Recently in Damage or Denial of Service by Law Enforcement 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".


Spy Blog and others, try to be vigilant about UK Government, schemes involving technological systems and infrastructures which, if not operated honestly, transparently and under strict control, could easily be abused to betray our freedoms and liberties, either now or in the future.

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government appear to be, for no good reason, persisting with the stupid web censorship plans championed by the authoritarian, former hardline Communist, former Labour Home Secretary John "not fit for purpose" Reid (who is now a paid consultant to multi-national private security companies bidding of public sector contracts e.g. EU Plans for Internet Censorship

According to this misspelled Home Office press release web page, there is now a secretive, unaccountable Web Censorship quango, with a web form for allegedly "anonymous" denunciations:

Challenge online terrorism and extremism

Thursday, 07 Apr 2011

Information leaflets and posters have been sent to every police force in the UK advising the public on how to identify and report offensive or illegal content.

"Information leaflets and posters", to promote a world wide web based campaign - surely this is not the correct media communications strategy ?

  • How many leaflets and posters have been distributed ?
  • Have the spelling mistakes in this Press release web page also found their way into the printed material ?
  • How much public money has this cost ?

It promotes an online tool - which can be found on the Directgov website (new window) - that allows people to report material anonymously.

Challenge and report

Security minister, Baroness Neville-Jones, said that it's vital that online extremisim is taken seriously: 'I want to encourage those who come across extremist websites as part of their work to challenge it and report it through the DirectGov webpage.

'By forging relationships with the internet industry and working with the public in this way, we can ensure that terrorist use of the internet does not go unchallenged.'

"extremisim" [sic] should presumably be spelled "extremism"

Why not use the existing MI5 Security Service or the Metropolitan Police secure online web forms then ?

Websites reported to Directgov via its online form are referred to the national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit.

The specialist team of police experts work with industry and partners in the UK and abroad to investigate and take down illegal or offensive material if neccessary.

"neccessary." [sic] Does the Home Office Press Office really have no access to spell checkers ? Surely all Civil Servants should be able to spell "necessary", something which some of them, clearly, are not ? Presumably "national" should also start with a capital letter.

    Who exactly are the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit ? It seems to have been set up by the unaccountable private company the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office's secretive Office for Security and Counter Terrorism,

  • Who is the person in charge ?
  • Who exactly are these "partners in the UK and abroad" ?
  • How can they be contacted by the public, apart from via this allegedly "anonymous" web form ?
  • How is their effectiveness and value for money assessed and by whom ?
  • What are the mechanisms for detecting and correcting the mistakes and "collateral damage" that they will inevitably make ?
  • How is this website reporting and takedown mechanism compatible with the stated European Union policies on the topic, which stress that they must not damage the fundamental human rights of freedom of speech and association etc. ?

Past successes

In the last year, reporting through Directgov has helped the government remove content which has included beheading videos, terrorist training manuals and calls for racial or religious violence.

Successes include:

* removing a number of videos encouraging martyrdom operations that had been uploaded to a UK-based website
* shutting down a website that provided detailed video instructions on bomb making
* removing a number of videos encouraging acts of terrorism from a social networking site

To report content visit the Directgov website (new window) .

Have any of these "successes" actually involved websites physically hosted in the United Kingdom ?

Have any of them involved invoking the "takedown notice" legal powers under the controversial Terrorism Act 2006 sections 1 to 4, Encouragement etc. of terrorism ?

Is this web form really "anonymous" ?

Has the Marsham Street kremlin learned anything about running an anonymous whistleblower website submission form, from the likes of WikiLeaks.org and its couple of other emulators ?

The actual web form is at

https://reporting.direct.gov.uk/

report_form_450.jpg

It claims:

This website is intended for the public to report any illegal terrorist or violent extremist information, pictures or videos found online. The report only takes a few minutes to complete, and all reports received are anonymous and reviewed by specialist police officers.

Weaknesses which could have been avoided:

Is the web form "secure" ? Probably, but it is not configured as professionally as it should be.

SSL Digital Certificate

Incredibly, for a system which involves national security intelligence gathering reports, the SSL / TLS encryption is misconfigured on the reporting.direct.gov webserver.

It only rates a C: [52] rating from SSLLabs

ssl_c_450.jpg

It is unprofessional to configure any public web server with a Digital Certificate, without disabling the weak 40 bit and 56 bit cipher options, which can easily be broken in real time by today's personal computers.

There is no excuse for not disabling the deprecated SSL 2.0 protocol either.

Details
Certificate Information
Common name reporting.direct.gov.uk
Alternative names -
Prefix handling Not required for subdomains
Valid from Wed Jan 27 00:00:00 UTC 2010
Valid until Fri Jan 27 23:59:59 UTC 2012 (expires in 9 months and 25 days)
Key RSA / 1024 bits
Signature algorithm SHA1withRSA
Server Gated Cryptography Netscape Step-Up
Weak key (Debian) No
Issuer www.verisign.com/CPS Incorp.by Ref. LIABILITY LTD.(c)97 VeriSign (OU)
Next Issuer Class 3 Public Primary Certification Authority (OU) TRUSTED
Chain length (size) 2 (2221 bytes)
Chain issues None
Validation type Not sure
Revocation Information CRL, OCSP
Revocation Status Good (not revoked)
Trusted Yes


Protocols
TLS 1.2 No
TLS 1.1 No
TLS 1.0 Yes
SSL 3.0 Yes
SSL 2.0+ Upgrade Support Yes
SSL 2.0 INSECURE Yes

Cipher Suites (sorted by strength; server has no preference)
TLS_RC4_128_EXPORT40_WITH_MD5 (0x20080) WEAK 40
TLS_RC2_128_CBC_EXPORT40_WITH_MD5 (0x40080) WEAK 40
TLS_RSA_EXPORT_WITH_RC4_40_MD5 (0x3) WEAK 40
TLS_RSA_EXPORT_WITH_RC2_CBC_40_MD5 (0x6) WEAK 40
TLS_RSA_EXPORT_WITH_DES40_CBC_SHA (0x8) WEAK 40
TLS_DHE_RSA_EXPORT_WITH_DES40_CBC_SHA (0x14) DH 512 bits (p: 64, g: 1, Ys: 64) WEAK 40
TLS_DES_64_CBC_WITH_MD5 (0x60040) WEAK 56
TLS_RSA_WITH_DES_CBC_SHA (0x9) WEAK 56

TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_DES_CBC_SHA (0x15) DH 1024 bits (p: 128, g: 1, Ys: 128) WEAK 56
TLS_RC4_128_WITH_MD5 (0x10080) 128
TLS_RC2_128_CBC_WITH_MD5 (0x30080) 128
TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_MD5 (0x4) 128
TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA (0x5) 128
TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (0x2f) 128
TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (0x33) DH 1024 bits (p: 128, g: 1, Ys: 128) 128
TLS_DES_192_EDE3_CBC_WITH_MD5 (0x700c0) 168
TLS_RSA_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA (0xa) 168
TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA (0x16) DH 1024 bits (p: 128, g: 1, Ys: 128) 168
TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (0x35) 256
TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (0x39) DH 1024 bits (p: 128, g: 1, Ys: 128) 256


Miscellaneous

[...]

Server signature Apache/2.2.3 (Red Hat)
Server hostname reporting.direct.gov.uk
Session resumption Yes
Renegotiation Secure Renegotiation Supported
Strict Transport Security No
TLS Version Tolerance 0x0304: 0x301; 0x0399: 0x301; 0x0499: fail
PCI compliant No
FIPS-ready No
Ephemeral DH 512 bits (p: 64, g: 1, Ys: 64) WEAK

The other two web forms which solicit national security or crime related information e.g.

MI5 the Security Service, get a much better rating of: A [85]

ssl_a_450.jpg

as does the Metropolitan Police's online crime reporting web form, which also gets a rating of A: [85]

Most modern web browsers will usually connect with this web server using strong encryption (at least 128bit encryption). However the deprecated SSL 2.0 protocol could be used in combination with a man-in-the-middle attack (e.g. invoking a rogue wireless access point) to force the use of weak 40bit or 56bit encryption, which can be easily broken in real time , on today's computer hardware.

Why is there only space for a URL ?

What exactly do they hope to gather which Google has not already indexed ?

Even if you believe that it is a good idea to simply collect suspicious web URLs, it should be obvious from previous convictions, let alone ongoing investigations, that most criminal content available via the world wide web will be on password protected private web forums etc..

There is nowhere on this Report form to supply a username and password to such private areas, something which prevents Google or other search engines from already having accessed and indexed these.

There is no way of adding any comments or context or background information.

Using Google Re-Captcha for this form is wrong !

It is reasonable to use a Captcha system, running from the UK based Direct.gov.uk servers, to reduce the amount of script driven spam which this web form will attract.

Instead, the web form uses the Google operated Re-Captcha running from servers in the USA.

This is totally wrong for a United Kingdom based terrorism intelligence gathering system from the perspective of public trust and the promises made about "anonymity" !

Why should Google, a foreign based company (and therefore the US government) be handed over the internet address and web browser details of every supposedly "anonymous" terrorism information related report ?

Every time the Reporting form is loaded, the Google Re-Captcha web and application servers will log your IP Address and web browser details as the graphical images are pulled across from the USA.

Google will also have log file details every time the Re-Captcha codes are filled in and submitted i.e. they will be easily able to tell which visitors to the web form have actually submitted something.

If you are planning to use this web form "anonymously" as promised, then you need to:take precautions before accessing https://reporting.direct.gov.uk

  1. Make sure that you are not logged in to any Google products e.g. gmail or , on your Android smart phone, Google Latitude etc.

  2. Delete any Google cookies

  3. Use Tor or other methods of hiding your traceable IP address.

otherwise you will risk your "anonymity", which could have serious consequences for you, either from the terrorists or extremists you are reporting on, or from the bureaucratic police and intelligence agencies you are reporting to.

N.B. There is history of this sort of failure to to protect the anonymity of potential informants via the internet within the Whitehall securocrat establishment. See the Spy Blog category archive: MI5 email subscriptions

How is this intelligence data being transmitted from the web server to the CTIRU ?

  • Can we be sure that the "report form" data is not being kept unencrypted on the reporting.direct.gov.uk webserver ?
  • Is it being emailed in a plaintext, unencrypted format ?
  • Is it available for download through unencrypted protocols like FTP ?

There is no public promise that proper encryption techniques are being used, so we must assume that they are not.

Are there any good points about this form at all ?

Feedback Reference Code

A major failing of the MI5 Security Service SSL encrypted national security / terrorism "reporting suspected threats" form, is that there is never any acknowledgement that the information you supply has actually been received, let alone read, let alone acted upon.The form is a one way, information "black hole", which discourages everyone from ever using it more than once.

This reporting.direct.gov.uk web form does at least have a supposedly random reference ID code which can be used to bookmark the web page for you to come back later, and perhaps get some idea of any further action that the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit may have got around to.

reference_ID_450.jpg

This promises:

Thanks for your referral. It is currently
being assessed Please check back at this page
for further updates in four to six days.

It is too early to tell if they will actually give people who have reported a URL, any meaningful feedback, but there is always hope.


Conclusion

This supposedly secure and "anonymous" terrorist related reporting system has been allowed to go live to the public, without these basic security and anonymity flaws being noticed and corrected.

Home Office politicians and senior officials, Police and Intelligence Agency officials etc. appear to have learned nothing from their past failures under the Labour government.

Why were the GCHQ / CESG ("The National Technical Authority for Information Assurance") people not involved in checking this web form and web server, before it was allowed to go public ?

N.B. we do not totally blame the American internet consultant, who appears to have

Designed, built and launched site for SO15's Counter Terrorist Internet Referral Unit, which allows reporting of websites in breach of the Terrorism Acts; defended the site against a wave of hacker attacks after the site was Slashdotted

[We have omitted details of his name, email addresses, mobile telephone number, personal web site and probable home address in London]

The Senior Responsible Owner of this government project, should take public responsibility for its failings.

Is there actually one person in charge, or is decision making evaded somewhere between ACPO, the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office ?

This also reflects badly on the level of internet expertise within the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit.

If they cannot instantly recognise weaknesses in their own web form, what use will they be against anything but the simplest of terrorist or extremist websites ?

Our fear is, that through ignorance, they will then cause "collateral damage" to innocent websites or IP addresses, through over-broad Terrorism Act 2006 section 3 "takedown orders" , or through the physical seizure of computer hardware which hosts innocent people's websites or through the legal intimidation of domain name registrars.

The Home Office press office should get a spell checker for their web page press releases.


UPDATE: 1st May 2011:

Spy Blog is glad to note that the Digital Certificate problems with

https://reporting.gov.uk

seems to have been fixed i.e no more deprecated SSL 2.0 protocol and no more weak cipher suites.

This now gets an A [85] rating from the SSLabs test page:

https://www.ssllabs.com/ssldb/analyze.html?d=reporting.direct.gov.uk

There are still problems with the use of Google's Recaptcha in the USA at all and also the Digital Certificate for the link to the Recaptcha code

https://api-secure.recaptcha.net

This Digital Certificate expired nearly a year also and also seems to suffer from SSL 2.0 and weak cipher suites etc.

https://www.ssllabs.com/ssldb/analyze.html?d=api-secure.recaptcha.net

Perhaps this should be using

https://www.google.com/recaptcha/api/challenge?k=6LfH6wkAAAAAACLBp7RyVVFu7xZRiRxqBTct_gtN

rather than

https://api-secure.recaptcha.net/challenge?k=6LfH6wkAAAAAACLBp7RyVVFu7xZRiRxqBTct_gtN

The best feature of the web form, the feedback tracking could be improved slightly. Unless someone has actually bookmarked the Tracking Report Status page, there is no link to

https://reporting.direct.gov.uk/status.php

in the workflow of the the web form for them to type their Response Code into, assuming that they have written it down or remembered it.

Saving the web page or bookmarking it does poses potential anonymity betrayal risks to anybody who is trying to report their concerns about a web page or website from within an organisation or company etc. - it could tip off their colleagues who might be up to something illegal.

The Home Office also does now appear to have corrected the spelling mistakes on their web page press release.

A couple of paragraphs from Mi5 Director General Jonathan Evans' speech seem to contradict each other:


The Threat to National Security

Address at the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals by the Director General of the Security Service, Jonathan Evans.

16 September 2010

[...]

10. It is interesting to note in this context that in the last ten years what might be called a "zero tolerance" attitude to terrorist risk in Great Britain has become more widespread. While it has always been the case that the authorities have made every effort to prevent terrorist attacks, it used to be accepted as part of everyday life that sometimes the terrorists would get lucky and there would be an attack. In recent years we appear increasingly to have imported from the American media the assumption that terrorism is 100% preventable and any incident that is not prevented is seen as a culpable government failure. This is a nonsensical way to consider terrorist risk and only plays into the hands of the terrorists themselves. Risk can be managed and reduced but it cannot realistically be abolished and if we delude ourselves that it can we are setting ourselves up for a nasty disappointment.

We agree with this, except that it is unfair to simply blame this risk aversion / "no stone unturned" / Cover My Bureaucratic Backside nonsense on the "American media". The morally weak, unscrupulous and incompetent Labour party control freaks, who were in positions of power in Government, are at least as much to blame.

They were always willing to Be Seen To Be Doing Something about terrorist threats, even though they were helping to make matters worse.

11. In the investigations that we are pursuing day to day, sometimes our ability to uncover and disrupt a threat goes right down to the wire, as was the case with the airline liquid bomb plot in 2006. The plotters were only days away from mounting an attack. Sometimes it is possible or necessary to step in much earlier, though in such cases it can be hard to get enough evidence to bring criminal charges. But I would rather face criticism when there is no prosecution (often accompanied by conspiracy theories about what was supposedly going on) than see a plot come to fruition because we had not acted soon enough. Operation Pathway, the disruption of an Al Qaida cell in North West England 18 months ago, is a good example of a necessarily early intervention where criminal charges could not eventually be sustained. The case has subsequently been reviewed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and Mr Justice Mitting concluded that the case involved a genuine threat from individuals tasked by Al Qaida. Whilst we are committed to prosecutions wherever possible it is a sad fact that for all sorts of good reasons terrorist threats can still exist which the English criminal justice system cannot reach. The government cannot absolve itself of the responsibility to protect its citizens just because the criminal law cannot, in the particular circumstances, serve the purpose.

"The government cannot absolve itself of the responsibility to protect its citizens just because the criminal law cannot, in the particular circumstances, serve the purpose."

No ! This is an argument for extra- judicial punishments and for the harassment of people who should be treated as "innocent until proven guilty, on actual evidence" regardless.

Where has this stupid idea been imported from ?

This weasel worded paragraph tries to imply that all of the people who were arrested under Operation Pathway pose a terrorist threat, which is obviously untrue.

There is also no mention of the "collateral damage" caused by the hurried arrests themselves, where at least two completely innocent people were forced to the ground at gunpoint, in public, putting their lives and those of the passing public at risk unnecessarily, before they were released without being arrested, and without any public apology or compensation.

Remember that despite intensive forensic searches, no weapons, explosive or terrorist money etc. was ever found in Operation Pathway.

Surely the benefit of doubt must be given to terrorist suspects, where it is not possible to catch them red handed and they should simply be be let go and kept under surveillance ?

This is an acceptable risk, as per the argument outlined in paragraph 10, because otherwise there is far too much "collateral damage" to innocent people and the terrorist s will have won a victory by conning the Government and intelligence agencies into destroying our freedoms and liberties, which is precisely what the terrorists want to achieve.

There is no evidence that the widely condemned house arrest and other restrictions without any trial or evidence, through the "Control Orders" scheme works at all.

Jonathan Evans appears to be arguing for its continuation, and possible extension to people who have been released after having served their time in prison for terrorist related offences.

Finally MI5 appears to be moving into the 21st century.

21. I would like to conclude with a brief reference to the espionage threat. Events over the summer in the United States underlined the continuing level of covert intelligence activity that takes place internationally. Espionage did not start with the Cold War and it did not end with it either. Both traditional and cyber espionage continue to pose a threat to British interests, with the commercial sector very much in the front line along with more traditional diplomatic and defence interests. Using cyberspace, especially the Internet, as a vector for espionage has lowered the barriers to entry and has also made attribution of attacks more difficult, reducing the political risks of spying. And cyber espionage can be facilitated by, and facilitate, traditional human spying. So the overall likelihood of any particular entity being the subject of state espionage has probably never been higher, though paradoxically many of the vulnerabilities exploited both in cyber espionage and traditional espionage are relatively straightforward to plug if you are aware of them. Cyber security is a priority for the government both in respect of national security and economic harm. Ensuring that well informed advice is available to those who need it, including through the use of private sector partners is, and will remain, vital.


"though paradoxically many of the vulnerabilities exploited both in cyber espionage and traditional espionage are relatively straightforward to plug if you are aware of them"

Another argument for not letting Hazel Blears anywhere near the Intelligence and Security Committee - see the previous Spy Blog article:

Proposed Intelligence and Security Committee appointments - do *not* let Hazel Blears anywhere near the ISC !

Unfortunately, MI5 itself has a history of "cyber security" blunders with their public website, their public alert email system and with the activities of the likes of Daniel Houghton, all of which were "relatively straightforward to plug if you are aware of them".

As always, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner tends to reveal a little more than either the Interception of Communications Commissioner or the Intelligence Services Commissioner ever do in their Annual reports.

Annual report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2009-2010 (.pdf)

Unlike the other two RIPA Commissioners, Sir Christopher Rose does actually have something to report about RIPA Part II:

CHIS = Covert Human Intelligence Sources
i.e. spies , undercover agents, paid informers, unpaid informers etc.

CHIS

4.8 There were 5,320 CHIS recruited by law enforcement agencies during the year; 4,495 were cancelled (including some who were recruited during the previous year) ; and 3,767 were in place at the end of March 2010. The figures for the previous year which were 4,278, 4,202 and 3,722 indicate a slight increase in usage.

4.9 During the current reporting year other public authorities recruited 229 CHIS of whom 182 were cancelled during the year with 90 in place on 31 March 2010.

During the previous year 234 were recruited, 153 cancelled and 106 were in place at the end of the year. Again just over half of CHIS usage was by government departments. The light use of RIPA/RIP(S)A powers by local authorities is even more pronounced in relation to CHIS recruitment. 97% recruited five or fewer and 86% did not use CHIS.

There are some criticisms of CHIS management and tradecraft:

5.9 There are too many occasions when inspections reveal poor tradecraft in managing CHIS. Infrequent physical meetings and reliance on communication by text messages are rarely adequate. There have also been instances where law enforcement officers have pretended to be the CHIS when communicating with his associates online, without properly providing the CHIS with an alibi. It seems to me that this is an unsafe practice.

The protection of CHIS is one of the main reasons cited for the vast amount of secrecy and lack of freedom of information and transparency in the Police and Intelligence Agencies etc.

Such amateurism in the handling of CHIS should be punished by removal of those responsible from any positions of power or authority involving CHIS - they could literally get people killed through such incompetence.

Encryption Keys and RIPA Part III

At last a few details about RIPA Part III:

NTAC = National Technical; Assistance Centre, now run by GCHQ, politically controlled by the Foreign Secretary.

Section 49 - encryption

4.10 During the period reported on, NTAC granted 38 approvals. Of these, 22 had permission granted by a Circuit Judge, of which 17 have so far been served. Six were complied with and seven were not complied with, the remainder were still being processed. Of the seven that were not complied with, five people were charged with an offence, one was not charged and the other is still being processed. So far there has been one conviction with other cases still to be decided.

4.11 The conviction related to the possession of indecent images of children and this offence is the main reason why section 49 notices are served. Other offences include: insider dealing, illegal broadcasting, theft, evasion of excise duty and aggravated burglary. It is of note that only one notice was served in relation to terrorism offences.

These statistics further aggravate the injustice to someone who does not fall into any of these categories see the previous Spy Blog article: "JFL" provides some more details about his imprisonment for refusing to divulge his cryptographic keys under a RIPA Part III section 49 notice

4.12 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. If delays continue, I will require an explanation.

Sir Christopher does not seem to have delved into whether or not the de-crypted plaintext or the cryptographic keys were actually stored securely, ideally also using strong encryption or not, once they had been seized as evidence through the section 49 orders.

Unless and until the public is reassured about that, then there will be lots of non-cooperation from businesses which risk massive "collateral damage" to their core business systems, as a result of police investigations involving only part of their computer infrastructure, or a few employees or customers.


There is nothing specific about Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), but there is a section on CCTV:

Closed Circuit TeleVision - CCTV

CCTV

5.22 My Chief Inspector has met the Interim CCTV Regulator and, as a member of the Independent Advisors Group, he will represent me in the development of the National CCTV Strategy.

How things have changed. Previously the Surveillance Commissioners took no interest in overt or covert CCTV spy cameras.

5.23 I am pleased by the proliferation of protocols between local authorities and police forces. In particular, I am satisfied that there is a wider acceptance of the need for authorisations to be shown to those responsible for using cameras covertly. But I am concerned at the number of inspections reporting the ability of some police forces to control, remotely, cameras owned, solely by or in partnership with, a local council. Sometimes control can be taken without the knowledge of the council CCTV Control Room or the guarantee that an appropriate authorisation exists. Equally, there is no guarantee that the person remotely operating the camera is appropriately qualified to conduct such an operation. Protocols should clarify the procedures to be followed when control is taken by others outside the CCTV Control Room and ensure that suitable safeguards are in place to prevent misuse.

The unaccountable private company with a monopoly on public Police policies, the Association of Chief Police Officer of England, Wales & Northern Ireland, has published the

ACPO e-Crime Strategy August 2009 (.doc 267Kb)

What this document glosses over is the reduction of resources being allocated to fighting "eCrime", even compared with the inadequate, but now defunct National Hi-Tech Crime Unit.

A few observations:

There is currently no central reporting point for e-Crime. This is being addressed through the creation of the National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC), which will take national responsibility for the reporting of e-Crime alongside fraud. Changes are also required to ensure that e-Crime is included as a separate category within overall measures of crime and public confidence in the police, such as the British Crime Survey

We were promised that years ago when the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit still existed, so why did nothing happen ?

  • Reporting and Recording of e-Crime

Currently there is no central reporting point for e-Crime in the UK, and as a result victims of e-Crime are often uncertain about how, and to whom, they should report an e-Crime incident. The National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC) will take on this responsibility under the stewardship of City of London Police. The NFRC is being created to provide a central reporting point for fraud, and will also act as the primary reporting and recording centre for e-Crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

[...]

Where issues do not fall into the remit of the NFRC, callers will be referred to the most appropriate agency.

[...]

N.B. The National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC) is still not operational, despite having been announced last October.

Even when it is, there will still not be any public phone number or email address or secure web form, for the public or businesses to be able to contact properly trained staff, to report a computer virus infection or computer hacking intrusion which does not have an immediate financial fraud aspect.

  • Produce and disseminate a hash set library to be brigaded nationally, in partnership with CPS and CEOP

What exactly does "to be brigaded nationally" mean?. The dictionary definition of "brigaded" i.e. to form up military units into Brigades, surely cannot apply to this sentence.

  • Legal Issues
      - Remit: To develop legal guidance for the police response to e-Crime

There are a couple of huge omissions in this "eCrime strategy":

Extradition

What about potential international Extradition offences to or from the UK ?

Where is the clarity for the public, for the Police themselves, and for potential criminals, on whether someone accused of computer hacking or fraud or child porn etc. via the internet should be dealt with under the local laws of where they are arrested, or whether they should be Extradited to or from the UK ?

Given the international nature of the internet, this is a glaring omission in this "strategy".

Collateral damage to shared systems caused by eCrime investigations

Where is the ACPO commitment to prevent "collateral damage" to innocent businesses, not for profit groups and individuals during the investigation of a single alleged eCrime suspect, using shared computer and internet resources ?

Simply kicking in the door and "seizing computer evidence" may well bring online systems offline for longer than a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, and may cause more damage and disruption,to the UK, than the alleged eCrime being investigated.


the vague references to other vague, non-mandatory documents which may mention this, are not hood enough - this should be a clearly defined fundamental principle of this "National Strategy".

The Police Service has established standards for professional practice within e-Crime, such as the ACPO Good Practice Guide for Computer-Based Evidence published in conjunction with 7Safe, and the ACPO Managers Guide to e-Crime. The National e-Crime Programme will continue to identify and establish 'best practice' in e-Crime and promulgate this in collaboration with the NPIA.

See: ACPO Good Practice Guide for Computer-Based Evidence, (.pdf 2.4Mb)

This "Good Practice Advice" and the principle f avoidance of unnecessary "collateral damage", should ideally be made legally binding, with large fines and criminal penalties for negligence or abuse, on the Police and on private investigators or consultants, to whom this work is often sub-contracted to.

This blog posting about the experience of a former Tor exit node server operator in the UK, is worrying:

Passion and Dalliance blog: Why you need balls of steel to operate a Tor exit node

I became interested in Tor in the spring of 2007 after reading about the situation in Burma and felt that I would like to do something, anything, to help. As a geek and lover of the internet it seemed the best thing I could do was to run Tor as an exit node to allow those under jurisdictions that censor the internet free access to the information they need. I had a lot of unused bandwidth and it seemed like a philanthropic use of it to donate that to Tor.

[...]

I totally believe in Tor. I think it is a magnificent force for the circumvention of internet censorship but there is a problem.

I was visited by the police in November 2008 because my ip address had turned up in the server logs of a site offering, or perhaps trading in (I was not told the details of the offence) indecent images of children. The date of the offence was about one month after I started the server so it looks as though the site in question had been under surveillance for more than a year.

It was what is known as a 'dawn raid' and, amazingly enough, my children were still asleep when it occured. Thank God.

I explained to the officers, who we had heard threatening to break the door down before we let them in, about Tor but they had never heard of it. My wife says she thinks they were about to arrest me before that. I was not arrested. I was told not to touch the computer and it was placed, considerately, in a black plastic bag and taken away for forensic examination.

I was OK at first. I knew that somebody had gone through my server to access that material and that I was not guilty of any offence but as the weeks wore on it started to get to me.
I was overwhelmed by horror to be implicated in such a thing. I was desperately worried about my family. One of the officers had told my wife that Social Services would be informed as a matter of course and there was a possibility that my children would be taken into care.

The low point came about two weeks after the visit by the police when I totalled my car. I was distracted, stressed and unable to accurately assess the road conditions. I ploughed into a hedgerow at speed, destroying the car which we had just bought, but, luckily, walked out of it with only bruised ribs.

I didn't have the money to hire a lawyer so I just sat the thing out. From time to time the police called with an estimate of when the investigation would be finished but none of that meant very much because those dates came and passed with no resolution.

Eventually, four months after the visit, I picked up a voice message from the police inviting me to call back. When I called I was told that no evidence had been retrieved and the machine would be returned to me.

I think, in retrospect, I was desperately naive to run a Tor exit server on a home computer but I didn't believe that an ip address in a server log would be enough evidence to warrant seizing equipment.

My wife, God bless her, was absolutely marvellous throughout the whole thing and never doubted me.

I have read with interest about the need to make Tor faster and that that largely depends on having more nodes but there is no way I can contemplate offering my ip address as a service to internet anonymity any more.

It was very frightening for me to be implicated in a serious crime.

As a parent of very young children I have an extensive network of friends and contacts in my neighbourhood who also have children. As we know the subject of paedophilia is not one that can be debated with any rationality at all in the UK. It is surrounded by hysteria. I was terrified that people would find out that my computer had been taken because of that - 'no smoke without fire'.

I don't know what can be done about any of this. To my mind running an exit node is extremely high risk. I think Tor is important but I don't have any ideas about how to support it at the moment.

Why are there are still any untrained Policemen in the UK, who are being allowed to conduct internet crime related investigations, without having first learned about open proxy servers, Tor and other techniques ?

They need to be disciplined and retrained, and their senior managers need to be named and shamed, as they are an unacceptable risk to innocent members of the public, and the real criminals must be running rings around them.

Surely if major UK ISP's are now only offering a censored CleanFeed system, then there is no excuse for the Police to harass their customers in this way ?

As some people have emailed pointing to this story in the Sunday Times,

Police set to step up hacking of home PCs

we feel duty bound to comment on what seems to be another of bit of anonymous Whitehall briefing and spin via the well connected journalist David Leppard.

We reported on the earlier

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith - EU G6 plus USA Ministers discussing "remote searches of computer hard drives"

which looks like an attempt to policy launder a Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something About Cyber Crime plan onto the entire European Union, back on October 18th 2008:

The Register has taken up this story

Home Office denies remote snooping plan

following on from their earlier investigation of the G6 plus USA summit

Germans seduce Jacqui over remote hacking of disks - Trojanised Home Sec comes home to infect Parliament

(note that the mainstream print and broadcast media did not bother to do any such digging).

A spokesman for the Home Office told the Reg that UK police can already snoop - but these activities are governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the Surveillance Commissioner. He said changes had been proposed at the last Interior Ministers' meeting, but nothing has happened since.

[...]

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK has agreed to a strategic approach towards tackling cyber crime on the same basis as all Member States - however, the decisions in the Council Conclusions are not legally binding and there are no agreed timescales.

"We fully support work to develop an understanding of the scale and impact of electronic crime across the EU and will work with Member States to develop the detail of the proposal."

This is a typical Home Office media spin statement, carefully avoiding the important privacy and security risks to the public. Note the New Labour weasel word "tackling" - that does not actually promise the prevention or prosecution of even a single instance of "cyber crime", it just gives the impression that they might eventually be "Doing Something".

There is not much that we want to add to The Register's comments on this Sunday Times / Whitehall kite flying / anonymous briefing story, except to remind people that the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners, which is supposed to provide some weak monitoring under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and the the Police Act 1997 Part III, is not required to be informed of Police or other Property Interference i.e. state sanctioned burglary to plant electronic bugging devices or, by extension, malicious computer snooping software at business premises i.e. company offices, or those premises of, say, internet service providers or co-location hosting computer server hosting companies, online backup companies, or financial institutions etc.

In order to be "in accordance with law", specifically Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as incorporated in the Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1

1 ."Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence,

such authorisations for Property Interference of people's homes or, following European Court of Human Rights case law precedents, people's private motor vehicles does require the cumbersome and not very effective bureaucracy of the Surveillance Commissioners to be involved. They have no real powers of sanction, only "name and shame" powers via an Annual Report to the Prime Minister and, eventually to Parliament.

They are also meant to "regulate" the use of Covert Human Intelligence sources i.e. infiltrators, undercover agents, and informers, who also might well be involved in helping to set up "remote searches of computer hard disks".

It is all very well for the Home Office to be involved in EU level policies on cyber crime cooperation, but they have done nothing to protect British sovereignty against Collateral Damage or Denial of Service by Law Enforcement. The Indymedia server seizure scandal in 2004 shows that foreign based companies, or even UK based subsidiaries of foreign owned companies can be pressurised into snooping on, or handing over your private data, or killing off your innocent website etc. even if it is physically in the UK, without any UK Court Order and without even a formal or informal request to the UK law enforcement authorities.

The Home Office should be working to prevent foreign or domestic law enforcement "collateral damage" to innocent people's data and computer systems the UK, rather than making it easier for such mistakes to happen.

Before we try to decipher Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's speech which she made on Wednesday, there are a couple of clues to some more potential repression of innocent people, which she seems to be endorsing in the near future.

In the perfunctory "going through the motions without actually informing Parliament of any details", Ministerial Statement on her "informal" meeting with a select few of her European Union police and "security" Ministers, the so called G6 group, together with the USA.

This supposedly "informal" G6 group usually seem to manage to "policy launder" their decisions via the wider, full membership of the European Union, and then they can pretend that their latest Orwellian control fantasy which they are inflicting on our freedoms and liberties, has somehow been imposed on them by the EU, and is necessary to meet "international commitments", even though they themselves instigated the original policy.

Why the US Government gets a say in such European Union policy making, is a mystery - there is certainly no reciprocal vetting or influencing of US Federal laws and policies, by the European Union, is there ?

Written Ministerial Statements Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Home Department G6 and United States Counter-Terrorism Symposium

Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary; Redditch, Labour)

The informal G6 group of Interior Ministers from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom met in Bonn, Germany on 26 and 27 September 2008, along with the United States State Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This was the third G6 plus US counter-terrorism symposium meeting (previous meetings took place in Venice in May 2007 and Schwielowsee in November to December 2007). I attended on behalf of the United Kingdom.

The symposium was divided into four substantive discussion sessions:

[...]

remote searches of computer hard drives;

[...]

Is this a further development of what the German government has been attempting recently ?

Presumably this involves intrusive access to remote computers, by means of some sort of spyware, computer virus, trojan horse backdoor etc., or by on the fly deep packet inspection and sniffing of passwords or other security credentials,

Officious or corrupt bureaucrats will, presumably, be made exempt from criminal prosecution, or from having to pay financial compensation for disruption or loss of legitimate business, or the invasion of the privacy of innocent people, simply by uttering the magic spells "national security" or "for the prevention, detection or prosecution of crime" etc.

Remember that we do not have any Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution style protection against unlawful searches, the results of which are then not admissible in court as being "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree"

Another Written Answer on the 8th December 2004 in parliament from Home Office Minister Caroline Flint, regarding the Indymedia server seizure affair:

"Seizure of Property
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the seizure of servers belonging to Indymedia, what statutes govern the seizure of private property in the UK by foreign law enforcement agencies without authorisation from UK law enforcement agencies. [201718]

Caroline Flint: Foreign law enforcement agencies are permitted to seek the seizure of private property in the UK to secure evidence in connection with a criminal investigation, by sending a request to the UK Central Authority (UKCA) at the Home Office through mutual legal assistance procedures under the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The UKCA considers such requests in conjunction with the appropriate UK law enforcement agency. If the request is approved UKCA will then issue a direction to the courts on behalf of the Secretary of State authorising an application for a search warrant.

In this particular case, I understand that, in accordance with a US Commissioner's subpoena, a US based company accessed its servers in London from the US, in order to comply with the terms of that subpoena. No UK law enforcement agencies were involved in this action"

So, given that UK law applies in London, not USA law, presumably the seizure and the "collateral damage" to systems which had nothing to do with the material allegedly of interest in the US subpoena, on behalf of Italian and or Swis s authorities, was therefore illegal ?

The Home Office have not been pressed by any Members of Parliament (there must now have been around a dozen Parliamentary Questions skirting around this controversial seizure) about where this all leaves the National High Tech Crime Unit's Confidentiality Charter (.pdf) and how the Home Office's inaction and lack of censure against foreign law enforcement agencies, who have obviously acted in contravention of UK sovereignty, does to the Labour Government's claims that the "UK is the best palce in the world to do e-business" ?

The Home Office is repeatedly denying knowledge or involvement in the Indymedia / Rackspace server seizure scandal, yet they are not shedding any light on this attack on British sovereignty by unknown foreigners,

There have been at least 10 Parliamentary Questions posed by 5 different Members of Parliament about this incident:
c.f.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?s=Indymedia

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?s=Rackspace

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?s=internet+hosting


The latest Answer from the Home Office is rather worrying:

"Indymedia
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he authorised the seizure of web servers belonging to Indymedia. [191015]

Caroline Flint: I can confirm that no UK law enforcement agencies were involved and therefore, no authorisations needed."

Does this mean that any foreign government is allowed to arbitrarily seize and disrupt computer systems physically located in the UK, provided that they do not bother to tell the UK authorities, so that they do not have to bother to authorise it ?

If this is so, then it is intolerable and constitutes at least as great a threat to our economy and critical national infrastructure as terrorism or computer malware.

Why does the Home Office not make a clear statement about the legal jurisdictional aspects of this affair ?

Who is investigating any breaches of UK law, and if nobody is doing so, then why not ?

What assurance can the Home Office give that only properly authorised United Kindom authorities, following the National High Tech Crime Unit's Confidentiality Charter and best computer forensic practices, are allowed to seize or disrupt computer systems physically located in the UK ?

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

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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