September 2010 Archives

A couple of paragraphs from Mi5 Director General Jonathan Evans' speech seem to contradict each other:


The Threat to National Security

Address at the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals by the Director General of the Security Service, Jonathan Evans.

16 September 2010

[...]

10. It is interesting to note in this context that in the last ten years what might be called a "zero tolerance" attitude to terrorist risk in Great Britain has become more widespread. While it has always been the case that the authorities have made every effort to prevent terrorist attacks, it used to be accepted as part of everyday life that sometimes the terrorists would get lucky and there would be an attack. In recent years we appear increasingly to have imported from the American media the assumption that terrorism is 100% preventable and any incident that is not prevented is seen as a culpable government failure. This is a nonsensical way to consider terrorist risk and only plays into the hands of the terrorists themselves. Risk can be managed and reduced but it cannot realistically be abolished and if we delude ourselves that it can we are setting ourselves up for a nasty disappointment.

We agree with this, except that it is unfair to simply blame this risk aversion / "no stone unturned" / Cover My Bureaucratic Backside nonsense on the "American media". The morally weak, unscrupulous and incompetent Labour party control freaks, who were in positions of power in Government, are at least as much to blame.

They were always willing to Be Seen To Be Doing Something about terrorist threats, even though they were helping to make matters worse.

11. In the investigations that we are pursuing day to day, sometimes our ability to uncover and disrupt a threat goes right down to the wire, as was the case with the airline liquid bomb plot in 2006. The plotters were only days away from mounting an attack. Sometimes it is possible or necessary to step in much earlier, though in such cases it can be hard to get enough evidence to bring criminal charges. But I would rather face criticism when there is no prosecution (often accompanied by conspiracy theories about what was supposedly going on) than see a plot come to fruition because we had not acted soon enough. Operation Pathway, the disruption of an Al Qaida cell in North West England 18 months ago, is a good example of a necessarily early intervention where criminal charges could not eventually be sustained. The case has subsequently been reviewed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and Mr Justice Mitting concluded that the case involved a genuine threat from individuals tasked by Al Qaida. Whilst we are committed to prosecutions wherever possible it is a sad fact that for all sorts of good reasons terrorist threats can still exist which the English criminal justice system cannot reach. The government cannot absolve itself of the responsibility to protect its citizens just because the criminal law cannot, in the particular circumstances, serve the purpose.

"The government cannot absolve itself of the responsibility to protect its citizens just because the criminal law cannot, in the particular circumstances, serve the purpose."

No ! This is an argument for extra- judicial punishments and for the harassment of people who should be treated as "innocent until proven guilty, on actual evidence" regardless.

Where has this stupid idea been imported from ?

This weasel worded paragraph tries to imply that all of the people who were arrested under Operation Pathway pose a terrorist threat, which is obviously untrue.

There is also no mention of the "collateral damage" caused by the hurried arrests themselves, where at least two completely innocent people were forced to the ground at gunpoint, in public, putting their lives and those of the passing public at risk unnecessarily, before they were released without being arrested, and without any public apology or compensation.

Remember that despite intensive forensic searches, no weapons, explosive or terrorist money etc. was ever found in Operation Pathway.

Surely the benefit of doubt must be given to terrorist suspects, where it is not possible to catch them red handed and they should simply be be let go and kept under surveillance ?

This is an acceptable risk, as per the argument outlined in paragraph 10, because otherwise there is far too much "collateral damage" to innocent people and the terrorist s will have won a victory by conning the Government and intelligence agencies into destroying our freedoms and liberties, which is precisely what the terrorists want to achieve.

There is no evidence that the widely condemned house arrest and other restrictions without any trial or evidence, through the "Control Orders" scheme works at all.

Jonathan Evans appears to be arguing for its continuation, and possible extension to people who have been released after having served their time in prison for terrorist related offences.

Finally MI5 appears to be moving into the 21st century.

21. I would like to conclude with a brief reference to the espionage threat. Events over the summer in the United States underlined the continuing level of covert intelligence activity that takes place internationally. Espionage did not start with the Cold War and it did not end with it either. Both traditional and cyber espionage continue to pose a threat to British interests, with the commercial sector very much in the front line along with more traditional diplomatic and defence interests. Using cyberspace, especially the Internet, as a vector for espionage has lowered the barriers to entry and has also made attribution of attacks more difficult, reducing the political risks of spying. And cyber espionage can be facilitated by, and facilitate, traditional human spying. So the overall likelihood of any particular entity being the subject of state espionage has probably never been higher, though paradoxically many of the vulnerabilities exploited both in cyber espionage and traditional espionage are relatively straightforward to plug if you are aware of them. Cyber security is a priority for the government both in respect of national security and economic harm. Ensuring that well informed advice is available to those who need it, including through the use of private sector partners is, and will remain, vital.


"though paradoxically many of the vulnerabilities exploited both in cyber espionage and traditional espionage are relatively straightforward to plug if you are aware of them"

Another argument for not letting Hazel Blears anywhere near the Intelligence and Security Committee - see the previous Spy Blog article:

Proposed Intelligence and Security Committee appointments - do *not* let Hazel Blears anywhere near the ISC !

Unfortunately, MI5 itself has a history of "cyber security" blunders with their public website, their public alert email system and with the activities of the likes of Daniel Houghton, all of which were "relatively straightforward to plug if you are aware of them".

Hat Tip to Dr. Geraint Bevan's twitter feed:

Conservative Minister Damian Green speaking for the Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government, described the cross party NO2ID Campaign as "one of the most successful pressure groups in history.", one which Spy Blog has been associated with since before its formal inception.

Our authoritarian opponents spent tens of millions of pounds of tax payers money, where we only had a few thousand pounds of donations and tens of thousands of hours of genuine, committed, grassroots activist time.

Active Opposition to the authoritarian Labour ID Card / National Identity Register should have been a natural Conservative party reaction, as it was, to their credit, with the Liberal Democrats.Opposition to such a centralised, authoritarian scheme, should have also come naturally to the Labour party, but, to their shame, they sacrificed any principles they may once have had, for the lure of "the ends justify the means" political power, just like any other creepy proto--totalitarian bunch of fanatics..

To their credit, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg have now, finally, after 4 months of dithering, started to deliver on their pre-election promises to repeal the Identity Cards Act 2006.

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 15 September 2010, c961 - new window">Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 15 September 2010, c961

[...]

but I also pay tribute to the No2ID campaign, which can chalk itself up as one of the most successful pressure groups in history. It was formed less than 10 years ago, and within a decade of its formation it has achieved its principal aim."

[...]

HC Deb, 15 September 2010, c967

[...]

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

The Repeal of Identity Cards Act 2006, via the Identity Documents Bill 2010, may have achieved its Third and final reading in the House of Commons, assuming that the House of Lords do not send it back, but Rt. Hon. Damian Green MP is mistaken if he thinks that the work of the NO2ID Campaign "Stop the Database State" is over.

Even the multiply disgraced, creepy, incompetent, authoritarian architect of this ill advised scheme, David Blunkett seem to be as close as any Labour politician ever comes, to admitting his past mistakes.

However, we will not open a bottle of champagne, until the Identity Cards Act 2006 is firmly repealed, and, a couple of months later, the execrable, prototype centralised national biometric database is utterly destroyed.

Unfortunately, Whitehall appears to have succeeded in retaining the core of the biometric database system, for use or abuse against "foreigners" - the bureaucratic control freaks were treating British Citizens as foreigners in their own country and they may attempt to do so again in the future.

Why was NO2ID "dis-invited" from giving evidence to the Commons Committee on this Bill ? We have heard that this was due to the incompetent former Labour Minister in charge of ID Card, Meg Hillier.

The Price of Freedom Is Eternal Vigilance.

Spy Blog and NO2ID will remain vigilant against actual or potential Government abuses of our fundamental rights to freedom, liberty and privacy, of which there are many.

We will also highlight the privacy abuses being proposed or perpetrated by the Private Sector and by Foreign Governments e.g. in the USA, the European Union etc.

It is more important than ever that you join or financially support the cross party NO2ID Campaign

There has been no "independent" scrutiny of the UK intelligence agencies since the General Election in May even though, in the meantime, there have been several high profile "spy" cases reported in the UK media, over which the intelligence agencies should have been penetratingly questioned. e.g. the Israeli assassination of a Hamas terrorist in Dubai involving the abuse of British Passports / expulsion of the alleged Mossad station chief in London, the Daniel Houghton MI5/ Mi6 £900,000 secrets for sale to the Dutch case, the death of Dr Gareth Willams (GCHQ / MI6 ?), the "don't ask" complicity in torture and "extraordinary rendition", the upsurge in real bombs in Northern Ireland, etc..

Over 4 months later the new Intelligence and Security Committee is taking shape, with the appalling prospect of the incompetent and untrustworthy "New Labour android" Hazel Blears being given an important role as a member.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former Conservative Foreign Secretary (therefore formerly in charge of MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ) was appointed as the chair by Prime Minister David Cameron back in July.

13 Sep 2010 : Column 710

Business without Debate
Business of the House

[...]


INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY

Resolved,

That Hazel Blears, Sir Menzies Campbell, Mr Mark Field, Paul Goggins, Mr George Howarth, Dr Julian Lewis and Sir Malcolm Rifkind be recommended to the Prime Minister for appointment to the Intelligence and Security Committee under section 10 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994.- (Angela Watkinson , on behalf of the Committee of Selection. )

The peculiar Intelligence and Committee, which is neither a Select Committee nor a Joint Committee of Parliament, is not yet complete, as the (token) member or members from the House of Lords have not yet been appointed. It is very unusual that there is not more of a Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition majority on this Committee.

For the first time, Parliament is meant to have a slightly bigger role in appointing members to the ISC, rather than simply leaving it up to the Prime Minister and his inner circle of advisors and cronies, as before.

It would be interesting if David Cameron actually rejected some or all of these recommendations. He should certainly reject Hazel Blears.!

  • Hazel Blears (Labour) - was the Home Office Minister of State (Crime Reduction, Policing & Community Safety) and then Minister of State (Policing, Security and Community Safety). She also led the "community snooping" initiatives when Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government. She helped to force the notorious Identity Cards Act 2006 into law.

    Her record as one of the architects of the Labour Big Brother / Big Nanny / Surveillance / Database State makes her appointment to the Intelligence and Security Committee particularly unwelcome as she simply cannot be trusted to protect ordinary, innocent, law abiding members of the public, from such creepy control freakery.

    She featured heavily as one of the worst offenders in the "MPs' expenses" scandals: e.g. this Daily Mail report: MPs' EXPENSES: Blears writes £13,332 cheque to Inland Revenue for Capital Gains Tax avoided on 'second home'

    If she is appointed, nobody should believe that Britain's secretive intelligence agencies will not continue to hide secrets from scrutiny by the Intelligence and Security Committee. If Hazel Blears is appointed, one could sympathise with them for doing so, since she is provably untrustworthy with state secrets.

    Hazel Blears has not once, but at least twice broken the Official Secrets Act, 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of information, through sheer incompetence and negligence.

    See the previous Spy Blog article

    Hazel Blears - stolen laptop, no encryption, breach of Restricted and Confidential rules - which email accounts were used ?

    and for example, the Daily Telegraph report :

    Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, has blundered by displaying secret papers relating to MPs expenses as she walked along Downing Street.

    In both cases she clearly failed "to take such care to prevent the unauthorised disclosure of the document or article as a person in his" (or her) "position may reasonably be expected to take."

    Either of these breaches in elementary data security regarding classified, Protectively Marked documents, could have resulted in dismissal and perhaps criminal prosecution, with a penalty of up to 2 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine, if a Civil Servant or private sector government contractor had been guilty of them.

    Once public confidence is gone, in the ability of a politician to be trusted or to keep national security secrets, it can never be rebuilt. For this reason alone Prime Minister David Cameron should reject Hazel Blears as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, or else he will be giving a public signal of its uselessness.

    We do not want Hazel Blears to be allowed to serve on the Intelligence and Security Committee, or in any other position of power or influence whatsoever.

  • Paul Goggins (Labour) - was a junior Home Office Minister with experience of Prisons and who was also exiled to Northern Ireland as a junior Minister and then as Minister of State where he must have had frequent contact with the intelligence agencies. Whether this makes him "house trained" or an effective inquisitor, alert to all their tricks, remains to be seen.

  • George Howarth (Labour) - like Paul Goggins was also a junior Home Office and then a junior Northern Ireland minister. He has previously served on the Intelligence and Security Committee from 2005 to 2010 i.e. he is the most experienced potential ISC member so far mentioned.

  • Dr. Julian Lewis (Conservative) - he seems to have an interest in military matters, but he also has a record of helping to deny transparency and accountability of MPs, which makes him untrustworthy in our view, to represent the public in the secret scrutiny of secret agencies.


    He was one of the prime movers behind the the scandalous attempt by the House of Commons to further neuter the Freedom of Information Act which was touted as protecting the freedoms of Constituents, but actually had the effect of trying to hide "second homes" and other expenses scandals from the public. He was also behind the pompous amendment to the Political Parties and Elections Act, which removed the requirement for General Election candidates to disclose their home addresses on nomination and ballot papers. Given how many candidates claim to be "local", why should they not have to prove it, by giving their home addresses ?

  • Mark Field (Conservative) - who ? He seems to be a lawyer in a safe Conservative seat - how and why was he recommended to be appointed to the ISC ?

  • Sir Menzies Campbell (Liberal Democrat) - former Liberal Democrat Leader - we did not think that it was appropriate for him to stoop to being a member of the ISC. He has "an interest" in Foreign Affairs and has served on the Intelligence and Security Committee for the fag end of Gordon Brown's awful Labour government. He is reported as being friendly with Gordon Brown, who is his Parliamentary constituency neighbour.

We await with interest ,further recommendations or appointments to the Intelligence and Security Committee. There is no good reason why the Prime Minister should only appoint a token one or two members from the House of Lords, as has been the custom in recent years. Almost any Peer of the Realm, woulds be an improvement on the despicable former MP George Ffoulkes, who consistently took the most totalitarian NuLabour line possible. To be fair to Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, as a "double dipping" Westminster and Scottish parliamentarian, he does actually ask a lot of Written Questions of the Executive(s) - some of them pointless and partisan, but he does put his lazier colleagues to shame.

We hope in vain, for the appointment of say, the Earl of Errol, who is actually computer literate and who is therefore, unlike all the other members of the ISC (mostly liberal arts graduate lawyers) actually capable of scrutinising the utility and cost effectiveness of the vast array of intrusive IT databases and surveillance projects and secret IT infrastructures, which the intelligence agencies spend or waste so much of our precious public money on.

We also demand to know whether the outgoing Chair of the ISC's (Dr. Kim Howells, Labour) criticisms of the meddling and conflict of interest by Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister's office under Gordon Brown, have lead to any actual independence of this new Intelligence and Security Committee, or not e.g. is their email still provided (and therefore legally snooped on) by the Cabinet Office ?


Having taken a break from updating Spy Blog, I am finding it hard to summon up enough enthusiasm to continue - you get what you pay for.

I may eventually comment on the astonishing character assassination of the deceased Dr.Gareth Williams, who may have worked for GCHQ on secondment to MI6 / SIS.

Have a look at WikiSpooks for a partial roundup of the lurid tabloid press and media coverage and some of the conspiracy theories regarding this as yet unexplained death.

The release from prison of convicted former MI6 / SIS computer technician and incompetent wannabe spy Daniel Houghton, after only being held on remand for 184 days is a scandal, especially when compared with the earlier case of Corporal Daniel James, who is serving 10 years in prison:

  Daniel James Daniel Houghton
Criminal ChargesConvicted under the Official Secrets Act 1911 section 1 - communicating information that was "calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy"

According to the blog of Michael Smith, who is trying to challenge his own conviction under the Official Secrets Act, for passing on secrets to the KGB during the Cold War

Statement from officer M. Head of the intelligence at ISAF/NATO in Afghanistan in 2006. (M at B79) 'The references contained in the text of the emails do not in themselves provide any great cause for concern in terms of the information they impart. They appear to be comments that may have been overheard and possibly misunderstood by the author who appears to have a rather exaggerated sense of his/her importance. I know of no damage to NATO - ISAF or UK operations that would be caused solely on account of the content of these emails. "Job is black" could possibly be a reference to Special Forces operation but doubt it. Alamara has been at some time a UK military base (it was in the south). It is not in the north Iran/Iraq border.'

Given a sentence of 10 years in prison

Two charges involving alleged CDROM and USB memory stick documents the jury did not come to a verdict on.

"Between September 1, 2007 and May 31, 2009, within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, you stole property, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, belonging to the British Security Service, contrary to section 1(1) Theft Act 1968."

[No evidence offered by the prosecution]

"On March 1, 2010, within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, being a person who has been a member of the security and intelligence services, without lawful authority you disclosed articles relating to security or intelligence, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, which were in your possession by virtue of your position as a former member of the British Secret Intelligence Service, contrary to section 1(1) Official Secrets Act 1989"

Plead guilty - sentenced to only 12 months in prison, but freed immediately !

NationalityBorn in Iran, naturalised British citizenBorn in the Netherlands, dual Netherlands and UK citizenship
special skills and accessPashtun language translator attached to senior British Army General in Afghanistanformer MI6 Secret Intelligence Service technical computer employee with a "top marks" degree in Computer Interactive Systems
Communications Data Traffic security
None - bland, unencrypted public emails to the Military Attache at the Iranian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan - it would be a major scandal if these were not being routinely intercepted 
 no email reported

Used his own mobile (?) phone
to contact the
Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (AIVD)
in the Netherlands, using his own name
Smuggling of documents from secure buildings USB memory
CDROM
- found in his baggage (when on his way back to a tour of duty from the UK to Afghanistan) and shared military quarters
USB memory and  camera flash memory devices

Portable hard disk
Moneyno £2 million asked for, £900,000 in cash handed over to him during the "sting" arrest
Use of Encryption
 no  astonishingly for a former employee of an intelligence agency with a computing degree - none !
Dead Letter Drops
 None.

Handed over USB memory devices, CD, portable hard disk etc. in a London hotel room. Told his "sting" contacts that he had left a USB device at his mother's address in Deorset Subsequent searches also found a USB device at his own home.

 Clandestine face to face meetings with handlers
 none - neither in Afghanistan nor back in the United Kingdom Meetings in Holland with AVD and in London hotel in the "sting" arrest
 Prison sentence Currently serving 10 years in prison
 Held for 184 days on Remand, already released from prison immediately after being sentenced to only 12 months in prison
Potential risk to UK national securityMinimalSubstantial - "The judge told Houghton: 'You were employed by the security services and attempted to sell secret material for very large sums of money.

'In particular you attempted to sell staff lists which would have disclosed the identity and homes and whereabouts of agents whose identity must be protected almost at all costs.

'If the material had found its way into the hands of a hostile power it would have done enormous damage and put lives at risk."

Actual damage to UK securityNoneSlight - the Netherlands intelligence service must now be privy to some or all of the MI5 / MI6 staff list details etc.
A success for UK Counter Intelligence and Security procedures ?No - the tip off / accusation appear to have come from the United StatesNo - the UK authorities knew nothing about it until the Dutch tipped them off.

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: 0xA165A29480CFAA4C 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