July 2011 Archives

Apart from one unnamed 63 year old man, why have the Metropolitan Police only arresting and "named and shamed" only nine current and former journalists in their Operation Weeting follow on investigation into the News of the World mobile phone voicemail hacking scandal ?

Why have no current or former Police officers or mobile phone company insiders been arrested or "named and shamed" ?

PA journalist arrested over phone hacking faces no further action

Laura Elston, a royal reporter for the Press Association, dropped from inquiry after police speak to Clarence House

James Meikle
guardian.co.uk, Monday 18 July 2011 15.45 BST

A journalist arrested by police investigating phone hacking at the News of the World faces no further action, her lawyer said on Monday.

Laura Elston, 34, who works for the Press Association news agency, was held for several hours on 27 June when she voluntarily went to a central London police station.

Her solicitor, David Corker, said he had been told she faced no further action: "She has been dropped from the inquiry."

Scotland Yard confirmed a 34-year-old arrested in June had had her bail cancelled and been told she faced no further action.

Elston had been questioned on suspicion of intercepting communications, contrary to section 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and was the only journalist arrested so far with no known News International links.

[...]

She was interviewed by detectives on Operation Weeting, the investigation launched by the Metropolitan police in January following new allegations of phone hacking.

According to the Sunday Mirror, Elston was arrested on suspicion of hacking the voicemails of Prince Charles's spokesman Paddy Harverson.

The allegation related to Elston's phone being used to call Harverson when they were both in Lesotho in 2006.

The paper said it understood Harverson told police he borrowed her phone to access voicemails because his own mobile was not working.

Clarence House was reportedly satisfied Elston did nothing criminal and told detectives she was innocent.

[...]

  • Why, exactly, did the Operation Weeting team not bother speaking with the victim of this alleged voicemail hacking before they arrested PA Journalist Laura Elston ??

  • Are the Metropolitan Police now so bureaucratically Kafkaesque that they cannot clear up a line of investigation by speaking to someone without arresting them first ?

  • Why would a real voicemail hacker use their own, traceable mobile phone, rather than an anonymous one ?

  • Why did they not look at the Cell Phone Location Data for the two mobile phones ? Surely they could not have mistaken the Kingdom of Lesotho in South Africa , for the Wapping offices of the News of the World in East London ?

"No further action" is an evil bureaucratic (literal) cop out.

Where is the public apology from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers in charge of Operation Weeting or from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner (or his deputy) himself ?

The Government might as well announce a couple of independent inquiries into the only 7 months old Operation Weeting right now, rather in a year or two's time.

Either they are incompetent and they really have no clue about mobile phone Communications Data investigations or they deliberately abused their power of arrest, perhaps to be somehow seen to be "making progress" with this highly political investigation.

Perhaps the Serious Organised Crime Agency should take over Operation Weeting and Operation Elsdon (corrupt payments) and Operation Tuleta (computer hacking, not limited to just News International newspapers) before the Metropolitan Police make further fools of themselves and lose even more public trust over the affair.

Yesterday, Rebekah Brooks (formerly Wade) the former News International executive, former Editor of The Sun and former Editior of the (now defunct) News of the World,

"was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, contrary to Section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and on suspicion of corruption allegations contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906"

Section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 carries the same penalty as the criminal offence to which it the consipiracy applies i.e. the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 section 1 Unlawful interception, which could lead to up to 2 years in prison and / or a unlimited fine.

The Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 section 1 Punishment of corrupt transactions with agents. carries a penalty of up to 7 years in prison and / or an unlimited fine.

Police officers are "agents" in the archaic languuage of the is Act:

(3)A person serving under the Crown or under any corporation or any . . . borough, county, or district council, or any board of guardians, is an agent within the meaning of this Act.


Since Rebekah Brooks is / was due to testify before the House of Commons Select Committe on Culture, Media and Sport in regard to the "phone hacking" scandal(s), there
are various people claiming that this is a conspiracy to silence or neuter any such testimony and she is obviously denying any illegality.

Hacking: Brooks' Lawyer Says She Is Innocent

Mrs Brooks' solicitor Stephen Parkinson said: "She is not guilty of any criminal offence. The position of the Metropolitan Police is less easy to understand.

"Despite arresting her yesterday and conducting an interview process lasting nine hours, they put no allegations to her and showed her no documents connecting her with any crime.

One of those making such claim of some sort of coverup is the former Labour junior Minister Chris Bryant,

Rebekah Brooks's arrest intensifies phone-hacking crisis

Vikram Dodd, crime correspondent
The Guardian, Monday 18 July 2011

[...]

The Labour MP Chris Bryant said: "It is unusual to arrest by appointment on a Sunday and that just makes me wonder whether this is some ruse to avoid answering questions properly on Tuesday in the Commons committee."


He was the MP who asked Rebekah Wade about Payments To The Police, when she appeared before the same committee back in 2003:

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 460-469)

TUESDAY 11 MARCH 2003

MS REBEKAH WADE, MR ANDREW COULSON, MR STUART KUTTNER AND MR TOM CRONE

[...]

Mr Bryant

[...]

467. And on the element of whether you ever pay the police for information?
(Ms Wade) We have paid the police for information in the past.

468. And will you do it in the future?
(Ms Wade) It depends--
(Mr Coulson) We operate within the code and within the law and if there is a clear public interest then we will. The same holds for private detectives, subterfuge, a video bag--whatever you want to talk about.

469. It is illegal for police officers to receive payments.
(Mr Coulson) No. I just said, within the law.

Chairman: Chris, you have your answer. Thank you very much. We are grateful for your evidence and the courtesy with which you have given your responses.

Are the now very embarassed and possibly vindictive Metropolitan Police relying on this Select Committee testimony, as all or part of the case against Rebekah Brooks for "corrupt transactions with agents" ?

Do they actually have any other real evidence against her personally ?

N.B. Witness testimony to Select Committees and their Written Reports, are protected by Parliamentary Privilige under the Bill of Rights 1688 and cannot be used as evidence in a Court of law.

This applies to both her 2003 testimony and to anything she might have said on Tuesday, before the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport.

We are still astonished that Article 9 of the Bill of Rights was used to temporarily suppress the ultimately successful Freedom of Information Act request, for the publication of the notorious Identity Card Scheme Gateway Reviews


High Court upholds OGC appeal against Information Tribunal and suppresses publication of the Home Office ID Cards Gateway Reviews, on grounds of "Parliamentary Privilege" -

This New York Times article alleges that the News of the World had access to mobile phone Location Data from the police for "nearly $500" a time.

This is yet another reason why access to Communications Data must no longer be allowed to be self authorised by the Police or Intelligence Agencies or other public bodies - there must be independent judicial permission on an individual case by case basis.

A censored Annual Report by the Interception of Communications Commissioner does not provide any reassurance to the public about the system of Communications Data Retention and snooping.


New York Times

Murdoch Tabloids' Targets Included Downing Street and the Crown

By JOHN F. BURNS and JO BECKER

Published: July 11, 2011

(Page 2 of 2)


[...]


Separately, an inquiry by The New York Times, which included interviews with two former journalists at The News of the World, has revealed the workings of the illicit cellphone-tracking, which the former tabloid staffers said was known in the newsroom as "pinging." Under British law, the technology involved is restricted to law enforcement and security officials, requires case-by-case authorization, and is used mainly for high-profile criminal cases and terrorism investigations, according to a former senior Scotland Yard official who requested anonymity so as to be able to speak candidly.

According to Oliver Crofton, a cybersecurity specialist who works to protect high-profile clients from such invasive tactics, cellphones are constantly pinging off relay towers as they search for a network, enabling an individual's location to be located within yards by checking the strength of the signal at three different towers. But the former Scotland Yard official who discussed the matter said that any officer who agreed to use the technique to assist a newspaper would be crossing a red line.

"That would be a massive breach," he said.

A former show-business reporter for The News of the World, Sean Hoare, who was fired in 2005, said that when he worked there, pinging cost the paper nearly $500 on each occasion. He first found out how the practice worked, he said, when he was scrambling to find someone and was told that one of the news desk editors, Greg Miskiw, could help. Mr. Miskiw asked for the person's cellphone number, and returned later with information showing the person's precise location in Scotland, Mr. Hoare said. Mr. Miskiw, who faces questioning by police on a separate matter, did not return calls for comment.

A former Scotland Yard officer said the individual who provided the information could have been one of a small group entitled to authorize pinging requests, or a lower-level officer who duped his superiors into thinking that the request was related to a criminal case. Mr. Hoare said the fact that it was a police officer was clear from his exchange with Mr. Miskiw.

"I thought it was remarkable and asked him how he did it, and he said, 'It's the Old Bill, isn't it?' " he recalled, noting that the term is common slang in Britain for the police. "At that point, you don't ask questions," he said.

A second former editor at the paper backed Mr. Hoare's account. "I knew it could be done and that it was done," he said. Speaking on condition that his name be withheld, he said that another way of tracking people was to hack into their credit card details and determine where the last charge was made. He said this tactic yielded at least one major scoop, when The News of the World tracked down James Hewitt, a former army officer and lover of Princess Diana's, who had fled to Spain amid the media firestorm that followed the publication of his book about the affair.


Does the "Single Point of Contact" system for accessing Communications Data have a sufficiently robust audit trail to cross check when, where and by whom each of the thousands of mobile and landline phone numbers in Glen Mulcaire's (and other private investigators) already seized notes have been subjected to Communication Data demands ?

If the Rt Hon Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner does not investigate this scandal, he should resign, as there can be no public confidence in the office, whatsoever.

See RIPA: 2010 annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner, which like all the previous reports, is oblivious of any wrongdoing regarding Communications Data.

In order to try to restore public confidence , the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act should be amended with criminal penalties to discourage the abuse of Communications Data by individuals and organisations who have access to it.

The News of the World is no more - good riddance!

A lot of the criticism of the News of the Wold has been by tainted sources e.g. vested commercial broadcasting interests like the rivals BBC, which oppose News Corporation's attempt to buy out the rest of BSyB satellite TV broadcasting, something which is not directly linked with newspapers at all.

Other critics like the Labour party, are desperately trying to divert attention from their own disgracefully close involvement with Rupert Murdoch.

The "Screws" and the mainstream media, including the other brands owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, are busy recalling a very selective history of the 168 year old newspaper.

Remember that even before Murdoch bought it in 1969, the News of the World had a long history of making payments to Policemen and to convicted serial killers and prosecution witnesses in lurid criminal trials.

The News of the World and Fleet Street's dark era

They also interfered in the Moors murder trial of Brady and Hyndley, by paying a prosecution witness.

The combination of Rupert Murdoch's approval of "chequebook journalism" and previous Conservative and Labour government's deliberate attempts to pander to the prejudices and phobias of the tabloid newspaper's mass market, readership was toxic to any innocent private individuals who get caught up in the tabloid and mainstream media artificial groupthink of what constitutes "news" or "celebrity".

Spy Blog supports real whistleblowers and proper, ethical, genuinely public interest investigative journalism, but there is little evidence that the News of the World has bothered to do this recently, except for a few foreign sports corruption stories.

It is very significant that the News of the World refused to pay for and publish real "public interest" whistleblower stories, such as the House of Commons "second homes etc." Expenses scandal CDROMs, which were eventually sold to the Daily Telegraph.

However, the News of the World were willing participants in the (increasingly hated as time passes) Labour government's evil "Climate of Fear" propaganda
which they used to justify their huge number of repressive, yet ineffective "Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something" anti-terrorism legislation and the expansion of the
the Database Surveillance State.

e.g. News of the World agents provocateurs like Mazher Mahmood the "Fake Sheikh" and the criminally stupid terrorism trial involving non-existent "Red Mercury" and no terrorist money or plotters whatsoever ?

On trial for terrorism, due to the "fake sheikh" and mythical "Red Mercury"

Red Mercury terrorism trial results in acquittals

However, the News of the World is not the only newspaper to have employed private investigators, who have used illegal methods.

Spy Blog has noticed some recent search engine queries from Police networks, searching for information on some of the "private investigator" criminals named in:

Information Commissioner's Office publishes list of newspapers and magazines involved in the Operation Motorman scandal

We are completely cynical about the promised "investigations" into alleged Mews of the World payments to Police Officers in this mobile phone voicemail "hacking"scandal.

Will these promised new inquiries and investigations now re-open and properly follow up the Information Commissioner's underfunded Operation Motorman investigation ?

This revealed over 300 newspaper journalists who were customers of of the criminals in the Operation Glade case back in 2003:

Stephen Whittamore and John Boyall (private investigators), Alan King (retired police officer) and Paul Marshall (former civilian communications officer) were let off scot free with only:

A 2 year conditional discharge i.e. no fine and no prison sentence, for possibly 11,000 breaches of the Data Protection Act and for breaching the security of the Police National Computer, for profit,

The News of the World were only middle ranking customers of these criminals, who were used more frequently by the Daily Mail etc.

The Guardian also reveals another criminal "private investigator"

Jonathan Rees: private investigator who ran empire of tabloid corruption

Given that there were clear references back in 1999 to Jonathan Rees's involvement in criminal acts with the News of the World and with other tabloid newspapers to follow up the evidence of Data Protection Act and Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act breaches, which was available to them from from the 6 month Intrusive Surveillance electronic bug planted in his office.

But Rees did get nicked - and for a serious criminal offence. The listening device caught him being hired by a man who was getting divorced and wanted to stop his wife getting custody of their children. Rees came up with a plan. Aided and abetted by yet another corrupt police officer, DC Austin Warnes, he arranged to plant cocaine in the car of the unsuspecting woman, so that she could be charged, convicted and smeared as an unreliable parent.

In order to stop that plot, in September 1999, Scotland Yard raided Rees and charged him with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Fifteen months later, he was taken off Fleet Street's payroll when he was sentenced to six years in prison, increased to seven years on appeal. DC Warnes was sentenced to four years.

Why have the Police been so reluctant to properly investigate such unethical and illegal snooping by the tabloid newspapers ?

Could it be that the culture of snooping on mobile phones, is now so routine within the Police, that they are not sufficiently shocked by such invasions of the privacy of innocent people ?

Or did they succumb to to political interference and pressure from the the then labour government ?

Or are some of those Police officers who were allegedly on the pay roll of the News of the World and perhaps of other newspapers, in senior enough positions to block or downgrade the necessary resources for such an in depth investigation ?

If News Corporation do decide to launch a "Sunday Sun" replacement, for the News of the World, will they take the opportunity to set up proper, anonymous encrypted web and email and mobile phone etc. contact methods, for genuine whistleblowers, backed by real investigative journalists ?

See the LeakDirectory.org wiki for some examples.

Or will they continue with their use of dodgy private investigators or corrupt policemen and "anonymous" briefings from Whitehall spin doctors. ?

If you care about your own electronic Privacy and Security and that of your family, friends business associates and other innocent people, you should join the cross party NO2ID Campaign

Is the mainstream media collaborating again in the "Climate of Fear" disinformation which the previous (increasingly hated ) Labour government deliberately allowed to fester, to bolster their repressive legislation ?

The Daily Telegraph has a story, which has been plagiarised and made even more misleading by the Daily Mail, regarding the alleged threat of Shoulder Launched Surface to Air Missiles (Man Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS)) which could supposedly be aimed at Heathrow Airport from villages in Surrey, which are not on or even close to the flight path.

Police brief villagers on how to spot terrorists armed with rocket launchers

They are more used to attending talks on spotting rare birds or butterflies. But the villagers of Surrey are now being given briefings on identifying altogether more sinister visitors: terrorists armed with rocket launchers.

By Emily Gosden

12:15AM BST 02 Jul 2011

Emily Gosden may not be a specialist defence or security journalist, but this story is tagged under the "Defence" category. - why didn't the Editors spot the obvious errors ?.

[...]

Officers from the Metropolitan Police's specialist aviation security team have been touring village halls with a surface-to-air rocket launcher and video footage of a missile hitting a plane in Iraq. Similar briefings have been held near other airports around the country.

Police have invested tens of thousands of pounds in software to identify potential missile launch sites in recent years and have shown residents maps with red and orange dots pinpointing the most likely location for terrorist attacks.

Since they are showing these maps to some of the general public, why not publish them on the Metropolitan Police website ?

Or are they planning to just leave them at a local petrol station, like their colleagues did back in 2004, when such plans and more were handed in to The Sun tabloid newspaper ?

Terrorist's handbook

STEVE KENNEDY

Published: 19 Jul 2004

[...]

The secret files handed to The Sun were drafted by security chiefs only last month to guard the airport from attack.

They were found by an astounded motorist lying abandoned on a roadside just a few hundred yards from Terminal 4.

The reports, compiled by Scotland Yard's SO18 anti-terrorist Aviation Security team, show detailed maps and photographs of 62 potential terror missile launch sites.

[...]

The Daily Telegraph story continues:

James Nicholls, an Effingham resident who was invited to a briefing at Ockham village hall last month, said: "It was extraordinary, I couldn't believe it.

"We were asked to look for people burying things in the ground, we were shown all the components of this heat-seeking shoulder-launched missile. They told us they had been as far as Windsor and Sunningdale surveying and looking at potential sites."

Windsor and Sunnigdale are a lot closer to Heathrow Airport than Effingham or Ockham or East Horsely.

Is the "Metropolitan Police's specialist aviation security team" visiting every community directly under the Heathrow flightpath in the densely populated London Boroughs of Housnlow and Richmond upon Thames ?

He said officers suggested that terrorists could try to smuggle a weapon from Afghanistan, where they are readily available for about £120, and bury its components in the countryside before reassembling them to launch an attack.

Surface to Air Missiles "readily available" for a measly £120 ! Utter nonsense !

Why did such an obvious mistake not get spotted by the professional journalist and the editors of the Daily Telegraph ?

There have been no reports of even the Taliban or Al Qaida combatants in Afghanistan currently having access to any Surface to Air Missiles whatsover..

Back in the1980's when Osama bin Laden used to work with the CIA against the Soviet invaders of Afghanistan, the US Government did supply Stinger heat seeking shoulder fired SAMs to the "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan which were used against Russian helicopter gunships etc.

  • Why would any terrorists with access to such a weapon bother to bury it in the ground ?

  • Why would it not be undetectably stored in whatever vehicle or shipping container used to smuggle it in to the country in the first place ?

  • Why would missiles be smuggled from Afghanistan, rather than directly from Russia or Eastern Europe ? The only people who might be able to do this from Afghanistan, would be corrupt British or US military personnel. Is that what the Metropolitan Police's specialist aviation security team are implying ?

The black market value of such a missile is probably in six figures, but all the recent plots to buy such missiles seem to be (illegal in the UK) entrapment sting operations e.g.

See Spy Blog: Where did Hemant Lakhani get an Igla missile from ?

SA-16_and_SA-18_missiles_and_launchers_450.jpg

Russian SA-16 and SA-18 missiles and launchers

Note how much longer the rocket obviously has to be for a MANPADS anti-aircraft missile, compared with the much shorter range Rocket Propelled Grenade anti-tank weapons.

During their briefing, officers showed residents footage of a DHL Airbus A300 cargo plane as it was hit over Iraq in 2003. The missile struck a wing and caused the complete loss of hydraulic power, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.

[...]

Mr Nicholls added: "To watch this shoulder-launched weapon hit this aeroplane at 8,000ft and take half the wing off it - everybody in that room was stunned.

"They told us, there's no threat whatsoever, but please be on the lookout. This is an awful lot of work to be putting in if there is no threat."

Less than 10 seconds with a web search engine points to this Wikipedia article:

2003 Baghdad DHL attempted shootdown incident

At about 8,000 feet (2,450 metres), a 9K34 Strela-3 (SA-14 Gremlin) surface-to-air missile struck the left wing tip. The warhead damaged trailing edge surfaces and structure and caused a fire

Rather less than taking "half the wing off it ", which is presumably why the pilots were actually able to land ok.

The maximum range of such a missile is stated as 4200 metres - the horizontal range to an aircraft on a landing or take off flight path will obviously be much less.

The villages of Effingham, Ockham and East Horsley are about 15 kilometres South of Heathrow airport (where the landing and take off flight paths run East - West). They are about the same distance North West of Gatwick airport, where again, the runway is aligned nearly East - West.

Even if MANPADS were somehow available to terrorists in the UK, they would be out of range from there.

heathrow_east_horsley_gatwick_map_low.jpg

The Daily Telegraph chose to illustrate their story with this picture

rocket-launcher_1936004c.jpg

Did the Daily Telegraph picture editors not bother to read the meta data embedded in this image ? It clearly states that it is of a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launcher:

A Shiite Muslim Iraqi fighter of the Meh...KUFA, IRAQ: A Shiite Muslim Iraqi fighter of the Mehdi Army militia walks with his rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launcher on his shoulder, close to the Abbasiyah Bridge, the scene of fighting in the town of Kufa, a few kilometers away from the holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, 29 May 2004. Nine Iraqis were wounded today in the second day of fighting between the Mehdi Army and US troops here, medics said. A now two-day-old statement from the firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose private Mehdi Army has waged an uprising against coalition troops for nearly two months, agreed to withdraw his militia from Najaf if US troops also left. AFP PHOTO/Ahmed AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

i.e. definitely not an illustration of a MANPADS anti-aircraft missile.

In their "Daily Mail Reporter" byeline copycat article

Police tell 'high risk' Surrey villages how to spot threat of terrorists firing rockets at planes at Heathrow

the Daily Mail used this photo of another obvious Rocket Propelled Grenade with a misleading caption:

article-2010566-0CD610B100000578-629_468x286.jpg

Threat: Rocket launchers are available in Afghanistan for around £120 and can be reassembled for attacks

The maximum range of an RPG7 rocket propelled grenade is less than 1000 metres and it is only accurate below 200 metres. Unless the terrorists were actually at Heathrow Airport itself, they would have little chance of hitting an airliner, unless firing directly along the axis of the runway:

Due to the configuration of the RPG-7 sustainer/warhead section, it responds counter-intuitively to crosswinds. A crosswind will tend to exert pressure on the stabilizing fins, causing the projectile to turn into the wind. While the rocket motor is still burning, this will cause the flight path to curve into the wind

Terrorists could never hit an airliner on a landing or takeoff, at Heathrow Airport from these villages over 15 kilomteres away in Surrey, neither with an RPG7, nor even with a much more expensive and sophisticated MANPADS.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "The MPS regularly holds community engagement events to build relations with the community and to encourage the public to be vigilant, and to report any suspicious activity to police. This is part of an ongoing process and is not in response to any specific intelligence."

Why did the Metropolitan Police Service press office not correct the factual errors in both the village hall briefings and in the mainstream media reports ?

Lying to the public and stoking up a "Climate of Fear" via the mainstream and tabloid media is a propaganda victory for our terrorist and other enemies.


2010 annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner (.pdf)

The Rt Hon Sir Paul Kennedy, Interception of Communications Commissioner, mentions some examples of Interception of Communications Errors:

Communications Service Providers

3 July Error 1 relates to a human error by a member of CSP staff, whereby a feasibility call was conducted on an agency contact officer's number rather than the warranted target number. Therefore the incorrect transposition of a phone number led to the wrong mobile telephone being placed under intercept. Staff changes and weekend leave meant that the error was not uncovered until three days after interception commenced. Once the error was understood interception was immediately suspended and any product collected was destroyed. The CSP reviewed the incident and implemented a new pro-forma which separated warranty details from contact details to ensure such a mistake was not repeated in future.

Hoist by their own petard !

What exactly is a "feasibility call" with reference to phone interception ?

Communications Data Statistics

7.13 During the reporting year public authorities as a whole, submitted 552,550 requests for communications data. The intelligence agencies, police forces and other law enforcement agencies are the principal users of communications data. Chart 1 illustrates that the number of requests submitted in the last three years has increased year on year by approximately 5%. I cannot give a precise reason for the steady increase, but it is indicative of the growth in communications technology. The statistics show that certain police forces have increased their demands for communications data and I believe that this is due, in part, to the fact that there is an increasing awareness amongst investigators of the type of communications data that is available and how communications data can used as powerful investigative tool.

Which mainstream media organisation or other online commentators will make the annual mistake of misquoting the "552,550 requests for communications data" figure, as if this was the "number of phone taps" or some other nonsense, this time ?


The use of spreadsheet charts to display some of the statistics is an innovation in this year's Report, but it does hide the figures from search engines which might otherwise read and index the text of the (.pdf) file.

Chart 1: Number of Notices / Authorisations for Communications
Data in the previous three year period

2008 - 504,073

2009 - 525,130

2010 - 552,550

7.14 Chart 2 illustrates the breakdown of the communications data requests by type. Nearly two thirds of the requests for communications data in the reporting year were for subscriber data under Section 21(4)(c), usually in the form of enquiries to ascertain the ownership of mobile phones

The figures for the number of communications data requests for 2010 are broken down as:

Subscriber Data - Section 21 (4)(c) - 65% of 552,550 = 359,158

Traffic Data - Section 21 (4)(a) - 26% of of 552,550 = 143,663

Service Use Data - Section 21 (4)(b) - 6% of of 552,550 = 33,153

Combination of (a), (b) and (c) - 3% of of 552,550 = 16,577


Wrong Numbers

This Interception of Communications Commissioner Report alludes to other "wrong numbers" or transposed figures on warrants etc.,

However, digging into one of the Case Studies reveals another, even more tragic "wrong number":

Case Study 2

Lancashire Constabulary - Operation Lace

Lancashire Constabulary used communications data very effectively when investigating the murders of Mr Abdullah Aziz Mohammed and his wife Ayesha Mohammed, and the attempted murder of their two children. The communications data initially identified two suspects who were shown to travel simultaneously into the vicinity of the offence location at the relevant time. This evidence was used to present the case to the CPS who agreed a charge of murder. However from the evidence available these two suspects could not have been responsible for setting the fire and further communications data acquired in relation to the two suspects actually assisted to exonerate them from the murders.

This is an example of how dangerous, to innocent people, the snooping on mobile phone Location Data can be.

They should never have been prosecuted on the basis of this "evidence" in the first place.

The two innocent people who were arrested, charged with murder and remanded in custody will remain forever on police and other databases

Two in court over Blackburn double fatal house fire

"Imran Ali, 29, from Manchester, and Peter Bowden, 39, from Lytham St Annes, were brought before Blackburn magistrates in separate hearings on Friday morning.

They are both charged with the murder of Abdullah Mohammed, 41, his 39-year-old wife Ayesha, and arson with intent to endanger life.

Both men were remanded in custody until a preliminary hearing at Preston Court on November 11. "

and

Blackburn fire murder charges dropped for two men

"The cases against Peter Bowden, 39, of Lytham St Annes and Imran Ali, 29, of Manchester, have been discontinued."

4 murderers were actually convicted:

Gang Jailed For Murder Of 'Wrong' Couple

The intended victim, Mo Ibrahim - who is no relation to the convicted man - lived at 135 London Road in Blackburn, while the Mohammed family were at 175 London Road.

None of the Case Studies illustrate anything which justifies the Data Retention of Communication Data belonging to millions of innocent people for a year.

If the Data Retention legislation had been repealed, all of these serious crime investigations would have proceeded exactly as before, with targeted access to just the current or very recent Communications Data of just the people who were being investigated.

Future Reports should include a breakdown of requests for historical Retained Communications Data i.e. older than 1 month, older than 3 months, 6 months or the full year.

We suspect that there will actually be very few of such requests for historical Retained Data and almost none of them will have been proportionate to current ongoing targeted investigations.

law Enforcement or Intelligence Agencies or Communications Service Providers should not be allowed to inflate the Data Retention use statistics, by pretending that a request for say, subscriber information for a currently used mobile phone counts as a "full 12 months historical Retained data" request, because the phone is on an annual or longer contract, where the name and address details have not changed in 12 months.

8.14 Regrettably serious weaknesses and failings were found in the systems and processes of 15 of the prison establishments which were inspected. This number has reduced from the previous year, but it is still too high and indicates a failure by managers and staff to ensure the interception of communications is conducted fully in accordance with the rules. Three of these prisons were visited twice during the reporting year. I am pleased to report that the re-inspection of one of these prisons found a complete transformation and consequently that establishment is now achieving a good level of compliance. Regrettably my Inspectors concluded that the other two establishments had
not made significant progress during the re-inspections and were still achieving a poor level of compliance. This is concerning considering the fact that they were subject to two inspections in the reporting year. These prisons have now provided an assurance that they will take the necessary remedial action, nevertheless they will again be subject to an early re-inspection to check that they have improved.

Since the Interception of Communications Commissioner does not technically even have a remit under RIPA to inspect prisons, but was asked to do so, he has now enforcement powers.

He should publicly name and shame these two "repeat offender".prisons.

At the very least, his inspection reports must be forwarded to the Independent Monitoring Boards of each of the prisons concerned.

Yet again there is duplication with Intelligence Services Commissioner' Report, regarding a few crumbs of information from the secretive Information Tribunal:

9.2 As I have explained in my previous Annual Reports, complaints to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal cannot easily be "categorised" under the three Tribunal systems that existed prior to RIPA. Consequently, I am unable to detail those complaints that relate to the interception of communications that would previously have been considered by the Interception of Communications Tribunal. I can only provide the information on the total number of complaints made to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The Tribunal received 164 new applications during the calendar year 2010 and completed its investigation of 208 cases during the year. 40 cases have been carried forward to 2011.

Assistance to the Tribunal

9.3 Section 57(3) of RIPA requires me to give all such assistance to the Tribunal as the Tribunal may require in relation to investigations and other specified matters. My assistance was not sought by the Tribunal during 2010.

Determinations made by the Tribunal in favour of complainants

9.4 During 2010 the Investigatory Powers Tribunal made six determinations in favour of complainants. Since its inception the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has now upheld ten complaints. One of the upheld complaints was made by a husband and wife who lodged a joint complaint and five by members of the same family. On the grounds of confidentiality, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules 2000 prohibit me from disclosing specific details about the complaint made by the husband and wife, but it is sufficient to say that the conduct complained of was not authorised in accordance with the relevant provisions of RIPA. The complaints made by the five members of the same family were the subject of an open hearing in November 2009 which was widely reported in the media. The case involved directed surveillance carried out by Poole Borough Council of a family in connection with an application made by the parents for a school place for their youngest child. The Tribunal found that the conduct complained of was not authorised in accordance with the relevant provisions of RIPA. The complainants made no application for remedies and none were awarded. The fact that these cases were upheld has led to changes in guidelines provided to Local Authorities on the use of directed surveillance and proposed legislation to change the procedures on the authorisation of this type of surveillance.

Directed surveillance by Poole Borough Council case did nothave anything to do with either Interception of Communications or the acquisition of Communications Data.


target="_rr2" title="Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2010 - PDF - new window">Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2010

The Right Honourable Sir Peter Gibson, in his last Report before he is succeeded by Sir Mark Waller, who was appointed as Intelligence Services
Commissioner with effect from 1 January 2011, tries his usual "Jedi mind trick" by passing out his public report, so as not to reveal anything of significance at all about the Intelligence Services and their use or abuse of their huge RIPA surveillance powers.


These are aren't the droids you are looking for...

Move along, move along

We are slightly intrigued by

1. I was appointed the Intelligence Services Commissioner under section 59 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) with effect from 1 April 2006. My appointment was initially for three years and was, from 1 April 2009, extended for a further period of three years to 31 March 2012. I stepped down as Commissioner on 31 December 2010 so that I could devote myself to the Detainee Inquiry which I have been asked to chair and a new Commissioner was appointed with effect from 1 January 2011.

and

25. Both I and my predecessor, Lord Brown, before me in our annual reports set out the functions of the Intelligence Services Commissioner. Despite that, it is apparent from the publicised criticisms of my appointment as chairman of the Detainee
Inquiry
that misconceptions as to the functions of the Commissioner still remain.

This seems to confirm our Spy Blog comments on the post facto announcement that a new Commissioner had been appointed three weeks after
he had taken up office in secret.

Intelligence Services Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Sir Mark Waller appointed early, announced late

Part III of RIPA

33. As I have noted above, Part III of RIPA came into force on 1 October 2007. However, no notification of any directions to require disclosure in respect of protected electronic information has been given to me in 2010 and there has been no exercise or performance of powers and duties under Part III for me to review.

Identity Cards Act 2006 (ICA)

34. Following the repeal of the ICA, Identity Cards ceased to be valid legal documents on 22 January 2011 and the database has now been destroyed. I am not aware of any acquisition, storage and use made by the intelligence services pursuant to the ICA of information which had been recorded in the National Identity Register.

Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005

35. I was consulted by the Home Office about control orders in accordance with the Act on 7 January 2010 and, on 21 January 2010, I advised officials there that in the absence of viable alternative arrangements I did not object, in principle, to the extension of the control order regime for a further period of 12 months

Move along, move along

Guidance on Detention and Interviewing of Detainees by Intelligence Officers and Military Personnel

28. In his speech on 18 March 2009, the then Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament that he had asked the Intelligence Services Commissioner, and the Commissioner had agreed, to monitor compliance by intelligence officers and military personnel with the Consolidated Guidance on the standards to be followed during the detention and interviewing of detainees, and to report to the Prime Minister annually. The period of this extra-statutory oversight commenced on 6 July 2010 when the Consolidated Guidance to Intelligence Officers and Service Personnel (the Guidance) was published. Also published at that time was a Note of Additional Information from the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary. I was not involved in the drafting of the Guidance or the Note.

[...]

45. In conclusion, I am not aware of any failure by intelligence officers and military personnel to comply with the Guidance in the period between 6 July and 31 December 2010. It is properly recognised within the Security Service, SIS and the MOD that compliance with the Guidance is mandatory and that personnel must be trained accordingly.

[...]

Move along, move along

ERRORS

50. 28 errors in respect of RIPA authorisations and ISA warrants were made and reported to me in 2010. Six errors resulted from a delay within one Government Department in dealing with the replacement of one warrant relating to six individuals with six applications for warrants, one for each individual. It is not possible for me to say anything further about the 28 errors without revealing information of a sensitive nature, but I have referred to them in more detail in the Confidential Annex. However, I can report that the majority of the errors occurred in respect of surveillance and interference with property for which there was no valid authorisation or warrant in force for a comparatively short time. Every such breach is a matter for regret. I have been given a full description of, and explanation for, each error. All the errors can properly be categorised as minor. None of the cases involved bad faith or any deliberate departure from established practices. In all cases, following the discovery of the errors, internal procedures have been reviewed and, where possible, strengthened with a view to minimising the risk of a future recurrence.

Move along, move along

THE INVESTIGATORY POWERS TRIBUNAL

[...]

53. The Tribunal received 164 new applications and completed 208 cases during the calendar year 2010. 40 cases were carried forward to 2011.

Assistance to the Tribunal

54. Section 57(3) of RIPA requires the Commissioner to give all such assistance to the
Tribunal as the Tribunal may require in relation to investigations and other specified matters. My assistance was not sought by the Tribunal during 2010.

Move along, move along

Determinations made by the Tribunal in favour of complainants

55. During 2010 the Tribunal made six determinations in favour of complainants.Since its inception the Tribunal has now upheld ten complaints. One of the upheld complaints was made by a husband and wife who lodged a joint complaint. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules 2000 prohibit me on the grounds of confidentiality from disclosing specific details about the complaint made by the husband and wife, but it is sufficient to say that the conduct complained of was not authorised under the relevant provisions of RIPA nor was it a complaint against any of the agencies or persons over whom I exercise oversight.

56. Complaints were also successfully made by five members of the same family and were the subject of an open hearing in November 2009. The case was widely reported in the media. It involved directed surveillance carried out by Poole Borough Council of a family in connection with an application made by parents for a school place for their youngest child. The Tribunal found that the conduct complained of was not authorised in accordance with the relevant provisions of RIPA. The complainants made no application for remedies and none was awarded.

57. The fact that these cases were upheld has influenced changes in guidelines provided to Local Authorities on the use of directed surveillance and proposed legislation to change the procedures on the authorisation of this type of surveillance.

These two cases have got nothing whatsoever to do with the Intelligence Services, but since this Report always has so little actual content, so we are presumably supposed to grateful for these crumbs of information, at second hand, from the secretive Information Tribunal.

The alleged "oversight" mechanism of an Annual Report which never says anything at all in public, actually detracts from public confidence in the Intelligence Services


Annual report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2010-2011 (.pdf)

The Chief Surveillance Commissioner, the Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose writes:

Chief Surveillance Commissioner

2.4 I was invited to oversee the removal of 'covert' cameras around specific areas of Birmingham. I have confirmed in writing that no cameras installed specifically for covert use were capable of use before the decision to remove them. All camera equipment has been removed and, by the time this report is published, I will have confirmed that all related 'street furniture' has been removed.

See Spy Blog: Project Champion Review - CCTV and ANPR mass surveillance ghettos in Birmingham

2.5 Towards the end of the year, significant media reporting relating to the activity of an undercover officer authorised to conduct activity against domestic extremism resulted in a number of investigations by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, SOCA and the IPCC. At the time of this report's preparation these investigations continue. I am monitoring all investigations to ensure consistent and accurate interpretation of legislation. I am reassured by the involvement and publication of the terms of reference of an objective External Reference Group in relation to HMCIC's investigation.

Will any of the senior Police officers and bureaucrats and politicians, who were responsible for the various undercover police spies and agent provocateurs
who have been caught infiltrating the various "environmental" protest groups ever be named and shamed or punished ?

What are their links to the state and private sector powerful vested interests ?

OSC guidance

3.4 I explained in paragraphs 3.6 to 3.8 of my last report that my Commissioners from time to time publish guidance; the latest was published in September 2010. If I continue to find that this document is not readily available to those who need it, or is not promoted by national associations, I may make it publicly available on my website. I have resisted this temptation so far because:

3.4.1 my small office does not have the capacity to answer the inevitable influx of requests for clarification that this would invite;

Surveillance is big business, affecting millions of people in the UK.

The taxpaying public has a right to demand the publication of this document and for clarifications to be answered promptly and fully.

3.4.2 law enforcement agencies in particular are concerned that tactics might be unnecessarily revealed;

3.4.3 it is not a comprehensive document which covers every eventuality and it might be misconstrued or misused; and

That sounds like bureaucratic backside covering.

Publish the guidance anyway.

How can it be misconstrued and misused any more than the Acts of Parliament
and the Codes of Practice upon which it is based ?

If these are not crystal clear then they must be amended.

3.4.4 it is not my remit to provide free legal advice, though I proffer guidance to public authorities which I have a responsibility to review, in order to raise standards and promote consistency.

Public Authorities should make this guidance available to everybody. Why should it be kept secret ?

Time for a Freedom of Information Act request to , say, the Metropolitan Police Service , for a copy of this Guidance.

Why are the RIPA Commissioners still excluded from the list of Public Bodies, even though they absolutely meet and exceed the conditions for such a listing under the FOIA section Schedule 1 ?

3.8 The procedural changes proposed in the Protection of Freedoms Bill involving magistrates in the authorisation process for local authorities and a higher threshold for authorised covert activity will not reduce the frequency or nature of my inspections even if the number of authorisations is reduced. My inspections will continue to focus on the training, knowledge and competence of local authority officials involved in the identification of activity which may be covert and which, if it is, should be authorised under the legislation in a clear and principled way.

So there is not going to be any reduction in Surveillance by public authorities as a result of the proposed Protection of Freedoms Bill ?

3.10 I have commented in previous reports that there appears to be an over-reliance on the capacity of the OSC to examine authorisations. I remain concerned that my limited capacity is misappreciated. Public authorities, particularly law enforcement agencies, should not be lulled into a false sense of confidence if at trial lawyers do not scrutinise relevant documents. Lack of challenge does not imply compliant authorisation. I mentioned last year (paragraph 5.19) that there is an expectation of authorisation. I add this year that authorisations should be of a quality to withstand examination at trial however rarely such scrutiny may occur.

Is this an oblique, soviet style hint, that there are some illegal cases involving authorisations which will not stand up to proper scrutiny ?

3.11 I have considered carefully, but resisted, a few requests to increase the duration between inspections. My inspection capability is limited. The sample of documents which can be examined is small and the inspection can only be regarded as a 'snapshot in time'; it is not an indicator of trends. Often key personnel change in the period between inspections. I recognise the inconvenience of an inspection (especially for law enforcement agencies) but less frequent inspections would not provide the effective oversight which Parliament requires of me.

Which snooping organisations are moaning about the current, totally inadequate level of inspections ?

"the effective oversight which Parliament requires of me."

is a misnomer - it does not actually represent properly transparent and effective oversight, which the public has a right to demand.

3.12 I have still not been given the power to inspect local authorities in Northern Ireland. I am concerned that these authorities have never been inspected.

That is a scandal which should have been rectified years ago.

3.14 I invited representation from the Association of Chief Police Officers Automated Number Plate Reading Working Group to one of the meetings in order better to understand its concerns regarding specific guidance on that topic. It is my intention to provide further guidance, if necessary, before this report is published.

Automated Number Plate Reading (ANPR) is a whole area of mass surveillance which the current and previous Surveillance Commissioner have ineffectively criticised.

No doubt the Chief Surveillance Commissioner will not actually investigate any actual or potential abuses of ANPR, only issue secret Guidance to the snoopers as per paragraph 3.4 above. He may even abrogate this responsibility and leave it to the new RIPA style Surveillance Camera Commissioner, proposed in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, to deal with.

OSC website

3.18 I have not had the capacity to improve my website. The Cabinet Office has recently decided that all government related websites, including those of Non Departmental Public Bodies such as mine, will migrate to a corporate process. It is essential that I remain independent and be seen to be independent.

At least the OSC actually has a website, unlike the other two RIPA Commissioners.

Neither the Chief Surveillance Commissioner nor the other two RIPA Commissioners
will ever be "seen to be independent" whilst they reports only to Ministers rather than to Parliament and the public directly. and whilst they weasel out of compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

3.25 In order to achieve a reduced budget for the financial year 2011 - 2012 I have reluctantly reduced my capacity by one Inspector and the Secretary post and downgraded a further post. My capacity has always been limited and I wrote to the Home Secretary to explain the impact of reducing my budget by £140K. I recognise the severity of the country's financial situation but a reduction of nine percent has serious operational repercussions in a tiny organisation. I am only able to work within this tight limit by reducing inspectorate and secretarial staff.

How about the Home Office reducing the amount of Surveillance it funds by 10 per cent ?

4.2 Statistics for directed surveillance and the use of CHIS have been supplied by all law enforcement agencies. I am pleased to report that all other public authorities have responded to my request for this statistical information, so this year's figures are again based on a one hundred per cent return.

4.3 It is important that these statistics are not misconstrued. Reports relating to local authority use of covert surveillance have been misleading and often inaccurate. I have identified no systemic attempts to misuse legislation. There are, occasionally and inevitably, misjudgments but these are rarely the result of abuse of power.

[...]

Misjudgments about proportionality etc. in the exercise of such powerful and dangerous legislation are an abuse of power, the only question is whether such inevitable human lapses within an inhuman system of surveillance bureaucracy, should be punished or not.

Given the secrecy which surrounds such surveillance, there is no effective system of public apology and financial compensation for the victims of such misjudgments - the Courts are only available to the rich and are useless for the protection of privacy.

The Surveillance Commissioner should "name and shame" the culprits in this Report, which is his only sanction, pathetically weak though that is.

Section 49 - encryption

4.11 During the period to which this report relates, NTAC granted 26 approvals from 30 applications. Permission was not sought in eight cases after NTAC approval. From the remainder, 17 had permission granted by a Circuit Judge, of which 12 have so far been served. Four were complied with and two were not; the remainder were still being processed. Five people were charged with an offence, of whom it was decided not to prosecute two. So far there has been one conviction with other cases still to be decided.

4.12 The conviction related to the possession of indecent images of children. Other offences include: domestic extremism, insider dealing, fraud, evasion of excise duty, drug trafficking and drug possession with intent to supply.

Not the complete absence of the words "terrorism" or "national security".

NTAC = National technical Assistance Centre, which has lurked somewhere under the GCHQ empire since 2006.

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

Delays by the legalistic surveillance bureaucracy ? Who could have imagined that, apart from, say Franz Kafka.

Legislation

5.4 At the time of writing, the Protection of Freedoms Bill is at the Committee stage.

[...]

it is not apparent why local authorities should be treated differently from other public authorities

Agreed

[...]

The higher threshold in the proposed legislation will reduce the number of cases in which local authorities have the protection of RIPA when conducting covert surveillance; it will not prevent the use of those tactics in cases where the threshold is not reached but where it may be necessary and proportionate to obtain evidence covertly and there will be no RIPA audit trail. Part I of RIPA makes unauthorised interception unlawful. In contrast, Part II makes authorised surveillance lawful but does not make unauthorised surveillance unlawful.

[...]

Why should the minority users of RIPA surveillance powers i.e. Local Authorities have to be authorised by Magistrates, when the vast bulk of request by the Police and Intelligence Agencies and other Government Departments e.g. DWP, HMRC etc. will
continue to be self authorised ? They should all have independent judicial warrant oversight of every application, before (or in emergencies, immediately after) the privacy intrusion happens, not just a RIPA Commissioner audit of a sample of requests every year or two.

5.11 We have evidence that some public authorities are purchasing highly intrusive technical capability without properly considering the legislative implications of its use. For instance, a single digital camera is capable of coverage equivalent to or greater than a larger number of analogue cameras; but the reduction in the number of cameras does not reduce privacy concerns. We have seen noise monitoring equipment that is capable of 'permanent' monitoring even though it has not been activated to store a recording in an easily interpreted form and I am not convinced that data is irretrievable. For this reason, my Commissioners have provided guidance that authorising officers should avoid accepting loose terminology and understand the capability of the equipment. Corporately, public authorities should ensure that equipment which is more capable than can be justified should not easily be procured.

Vaguely hoping that the purchasing of intrusive technology will somehow not happen is foolish - e.g. digital cameras are cheaper than analogue ones these days.

There should be detailed consideration of the technological capabilities being used or potentially abused, by those who supposedly, independently, scrutinise the proportionality of each application for covert surveillance.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose makes this interesting legal point regarding Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS):

Availability of powers

5.15 Many public authorities which are not law enforcement agencies prefer not to use CHIS. Their reasoning usually reflects a laudable desire to use less intrusive methods or a belief that they are ill-prepared to manage them compliantly. The desire is good practice and the belief is often accurate. However, the ease with which statutory criteria are met is often misjudged; a person, irrespective of motive, may be a CHIS if he uses a personal or other relationship to pass information to a public authority in a manner that is covert in relation to the person to whom the information refers. This may not be of significant concern if the reporting is occasional or when the information attracts no action or when it has been volunteered. It should be a concern if the individual reports information on which action is likely to be taken or if the information is likely to be retained for later analysis. Public authorities may not ignore this because they do not wish to use CHIS. In many cases, public authorities wish to retain the power but make no effort to prepare properly for the eventuality. In other cases, the public authority has decided that it no longer requires the capability, without recognising that it is dealing with persons who should be authorised as a CHIS. I have no power to insist on proper training or retention of powers. I can only draw the risk to the attention of the relevant authority. But I take this opportunity to remind public authorities that the threshold set by Parliament is low and that there is significant risk in reliance on a person within the statutory definition of a CHIS who is not authorised.

Last week we guessed that the publication of the RIPA Commissioners' Annual Reports was imminent, due to the increase in the number of searches on Spy Blog, for the names of those Commissioners, from UK Government and Police allocated IP addresses.

For the first time ever, all three Annual Reports have been published on the same day Thursday 30th June 2011:

See the next three blog articles for some comments on each of these Annual Reports.

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