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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor

12:00PM BST 16 Jun 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

speed_sign_1_450.jpg

speed_sign_2_450.jpg

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

google_street_view_2009_radar_speed_sign_450.jpg

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

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

not_the_same_camera_or_radar_unit_450.jpg

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

Vaughan Smith has now been quoted by the BBC:

Julian Assange friend's 'embarrassment' at camera claim

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

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

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

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

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

Phones claim

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Guardian has a good summary of a limited investigation conducted by the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Sara Thornton QPM, into the public relations disaster which was the West Midlands Police Project Champion.

This was a Labour government approved and funded plan to literally create CCTV Camera and Automatic Number Plate Recognition enforced apartheid ghettos in two districts of Birmingham.

Such mass surveillance schemes attack or destroy the fundamental human rights to freedom of travel and freedom of association, of millions of innocent people. Such schemes are a victory for our enemies, who aim to destroy our free society and help to create domestic extremists or terrorists.

The full text of the actual Review: Project Champion Review (.pdf)

N.B. this was not a full inquiry, with powers to punish the guilty or incompetent bureaucrats, however the Report is reasonably hard hitting in its conclusions.

This Review benefited from the expertise of one of our favourite Cross-Bench Peers, the Intelligence and Security Committee.

The blame for this scandal should not be heaped entirely on the West Midlands Police.

  • Who will cross examine the roles played by the West Midlands Police Authority and Birmingham Council ?

  • Since the £3 million was approved from central government public anti-terrorism funds, who will identify and cross examine the bureaucrats and politicians responsible for this evil Orwellian mass surveillance scheme ?

  • Who will investigate the Home Office (especially the Office for security and Counter-Terrorism) , ACPO (TAM), the Security Service MI5 and the "Prevent" strand of the CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy ?


    To Prevent

    This is a long term and vital element of CONTEST, focusing on building relationships with all members of the community and enhancing links with key organisations.

    Our 'Prevent' work will provide not only reassurance to vulnerable groups but also potentially impact upon the underlying causes of terrorism and diminish support for terrorists.

If the appalling NuLabour cheerleader Hazel Blears is allowed to serve on the Intelligence and Security Committee. then they cannot be trusted to investigate this scandal properly. Hazel Blears was the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government when this Project Champion was proposed implemented. She was politically responsible for at least part of the PREVENT strand of CONTEST - so there would be an obvious conflict of interest whenever.the ISC looks into this policy area.

She cannot be trusted to keep classified documents secret, so her presence on the ISC will mean that they will not be given full access to documents and witnesses - see the previous Spy Blog article: Proposed Intelligence and Security Committee appointments - do *not* let Hazel Blears anywhere near the ISC !

We would also like to know

  • Are there other secret mass surveillance projects using overt and covert CCTV and ANPR technology in other British cities ?

  • Are there there Mobile Phone based "security cordons" using the same sort of combination of Cellular transmitter ID and / or antenna triangulation and web based geographical mapping and tracking used for Electronic Tags worn by criminals or by people subjected to Control Orders , to snoop on the locations and movements and meeting patterns of thousands or millions of innocent people in the Alum Rock and Washwood Heath areas of Birmingham or in London or Manchester or Leeds / Bradford etc. ?

  • Are there any other non-Mobile Phone call technologies e.g. BlueTooth and / or WiFi or contactless Passport or Oyster travel card etc. unlicensed Industrial Scientific Medical band radio snooping and surveillance schemes in these areas, which have supposedly been installed for anti-terrorism purposes, but which have mutated , through lack of transparent public scrutiny, into secret mass surveillance schemes, which are open to abuse by authorised insiders or by external agencies ?

  • Have any of these technologies been used to target and stigmatise or harass members of ethnic or religious minorities or otherwise peaceful political opponents of the Labour government, as has already happened with the national ANPR database and the Police National Computer ?

  • Will the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government actually investigate what the creepy Labour control freaks specifically authorised, or turned a blind eye to, in terms of such mass surveillance schemes and will they undo the damage which has been done to our freedoms and liberties ?

If you know about any other such current or future mass surveillance schemes, please contact us pseudo-anonymously via the blog comments or email, PGP encrypted if possible, taking the usual precautions - see our http://ht4w.co.uk - Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Of interest to Spy Blog readers should be the forthcoming BBC Radio 4 Law in Action programme presented by Joshua Rozenberg

Broadcast times:

  • Tuesday 8th Jun 2010 16:00 BBC Radio 4 (FM only) .
  • Thursday 10th Jun 2010 20:00 BBC Radio 4

and online via the BBC iPlayer for a while thereafter.

1/4. Top legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg returns to present the first in a new series of the legal affairs magazine.

[...]

In this opening programme, he examines an issue that looks set to prompt widespread debate among the public as well as among those working in the criminal justice system. Increasingly the police are using digital cameras and intelligence tactics to create image libraries of campaigners and protesters. These are designed, senior officers say, to help the police prevent criminal acts from being committed. But critics see the creation and development of the photographic databases as potentially sinister, claiming that ever larger numbers of images are being added.

Joshua Rozenberg investigates how the police, the courts and those responsible for protecting personal data strike a balance between the need to safeguard civil liberties and the police's responsibility to prevent crime. Are there enough safeguards to protect the public from being unfairly linked with criminals? Is maintaining public order being used as an excuse to engineer a surveillance society? Or are the authorities simply taking the minimum steps to ensure a determined and well-organised minority of protesters bent on disruption do not wreck the lives of the law-abiding majority?

[...]

Allied with Forward Intelligence Teams is the snooping on and surveillance of. innocent public demonstrators and ordinary motorists etc. through the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology, which , worryingly for millions of innocent motorists, includes a flag on the Police National Computer, which could be so very easily misinterpreted,

See: Spy Blog ACPO policy on ANPR: The Management and Use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition

7 REASON - Protest could easily be abused for political purpose, or could be seen as such.

See also the The Guardian report about Project Champion

Surveillance cameras in Birmingham track Muslims' every move -

About 150 car numberplate recognition cameras installed in two Muslim areas, paid for by government anti-terrorism fund

[...]

There is some belated local opposition to this "Big Brother Surveillance State" abuse of technology: see the protest and petition and ANPR camera mapping website: Spy on Moseley

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

[...]

Unlike other CCTV schemes, this one has an altogether different and far more sinister purpose: it is connected to the government's 'Preventing Violent Extremism' agenda, or 'Prevent' for short. The Home Office funding came from the counter-terrorism budget of ACPO (TAM) - an acronym that stands for 'Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism and Allied Matters)'.

Project Champion is a surveillance exercise which utilises a grid of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras which now encircles the predominantly Muslim areas of the city, notably Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath Wards. There are also nine camera points in Moseley, where this campaign of opposition began - hence the name of this website. It should be noted that opposition to this scheme is not limited to a few Moseley residents, but is a much wider issue.

These spy cameras will record every vehicle entering or leaving a zone that has been designated as Birmingham's 'Terrorist Quarter'. This is a Home Office initiative from central government. Big Brother is watching you. Especially if you are Muslim, or just happen to live in Birmingham's "terrorist ghetto."

Some of the offending ANPR camera locations in Moseley have been plotted onto a Google Map:

Project_Champion_Molesley_Birmingham_ANPR_map_450.jpg

We are waiting for the new Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government to fulfil its promises on the abuse of ANPR and CCTV cameras etc.

Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 3 June 2010, c11W)

Vehicles: Automatic Plate Recognition
House of Lords
Written answers and statements, 3 June 2010

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale (Labour)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have to restrict the use of vehicle registration number-plate recognition cameras.

Baroness Neville-Jones (Minister of State (Security), Home Office; Conservative)

In keeping with our pledge to safeguard freedoms and protect civil liberties we believe it important to ensure that the use of automatic number-plate recognition technology is proportionate in order to command public confidence. We will therefore be considering whether more needs to be done to strengthen controls and safeguards relating to its use.

We accept the need for the Police to use such technology to help them to do the job that we expect of them.

However, the bureaucracy and secrecy behind which they have been allowed to hide the use or abuse of such technology, is utterly wrong.

There are still no easy, transparent procedures for innocent members of the public to be notified of errors and to get such mistakes rapidly corrected, both on the original Police databases and on all the other ones to which such inaccurate and possibly libelous data is routinely propagated to, both in the UK and internationally.

The Home Office has published its summary of the responses to the public consultation Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: Consolidating orders and codes of practice (1.7Mb .pdf) which ran from April to July.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: consolidating orders and codes of practice - responses to the consultation (269Kb .pdf) says that:

The 222 respondents comprised:

  • 104 local authorities;
  • 9 local authority associations;
  • 10 law enforcement bodies;
  • 9 other public authorities;
  • 6 legal reform or scrutiny bodies;
  • 5 communications service providers;
  • 3 training organisations;
  • 2 housing agencies;
  • 2 oversight commissioners (the Chief Surveillance Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner);
  • 68 members of the public (of whom 27 had experience of working with RIPA); and
  • 4 other NGOs with interests in the prosecution of offenders, waste management, computing and children's rights.

Spy Blog raised the following issues in response to this public consultation, with little success:

1) Mandatory use of strong Encryption should be explicit in the Regulations and Codes of Practice

2) Automatic Number Plate Recognition data needs to be brought within the RIPA framework

3) Sub-division of "Communications Data" to now include a separate Location Based Services data category

4) All Local Authorities should have their Intrusive Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Source powers removed. Access to Subscriber Details should continue, but no LA access to Location Based Services data.

5) The abuse of Children as Covert Human Intelligence Sources

DVLA_5UX_450.jpg

Various motoring blogs etc.(e.g. Honest John) have been reporting about the Castrol motor oil company's (ab)use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology for roadside "snoopvertising" billboard marketing purposes.

This Mail on Sunday report, however, uncovers Yet Another "data sharing without prior, individual, informed consent" scandal involving the notorious Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Drivers' details sold by DVLA are used in bizarre roadside adverts for Castrol

By Christopher Leake

The Government's controversial Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has launched an investigation into how the car registrations of millions of motorists were sold for use by a giant oil firm.

Castrol spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on a campaign promoting its oils, using giant advertising billboards on five major routes in London.

But when The Mail on Sunday contacted the DVLA on Thursday, the campaign - which has also raised safety fears - was halted, just four days after it began. It was due to run for two weeks.

The DVLA says it restricts the release of data chiefly to car parking enforcement companies, solicitors, finance firms and property companies - but insists that in every case the privacy of motorists is 'properly safeguarded'.

That is obviously a lie.

However, the agency does sell data, including the registration number, engine size, year, make and model of individual cars, to a number of organisations, including five motor industry data providers.

This is used to ensure garages fit vehicles with the correct tyres, batteries and replacement parts. But sources have admitted that in the Castrol campaign, the DVLA data was passed on by one of the five companies to a third-party contractor, which then used it in contravention of the ban on the use of registration numbers for marketing purposes.

Both the DVLA and Castrol have refused to identify the data firm at the centre of the scandal while the official inquiry is being carried out.

Presumably these are the DVLA Accredited Trade Associations:

* The British Parking Association (BPA) - www.britishparking.co.uk
* The Association of British Investigators (ABI)- www.theabi.org.uk
* The Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) - www.fla.org.uk
* British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) - www.bossuk.org
* Consumer Credit Trade Association (CCTA) - www.ccta.co.uk

Which one of these betrayed the DVLA data ?

Who is the "third-party contractor" ?

A spokeswoman for Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, the data watchdog, said last night that its officials had contacted the DVLA to seek assurances that drivers' personal details had not been released.

Remember that the definition of "personal data" includes partially or poorly "anonymised data", which can easily be cross referenced with another system e.g. Vehicle Number Plate and just the first part of the Post Code of the Registered Keeper address will be enough to identify the driver , in most cases.

The new Information Commissioner Christopher Graham needs to prove that he is not tainted by having been in charge of the Advertising Standards Authority, and therefore having had previous dealings with the Ogilvy advertising agency and with the Clear Channel Outdoor advertising billboard company, who seem to involved in this scheme - see our comments on the Clear Channel Create press release below.

A DVLA spokesman said: 'We have not provided any vehicle information to Castrol or received any fee from them in relation to their campaign. As soon as we became aware that vehicle information had been used inappropriately we contacted the organisation concerned to ensure this was stopped and are urgently investigating the case.'

There are two parts to the DVLA, the Vehicle data and the Driver data. This quote evades any mention of Driver data which might have been supplied to Castrol.

So what action will the DVLA actually take to punish those individuals and companies responsible ?

Chris Sedgwick, Castrol's UK & Ireland marketing director, said last night: 'We conducted this campaign as a short-term extension to the long-term service we have been running by web and text for years and believed it was entirely in line with the service provided by our data supplier.

'As soon as we were alerted to the issue we took steps to cease the interactive trial.

Castrol does not have direct access to DVLA data.'

So Castrol are trying to say that they are somehow not to blame either - what a surprise.

Will they punish their advertising agencies and other sub-contractors ?

This Clear Channel Create press release names some of the advertising people who have unprofessionally ignored, or sought to sneak around, the internationally recognised laid down in the Data Protection Act 1998.

The senior officials at the DVLA and the Directors of each of the companies mentioned are personally legally responsible for safeguarding the public's personal data.

The Clear Channel press release raises all sorts of Data Protection and personal Privacy and Security questions:

Castrol leads the way with UK's first personalised billboard advertising campaign

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has published:

The Management and Use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (.pdf 892Kb)

The policy advice on the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), is mostly common sense, especially regarding actual roadside ANPR with at least two other mobile patrol vehicles to actually stop and search vehicles which have been flagged up by the ANPR / Police National Computer / Local Intelligence database system.

This document does not say much about the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC), but there are some clues about the ANPR data stored on the Police National Computer, with some potentially abusable or easily misinterpreted Warning Markers and the PNC ID categories, which could easily lead to false positives, where innocent people being threatened with firearms or tasers. Similarly, known really violent and dangerous people could just as easily be stopped by the Police, who are unprepared for them, thereby potentially putting themselves and the passing public at risk, because of false negative matches, again involving just a single digit error.

It is hard to see how Yet Another Censored Report by the Intelligence and Security Committee into the 7th July 2005 London bomb attacks will satisfy the victims and their families and many others, who want an actually independent Public Inquiry.

They still have not bothered to examine any possible links with the failed 21st July 2005 attacks.

Review of the Intelligence on the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 (published 2009) [PDF 1,401KB, 108 pages]

There are a couple of points of more general interest, such as a graphical illustration of searching for a needle in a haystack involved in Communications Data Traffic Analysis, and some explanation of some technical jargon, which might interest tv and film scriptwriters or fiction novelists.

The scale of Operation CREVICE is demonstrated by the following diagram. It shows all calls assessed to relate to international counter-terrorism, between unique parties, between 1 January and 1 April 2004 (with each line representing one or more calls). There are *** unique numbers (tens of thousands) with *** links between them. Of these, 4,020 are linked to CREVICE. The vast majority of these were eventually assessed not to be related to the bomb plot itself, or even to the wider facilitation network, and were in fact wholly innocent or irrelevant. Each was a potential lead, however, that had to be checked to see if it was relevant or not. The diagram identifies two numbers which were later associated with Mohammed Siddique KHAN.

ISC_Comms_Data_Traffic_Link_Analysis_450.jpg

Of course, Jacqui Smith's plans for Communication Data Traffic Retention and Data Warehousing would simply throw several more haystacks full of data at such a problem - a waste of resources, with horrible privacy and security implications for millions of innocent people.

We will eventually get around to fisking Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's Communications Data Bill and dodgy history of terrorism speech, but here is another "database state" function creep announcement:

It appears that Northgate Information Solutions, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Lothian & Borders Police, regarding some sort of Automatic Number Plate Recognition data mining service. This is not some enhanced add on anlysis software package simply for use internally, to help the Police make sense of the masses of ANPR data which they are collecting, the vast makority of which is on innocent motorists.

This deal follows the recommendation by Sir Ronnie Flanagan in his final report that police forces should ensure they are taking an entrepreneurial approach to policing in ethical income generation and in creating and exploiting business opportunities.

Examples of how the new service can be used include -

• Several robberies have occurred in a region - the services can be used to establish what vehicles were in the vicinity, allowing further investigations to be undertaken including direct access to the regional force crime and intelligence systems to establish what is known about these vehicles;

• An incident involving a vehicle has occurred and the police have nothing to go on other than the make, model and colour of the vehicle. Using the services the police can establish which registrations match with this make, model and colour and which of these have been spotted in the vicinity of the incident.

The vast majority of these vehicles and registrations in these two example scenarios will be of innocent drivers.

Presumably Northgate Information Services are hoping to sell this service, and the raw data and data mining analyses, including the traffic movements of innocent people caught by the ANPR surveillance infrastructure, to other Police Forces or other Governments or commercial companies, for a commercial profit, without the informed prior consent of any of the innocent motorists.

Northgate Information Systems used be McDonnell Douglas Information Systems. and are still American owned.They do a lot of business with central and local government, and had some of the Government websites and servers which they run, including the offical Labour Party website whisch they hosted at the time, disrupted by the massive Buncefield fuel depot fire and explosion near Hemel Hempstead, literally across the road from some of their offices.

See the Northgate Information Systems Press release Police forces across the UK to benefit from innovative new intelligence service:


Back in 2005, we warned that the unelected, unaccountable quango, the Association of Chie Police Officers and the Home Office were creating, by stealth , and without any public debate or consultation, a new National Automatic Number Plate Recognition Database which could retain the vehicle movement data of millions of innocent motorists, for excessive periods of time, i.e. up to 6 years.

See: ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) Data Retention guidance by ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers)

Our fears seem to have been confirmed by this report in today's Guardian newspaper, which seems to show that the entirely predictable scope or function creep of the project has already happened. "give them an inch, and they will take a mile".

Given the recent data security and privacy scandals, how can the public be confident that the private details of millions of innocent motorists, and the privacy of their journey patterns, has not already been lost or stolen on unencrypted laptop computer, USB memory device or CD or DVD ?

How can we be sure that this national database is not accessible online by unuthorised people, or by corrupt or incompetent authorised insiders, whether they be Policemen, civilian staff or sub-contractors or consultants etc ?

When the planned mass surveillance camera and communications infrastructure is fully deployed, the National ANPR Database, combined with commercial systems such as Trafficmaster, will present a serious potential risk to the safety and security of VIPs at risk of kidnapping or assassination, to high value commercial vehicles (e.g. armoured vans full of cash) at risk of hijacking or armed robbery, and to military weapons or explosives convoys, including nuclear weapons convoys etc. All of these usually travel via pre-planned alternative routes, which will be revealed, remotely, in real time, by such a system.

Fears over privacy as police expand surveillance project

Database to hold details of millions of journeys for five years

Paul Lewis
The Guardian,
Monday September 15 2008

The police are to expand a car surveillance operation that will allow them to record and store details of millions of daily journeys for up to five years, the Guardian has learned.

A national network of roadside cameras will be able to "read" 50m licence plates a day, enabling officers to reconstruct the journeys of motorists.

Police have been encouraged to "fully and strategically exploit" the database, which is already recording the whereabouts of 10 million drivers a day, during investigations ranging from counter-terrorism to low-level crime.

About this blog

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

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

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

Email & PGP Contact

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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

Current PGP Key ID: 0xA165A29480CFAA4C which will expire on 6th September 2014.

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
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."

SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

gchq_logo.gif
Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers