Recently in Collateral Damage Category

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

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

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

By Ellen Nakashima,
31 May 2011

[..]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Does Anyone Take These Al-Qaeda Magazines Seriously?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MI6 attacks al-Qaeda in 'Operation Cupcake'

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

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent

7:16PM BST 02 Jun 2011

[...]

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

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

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

[...]

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

However, the Guardian claims it was GCHQ:

British intelligence used cupcake recipes to ruin al-Qaida website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British spies to terrorists: make cupcakes not war

By PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press - 03 June 2011

[...]

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

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

[...]

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

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

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

GCHQ staff replace bomb-making instructions with cupcake recipes

Saturday, June 04, 2011, 07:00

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

[...]

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

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


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

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

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

Nine Charged with conspiracy to cause explosions in the UK

[...]

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

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

Those charged with the above are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the Ministry of Justice pretending to be "environmentally friendly", by re-cycling Parliamentary Written Answers, or are they simply re-cycling their ineffective "do nothing" policies ?

Compare and contrast these two Written Answers about the ongoing scandal of Mobile Phones in Prisons:

The earlier Answer by David Hanson (now the replacement for Tony McNulty at the Home Office) gave totals of Mobile Phones and SIM cards seized in 2006, 2007 and 2008 for each prison, but does not bother to total them up, so we have done so, in order to compare them with the mid 2008 to mid 2009 figure trotted out six months after the fact in the latest Answer, which only breaks out a High Security estate figure from the total.

 200620072008July 2008 - June 2009
High Security Category A and Lifer292325391255
Lower Security Category B, C, D, YOI, Juvenile, Female, Local and Remand1776334768978393
Total2068367272888648

Why has there been no visible progress whatsoever by the Ministry of Justice in preventing Mobile Phones being smuggled in or used illegally in Prisons in the last six months or a year, does there ? As some of the media and bloggers have pointed out, there are only about 80,000 prison places in England and Wales, so that looks like about 1 mobile phone for every 10 or so prisoners !

House of Commons Written Answers 12 Oct 2009 : Column 139W House of Commons Written Answers 5 May 2009 : Column 74W
Prisoners: Mobile Phones Prisons: Mobile Phones
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many mobile telephones were found in the possession of prisoners in (a) top security and (b) all other prisons in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [287998] Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many mobile telephones were seized in each prison in England and Wales in the last five years for which figures are available. [260436]
Maria Eagle: Prisons in England and Wales are asked to send mobile phones and SIM cards they find to a central unit for analysis. In the last 12 months (from July 2008-June 2009), 8,648 mobile phones and SIM cards were analysed. 255 were from the high security estate and 8,393 were from the non-high security estate. These figures include items discovered within prison perimeters and on entry to establishments. We do not keep central records of mobile phones found in the possession of prisoners. Mr. Hanson: Prisons are asked to send mobile phones and SIM cards they find to a central unit for analysis. The numbers analysed are set out in the following table for each of the last three years. There are no figures available for the years prior to 2006, because this information was not collated centrally
  The figures include items discovered within the prison perimeter and on entry to establishments. However,
We believe that these figures may understate the actual number of finds, because they do not include items retained by the police for evidential purposes, and because in some instances prisons have not sent items for analysis. NOMS is putting in place new procedures to ensure that we have a more comprehensive picture in future. While the numbers of phones found indicates the scale of the challenge in tackling illicit mobile phones, it is also a reflection of prisons' increasing success in finding them and better reporting. we believe that these figures may understate the actual number of finds, because they do not include items retained by the police for evidential purposes, and because in some instances prisons have not sent items for analysis. NOMS is putting in place new procedures to ensure that we have a more comprehensive picture in future. While the numbers of phones found indicates the scale of the challenge in tackling illicit mobile phones, it is also a reflection of prisons' increasing success in finding them and better reporting.
NOMS is implementing a strategy to minimise the number of phones entering prisons, and to find or disrupt those that do enter. As part of the strategy, prisons have been provided with technologies to strengthen local security and searching strategies, in line with the recommendations in the Blakey report, "Disrupting the Supply of Illicit Drugs into Prisons", published in July 2008. This includes the roll out of "BOSS" chairs to all prisons, and the deployment of other detection and disruption technologies, including mobile phone signal blockers. NOMS is implementing a strategy to minimise the number of phones entering prisons, and to find or disrupt those that do enter. As part of the strategy, prisons are being provided with technologies to strengthen local security and searching strategies, in line with the recommendations in the Blakey report, Disrupting the Supply of Illicit Drugs into Prisons, published in July 2008. This includes the roll out of "BOSS" chairs to all prisons, and the deployment of other detection and disruption technologies, including mobile phone signal blockers.
We have also strengthened the law, through the Offender Management Act 2007 (implemented in April 2008), which makes it a criminal offence with a punishment of up to two years' imprisonment to bring an unauthorised mobile phone or component part into a prison. We have also strengthened the law, through the Offender Management Act 2007 (implemented in April 2008), which makes it a criminal offence with a punishment of up to two years' imprisonment to bring an unauthorised mobile phone or component part into a prison.

There is another Written Answer which gives a monthly breakdown of figures for each prison , between Mobile Phones and SIM cards "sent for analysis to the central unit". from April 2008 to March 2009: Prisons: Mobile Phones - Justice Written answers and statements, 23 April 2009. It is unclear if the the figure for SIM cards includes the SIM card almost always found in a Mobile Phone handset (i.e. double counting both the handset and its usual SIM card) .

Has anyone actually been arrested, charged, prosecuted or convicted under this section of the Offender Management Act 2007 came into force over 18 months ago ? Why is the Ministry of Justice simply ignoring the more than 8,000 criminal offences which these figures show have been perpetrated since April 2008 ?

Why are there still no "BOSS" chairs (sensitive metal detectors built into a chair to check inside body cavities) in use at every single prison, to check all prisoners and visitors and including the prison staff and contractors ?

Instead of wasting billions of pounds of tax payers money on Identity Cards and on snooping on millions of innocent people's mobile phone and internet communications data, why not spend a few millions on proper Mobile Phone security at every Prison ? This would have an immediate effect on Serious Crime etc.

See the previous Spy Blog article Wandsworth Prison IMB report 2007-2008 - things have got even worse with illegal drugs and mobile phones in the last year

It has taken over 4 years for David Mery and his wife to receive an apology from the Police:

On 28th July 2005, I was unlawfully arrested at Southwark tube station when attempting to take the tube after work to meet my wife. Chief Superintendent Wayne Chance, Metropolitan Police Service Borough Commander for Southwark, has eventually apologised to my wife and I for their actions and the trauma it caused us:

I would like to apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service for the circumstances that arose on 28 July 2005 including your unlawful arrest, detention and search of your home. I appreciate this has had a deep and traumatic impact on your lives and I hope that the settlement in this case can bring some closure to this.

I shall ensure that the officers concerned are made aware of the impact of the events of that day and also the details of the settlement in this case.

We are happy to be able eventually to put this behind us.

More details of this saga: Metropolitan Police Service apologises for unlawful arrest -

4 days would have been too long for an innocent man to get an apology, and to have his tainted data records removed from the police computer systems.

Many other people who have been abused by the police and (in)justice system in this way, have not had the knowledge or persistence required to pursue his legitimate complaints as David has done.

This sort of stupid and unnecessary delay completely undoes any of the good work in the Prevent strand of the UK government's CONTEST counter terrorism strategy, and effectively hands the terrorists a victory, for free.

We know several people, holding key positions within the UK's Critical National Infrastructure who are much less likely to cooperate with the Police or the Intelligence Agencies etc. as a result of this case, and the counterproductive bureaucratic attitude it demonstrates.

If frontline military , intelligence and police officers are willing to their lives at risk to protect us from our enemies, then why cannot their senior commanders and political bosses swallow their pride, and make rapid, fulsome public apologies for the inevitable mistakes ?

Why can they not wipe the tainted database records of innocent people immediately ?

Why is it that our politicians, both in the UK and in the rest of Europe, seem to be so weak, that they have allowed themselves to be manipulated by the terrorist threat, and vested securocrat interests, to weaken our fundamental freedoms and liberties, without any noticeable gain in actual security. ?

Privacy International have a new report on the "effects of new counter-terrorism laws on media and free expression rights in European countries".

Speaking of Terror: A survey of the effects of counter-terrorism legislation on freedom of the media in Europe (.pdf)

Contents

Executive summary, page 3
I. Introduction, page 5
II. Effects of international bodies on Council of Europe member states, page 7
United Nations, page 7
The Council of Europe, page 8
The European Union, page 10
III. Limits on access and gathering information, page 13
Access to Information Laws, page 13
State Secrets Legislation, page 15
Limits on Photography, page 17
IV. Limits on freedom of expression, page 19
V. Protection of journalists' sources and materials, page 25
VI. Wiretapping and surveillance of journalists, page 29
VII. Conclusion, page 35
VIII. Appendix, page 37
Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council
of Europe on protecting freedom of expression and
information in times of crisis, page 37
Declaration on freedom of expression and information
in the media in the context of the fight against
terrorism, page 40

Summary of findings:

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: 0x80CFAA4C which will expire on 6th September 2014.

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers