Annoyed by: The Spectator: What are we willing to do to make our intelligence agencies' job easier ?

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I am spending too much time on @spyblog Twitter and not enough on this blog.

With Twitter, you can do very little with 140 characters (some of Spy Blog's blog post titles are that long !) but when a media article contains so many errors, one wonders if this is because of ignorance or if it is deliberate disinformation.

via @CasparBowden:

The supposedly right of centre magazine The Spectator has a tiny print readership (under 50,000 a week) compared to many blogs, but it has a venerable history and so is an influential part of the UK commentariat.

This article by @RobinSimcox Robin Simcox from the oddly named, for a controversial British think tank, Henry Jackson Society, is annoyingly wrong:

What are we willing to do to make our intelligence agencies' job easier ?
Robin Simcox 19 February 2015 16:45

Ottawa. Sydney. Paris. Copenhagen. Four major Western cities attacked in five months by Islamist terrorists and all committed by perpetrators with lengthy histories of criminal activity.

When the next terrorist attack occurs, there will be those that demand to know why intelligence agencies failed to watch the perpetrators closely enough (as was the case with the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby).

So what ? The securocrats and the Intelligence and Security Committee always either ignore these critics , or absolve the agencies of any blame retrospectively regardless.

There has never been any discplinary action against, or prosecution of, inept securocats.

However, should we not also ask what we, as a society, are willing to do to make our intelligence agencies' job easier?

There are several things which would make the job of our intelligence agencies easier:

  • Stop demanding that they protect us all, 100% of the time - they do not have magical abilities. They need and cannot be trusted with, 100% surveillance powers
  • Stop pretending that mass surveillance trawling of millions of innocent people's data, rather than narrowly focussed targeted investigations, somehow detects, let alone prevents, real terrorist attacks or serious crimes.
  • Stop wasting intelligence agency resources on trying to stop "lone wolves". Let the police rapid response teams deal with mad dog / lone wolf small scale terrorist attacks, but without creating huge collateral economic damage, by disrupting a whole city because of a single gunman, trapped in a siege, as happened in Sydney.
  • Put some real money and resources in to prisons to counter the radicalisation which turns petty criminal losers into suicidal murderers.
  • Stop converting mentally unstable religious extremists into actual terrorists by inept attempts to recruit them as informers on their family members, friends and associates.
  • Stop pretending that Terrorism Act 2000 s.58 Collection of information prosecutions for "thought crimes" under the are somehow effectively "disrupting" wannabe terrorists, who have no access to money or weapons
  • Simplify and repeal the horrendously complicated Terrorism and RIPA / DRIPA legislation
  • Repeal all thee terrorism and national security criminal offence legislation which pretends to have a global scope. When the Serious Crime Bill "national security of any country" amendments to the Computer Misuse Act become law, the Police and Intelligence Services will be forced to waste resources to investigate Distributed denial of Service attacks by Americans against North Korea or by Russians against Ukraine, with no hope of a prosecution.
  • Stop wasting resources on people planning to go to Syria or Afghanistan etc. to fight and die, or to be wounded or raped or robbed - concentrate on the survivors, if they ever come back to the UK.
  • Stop sharing Top Secret STRAP1 and STRAP2 documents with hundreds of thousands of United States people holding generic security clearances. Prosecute the UK securocrats under the Official Secrets Act 1989 s8 Safeguarding of information, who allowed such information to fall into the hands of whistleblower Edward Snowden and who know how many current or future Geoffrey Prime style Russian or Chinese etc. spies.

Consider the current debate surrounding communications data (the who, when, where, and how of a communication, but not the what - i.e. the content). Access to communications data is not so different to other long-standing forms of state interception. Imagine communications data being the equivalent to the interception of an envelope showing an address and a postmark containing a date and geographic location. The content data would be the actual letter inside the envelope.

No !

This paragraph espouses the sort of simplistic Home Office spin about Communications Data when they introduced the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000 15 years ago i.e. before

  • The massive rise in the use of Mobile Phones etc. and Cell Site Location Data
  • USA based social media websites like FaceBook and Twitter even existed

In many cases, Communications Data is more "useful" and therefore more intrusive than the content of communications (which can entirely mundane, or obscured by jargon or pre-arranged codewords or rare foreign language dialects), especially that involving real time Location Tracking or when the "friendship tree" of a mobile phone or email account is traced automatically.

According to Home Secretary Teresa May, communications data 'played a significant role in every Security Service counter-terrorism operation over the last decade' and was 'used as evidence in 95 per cent of all serious organised crime cases handled by the Crown Prosecution Service'. It is also vital in preventing child abuse and exploitation; identifying and locating suicide risks; identifying rapists, kidnappers or threatening callers; and murder investigations. A Secretary of State signed warrant is required in order to access the data

This is a major factual error.

Any Secretary of State, usually the Home Secretary or the Foriegn Secretary (but also by their Officials) or only deal with Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 IPA Part 1 Interception warrants and Intelligence Services Act 1994 s5 overseas "licence to kill" warrants .

There are no Communications Data Warrants
.
Access to Communications Data is self authorised by the Police and Intelligence Agencies, and by the hundreds of other public bodies. Unlike other countries there is no independent judicial warrant system, only a medium ranking officials e.g. a Police Superindent or, even an Inspector (one rank above Sergeant) authorises access to Communications Data demands. Supposedly there is a "Chinese wall" between an investigatory team and their collegue who authorises the demand, but clearly this is open to abuse and to institutional groupthink.

and oversight is provided by independent commissioners (the extent to which this is oversight is sufficient is one of the subjects I explore in a soon-to-be-released Henry Jackson Society report on the impact that the Snowden disclosures have had on UK and US security).

The RIPA Commisioners are former Judges, without any power except to write Annual Reports, which are, with one execption (the latest report by the Interception of Communications Commissioner) , never made fully public. They are heavily restrained by the legislation and by a lack of resources and do not see their role to deal directly with the public at all.

The Interception of Communications Commissioner @iocco_oversight only looks at up to 10% of Communications Data requests / demands, but only as an audit after the fact.

The Intelligence Services Commisioner does not, so far as anyone can tell, do even this amount of scrutiny.

Just because grabbing Communications Data is part of the Standard Operating Procedure for Police investigations these days (as common as brewing cups of tea), does not mean that it actually contributes very much, in most cases.

The Home Office cannot, or does not dare to, provide any statistics for the number of serious crime or terrorism cases where Communications Data actually:

  1. Provided the initial investigative breakthrough in a case
  2. Was the crucial evidence leading to a conviction

With over 250,000 Communications Data requests a year, one would have expected there to be hundreds if not thousands of such examples ready to hand. Instead they cite a few headline grabbing cases, which, upon closer examination, did not actually rely on Communications Data, especially 12 months Retained Communications Data, at all.

c.f. DRIP why can't Home Office cite any cases which support 12 months of Data Retention ? HO "freedom moles" ?

To maximise its usefulness, communications data needs to be collected in bulk,

Nonsense ! To maximise its usefulness, Communications Data needs to be carefully targeted.

yet our intelligence agencies' access to it is declining. There are specific reasons for this. Previously, telephone communications and internet traffic traditionally took place via a fixed landline. Communications data - who was called, for what duration and the geographic location - was needed for billing reasons. Yet increasing amounts of people pay a fixed price monthly direct debit to their provider, making this data increasingly irrelevant to communication service providers (CSPs). As a result, CSPs have less need to generate - let alone retain - communications data. Furthermore, communications now increasingly take place via mobile networks and broadband. This has been accompanied by a growth in alternative communications methods: video messaging, instant messaging, Skype and social network platforms.

The government tried to address these challenges with the Communications Data bill in 2012

and was subsequently accused of trying to draw up a 'Snooper's Charter', not least by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill concluded that the Bill paid 'insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy, and goes much further than it need or should for the purpose of providing necessary and justifiable official access to communications data'.

c.f. Report and evidence for the Draft Communications Data Bill

The Intelligence and Security Committee also encouraged more work to be done.

Even the securocrat biased Intelligence and Security Committee report, with a more limited, self imposed remit, was critical of this Draft Communications Data Bill.

Access to communications data by the intelligence and security Agencies (.pdf)

The bill was shelved and the issue temporarily kicked back into the long grass.

Yet the urgent need to fix the issues that gave rise to the first Communications Data bill meant that inevitably the issue has been raised again, most recently by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary. The 'Snooper's Charter' accusations have already resurfaced. We saw another glimpse into how this is going to play out in the media when David Cameron recently said that both communications and content data must be viewable if there is a signed warrant from the Home Secretary. Rather than this argument being taken on its merits, he was immediately accused of wanting to ban all encryption technology.

That is not what David Cameron said. Even the Daily Telegraph reported that:

General Election 2015: David Cameron to give more snooping powers to spies

Mr Cameron said any new law would be in force from next year.

He said: "If I am prime minister I will make sure that it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that does not allow terrorists safe space to communicate with each other.

"That is the key principle: do we allow terrorists safer spaces for them to talk to each other. I say no we don't - and we should legislate accordingly. And if I am in Government that is what you will get."

That can only be interpreted as an attack on end to end estrong encryption. Such a stupidpolicy would destroy the UK's internet economy and make us vulnerable to the Four Horsemen of the Infoclypse.

An Interception warrant for content already allows for the associated Communications Data to be demanded, without any extra authorisation. This has been so since the Regulation of Invesigatory Powers Act 2000 came into force.


We demand privacy, the right to decide what data we share and security.

We are not stupid enough to believe that we can have 100% "security", so there is no practical moral or legal case for 100% surveillance, especially of the vast majority of innocent people.

Yet if the government attempts to plug gaps in the law that makes it easier to track or prosecute terrorists, cries of 'police state' erupt. Politicians are often accused of hypocrisy; but on these issues the hypocrisy mainly lies with the rest of us.

Gathering more data on innocent people does not help to prevent terrorism.

The murderers of Drummer Lee Rigby were described as "extremely security aware". One of the Charlie Hebdo murderers had already been convicted on the basis of phone intercept evidence, so was completely aware of it, and subsequent French phone intercepts heard nothing incriminating for years.

My upcoming report makes the clear case that all this needs to change. The debate regarding liberty/security/privacy has become - in part down to Edward Snowden - hopelessly skewed.

There has been some debate in Germany and in USA, but there has not been any significant debate in the United Kingdom.

All we get is the cynical mockery of "everything we do is legal, trust us".

While all citizens should be concerned about freedom and privacy, agencies like GCHQ are allies in this, not enemies. They protect the nation from a host of hostile state and non-state actors and, in fact, have been doing so for decades. Constantly denigrating those that help keep us safe is no way to build a more liberal or more secure nation.

Perhaps that used to be the case during the old Cold War, but now in the internet and mobile phone areas, by attacking the very infrastrucure of electronic communications, for mass surveillance data trawling, rather than narrowly targeted investigations, these agencies are actually perceived as more of a security threat to their own private citizens and companies, than foreign intelligence agencies from Russia or China, or organised criminals like drug cartels, or terrorist groups like Al Quaeda or ISIS.

Until there is a lot more transparency and really effective oversight of UK intelligence agencies, they will not be given the benefit of the doubt, no matter how ethical or effective they claim to be in secret.

Robin Simcox is a Research Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society. His report will be published in March.

Hopefully there will be fewer mistakes and misconceptions in this report, than in this annoying article

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.

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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

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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
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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.'

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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

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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
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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
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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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For those of you who find it convenient, there is now a Twitter feed to alert you to new Spy Blog postings.

https://twitter.com/SpyBlog

Please bear in mind the many recent, serious security vulnerabilities which have compromised the Twitter infrastructure and many user accounts, and Twitter's inevitable plans to make money out of you somehow, probably by selling your Communications Traffic Data to commercial and government interests.

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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