance Centre, now run by GCHQ, politically controlled by the Foreign Secretary.

Section 49 - encryption

4.10 During the period reported on, NTAC granted 38 approvals. Of these, 22 had permission granted by a Circuit Judge, of which 17 have so far been served. Six were complied with and seven were not complied with, the remainder were still being processed. Of the seven that were not complied with, five people were charged with an offence, one was not charged and the other is still being processed. So far there has been one conviction with other cases still to be decided.

4.11 The conviction related to the possession of indecent images of children and this offence is the main reason why section 49 notices are served. Other offences include: insider dealing, illegal broadcasting, theft, evasion of excise duty and aggravated burglary. It is of note that only one notice was served in relation to terrorism offences.

These statistics further aggravate the injustice to someone who does not fall into any of these categories see the previous Spy Blog article: "JFL" provides some more details about his imprisonment for refusing to divulge his cryptographic keys under a RIPA Part III section 49 notice

4.12 These statistics are provided by NTAC which is able to be accurate regarding the number of approvals it has granted. But it is reliant on those processing notices to keep it informed regarding progress. It appears that there has been delay in serving some notices after approval has been granted (hence the difference between the number approved and the number served) . Notices, once approved, should be served without delay. If delays continue, I will require an explanation.

Sir Christopher does not seem to have delved into whether or not the de-crypted plaintext or the cryptographic keys were actually stored securely, ideally also using strong encryption or not, once they had been seized as evidence through the section 49 orders.

Unless and until the public is reassured about that, then there will be lots of non-cooperation from businesses which risk massive "collateral damage" to their core business systems, as a result of police investigations involving only part of their computer infrastructure, or a few employees or customers.


There is nothing specific about Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), but there is a section on CCTV:

Closed Circuit TeleVision - CCTV

CCTV

5.22 My Chief Inspector has met the Interim CCTV Regulator and, as a member of the Independent Advisors Group, he will represent me in the development of the National CCTV Strategy.

How things have changed. Previously the Surveillance Commissioners took no interest in overt or covert CCTV spy cameras.

5.23 I am pleased by the proliferation of protocols between local authorities and police forces. In particular, I am satisfied that there is a wider acceptance of the need for authorisations to be shown to those responsible for using cameras covertly. But I am concerned at the number of inspections reporting the ability of some police forces to control, remotely, cameras owned, solely by or in partnership with, a local council. Sometimes control can be taken without the knowledge of the council CCTV Control Room or the guarantee that an appropriate authorisation exists. Equally, there is no guarantee that the person remotely operating the camera is appropriately qualified to conduct such an operation. Protocols should clarify the procedures to be followed when control is taken by others outside the CCTV Control Room and ensure that suitable safeguards are in place to prevent misuse.

Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2009 (.pdf), by the Rt,Hon. Sir Peter Gibson

Just like all the previous Intelligence Services Commissioner reports, the lack of public detail makes a mockery of the whole RIPA oversight process - it takes 16 pages to say almost nothing at all.

Yet again, there has been no call for Sir Peter to oversee any RIPA Part III encryption key or plaintext orders. This appears to have been left to the Chief Surveillance Commissioner.

Part III of RIPA

34. As I have noted above, Part III of RIPA came into force on 1 October 2007. However, no notification of any directions to require disclosure in respect of protected electronic information has been given to me in 2009 and there has been no exercise or performance of powers and duties under Part III for me to review.

The Intelligence Services Commissioner has gone through the motions with the Identity Scheme Commissioner Sir Joseph Pilling, bearing in mind the scrapping of the scheme which is still in progress.

11. On 16 November 2009 the Identity Minister, Meg Hillier, signed the Commencement Order allowing the Identity and Passport Service to begin issuing identity cards to members of the public living or working in Greater Manchester with effect from 30 November 2009 though it should be noted that identity cards were also made available to Home Office/Identity and Passport Service civil servants as well as airside workers in Manchester and London City Airport for a few weeks beforehand. On 10 December 2009 I had a useful meeting with Sir Joseph Pilling, the Identity Commissioner, in which we discussed our respective areas of responsibility under the ICA. I informed him that I did not envisage that I would need to obtain information about the acquisition, storage and use of data in the National Identity Register by organisations other than the intelligence services. At the time of writing this Report I am not aware of any acquisition, storage and use made by the intelligence services pursuant to the ICA of information recorded in the National Identity Register and in view of the intended repeal of the ICA it is unlikely that there will be any such acquisition, storage or use

Obliviously he has a good professional working contacts with the Intelligence agencies, but does that automatically taint him as the chairman of the Inquiry looking into allegations of complicity in torture of foreign terrorist suspects by MI5 or MI6 etc, appointed by PM David Cameron ?

He is already looking at:

Guidance on detention and interviewing of detainees by intelligence officers and military personnel

39. On 18 March 2009 the Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament about the detention and interviewing of detainees by intelligence officers and military personnel and announced my agreement to his request that the Intelligence Services Commissioner should monitor compliance by the intelligence agencies with the consolidated guidance on the standards to be followed during the detention and interviewing of detainees. My role in monitoring compliance will not commence until the consolidated guidance has been published. Such publication has not yet occurred,

The Report contains exactly the same words as the Interception of Communications Commissioner regarding the Investigatory Tribunal. A public agency broke the law, but will not be published for doing so. Why can they not at least be named and shamed in public ? There cannot be any "national security" grounds for not doing so.

Another year, another brief Annual Report by a RIPA Commissioner

Interception of Communications Commissioner Annual Report for 2009 (.pdf) , the right hon. Sir Paul Kennedy.

As with all the previous RIPA reports, the statistics about the number of Interception warrants or about the number of Communications Data requests are deliberately not broken down into any meaningful level of detail and should be ignored, although there will no doubt be plenty of media articles which are based on the headline figures.

How many people do these figures represent ? One criminal suspect could have many mobile phones, one interception warrant could be used to capture millions or billions of email messages.

There should be a breakdown of Communications Data requests since not all Public Authorities are allowed to request the full set of subscriber details, "friendship tree" call or email patterns and location data. Revealing such figures would not prejudice ongoing investigations.

As before, there are a trivial number of minor reported procedural and form filling Errors by the Police and Intelligence agencies (Interception and Communications Data) and , to a lesser extent the hundreds of other Public Authorities who have Communications Data powers, mostly due to keyboard typing errors.

Fewer of these Errors are now even being reported, in order to reduce bureaucracy:

3.11 Accordingly I agreed to a change in the error reporting system whereby public authorities now only report errors which have resulted in them obtaining the wrong communications data and where this has resulted in intrusion upon the privacy of an innocent third party. Other errors are simply recorded.

[...]

As before, we challenge the claim that the public are in any way "reassured" by this RIPA Commissioner (or any of the other RIPA Commissioners):

2.2

[...]

The Agencies always make available to me the personnel and documents that I have asked to see. They welcome my oversight, as ensuring that they are acting lawfully, proportionately and appropriately, and they seek my advice whenever it is deemed appropriate. It is a reassurance to the general public that their activities are overseen by an independent person who has held high judicial office

National Technical Assistance Centre snooping infrastructure down for 3 days

The National Technical Assistance Centre was formerly under the Home Office / MI5 now it is under the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and GCHQ.

Amongst other things they operate the "black box" legally authorised snooping under RIPA infrastructure which taps into major telephone and internet company infrastructure (not the same as GCHQ's main interception infrastructure)

2.27 Three errors attributable to the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC) were reported during the period of this report, one of which I now explain. NTAC reported a technical fault within their infrastructure that resulted in the prevention of delivery of intercept related information to the intercepting agencies for three days. A project to prevent this type of error occurring has been initiated and is expected to deliver improvements in the system in 2010.

How much public money is now being spent on NTAC and its "black boxes" ?

No Interception of Communications Commissioner involvement with Encryption, again ?

Yet again, on RIPA Part III, whilst the boilerplate text explaining the legal section of the Act is copied from previous reports, there is no mention of the Interception of Communications Commissioner having been advised of any Section 49 Notices demanding access to cryptographic de-cryption keys or to the plaintext information which has been protected by encryption.

Were all the cases in the past year really dealt with by the Other RIPA Commissioners ?

There is no mention of any reports or inspections by the Inspectors or by the ICC himself into how well or how badly the Code of Practice is being adhered to regarding electronic information protected by encryption.

Mobile phones in Prisons

It is interesting to see that the ICC and his inspectors seem to have finally taken our suggestion regarding illegal Mobile Phones in Prisons, made in previous years, that whilst they are inspecting the procedures for Interception and Communications Data analysis in Prisons, something which technically they have no power to do under the RIPA, but which they have been asked to do by successive Home Secretaries.


4.12 The inspections have also revealed that an alarming number of Category B local prisons appear to have a very limited capacity to monitor prisoners who pose a real threat to good order and security and this is a cause for concern. The smuggling of drugs and illicit mobile telephones are serious problems for most prisons, irrespective of their security status, and if a serious incident were to occur, which could have been prevented through the gathering of intercept intelligence, then prison managers and staff could find themselves in an indefensible position. Regrettably on occasions my Inspectors still have to emphasise this point in a number their reports.

4.13 The Category B local prisons, which were inspected during the reporting period, were asked to provide details of the numbers of illicit mobile telephones and associated equipment that had been seized in a six month period. Statistics from 25 prisons were collated and these revealed that 1,456 mobile telephones and 797 SIM cards were seized. Under the Offender Management Act 2007 and Prison Order 1100 dated 26 March, 2008 it is now a criminal offence to convey a mobile telephone or a component part of this equipment into a prison without the authorisation of the Governor and 11 of the prisons were making use of this legislation. However, the availability of such a large number of illicit telephones in the prison system is a serious cause for concern because prisoners can also use them to access the Internet.

4.14 Following the publication of the Blakey report in 2008 the Chief Operating Officer issued the Mobile Phones Good Practice Guide which was designed to help prisons minimise the number of mobile phones entering prisons and disrupt the number of mobile telephones that they were unable to find. Intelligence from the Pin-phones does help to prevent and detect attempts to smuggle them into the prison and this was part of the strategy. Clearly quite a number of the establishments are unable to implement the strategy fully because the resources and equipment are weighted far too heavily in favour of the offence related monitoring and this is a continuing problem. It is crucially important that prisoners are prevented from using mobile telephones to conduct criminal or illicit activity inside and outside the prison. Better use of the Interception Risk Assessments will eventually reduce the amount of offence related monitoring which needs to be conducted and this will in turn increase the capability to conduct more intelligence-led monitoring.

No mention of the Wilson Doctrine

There is no mention of the Wilson Doctrine in this year's public report, except for the background reference to current Prisons policy:

4.2

[...]

Communications which are subject to legal privilege are protected and there are also special arrangements in place for dealing with confidential matters, such as contact with the Samaritans and a prisoner's constituency MP

See the previous Spy Blog article: When will Prime Minister David Cameron re-affirm and extend the Wilson Doctrine on the protection from snooping on constituents' communications with their elected representatives ?

Still no progress on the use of Intercept Evidence in Court proceedings

2.10 Both the Advisory Group of Privy Counsellors and the government believe
that the potential gains from intercept as evidence justify further work in order to
establish whether the problems identified are capable of being resolved. The issues
involved are complex and difficult. I hope to be able to report on the progress
made on the planned further work in my 2010 Annual Report.

There are couple of positive bits of this report:

The Guardian reports:

Former MI6 worker pleads guilty over official secrets

Daniel Houghton, who faces prison, was arrested in Scotland Yard sting at central London hotel in 2009

* Haroon Siddique and agencies
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 14 July 2010 12.26 BST

A former British spy

Working for MI6 / SIS the Secret Intelligence Service does not automatically make you into a "spy". Perhaps Daniel Houghton's computer skills were used as a technician or website developer etc., rather than as an Intelligence Officer, who might analyse or control or participate in foreign spying missions with Covert Human Intelligence Sources or "secret agents" or informers or "intelligence assets" etc.

who tried to sell top secret files to foreign agents admitted two offences under the Official Secrets act today.

He did become a wannabe or failed spy, once he attempted to sell British secrets to what he thought was a foreign intelligence agency

Daniel Houghton, who worked for MI6 between September 2007 and last May, was arrested in a Scotland Yard sting at a central London hotel in March after offering to sell documents to Dutch intelligence agents for £2m.

Was the name of this "central London hotel" really not mentioned during any of the Court proceedings ?

Which one was it ? Any notoriety will soon become history and will bring in tourists.

The information consisted of MI5 files he had accessed while working for MI6

Why did an MI6 employee have access to MI5 files ?

What happened to "air gaps" or "data minimisation" etc ?

and a list of his former colleagues with their home addresses and mobile phone numbers.

Not just a copy of an internal email / office / job title directory then, but home addresses and mobile phone numbers. .

This really could have put their lives at risk of harassment or even physical danger.

Did the "Dutch intelligence agents" get their hands on some or all of this sensitive data ? Can they really be trusted ?

At the very least all the mobile phones listed should have been changed.

They should not just have changed the numbers or SIM cards, but also the mobile phone handsets as well, since the handsets supposedly unique International Mobile Equipment Identifiers can be so easily cross referenced with any Call Data Records made by the MI5 and MI6 people using the old phone numbers.

Appearing at the royal courts of justice,

Presumably that should read the "Royal Courts of Justice".

25-year-old Houghton denied a count of theft but admitted two charges of unlawful disclosure of material relating to security or intelligence contrary to the Official Secrets act.

The MI5 documents concerned specialist techniques developed by spies for gathering intelligence.

MI5 cannot claim exclusive copyright on such techniques, which they may have borrowed or stolen from someone else in the first place.

Houghton burned many of the files onto DVDs and CDs on his office computer before taking them home.

The former MI6 agent, who holds British and Dutch nationality,

One of the hated former Labour government's "nazi" style powers could be used by the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition Home Secretary Theresa May, to deprive Daniel Houghton of his British citizenship and right of entry to or abode in the UK, just as she has done in the case of the Russian spy Anna Chapman,

Provided that the Netherlands government does not revoke his citizenship first, the British government would not be making him stateless, by depriving him of his British citizenship, which they are not allowed to do.

Immigration and Nationality Act 2006 section 56 Deprivation of citizenship

(2) The Secretary of State may by order deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good."

approached the Netherlands intelligence security and intelligence service offering to sell information in August 2009.

Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst(AIVD) (General Intelligence and Security Service)

N.B. an SSL/TLS encrypted website only ! When will MI5 and MI6 and GCHQ move to this ? (hint: it actually makes tracking visitors a bit easier) .

A meeting was arranged for 18 February 2010 but, unknown to Houghton, the Dutch had tipped off MI5. Houghton was secretly videoed and bugged as he used a memory card and laptop computer to show his wares to the Dutch agents.

The former spy said he would throw in two lists containing details of MI6 employees he had worked with.

One contained more than 300 names, while the second had the home addresses and mobile phone numbers of 39 agents.

300 names does sound like an internal email distribution list.

39 names are probably his former work mates and friends who he was willing to betray.

How long before mischief making fake disinformation claiming to be these alleged lists of names of MI5 or MI6 employees, gets published by WikiLleaks.org or cryptome.org or by various conspiracy theory websites ?

After Houghton's initial offer to sell the information for £2m, the price was negotiated down to £900,000 and, in a subsequent phone call, a meeting was set for the handover two weeks later. During negotiations, he revealed he had a second memory card, containing further information, hidden at his mother's home in Devon. This card has never been found.

Why did he put his mother and family at risk in this way ?

Many people would have tortured and killed them all for far less than £900,000, in order to get hold of that memory card.

There has been no mention of encrypted files in any of the reports on this case - why did Daniel Houghton not bother to use anything like PGP or TrueCrypt ?

Why did he not arrange to use a Dead Letter Drop or even a courier service ?

What about electronic funds transfers to foreign bank accounts in tax havens ?

On 1 March, Houghton handed over two memory cards and a computer hard drive after displaying the contents on a laptop.

As he left the London hotel carrying the suitcase, he was arrested by plain clothes officers from Scotland Yard's specialist operations wing after a brief struggle.

Why exactly did the idiot agree to any meetings in London ?

When Houghton handed over the information to supposed Dutch spies, he claimed he had given them "everything".

But officers from Scotland Yard's specialist operations unit found hard copies of classified paperwork, some marked top secret or secret, while searching his shared rented flat in Hoxton, east London.

Another wannabe spy or whistleblower who had paper copies of secret or top secret documents at home !

Why did he not digitally photograph or scan them and then strongly encrypt the files and then destroy the paper copies ?


They also discovered a Sony memory card containing about 7,000 files, some of them deleted, thought to be copies of a list of MI6 agents and the files he tried to sell.

Deleted files can be recovered, especially from flash memory devices which do not always erase data very well due to

a) their local Wastebaskets (actually hidden under some Apple operating system versions !)

b) Many flash memory cards have WIndows FAT filing systems on them, for which there are plenty of "recover deleted photo images" programs available.

c) Their Wear Leveling algorithms which spread used flash memory locations relatively evenly, because at some point flash memory cells become permanently burned into a logical one or zero state, unlike magnetic recording media.

See the section on CD-ROMs and DVDs and USB flash memory media our Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Maybe the "etc." should include "wannabe spies" - although we suspect that such people will never bother to read it.

Some of the documents held by him have yet to be traced, and security service officials have warned that unauthorised disclosure of the material could have a significant impact on operations to protect Britain.

Houghton is also said to hold potentially valuable experience of security techniques in his memory.

So what ? Most readers of Spy Blog probably know much more dangerous stuff than the incompetent Daniel Houghton !

Is The Guardian advocating the abuse of some sort of Orwellian Labour party style "thought crime" offence like the catch all Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 Collection of information ?

Piers Arnold, prosecuting, told the judge, Mr Justice Bean, that the pleas entered today were acceptable to the prosecution.

He asked for the theft matter to be adjourned until after Houghton had been sentenced "with the prosecution's intention to offer no evidence in respect of that charge".

Presumably they had little or no evidence of actual physical theft of memory device or hard disks etc.

Unless the hard copies of the secret or top secret documents were originals rather than photocopies or computer printouts, then proving an offence under the Theft Act 1968 section 1 would have been difficult.

Surely the Government's lawyers must have known that they cannot use the Theft Act 1968 section 1 for "intellectual property" or "trade secrets" or even "national security secrets" since its wording demands the permanent deprivation of something physical.

Houghton claimed his actions were "directed by voices" and the defence has submitted psychiatric reports in mitigation.

This BBC report claims, however, that

Police sources said Houghton appeared to have been motivated by greed.

One senior source said he was living a "champagne lifestyle on ginger beer wages".

The prosecution is to obtain its own independent report ahead of sentencing at the Old Bailey on 3 September, although Bean warned that custody was "inevitable".

The Official Secrets Act 1989 section 10 Penalties lists a maximum penalty of up to 2 years in prison and / or a fine for each,of the two Section 1 offences that Houghton has plead guilty to. Technically he could be sentenced to 4 years in prison, if the sentences were made to run consecutively.

We suspect that he will not spend that long in prison - remember that it costs the taxpayer about £35,000 a year on average to keep someone in prison, probably more, if Houghton is put into a maximum security Category A prison.

The British public deserves to know and trust that the powerful, secretive intelligence agencies like GCHQ the Government Communications Head Quarters, MI5 the Security Service and SIS/MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service are operating properly and cost effectively, especially given:

  • The rise in actual real terrorist bomb attacks and killings in Northern Ireland

  • The recent Court cases revealing complicity in "extraordinary rendition" by the US intelligence agencies and the tacit complicity of UK intelligence in the use of torture.

  • Chinese internet espionage stories

  • Personnel vetting and IT security failures highlighted by the trial of alleged wannabe spy, the ex-MI6 employee Daniel Houghton

  • Major IT project failures and cost overruns e.g. the SCOPE project, the lack of backup disaster recovery data centres for the intelligence agencies.

  • Still no viable plan for the use of electronic intercept as evidence in Court.

  • Frightening and expensive plans for mass surveillance and data trawling against millions of innocent people.

  • The ongoing threat from self radicalised Muslims, racists, animal rights or environmental extremists etc.

With the dire state of public finances, there must be financial cuts in the budgets of some or all of these secret agencies. How are we the public meant to know if these financial cuts are justified or not ?

That is the role of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, which is appointed by the Prime Minister.

However, like so much else, the last Labour Government left this in a shambles, with strong hints of political interference from Downing Street and / or the Cabinet Office, according to the outgoing (Labour) chairman of the Committee Kim Howells.

See: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 ?

For no good reason that we can see, currently there is no Intelligence and Security Committee in operation at all.

When will Prime Minister David Cameron appoint a new Committee ?

Will it be given the extra investigative manpower and budgetary resources it needs to work independently of the Cabinet Office etc. ?

At the very least they need forensic accountancy and IT project management resources to be able to understand the technical complexity and impact of potential budget cuts on GCHQ, MI6, MI5 etc.

By the time the National Audit Office or perhaps the Commons Public Accounts Committee get a sniff of such secret projects, there could have been millions or billions of pounds of public money wasted.

Alternatively, if the wrong budgets or projects are cut, delayed or cancelled, then we could needlessly find ourselves in another bloody war or terrorist outrage, because of inappropriate penny pinching.

The remit of this new Intelligence and Security Committee should be expanded beyond the roles of just the three main intelligence agencies.

They should also cover units or agencies which use the same technology and techniques as the main intelligence agencies do. e.g. the various UK Special Forces units like the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), or the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) or the Police units like the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) or the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Command.

It should also look the role of sub-contracted intelligence agency functions either to so called "friendly" foreign intelligence agencies like the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who, it appears, may have been allowed to breach British sovereignty by recruiting and running intelligence assets within UK Muslim communities

They must also investigate the shadowy and unaccountable world of Private Military Contractor / Mercenary companies, operating with UK Military and Intelligence agencies overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan etc. but, it appears, also being used within the United Kingdom.

As with the publication of the RIPA Commissioners' Annual Reports, it is not acceptable to delay the appointment of this Committee until September or October, they should already have been hard at work now.

Spy Blog would be interested to see in the(pseudonymous) comments or via email (PGP encrypted if you like) , your nominations for who you would trust to sit on this cross party committee of MPs and Peers., bearing in mind that most of the experienced former members of the ISC have now retired.


It looks as if the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government, like its Labour predecessor, needs to be reminded of its Statutory Duty, clearly stated in the text of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 - Part IV Scrutiny etc. of investigatory powers and of the functions of the intelligence services

Where is the Interception of Communications Commissioner Annual Report for 2009 ?

Section 58 Co-operation with and reports by s. 57 Commissioner.

(4) As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year, the Interception of Communications Commissioner shall make a report to the Prime Minister with respect to the carrying out of that Commissioner's functions.

(5) The Interception of Communications Commissioner may also, at any time, make any such other report to the Prime Minister on any matter relating to the carrying out of the Commissioner's functions as the Commissioner thinks fit.

(6) The Prime Minister shall lay before each House of Parliament a copy of every annual report made by the Interception of Communications Commissioner under subsection (4), together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of subsection (7).

Where is the Intelligence Services Commissioner Annual Report for 2009 ?

Section 60 Co-operation with and reports by s. 59 Commissioner.

(2) As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year, the Intelligence Services Commissioner shall make a report to the Prime Minister with respect to the carrying out of that Commissioner's functions.

(3) The Intelligence Services Commissioner may also, at any time, make any such other report to the Prime Minister on any matter relating to the carrying out of the Commissioner's functions as the Commissioner thinks fit.

(4) The Prime Minister shall lay before each House of Parliament a copy of every annual report made by the Intelligence Services Commissioner under subsection (2), together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of subsection (5).

Where is the Chief Surveillance Commissioner's Annual Report for 2009 ?

The Chief Surveillance Commissioner publishes a combined report under Police act 1997 Part III Section 107 Supplementary provisions relating to Commissioners. and under RIPA Part II Surveillance and covert human intelligence sources and RIPA 2000 (Scotland) section 22 Co-operation with and reports by Commissioner

In the past, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner has managed to publish his annual report before the other two RIPA Commissioners.

There are less than two weeks available for the Prime Minister David Cameron to lay these reports before Parliament, before the Summer Recess.

It would be as intolerable as it has been under Tony Blair or Gordon Brown for the clear Statutory Duty to report As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year, is weaseled into a 9 or 10 or 12 month delay in publication of Annual reports.

Parliament adjourns for a long summer break in less than 2 weeks. just over 3 weeks, from 27th July until 6th September 2010.

By that time, we are promised, the Identity Cards Act 2006 will have been repealed, all well and good. We will celebrate properly when the National Identity Register data is securely destroyed.

However, there are several things of interest to Spy Blog readers, which this Conservative / Liberal democrat coalition government has not yet done as they should have.

By convention, since 1966, each Prime Minister has re-affirmed the Wilson Doctrine, regarding the supposed ban on telephone and other interception of communications of Members of Parliament, especially with their constituents.

Sometimes they have hinted at slight changes in policy, in their short, bland, detail avoiding statements, which need heavy analysis by Downing Street kremlinologists.

Prime Minister David Cameron has not yet made any such statement.

If he does not want to appear just like his hated predecessor, then he will announce next week, a wider application of the Wilson Doctrine, as we wrote back in 2008:

The Wilson Doctrine should not be abolished, it should be clarified and extended

The Wilson Doctrine should be extended to cover not just Members of the House of Commons, and the Peers of the House of Lords, but also to the other equally democratically elected Parliaments and Assemblies, to the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, to the UK Members of the European Parliament, and probably to all foreign Members of the European Parliament as well.

In principle, the Constituency Communications of elected Local Authority Councillors should also be protected by the Wilson Doctrine.

The Wilson Doctrine is not about rights and privileges of elected politicians, it is about protecting the privacy of their communications with their constituents, who may very well be complaining or whistleblowing about the very Government departments and agencies and other tentacles of the State, who try to snoop on such communications.

Back in 1966, when the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced his policy, there were no direct dial international phone calls , let alone fax machines, mobile phones or internet email or WiFi communications etc.

See "Wilson Doctrine" - Prime Minister Harold Wilson answers Oral Questions in the House of Commons 17th November 1966 - transcript

The Wilson Doctrine should be extended to cover not just the interception of communications i..e. listening to phone calls or reading emails etc., but to the collection or analysis of Communications Traffic Data - who called or emailed who, when and where from etc.

It should also apply to all of the postal mail, public internet connections, private computer networks, email accounts, computers, fax machines and mobile phones etc. used by the elected representative or his office staff, provided that these are used for communications to and from the elected representatives constituents.

Given the scandal over the electronic bugging of an MP and his constituent in prison, who has not been charged with any crime in the UK, the Wilson Doctrine should also be made to cover face to face meetings with constituents. It should ban directed and intrusive surveillance of such face to face meetings and it should also ban the use of Confidential Human Intelligence Source informers to infiltrate an MP or other elected representatives offices.

Obviously where there are actual national security or serious crime investigations in progress, the Wilson Doctrine allows these to proceed, but this should be strictly limited and should require a formal warrant, not any kind of self authorisation by the investigating agency.

There must be no repeat of the appalling mess which the former Speaker of the House of Commons created over the police raid without a warrant of MPs offices.

The Wilson Doctrine should be made to apply not just to the three main UK intelligence agencies GCHQ, MI5 and SIS/MI6, but to any Police or Military units with the legal or technical capability e.g. Military Special Forces units, Association of Chief Police Officers units like NETCU and to any "quid pro quo" arrangements with Foreign Governments or agencies and also to any private sector companies or other non--governmental organisations as well.

If you cannot trust that your written or electronic communications or face to face meetings with your MP etc. is not being snooped on by state bureaucrats or private sector snoopers, then there is no elected democracy in the UK any more.

If the Government really means to restore public trust in the tainted institution of Parliament, then they should re-affirm and extend the Wilson Doctrine, something which will not even cost them any public money to do.

It is a measure of how inept the hated Labour party is in Opposition, that they have not bothered to table any Parliamentary Questions about the Wilson Doctrine, not even simply in order to put the current Government under political pressure, like a proper Opposition should.

Is it because the few Labour MPs who cared about democratic accountability of the powerful organs of the state, have retired or have not been re-elected, leaving behind only the creepy control freaks and apparatchiks ?

The Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs who used to care about these issues are now on the Government side, but they should not let that stop them from raising Questions fundamental issues of liberty and democracy either.


uk_biometric_passport_front_450.jpg

One detail in the ongoing "illegal" Russian spy scandal in the USA, seems to involve the abuse of a British Passport.

BBC copy of the District Court Indictment against 9 illegal spy suspects (.pdf) i.e. Christopher R. Metsos, Richard Murphy, Cynthia Murphy, Donald Howard Heathfield, Tracey Lee Ann Foley, Michael Zottoli, Patricia Mills, Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez.

48. Similarly, TRACEY LEE ANN FOLEY, has traveled on a fraudulent British passport, prepared for her by the SVR. One of the Boston Conspirators' Internet Messages provided FOLEY with instructions with respect to her then-upcoming trip to Moscow.

Itinerary to M. [Moscow] for D.; Paris - Wien (by train), Mar 18 in Wien exch[ange] doc's for British pass[port] - [Moscow] (Mar 19, flight OS 601). Very important: 1. Sign your passport on page 32. Train yourself to be able to reproduce your signature when it's necessary.

[...]


Will the Home Office and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office investigate this alleged abuse of the British Passport system by Yet Another Foreign Intelligence Agency ?

It is still unclear whether or not an Israeli diplomat was actually expelled, following the abuse of British passports in the Dubai assassination affair

See the previous Spy Blog article and comments: Has the Israeli diplomat / intelligence officer been expelled from London yet ?

Note that this Internet Message , presumably hidden through stenography and / or encryption, appears, given the abbreviations, to have been written in English rather than Russian.

N.B. the current British Passports no longer force you to sign page 32, your signature on the specified box on application / renewal form, which your are warned to to exceed the boundaries of, is digitised.

An approximately half scale image version of your signature is reproduced on the main Passport laminated page

main_horiz_censored_450.jpg

How this is meant to be of any use it for comparison with your "usual signature" ? Many people will had had to modify their "usual signature" to fit within the cramped, "one size fits all" box on the application form. To then reduce this in size by a factor of two as it appears on the front of the laminated main passport page, completely devalues this as a "security" feature.

Why could they not put a full sized signature image on the back of the laminated page, which, apart from the embedded chip and antenna, is devoid of any important information, except for "Official Observations", which for most people will be utterly blank. ?

N.B. the previous version of the UK Passport , without this embedded chip and antenna, had an identical "Official Observations" page, but it was not laminated, only the previous main details page was laminated. Therefore they cannot now actually write any new "Official Observations" or "Endorsements", e.g. limits on the right to work or reside in the UK etc. without replacing the entire Passport !

room_for_full_signature_450.jpg

This laminated page has a stupid embedded contactless chip and antenna loop, which act as a a "let's blab the nationality and / or unique passport number to anybody with cheap unlicensed band radio frequency equipment" device, even before any encrypted data is sent between the chip and the passport reader equipment.

passport_chip_450.jpg

It has already been demonstrated that this can be done at ranges of several tens of metres, way beyond the few centimetres that the Passport and Passport reader equipment require. It therefore puts British travellers at risk of covert surveillance and tracking, as they pass by unseen detection equipment, operated by anbody with access to some cheap electronics..

They are therefore at potential risk from terrorist bombs which are detonated only once enough British passports are detected within range.

Spy Blog recommends, that just as with Oyster Travel Cards in London, you use aluminium metal foil etc. to line your Passport cover, so as to prevent this chip being sneakily detected or read, except when you are actually presenting it at passport control.

Doing so, will, of course, show up your radio frequency shielded passport as a "suspicious" object on intrusive "see under your clothes" Passive or Active Millimetre Wave radar or TeraHertz or Backscatter X-Ray scanners.

See Spy Blog: Foiling the Oyster card

If you are delayed or falsely accused or searched unnecessarily as a result of taking the simple radio shielding precaution, in order to reduce the extra personal danger risk which the Government bureaucracy has inflicted on you, then please let us know and we will name and shame the bureaucrats and politicians responsible.

The arrest of 10 Russian "illegal" suspected SVR spies, in the USA, including the photogenic Anna Chapman, who appears to have spent 5 years or so working in the United Kingdom, and who married and divorced a British citizen, is full of interesting technical tradecraft and legal issues.

The arrest of another 11th suspect, Christopher Metsos, in Cyprus, who then appears to have been allowed to flee the country "whilst awaiting an Extradition warrant" on "money laundering" allegations from the USA", is , in its own way rather worrying, given the obvious use of Entrapment by the US authorities in this affair.

One area in which the US judicial system is better than that of the United Kingdom is in the online publication of Indictments, signed by investigating police or counter- intelligence agents, detailing the alleged activities of the accused.

These are often made available for free by the major US newspapers and provide a check against the wretched culture of "anonymous briefings" which the British media allow themselves to be manipulated by.

The New York Times seems to have been the first to do this, but copies of the two Indictments are now available from the BBC website:

BBC copy of the District Court Indictment against Anna Chapman and Mikhail Semenko(.pdf)

BBC copy of the District Court Indictment against the other 9 illegal spy suspects (.pdf) i.e. Christopher R. Metsos, Richard Murphy, Cynthia Murphy, Donald Howard Heathfield, Tracey Lee Ann Foley, Michael Zottoli, Patricia Mills, Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez.

Both documents make a distinction between spies under diplomatic cover working from Embassies, Consulates and, in this case the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York and "illegals".

"Illegals" are in two categories - those who operate under totally false names and identities of, in this case, US citizens, or those who operate under their own (Russian) identities.

See the infamous "Hollow Coin" case in the 1950's involving Rudolf Abel / Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher.


Why arrest this alleged spy ring now, after several years of surveillance ?

It is unclear why the US authorities actually decided to make a propaganda fuss and arrest these alleged "illegals" rather than simply threatening to deport them under immigration laws.

Presumably there is some sort of internal power struggle for scarce budgets and prestige, amongst the various US intelligence agencies.

The case has certainly shifted a lot of mainstream media attention from the BP oil pollution scandal, which probably pleases the White House spin doctors.

No actual Espionage or even Economic Espionage charges

None of the suspects are actually accused of obtaining or passing on any actual classified information.

None are actually accused of Espionage, (up to 20 years in prison) or even Economic Espionage (up to 10 years in prison and half a million dollars fine for stealing certain trade secrets).

There are no charges under the catch all "national security" provisions of the so called PATRIOT Act either.

The likelihood is that the alleged spies were either as yet inactive "sleepers" awaiting orders in the future, or were meant to be "agents of influence", or perhaps low level logistics support team members, without direct contact with any US traitors or personal access to real secrets.

The fact that two of them are accused of undertaking "dead drop" operations of money and of a false passport, at the behest of the FBI agent provocateurs who had gained their trust, implies membership of the logistics tail of the SVR espionage rings in the USA.

Similarly in the United Kingdom, none of the alleged activities set out in the Indictments would have fallen foul of the the UK's Official Secrets Act 1989

Unregistered Agents of a Foreign Government

They are accused of Conspiracy to Act as Unregistered Agents of a Foreign Government which carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

There is no such law in the United Kingdom.

If there was, how many Public Relations and Political Lobbying companies and individuals would be caught by such a law in the UK ?

Given the number of current and former MPs and Lords and Ministers (from across the political spectrum) who have acted for foreign clients and for foreign companies or organisations, which are controlled by foreign governments, it seems unlikely that any such law would be passed in the UK.

Entrapment

The interesting alleged technical details about the secret communications methods employed by this alleged spy ring are not in themselves illegal.

This is presumably why the US authorities went for their usual Entrapment method, using their people who managed to infiltrate or gain the trust of a couple of the suspects, to accept and deliver to a Dead Letter Drop, an envelope of cash or a false passport.

These acts were then videoed to provide evidence of activity as an "Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Government" a crime with a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

Since US laws and regulations do not allow "Unregistered Agents of a Foreign Government" to make use of the US bank or credit card or other financial systems, anybody who receives or passes on any money "from a Foreign Government" can be accused of "money laundering" or more usually, as in this case, the even more catch all inchoate offence of "conspiracy to commit money laundering", which has a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

In previous cases, the US authorities have even claimed that the salaries paid by the US Government to to Federal employees working for the FBI etc. who turned out to have been recruited to be Russian or Chinese or Cuban or Israeli etc. spies after their initial employment by the US Government, was evidence of "money laundering" since they were obtained under false pretences by "Unregistered Agents of a Foreign Government".

This is not "money laundering" in the the sense that UK laws are framed, aimed at Serious Organised Crime gangs involved in illegal drug or tobacco or alcohol etc. smuggling, human trafficking. Neither does this sort of activity qualify as "terrorism" money laundering.

Entrapment is much more heavily frowned upon in the UK legal system than in the USA.

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to supress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

We know that there are decent, honest, trustworthy individual politicians, civil servants, law enforcement, intelligence agency personnel and broadcast, print and internet journalists etc., who often feel powerless or trapped in the system. They need the assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.

Email & PGP Contact

Please feel free to email your views about this blog, or news about the issues it tries to comment on.

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Our PGP public encryption key is available for those correspondents who wish to send us news or information in confidence, and also for those of you who value your privacy, even if you have got nothing to hide.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x80CFAA4C which will expire on 6th September 2014.

pgp-now.gif
You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from www.pgpi.org
(available for most of the common computer operating systems, and also in various Open Source versions like GPG)

We look forward to the day when UK Government Legislation, Press Releases and Emails etc. are Digitally Signed so that we can be assured that they are not fakes. Trusting that the digitally signed content makes any sense, is another matter entirely.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers