June 2011 Archives


George Orwell's Nineteen EIghty Four classic dystopian novel appears to have gone unheeded Britain in 2011:

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On the one hand, this beer promotion is meant to be light hearted.

The advertising "cweatives" and the management of this powerful brand of beer, could have chosen lots of other alternative uses for their Schooner beer glass promotion.

However, they deliberately chose to promote the idea of sneaky spying and eavesdropping, on even one's own family and friends, something which is actually quite reprehensible.

Private bank accounts and money transfers through tax havens by current or former intelligence agency operatives, are major plot themes in several of John le Carré's espionage thriller novels.

Is the media manipulation groundwork being prepared for the revelation of a major UK intelligence scandal, or is this Mail on Sunday story just some "silly season" disinformation ?

Did Russian mafia kill the body-in-a-bag spy? MI6 man found dead in holdall in London, was developing secret technology to track gangsters' laundered cash

By Abul Taher and Robert Verkaik

Last updated at 10:05 PM on 25th June 2011

[...]

But now security sources say Williams, who was on secondment to MI6 from the Government's eavesdropping centre GCHQ, was working on equipment that tracked the flow of money from Russia to Europe.

The technology enabled MI6 agents to follow the money trails from bank accounts in Russia to criminal European gangs via internet and wire transfers, said the source.

'He was involved in a very sensitive project with the highest security clearance. He was not an agent doing surveillance, but was very much part of the team, working on the technology side, devising stuff like software,' said the source.

He added: 'A knock-on effect of this technology would be that a number of criminal groups in Russia would be disrupted.

'Some of these powerful criminal networks have links with, and employ, former KGB agents who can track down people like Williams.'

If "former KGB agents" can penetrate the operational security of this "very sensitive project with the highest security clearance" then either it was protected incompetently or there has been a massive security betrayal.

Not only was would the existence of this project have to have been revealed to the "Russian mafia", but details of its technological progress and therefore the potential threat it posed and also the personal details of the key personnel involved would have all had to have been betrayed.

If so, then by whom ?

  • Is there Yet Another Traitor within GCHQ or Mi6 like Geoffrey Prime or Kim Philby ?

  • Has the notoriously insecure US Government let the cat out of the bag again, for domestic political reasons, without thought for the consequences to for the United Kingdom, again ?

  • Why is alleged Russian money laundering the target ? Surely vastly more money is laundered through London, by, say US based criminal gangs or Mexican or Colombian drug smugglers ?

    In order to snoop on "Russian" mafia finances (or that any other country), it would require access to all international financial transactions, passing through every financial centre, tax haven or third party country.

  • Is the "Russian" spin on this story being played up to divert media attention from Chinese communist espionage stories, during Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 's visit to the UK this week ?

Bear in mind that it was the Daily Mail which first raised the idea of some sort of "Russian" connection with the case, Did spy's killer steal state secrets? MI6 agents search for 'missing' laptop or MP3 player after body-in-bag murder case.

Quite properly and professionally, they actually did a bit of real investigative journalism, ahead of their rivals, by looking up the Land Registry records for the owners of the top floor flat at 36 Alderney Street, London and interviewing the letting agents

The name of this property company turned out to be "New Rodina". In Russian, and in other slavic languages "Rodina" means "Homeland".

Last year, The Mail on Sunday revealed that Mr Williams, a keen cyclist from Anglesey, North Wales, was involved in another 'secretive' project, developing devices that can steal data from mobile phones and laptops using wireless technology.

Is the anonymous briefing source of that unproven allegation, any more reliable than this one and vice versa ?

A close friend also revealed that Williams was training to take on a new identity when he died.

Tory MP and security expert Patrick Mercer said last night: 'The revelation that Gareth Williams was involved in investigating money- laundering throughout Eastern Europe throws new light on to his death.

'I am sure the police would want to investigate these facts as thoroughly as they have done the details of his private life.'

Neither GCHQ nor the Metropolitan police would discuss the new information.

What "new information" exactly ? Speculation from an anonymous Whitehall briefing ?

"Tory MP and security expert Patrick Mercer" is always ready to give a quote to the media, but some of the people he has been associated with are worse than unreliable - see the saga documented by Bloggerheads.

But now security sources say Williams, who was on secondment to MI6 from the Government's eavesdropping centre GCHQ, was working on equipment that tracked the flow of money from Russia to Europe.

The technology enabled MI6 agents to follow the money trails from bank accounts in Russia to criminal European gangs via internet and wire transfers, said the source.

Either this is utter rubbish, or it implies that there has been a disastrous breach of security surrounding Yet Another Intelligence Agency attempt to snoop on financial transactions e.g. on the SWIFT system of international bank transfers.

The fact is, that even legal access to SWIFT by the US Government, has failed to be used to cut off access to funds to terrorists, serious organised crime gangs or foreign spies.

We must assume that such snooping is more likely to be abused by groups and individuals to allow them to gamble on the the world's financial markets with "insider trading" fore knowledge, so as to either enrich themselves, or to build up secret, unaccountable "slush" or "reptile" funds, for bribery or secret operations, which are not audited by their own governments.

Remember the "patriotic" US military and intelligence people who created such illegal funds in the "Iran - Contra" scandal under President Ronald Reagan.?

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government politicians should be demonstrating a clear break with their technologically incompetent Labour "control freak" predecessors, who were so in thrall to the tabloid press.

This Mail on Sunday story is yet another example of why there should be named, public spokesmen for each of the UK Intelligence Agencies, who can categorically deny mainstream media and internet spin and rumour.

The old policies of "neither confirm nor deny" or "we do not comment on national security matters" are doing more harm than good, in the 24/7 mainstream media and internet news age.

The BBC reports that

21 June 2011 Last updated at 16:32

Teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking

A teenager has been arrested in the UK in a joint Scotland Yard and FBI probe into the hacking of websites.

The man, named locally as Ryan Cleary, 19, was arrested in Wickford, Essex. Police have not identified him.

Make your mind up BBC - is he a "teenager" or a "man" aged 19 ?

Scotland Yard said the raid followed a series of distributed denial of service attacks.

It comes days after hackers from a group called Lulz Security (LulzSec) attacked a number of websites both in Britain and the United States.

Scotland Yard would not say if Tuesday's raid was connected to LulzSec but said it had been a "pre-planned, intelligence-led" operation.

However, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the Metropolitan Police's e-crimes unit had confirmed the raid was linked to the recent intrusion attacks on the websites of the CIA and Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

It says the teenager's computer was being examined for data linked to Sony, which recently came under cyber attack.

Mr Cleary was arrested under the Computer Misuse Act and Fraud Act and is being questioned at a central London police station.

Earlier a Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The arrest follows an investigation into network intrusions and distributed denial of service attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group.

"Searches at a residential address in Wickford, Essex, following the arrest last night, have led to the examination of a significant amount of material. These forensic examinations remain ongoing."

Mr Cleary's mother spoke to BBC Essex and confirmed her son had been arrested at 0330 BST on Tuesday.

She said he had been obsessed with computers since he was 12 and added: "Computers were his world."

It is one of the more disgraceful aspects of the mainstream and tabloid media, that they "name and shame" people who have been merely arrested, but who have not yet actually been charged with any offence and who may never charged or convicted of anything i.e. before the sub judice contempt of court rules apply.

What happened to the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" ?

Why did the BBC send a tv satellite outside broadcast van around to the family home in Wickford, Essex and broadcast voyeuristic pictures of it around the world ?

See this Teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking video clip, which was broadcast repeatedly by BBC televeison news, around the world.

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Note the BBC satellite Outside Broadcast van

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The number plate of this parked car is clearly visible in the broadcast, although it probably has nothing to do with the house and the alleged computer hacker. - this is "guilt through association".

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What genuine news value is there in the slow pan across all three upper floor bedroom windows ?

Are the BBC complicit in police / government harassment and intimidation, or are they just uncaringly voyeuristic, or both ?

For what it is worth, the inherently untrustworthy @LulzSec Twitter feed claims that :

Clearly the UK police are so desperate to catch us that they've gone and arrested someone who is, at best, mildly associated with us. Lame.
7:54PM June 21st 2011

@superbus We use Ryan's server, we also use Efnet, 2600, Rizon and AnonOps IRC
servers. That doesn't mean they're all part of our group.
7:53 PM June 21st 2011

Ryan Cleary is not part of LulzSec; we house one of our many legitimate chatrooms on his IRC server, but that's it. youtube.com/watch?v=Jf7iBS...
7:48PM June 21st 2011

Will the UK Police actually charge and prosecute Ryan Cleary, or will this become Yet Another Extradition to the USA saga, like that of Gary McKinnon ?

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The BBC reported that

20 June 2011 Last updated at 20:32

Soca website taken down after LulzSec 'Ddos attack'

The UK Serious Organised Crime agency has taken its website offline after it appeared to be a victim of an attack by hacking group Lulz Security.

Soca said it had taken its website offline to limit the impact attack on clients hosted by its service provider.

Soca.gov.uk had been unavailable for much of Monday afternoon, with an intermittent service restored later.

Lulz Security has said it was behind the denial of service attack which had taken the website offline.

Earlier on Monday, as the agency launched an investigation, LulzSec tweeted: "Tango down - in the name of #AntiSec".

The group has hit a number of high-profile websites in recent weeks, including the CIA and US Senate.

Soca appeared to be the victim of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, where large numbers of computers, under malicious control, overload their target with web requests.

In a statement given to BBC News, a Soca spokesman said: "Soca has chosen to take its website offline to limit the impact of DDOS attack on other clients hosted by our service provider.

"The Soca website is a source of information for the general public which is hosted by an external provider. It is not linked to our operational material or the data we hold."

[...]

Was it worth bringing the SOCA website back online at all ?

SOCA website still has no anonymous or secure communications methods of contact

SOCA still does not appear to want any "tip offs" from members of the public or
from people with specialist knowledge or access, either in the UK or abroad.

Their website has no means of secure or anonymous electronic communication for
whistleblowers or informants or other Covert Human Intelligence Sources.

- no SSL / TLS encrypted web forms
- no email address(es)
- no published PGP Encryption Key(s)
- no mobile phone SMS text message facility
- no fax number

For what it is worth, there is a postal address:

Serious Organised Crime Agency
PO Box 8000
London
SE11 5EN

For several years, there was no public telephone number published by SOCA, but now they have:

The 24/7 telephone number for SOCA is 0370 496 7622. Call for general enquiries or to verify a person as a SOCA officer.

N.B. that is not in any way an anonymous contact method.

SOCA is being replaced / re-branded anyway

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is, for some bureaucratic or political reason, set to disappear by 2013, to be replaced by a "National Crime Agency" headed by a Chief Constable rather than by a former Deputy Chief Constable / former MI5 Director General / former Ministry of Defence "Sir Humphrey", as if that will make any difference whatsoever.

On the 8th June 2011, the Home Office published:

National Crime Agency - a plan for the creation of a national crime-fighting capability (PDF file - 909kb)

Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May's Foreword to this document says:

The social and economic costs are estimated at between £20 and £40 billion per year

Back in November 2004, Spy Blog asked:

SOCA spin - How much does Serious and Organised Crime cost the UK ? £40 billion or £20 billion ?

Therefore, after 6 and half years, the Home Office appears to be as clueless as ever. . They cannot even estimate, to the nearest £20 billion, let alone prove quantitatively, that SOCA has actually reduced the damage to the UK of Serious Organised Crime at all.

Instead of 4 operational divisions of SOCA, according to Home Secretary Theresa May:

The NCA will also have its own specialist capabilities, including for surveillance,
fraud and threat to life situations. These will be used by the NCA itself and will be available to the police and other agencies.

The Agency will comprise a number of distinct operational commands: Organised Crime, Border Policing, Economic Crime and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. It will also house the National Cyber Crime Unit. .

So the only differences, apart from the expensive corporate re-branding and the tedious waste of time in amending various Acts of Parliament to use NCA rather than SOCA,
appear to be the absorption of some of the Borders Agency staff and the eventual absorption of CEOP.

Astonishingly, SOCA will take 18 months to 2 years to die off and be replaced by NCA. The "Cyber Crime" bit will not be incorporated until after the London 2012 Olympics .

The length of time that this dithering will take, is toxic to the morale and efficiency of the organisation.

How can they possibly recruit or retain talented staff into a "zombie" agency ?

Is there going to be a US style "intelligence fusion centre", with all that implies for the Privacy of innocent members of the public ?

1.5 Mirroring the arrangements for countering terrorism, the NCA will be home to a significant multi-agency intelligence capability. This will comprise an intelligence coordination hub with information flowing to and from the police and other law
enforcement agencies in support of tactical operational activity. It will also include an expert analytical function, playing a more strategic role - a Joint Serious
and Organised Crime Assessment Centre.

Where is the Serious Organised Crime Prevention strategy ?

In the same week as the publication of the NCA plan, the Home Office also issued a revised PREVENT counter terrorism strategy document.

Prevent strategy (PDF file - 713kb)

This rightly criticised the former Labour government's failures

The Prevent programme we inherited from the last Government was flawed. It confused the delivery of Government policy to promote integration with Government policy to prevent terrorism. It failed to confront the extremist ideology at the heart of the threat we face; and in trying to reach those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting.

It remains to be seen if the new PREVENT strategy is any better in practice than the old one, but the obvious question must be asked - where is the equivalent Serious Organised Crime prevention plan or strategy ?

Many of the criminal operational techniques used by Serious Organised Crime gangs e.g. drug dealing, armed robberies, credit card fraud, money laundering, counterfeit goods etc. are exactly the same as those used by terrorists, and vice versa.

Many of the same people who are drawn into Terrorism, are also likely recruits for Serious Organised Crime gangs, especially within families or minority ethnic groups, or vulnerable people in prisons or schools etc.

Neither SOCA nor the proposed NCA appear to have any functions or budget to actually prevent people being drawn into Serious Organised Crime gangs in the first place.

Why not ?

Automatic Number Plate Recognition Camera enforced electronic ghettos are a hot topic in East Anglia at the moment, with the controversial "snoop on the general public 24/7, even when not actually stopping criminals" scheme in Royston, Herfordshire, which has been reported to the Information Commissioner by several human rights and civil liberties groups.

Royston's ANPR "Ring of Steel'' - the shape of things to come?

However, the mainstream media are still more obsessed with celebrities, than with the rights and freedoms of the public.

Thursday's front page story in the Daily Telegraph made this claim:

WikiLeaks: Government 'spying' on Julian Assange during house arrest

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are claiming that the Government has erected CCTV cameras to spy on the house where he is staying in East Anglia.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor

12:00PM BST 16 Jun 2011

In a video, titled "House Arrest", and released by WikiLeaks, they claim that three cameras have been erected to watch who enters and leaves his temporary home.

The video, published today on Telegraph.co.uk, marks his six months on bail. It shows one of the cameras outside the entrance to Ellingham Hall, Norfolk.

Mr Assange has lived there for six months while he fights extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual crimes, which he denies.

All of the cameras have been installed since Mr Assange moved there in mid-December.

On the video, Sarah Harrison, one of the WikiLeaks' team, says: "This is one of the three cameras that is outside each entrance of the property.

"We suddenly noticed them appearing since we have been here. We believe they are monitoring everything that goes in and out of the property."

Vaughan Smith, who owns Ellingham Hall, adds: "I am not an expert on cameras but I believe that these take number plates and report number plates. I think the country is full of them but I don't know why I need quite so many of them around my house."

Is this what passes for investigative journalism by the "Whitehall Editor" of the Daily Telegraph these days ?

The "camera" to which Sarah Harrison is seen pointing to, is clearly a radar operated speed warning sign which should light up when a vehicle approaches at more than the speed limit e,g, 30 or 40 or 50 mph

See Case Study - Norfolk Interactive Fibre Optic Signs (the fibre optics refer to the method of illuminating the sign, rather that to any high speed communications network reporting to any central surveillance and control system).

These are not even "speed cameras", which issue Fixed Penalty Notices for speeding , they are just a primitive road safety feature.

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The Google Street View copyright message on this image of the very same speed warning sign on the Yarmouth Road, Ellingham approaching the Hall Road turning says "2009" i.e. from well before anybody in Norfolk could have suspected that Julian Assange.would be held on bail there.

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The following closeup shot may or may not be of a camera on a pole, somewhere, but it is not a close up of the same device which Sarah Harrison was standing next to - it is mounted on the pole via a horizontal bracket at 90 degrees to the direction the device is pointing.

The speed warning sign radar gun is mounted directly in the direction which the sign is facing.

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Other models of such signs have the radar gun integrated into the dark border surrounding the illuminated display.

Vaughan Smith has now been quoted by the BBC:

Julian Assange friend's 'embarrassment' at camera claim

In the video, Mr Smith, who owns the Frontline Club in Paddington, West London, said: "I'm not an expert on cameras but I believe these take number plates and record number plates."

He went on say that the "cameras" had been installed at some time in the past three months.

But in an interview with BBC Look East, Mr Smith said he now accepted they were unlikely to be automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.

"I have heard that the council claims that these are not, in fact, cameras at all, unless they have been tampered with," he said.

"They are, I think, radars and I think it is important to correct that information.

Phones claim

"I feel slightly embarrassed about this, if I'm honest, because I was asked to respond to some information.

"I was told it was a camera and what did I think of it but, nevertheless, it's important to get it right."

Mr Smith said it was possible the cameras had been tampered with, adding: "There's certainly evidence that our phones are being listened to."

Vaughn Smith is a journalist and war correspondent, so checking some basic facts just outside his home should not really have been too difficult for him.


Why not publish this evidence of phone tapping on wikileaks then ?

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "Two speed reactive signs were installed on Yarmouth Road in Ellingham in June 2002, of which one appears to be the sign that is featured in the film.

"Four other speed reactive signs were installed elsewhere in the village in 2003.

"These signs work by using a radar detector, which activates the sign if vehicles are travelling in excess of a certain speed."


So, according to Norfolk Council that is 6 "reactive speed signs", none of them installed in the last 6 months.

The location of Ellingham Hall is obviously not a secret, given that the mainstream media press pack has camped out on there in the past.

Perhaps there are actually some other CCTV cameras which the wikileaks cult supporters have noticed recently, in which case why not publish photos and the exact locations of these alleged surveillance cameras ?

The WikiLeaks cult supporters have, presumably, passed by these locations hundreds of times in the last 6 months to and from Julian Assange's daily signing in at the local police station which the video illustrates.

Just how incompetent are they at anti-surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques , (which people with enemies like theirs should be routinely employing) if they have not noticed these alleged "cameras" which have been in position, not for months, but for years ?

CCTV ANPR snooping and excessive data retention and "pattern matching" data warehousing applied to millions of innocent motorists, in secret, is a major civil liberties issue in the United Kingdom, which the WikiLeaks cult and the Daily Telegraph have managed to obscure with seemingly ill informed or false claims.

N.B. despite our criticisms of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, he is suffering unjustly from the hated former Labour government's Extradition Act 2003 and the European Arrest Warrant procedure, which was clearly introduced before the necessary harmonisation of different legal systems in the European Union has taken place.

Last summer, there was a bit of fuss about about an alleged Al Quaeda associate produced glossy electronic magazine, called "Inspire", written in English, for the benefit of wannabe jihadi extremists in the USA and the UK etc, without arabic language skills.

This week, the Washington Post has repeated the story with the added twist of uncritically "crediting" British Intelligence with carrying out a stupid "cyber attack", which the US authorities had supposedly decided not to go ahead with.

List of cyber-weapons developed by Pentagon to streamline computer warfare

By Ellen Nakashima,
31 May 2011

[..]

Last year, for instance, U.S. intelligence officials learned of plans by an al-Qaeda affiliate to publish an online jihadist magazine in English called Inspire, according to numerous current and senior U.S. officials. And to some of those skilled in the emerging new world of cyber-warfare, Inspire seemed a natural target.

The head of the newly formed U.S. Cyber Command, Gen. Keith Alexander, argued that blocking the magazine was a legitimate counterterrorism target and would help protect U.S. troops overseas. But the CIA pushed back, arguing that it would expose sources and methods and disrupt an important source of intelligence. The proposal also rekindled a long-standing interagency struggle over whether disrupting a terrorist Web site overseas was a traditional military activity or a covert activity -- and hence the prerogative of the CIA.

The CIA won out, and the proposal was rejected. But as the debate was underway within the U.S. government, British government cyber-warriors were moving forward with a plan.

When Inspire launched on June 30, the magazine's cover may have promised an "exclusive interview" with Sheik Abu Basir al-Wahishi, a former aide to Osama bin Laden, and instructions on how to "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom." But pages 4 through 67 of the otherwise slick magazine, including the bomb-making instructions, were garbled as a result of the British cyber-attack.

It took almost two weeks for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to post a corrected version, said Evan Kohlmann, senior partner at Flashpoint Global Partners, which tracks jihadi Web sites.

Mainstream media commentators and Twitterati have dubbed this as "Operation Cupcake", and have gleefully repeated and elaborated it, without bothering to analyse the story at all.

If this was a deliberate "cyber attack", then it was extremely inept.

  • Even the Washington Post article mentions that a corrected version of the .pdf file was being distributed after less than 2 weeks, so what exactly did this supposed "disruption" actually achieve ?

    Like most internet censorship, it has suffered from the
    Streisand effect. As a result of the publicity, many more people have now downloaded copies of Inspire magazine than ever would have bothered to otherwise.

    See Media Perpetuates Myths About "Virus Attack" on Inspire Magazine

    You can download copies of all 5 editions (so far) of "Inspire" magazine, as well as proof of the "Cupcake" corruption from the Public Intelligence website.

    They, like us, are also sceptical of the provenance of this magazine. It could so easily be some sort of scam perpetrated by one of the unscrupulous wannabe private sector "terrorist trackers" who provide convenient "evidence" in support of multi-billion dollar counter-terrorism budgets and repressive laws.

    Does Anyone Take These Al-Qaeda Magazines Seriously?

  • If "British intelligence" was involved in this alleged incident, then why was such an obviously American "Cupcake" recipe used as the criminal damage payload to corrupt the .pdf file ? Even the wikipedia entry for Cupcake recognises that these are called "Fairy Cakes" in the United Kingdom.

    Since "Inspire" magazine is supposedly aimed at internet self-radicalising wannabes in the United Kingdom and the USA etc, why would British intelligence use an American "joke" ?

  • British intelligence agencies i.e. GCHQ, MI5 the Security Service, MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service, the Metropolitan Police SO15 Counter Terrorism Command and the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit, all claim to work within the law.

    The Police (but not the Intelligence Agencies) have legal powers to demand that an Internet Service Provider removes a file from a public website under the Terrorism Act 2006 section 3.

    The Intelligence agencies and the Police may have legal powers for Intrusive Surveillance involving otherwise illegal computer access ("hacking").under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

    None of them have any legal exemption from the Computer Misuse Act 1990, as amended by the Police and Justice Act 2006, to modify or corrupt any computer data:

    Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of computer, etc.

    (c)to impair the operation of any such program or the reliability of any such data; or

    This offence is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and / or an unlimited fine.

  • The corrupted first edition of "Inspire" magazine contains not only the amateur pipe bomb "recipe", which is rather less sophisticated information than what you could pick up from watching episodes of US criminal forensics tv dramas like CSI or NCIS etc., but also some screenshots of a supposed "jihadist" data encryption program and a "public key":

    Al-Ekhlaas Network ASRAR El Moujahedeen V2.0 Public Key 2048 bit-

    This is encryption system is neither open source like GnuPG or PGP, nor is it compatible with them.

    There must be reasonable suspicion that this is a crude attempt to con wannabe jihadists into using an encryption system which can be read by someone else and which immediately self-incriminates a user of it as a"terrorist suspect".

  • The contact emails for "Inspire" magazine are all, suspiciously, only from entirely USA based free email providers: hotmail,com, gmail.com, fastmail.net and yahoo.com.

    Why would any Al Quaeda associated group choose to give the US authorities automatic access to their Communications Traffic Data (email addresses, IP addresses, web browser details , times and dates and amount of data transmitted etc.), even if the contents of emails are actually strongly encrypted ?

  • It is unclear if there was any "hacking" at all. Anyone could simply have seeded a corrupted / faked / amended copy of the Inspire magazine (.pdf) into a per to peer file sharing network e.g. using BitTorrent.

The British mainstream media has been busy publishing stupid, anonymous briefings from Whitehall officials which use the idiotic "neither confirm nor deny" formula, which, given the proven lies which it has been used to cover up in the past, is as good as an admission of guilt in the public mind.

However they cannot decide which branch of "British Intelligence" should be praised or blamed for "Operation Cupcake"

e.g. The Daily Telegraph claims it was MI6 the Secret intelligence Service

MI6 attacks al-Qaeda in 'Operation Cupcake'

British intelligence has hacked into an al-Qaeda online magazine and replaced bomb-making instructions with a recipe for cupcakes.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent

7:16PM BST 02 Jun 2011

[...]

A Pentagon operation, backed by Gen Keith Alexander, the head of US Cyber Command, was blocked by the CIA which argued that it would expose sources and methods and disrupt an important source of intelligence, according to a report in America.

However the Daily Telegraph understands an operation was launched from Britain instead.

Al-Qaeda was able to reissue the magazine two weeks later and has gone on to produce four further editions but one source said British intelligence was continuing to target online outlets publishing the magazine because it is viewed as such a powerful propaganda tool.

[...]

It is alarming how many of the hundreds of "news" stories on this topic around the world appear to be simply churnalism, blindly parroting the Daily Telegraph and its naming of MI6.

However, the Guardian claims it was GCHQ:

British intelligence used cupcake recipes to ruin al-Qaida website

GCHQ officers sabotaged online jihadist magazine in English as part of cyber war against terrorists

Richard Norton-Taylor, security editor
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 2 June 2011 19.40 BST

Whitehall sources have revealed that British intelligence officers successfully sabotaged the launch of the first English language website set up by an al-Qaida affiliate.

The officers, understood to be based at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, attacked an online jihadist magazine in English called Inspire, devised by supporters of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

A pdf file containing fairy cake recipes was inserted into Inspire to garble most of the 67 pages of the online magazine, including instructions on how to "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom".

Though the authenticity of claims made about Inspire have been questioned, British security and intelligence sources say they believe the magazine, and the bomb-making instructions, were genuine.

The sabotage took place a year ago, following a dispute between agencies in the US about who should take on the role of attacking the Inspire website.

Publicising the achievement amounted to little more than a propaganda exercise - "just to let them know", as one British official put it on Thursday.

The Associated Press also goes for GCHQ and also seems to be be complicit in being briefed by anonymous government spokesmen, who cannot be challenged directly.:

British spies to terrorists: make cupcakes not war

By PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press - 03 June 2011

[...]

"We're increasingly using cybertools as part of our work," a British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters said Friday, confirming that the Inspire magazine had been successfully attacked.

The hackers were reportedly working for Britain's eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, which has boosted its resources in the past several years.

[...]

But choosing to hack into al-Qaida-affiliated websites or other systems is also risky business for intelligence agencies. Infiltrating a site can often expose sources and methods, a second British official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss cybersecurity matters. He would not specify how Inspire was hacked.

British officials consider al-Qaida in the Arabian Pensinsula to be a significant threat to U.K. interests.

The local newspaper website This Is Gloucestershire, assumes that it must have been GCHQ in Cheltenham:

GCHQ staff replace bomb-making instructions with cupcake recipes

Saturday, June 04, 2011, 07:00

By emma tilley citizen.news@glosmedia.co.uk

[...]

A GCHQ spokesman said news of the operation was "pure speculation."

She said: "We cannot confirm or deny any of our operational capabilities."


This Cold War anonymous briefing nonsense is simply not good enough any more when dealing with internet stories from overseas.

Named official spokesmen either Home Office or Foreign Office officials or the Ministers who are supposedly elected to be accountable to the public for the actions of their bureaucrats, should be issuing a very firm denial of any British involvement in such a stupid plot.

The main reason for an unambiguous official denial should be the forthcoming terrorism trial of the Cardiff, London and Stoke on Trent plotters who were charged on 27th December 2010:

Nine Charged with conspiracy to cause explosions in the UK

[...]

ENGAGING IN CONDUCT IN PREPARATION FOR ACTS OF TERRORISM, contrary to section 5(1) of the Terrorism Act 2006.

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE: on diverse days between the 1 day of October and 20 day of December 2010, with the intention of committing an act or acts of terrorism, engaged in conduct in preparation for giving effect to that intention, namely and including, downloading, researching, obtaining and discussing materials and methods; researching, discussing, carrying out reconnaissance on, and agreeing potential targets; travelling to and attending meetings; igniting and testing incendiary material.

Those charged with the above are:

Gurukanth Desai - aged 28 - of 89 Albert Street, Cardiff.
Omar Sharif Latif - aged 26 - of 28 Neville Street, Cardiff.
Abdul Malik Miah - aged 24 - of 138 Ninian Park Road, Cardiff.

Mohammed Moksudur Rahman Chowdhury - aged 20 - of 26 Stanliff House, Cassilis Road, London (E14).
Shah Mohammed Lutfar Rahman - aged 28 - of 64 St Bernard's Road, London.

Nazam Hussain - aged 25 - of 47 Grove Street, Stoke-on-Trent.
Usman Khan - aged 19 - of 4 Persia Walk, Stoke-on-Tent.
Mohibur Rahman - aged 26 - of 81 North Road, Stoke-on-Trent.
Abul Bosher Mohammed Shahjahan - aged 26 - of 9 Burmarsh Walk, Stoke-on-Trent.

Eye Spy magazine, whose mostly uncritical pro-intelligence agency and pro-police editorial viewpoint, seems to ensure that they are thrown various tidbits of information, report:

"MI5 Surveillance Success - Alleged terror plotters surveilled and targeted iconic buildings and symbols of London"

Eye Spy, Volume IX, Number Eight 2011 (issue 72) page 40

Other materials found in residences included an al-Qaida support journal called 'Inspire' that contained bomb-making instructions. The features included: 'How to make a pipe bomb in the kitchen of your mom'; 'What to expect in jihad' and 'Tips for brothers in the US'

Obviously the alleged British "Operation Cupcake" failed to prevent these plotters from getting hold of the full first edition of "Inspire" magazine with the full pipe bomb recipe.

Since no actual explosives or firearms or money etc. was found, this will be Yet Another Terrorism Thought Crime Trial, where, presumably one of the key bits of evidence will be the downloading and possession the alleged "Inspire" magazine.

If "British Intelligence" continue to simply "neither confirm nor deny" that they were involved in altering or faking this edition of "Inspire" magazine, then there is every chance that a judge and jury will believe that it has been planted by "British Intelligence", thereby prejudicing its use as evidence in the trial.

Unless the British Government explicitly denies any involvement in "Operation Cupcake", then Intelligence Agency witnesses will be subpoenaed to be cross examined in Court. The prosecution may then have to drop the charges, for fear of revealing intelligence "operational sources and methods".

Is Conservative William Hague's record as Foreign Secretary any better than that of his appalling Labour predecessors, who were so complicit in the appeasement of Qadhafi's evil regime ?

Has his expulsion of Libyan diplomats, suspected of being hardcore Qadhafi fanatics and agents for the JSO (Mukhabarat el-Jamahiriya), Libya's external security organisation.

LIBYA

The People's Bureau of The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
15 Knightsbridge SW1X 7LY

London Diplomatic List 18 March 2011

HIS EXCELLENCY MR OMAR R. JELBAN m
Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary (since 13 January 2010)
Mrs Fatma A. Shaibi
Mr Tarek Kh. Ibrahim Awad m 1st Counsellor
Mr Khaled S.M. Benshaban * 1st Counsellor
Captain Mahmoud H.M. Alsadawi m Military Attaché
Mr Abdurrhman O. Swessi m Counsellor
Mr Abdurrzag M. Shouh Counsellor
Mr Mokhtar M.M. Elamin m Counsellor
Dr Saad A.M. Mhemed m Counsellor
Mr Aiyad M.M. Salem m Cultural Attaché
Mr Hussein A.I. Elghazali m Financial Controller
Mr Hasan A.H. Toumi m Political Counsellor
Mr Taher O. M. Shawesh m Administrative Counsellor
Mr Jamaladdin A.M. Makaf m 2nd Secretary
Mr Aiman M.M Omran m Counsellor
Mr Fareg A.A. Alayat m 2nd Secretary
Mr Fathi S.M. Hariba m Financial Counsellor
Mr Yasen G.I. Busharaia m Assistant Financial Counsellor
Capt. Jamal F.A Elmalhouf m Representative to the IMO

After the Libyan intelligence chief Moussa Koussa's apparent "defection" / short visit to the UK, on March 30th 2011, Foreign Secretary William Hague made a statement in the Commons::

Libya (London Conference) 30 March 2011, 12:33 pm

I can announce to the House that we have today taken steps to expel five diplomats at the Libyan embassy in London, including the military attaché. The Government judged that were those individuals to remain in Britain, they could pose a threat to our security.

The probable names of those expelled are highlighted in the March 2011 London Diplomatic List above, after comparison with the April one below:

London Diplomatic List 20 April 2011

HIS EXCELLENCY MR OMAR R. JELBAN m
Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary (since 13 January 2010)
Mrs Fatma A. Shaibi
Mr Tarek Kh. Ibrahim Awad m 1st Counsellor
Mr Khaled S.M. Benshaban * 1st Counsellor
Mr Abdurrzag M. Shouh Counsellor
Mr Mokhtar M.M. Elamin m Counsellor
Mr Aiyad M.M. Salem m Cultural Attaché
Mr Hasan A.H. Toumi m Political Counsellor
Mr Taher O. M. Shawesh m Administrative Counsellor
Mr Jamaladdin A.M. Makaf m 2nd Secretary
Mr Aiman M.M Omran m Counsellor
Mr Fathi S.M. Hariba m Financial Counsellor
Mr Yasen G.I. Busharaia m Assistant Financial Counsellor
Capt. Jamal F.A Elmalhouf m Representative to the IMO


After the burning of the British Embassy in Tripoli:

Libyan Ambassador to UK expelled FCO news 1st May 2011

I condemn the attacks on the British Embassy premises in Tripoli as well as the diplomatic missions of other countries.

[...]

As a result, I have taken the decision to expel the Libyan Ambassador. He is persona non grata pursuant to Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and has 24 hours to leave the country

Shortly thereafter, Foreign Secretary William Hague expelled two more Libyan diplomats:

Libya
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Written answers and statements, 5 May 2011

On 4 May I ordered the expulsion of two diplomats from the Libyan embassy in London on the basis that their activities were contrary to the interests of the UK. They and their dependants now have until 11 May to leave the country. We keep the status of the Libyan embassy and its staff under constant review. I judged that the behaviour of these individuals had become unacceptable, and that they should therefore be declared persona non grata.

Similarly the names of these two expelled diplomats are highlighted in the April London Diplomatic List above, after comparison with the current May list below.


London Diplomatic List 31 May 2011

Vacant Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary

Mr Khaled S.M. Benshaban * Acting Chargé D'Affaires
Mr Tarek Kh. Ibrahim Awad m 1st Counsellor
Mr Mokhtar M.M. Elamin m Counsellor
Mr Aiyad M.M. Salem m Cultural Attaché
Mr Hasan A.H. Toumi m Political Counsellor
Mr Taher O. M. Shawesh m Administrative Counsellor
Mr Jamaladdin A.M. Makaf m 2nd Secretary
Mr Fathi S.M. Hariba m Financial Counsellor
Capt. Jamal F.A Elmalhouf m Representative to the IMO


The personnel changes this year at the London embassies of Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Syria and Yemen are probably also of interest to Spy Blog readers.

see: Spy Blog - London Diplomatic List archive

About this blog

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

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

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

Email & PGP Contact

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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

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

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

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers