Recently in Communications Data Bill Category


@benatipsosmori Ben Page, Chief Exec of Ipsos MORI, market research and opinion polling company is denying this front page Sunday Times story and second illistrated article, but " he would say that, wouldn't he"

The Sunday Times claims that Ipsos Mori were offering to sell snoopers charter style personal data to the Metropolitan Police Service obtained commercially from mobile phone network EE.

They appear to have tested their scheme in secret, last summer, without any indivual, informed consent from the EE customers being snooped on.

They appear to be offering not just Communications Data such as might be proportionately obtained by the Metropolitan Police, which is supposed to proportionate and restricted to suspects in actual criminal or national security investigations, but also bulk trawling of the personal data if millions of innocent people.

They also appear to be offering extra "profile" data e.g. age and gender, which is not part of Communications Data.

The Sunday Times
12 May 2013

page 1

Secrets of 27m mobile phones offered to police

Richard Kerbai and Jon Ungoed-Thomas

THE data of 27 m mobile phone users has been offered for sale to the Metropolitan police, private companies and other bodies, enabling them to track users' movements.
Ipsos Mori, one of Britain's biggest research firms, has been caught offering text and call records for sale.

The company has claimed in meetings that every movement by users can be tracked to within 100 metres. This weekend the Met, which has been in talks with Ipsos Mori about paying for some of the controversial data, shelved any deal after being contacted by The Sunday Times.

Documents to promote the data reveal that it includes "gender, age, postcode, websites visited, time of day text is sent [and] location of customer when call is made".
They state that people's mobile phone use and location can be tracked in real time with records of movements, calls and texts also available for the previous six months.

Why only the last 6 months of data ?

Why is EE not selling the Communications Data from 6 months to a year old, which they are legally obliged to keep, regardless of any business use under the The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 Regulation 5, which specifies 12 months ?

A commercial partnership with Ipsos Mori or other companies would give them the "business use case" to retain such data indefinitely if they wished (and paid for the storage systems)

The data, obtained by Ipsos Mori in an exclusive deal with EB, Britain's biggest phone operator, goes beyond anything that the police can get without an application order under the Regulation of Invetigatory Powers Act 2000.

Experts said that it offered a similar level of data access as the government's proposed "snoopers' charter", which

Continued on page 2

page 2

Police ditch snooper deal

Continued from page 1

ministers shelved after an outcry over privacy invasion.

Police forces, councils, big businesses and Google are among potential clients for the data. Bernard Hogan-Howe, the police commissioner, is understood to have met representatives from Ipsos Mori on March 22 to discuss the data.

Another meeting was held last Thursday at Scotland Yard and was attended by Mark Rowley, the assistant commissioner in charge of public order and major events for the force.

Who from Ipsos Mori and / or EE attended these meetings with these very senior Metropolitan Police officers ?

However, within hours of being contacted by The Sunday Times the Met said it was abandoning the proposal, even though sources said officers had been enthusiastic about the potential for tracking users of pay-as-you- go phones.

They are also understood to have been interested in overlaying the EE data with home addresses and personal details of possible suspects.

Yet another reason for investigative journalists (or police or intelligence agency investigators) and their confidential sources (whether whistleblowers or informants) to keep the anonymous mobile phones switched off at or near home or usual work places, so that they are not linked with identifiable ones, simply through plotting where thety have been switched on, regardless of any voice or SMS text or internet data calls made.

Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos Mori, admitted in a tweet last month that the deal between Ipsos Mori and EE might sound "creepy", but said it had safeguards to protect anonymity.

Documents circulated to the Met and seen by The Sunday Times, however, show the data offers clients:

* Gender, age and postcode of users as well as friendship networks, plus calling circles, customer interests (eg sport, film, news) and activity at work or at home

"Gender, age and postcode of users" is data which the Police cannot normally see from Communications Data for prepaid mobile phones.

* Calls data, including time of day call is made, number called, duration of call and customer location to a 100-metre radius

* Data on texts, including time of day it is sent and location of customer

* Mobile web and app usage, including domain name of sites visited, session length, duration on site, previous and next sites visited and amount of data uploaded and downloaded during session

Data on "App usage" is not part of Communications Data under RIPA, but is the sort of thing that the Home Office was fishing for with the Draft Communications Data Bill.

* Customer location, which is determined by Call records or mobile phone ID, to an approximate accuracy of 100 metres, and profiles of customers, potentially including spending patterns.

" profiles of customers, potentially including spending patterns" is data which the Police cannot see from Communications Data for any sort of phones.

Page initially said Ipsos Mori had access to individual data, although it would not pass this to police. He later said the firm could get only aggregate, anonymised data. He said: "This is purely trying to look at mass movement in aggregate."

Page admitted some of the information was similar to the data proposed to be stored under the Communications Data Bill. EE said it had authorised data to be released only in an aggregated, anonymised form to protect its customers. Details would be released only for groups of 50 people or more.

This claim about "aggregate" data "anonymity" is nonsense.

If a snooper e.g. the Metropolitan Police has access to other databases which can be cross referenced, this will, in many cases then allow the EE / Ipsos Mori supplied datasets to be de-anonymised.

Switch on and you become a goldmine, page 14

Inside, on page 14, there are some more details and a graphical illustration.

https://p10.secure.hostingprod.com/@spyblog.org.uk/ssl/spyblog/images/SundayTimes14May2013_IpsosMori_EE_snooping_450.jpg
(credited to Joel Goodman / Peter Alvey)

page 14

Switch on and you become a goldmine

Market researchers snooping on mobile phones tried to sell personal data to police to track criminals and protestors

Richard Kerbaj and Jon Ungogd-Thomas

LAST summer, as shoppers streamed out of a Tube station in Oxford Street in central London, they were put under discreet electronic surveillance.

As they emerged into daylight and pulled out their smartphones, the websites they visited were being monitored en masse.

The surveillance was part of a trial by Ipsos Mori, the pollster and opinion research company, to snoop on the habits of millions of EE phone customers. They could monitor how many of the phone users checked their Facebook accounts, or the website of their favourite shop.

Ipsos Mori was delighted with the results. In a deal with EE --"Britain's biggest mobile phone company, formed in 2010 from a merger between Orange and T-Mobile -- the polling firm had purchased the exclusive use of the phone data and the test run in central London had shown its potential.

In a tweet last month, Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos Mori, admitted the EE geolocation deal mightsound "creepy" to customers, but insisted it was based on anonymised data with "safeguards on all sides".

What safeguards exactly, for the EE customers who had not given their prior, informed consent ?

It was certainly; dramatic project: Ipsos Mori had found a way to unlock the intimate secrets of the modern mobile phone and was sitting on a potential goldmine.
Initially, the company considered uses of the data for private sector clients and sporting events. It looked at the It looked at the websites Olympic spectators checked on their mobile phones and the phone habits of concert goers and shoppers.

Visitors to shopping centres, such as the Metrocentre in Newcastle upon Tyne and Bluewater in Kent, were monitored and the details of the websites they visited on their phones quietly harvested.

The movements of phone users were also tracked. An Ipsos Mori document stated: "We can understand not only where people are going, but what have been doing before, during and after they visited these various locations.

So these secret data snooping /matching trials were conducted without the prior, informed consent of the mobile phone customers ?

Will the Information Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner and OfComm investigate as they should ?

There was, however, another potentially lucrative application: crime detection. Bernard Hogan-Howe, the police commissioner, is understood to have met representatives from Ipsos Mori on March 23 to discuss the possabilities available to the Metropolitan police, using the EE data.

In public, Ipsos Mori insists all data it obtains is aggregated and protects customer privacy. In private, it claims it could get access to the data from individual phones. The documents circulated to the Met stated that the gender, age and postcodes of users was available, as well as friendship networks, time of calls, mobile web usage and customer location within 100 metres.

The police were understandably interested. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, last year failed to push though the Communications Data Bill, nicknamed "the snoopers' charter". Its terms would have required internet service providers to store for a year all details on online communications in the UK.

The bill stalled after a joint committee of peers and MPs found that it paid "insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy" and went too far in providing access to communications data.

The talks over the EE data appeared to offer another way of tracking people's phones and web usage. Another meeting to discuss the data was held last Thursday at Scotland Yard's headquarters, attended by Mark Rowley, the assistant commissioner in charge of public order and major evénts.

One of the proposals was for possible live tracking of events that would allow officers to monitor groups through their phones. If there was an incident, data on the subsequent movements of those at the scene could be harvested.

Officers were told they would be able to monitor protesters at demonstrations, to see where they had come from, where they were going and their phone usage during the event. The Met was also interested in getting a map of all pay-as-you-go phones, which could then be overlaid with the home addresses of "people of interest".

There were clearly concerns about data protection. One option considered by Ipsos Mori was to circulate a survey to EE users offering incentives in return for more information about themselves. They would then be asked for permission to share their data with third parties, which could include the Met.

Would they really have made it explicitly clear that your data is being sold to the Police, or would they just have used weasel words like "commercial partners" ?

In the event, the deal was scuppered after details of the talks were leaked to The Sunday Times.

The whistleblower seems likely to be from the Metropolitan Police despite the #Leveson clampdwown on contacts with the press or perhaps from Ipsos Mori.

If the EE spokesman is to to be believed, it is less likely that the leak came from the mobile phone network operator EE.

A spokesman for the Met admitted there had been an initial discussion, but "the [Met] has made no offer to purchase data from Ipsos Mori nor has any intention of doing so".

No intention now that the story is public, but why then were there at least two meetings with at the level of Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and Assistant Commissioner to discuss, such this supposed non-starter of a scheme ?

Will the Mayor of London investigate the Metropolitan Police's complicity in this scandal ?

EE said it had not even been aware of the Met talks. When told the documents seen by
The Sunday Times indicated that customers would be tagged with reference numbers, postcodes and could be tracked to within 100 yards, an EE spokesman said: "This is not coming from us and it is the first I have heard of it. We are not providing this type of data."

EE said it would provide anonymised data only in groups of 50 people or more. There was, however, some confusion last week at Ipsos Mori about the exact data to which they had access.

Page initially told The Sunday Times that Ipsos Mori could obtain data on individual phones. However, he later said it would gather only aggregate data. This confusion exposes one of the biggest problems of personal data: the lack of transparency about exactly what is held on individuals, to Whom it is being sold and how it is being used.
Ipsos Mori is to launch its tie-up with EE this month. The huge database offers vast potential for market research.

The firms will, however, now face questions about the talks with police over the use of the data and scale of the information it is offering to other potential clients. The Information Commissioner's Office said last week there were specific rules concerning telephone data and the sale of any data "must be done in compliance with the Data Protection Act".

Page said The Sunday Times had raised legitimate questions about the sale of data. "We may have to decide policing is not something we are going to do on this," he said. -

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "Customers are kept in the dark about how much information is collected, how long it is stored and how it can be used and the law needs urgently strengthening to give consumers proper control."

Do any other market research companies have similar "exclusive deals" with the other main mobile phone networks Vodafone, 3, O2 or with their Virtual Mobile Phone Operators partners like Tesco or Virgin ?

Any new Communications Data Bill must include Criminal Penalties for abuse of Communications Data (there are none under the current Regulation of investigatory Powers Act 2000)

See the Digital Surveillance report reccommendations published by the Open Rights Group:

  1. Hold an overarching review, potentially through a Royal Commission, to properly study surveillance in the digital age.
  2. Judicial oversight of requests for intrusive communications data, in particular for all traffic data requests.
  3. Choose 'data preservation' rather than blanket data retention. Include quick response and emergency processes, and means to intelligently and accountably identify targets.
  4. Create a unified Surveillance Commissioner capable of carrying out a strong, independent audit with "multi-skilled investigators including human rights and computer experts."
  5. Reject vague proposals, such as those in the draft Communications Data Bill, for automated, pervasive analytics tools designed to trawl through and across datasets.
  6. Provide stringent penalties for misuse of either powers or data.
  7. Individuals should be notified by default of a decision authorising the request for their communications data.
  8. Invest in law enforcement's capacity to use and analyse the data already available to them.
  9. Lift the ban on the use of intercept evidence in court.
  10. Use the International Principles on Communications Surveillance and Human Rights developed by Privacy International and other groups as a template for future laws.


Today's debate on the Queens Speech has added to our worries about the lack of a properly reformed Communications Data Bill announcement in this session of Parliament.

Our politicians have wasted the chance to simplify and reform the stupidly complicated and secretive Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act..

The preservation of the status quo is a victory for the control freaks at the Home Office and for the political lobbying by the police and intelligence agencies and their private sector IT contractors.

The weasel worded Background Briefing Notes to the Queen's Speech (.pdf) said

page 74

Proposals on the investigation of crime in cyberspace


"In relation to the problem of matching internet protocol addresses, my Government will bring forward proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace."

The Government is committed to ensuring that law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to protect the public and ensure national security These agencies use communications data - the who, when, where and how of a communication, but not its content - to investigate and prosecute serious crimes.

Communications data helps to keep the public safe: it is used by the police to investigate crimes, bring offenders to justice and to save lives

This is not about indiscriminately accessing internet data of innocent members of the public.

That is precisely what seemed to be proposed by the Home Office with their plan for expensive , unproven secretive Deep Packet Inspection and magical Automatic Filtering scheme.

As the way in which we communicate changes, the data needed by the police is no longer always available. While they can, where necessary and proportionate to do so as part of a specific criminal investigation, identify who has made a telephone call (or sent an SMS text message) and when and where, they cannot always do the same for communications sent over the internet, such as email, internet telephony or instant messaging. This is because communications service providers do not retain all the relevant data
.
When communicating over the Internet, people are allocated an Internet Protocol (IP) address . However, these addresses are generally shared between a number of people.In order to know who has actually sent an email or made a Skype call, the police need to now who used a certain IP address at a given point in time. Without this, if a suspect used the internet to communicate instead of making a phone call, it may not be possible for the police to identify them.

The Government is looking at ways of addressing this issue with CSPs. It may involve legislation

The Home Office obviously have not bothered to even read their own legislation, again.

The police already have the power under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part II to do this, provided that their targets are the nominated Communications Service providers.

Extra legislation would be needed to force non CSPs e.g. Microsoft Skype to betray their customers' privacy like this/

The Government published its draft proposals last year. The cross party Joint Committee that scrutinised our draft provisions, and the Intelligence and Security Committee, both recognised the need to tackle this problem in legislation. We are continuing to look at this issue closely and the Government's approach will be proportionate, with robust safeguards in place. This is not about indiscriminately accessing internet data of innocent members of the public, it is about ensuring that police and other law enforcement agencies have the powers they need to investigate the activities of criminals that takes place online as well as offline

Both Committees excoriated the "not fit for purpose" business case and lack of technical and financial details put forward by the Home Office. It comes as no surprise that they cherry picked both Reports, to find the one phrase which might support their position i.e. that perhaps more legislation was needed.

The "debate" in the House of Common, such as it was on the Communications Data (non) Bill c.f. Commons Hansard 9 May 2013 : Column 171

.] Theresa May, Home Secretary:, (Con,)

It is one of the fundamental duties of Government to protect the law-abiding public from the effects of criminal behaviour, and I would like to update the House on the position regarding our proposals on communications data. The Government are committed to ensuring that law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to protect the public. Existing legislation already allows those agencies to monitor who has communicated by telephone, as well as with whom, when and where. These data are used in 95% of all investigations into serious and organised crime, and they have played a role in every major counter-terrorism operation by the security services in the last decade, but errorists, paedophiles and criminal gangs today increasingly communicate with each other over the internet using the latest electronic technology. Our proposals are simply about ensuring that we can keep up with criminals as they shift to e-mails, instant messages and the internet, rather than making phone calls. We cannot leave the British public exposed to dangers which could be eliminated were communications data obtained. As the Gracious Speech yesterday indicated, we will be bringing forward proposals to address this most important issue.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD):

The Home Secretary is well aware of my position, and I thank her for giving way. Will she confirm that, as was said in the Gracious Speech, these proposals will relate only to the aspects involving internet protocol address matching, on which she and I agree, and will be coupled with the safeguards requested by the Joint Committee?

Mrs May:

I was about to say that the hon. Gentleman was a little slow in jumping up; I thought he might have done so when I first mentioned communications data. He was a member of that scrutiny Committee, so he will be aware that it said there was a case for legislation in this area. We accepted a number of the Joint Committee's recommendations on the proposed Communications Data Bill. As I have just explained, because this is an important area for catching criminals and for dealing with terrorists and paedophiles, it is right that the Government are looking to address the issue. The wording of the Queen's Speech yesterday made it clear that the Government intend to address the issue and, as I say, proposals will be brought forward.

Helen Goodman:

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mrs May:

I am being very generous to the hon. Lady.

Helen Goodman:

The Home Secretary is indeed being most generous this morning. When she is considering what to do about IP addresses, will she also look into having better, tighter systems for age verification? We hear a lot about how a better age-verification system would deal with many of the problems that we are facing on the net.

Mrs May:

The hon. Lady's point does not technically come under the remit of the communications data issue and deals with access to the internet more widely. If I have understood the point she is making, there is an issue to address. Some hon. Members have been taking this point up; my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry), for example, has been doing a lot of work in this area and examining any possible changes.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP):

I am a little confused about what is being proposed for data now. Will it deal solely and exclusively with IP addresses or is the plan to bring in, either in this Session or the next one, what we all described as a snooper's charter?

Mrs May:

The hon. Gentleman refers to the proposed measure as a snooper's charter, as others ave done, but it was not about snooping and it was not a charter. It is about ensuring--this will continue in the proposal we bring forward--that we are able to deal with the situation that is emerging, where it is becoming harder to identify these communications because people are using new methods of communication that are not covered by existing legislation.

[...]

11.53 am
Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab):

[...]

The Home Secretary talked about the data communications Bill--that is, the missing data communications Bill. Here is what she said about that Bill less than six months ago:

"This law is needed and it is needed now. And I am determined to see it through."

She also said:

"But Sun readers should know that I will not allow these vitally important laws to be delayed any longer in this Parliament."

Instead, all that that the Queen's Speech briefing says is that the Government are working with companies and

"It may involve legislation"--

"may"--it "may"; that is clearly the problem.

Dr Huppert:

The shadow Home Secretary has carefully avoided saying what the Labour party policy is on the data communications Bill. Two days ago, the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson), the former Labour Home Secretary, said that if Labour had won the last election it would have introduced such a measure. Is that her position? Can she enlighten us?

Yvette Cooper:

The hon. Gentleman should contain himself to squabbling within his coalition and struggling to get some answers. We have always said that action will be needed to ensure that the police can keep up with changing technology. However, the draft data communications Bill drawn up by the Home Secretary was far too wide; it gave the Home Secretary far too many powers and there were far too few safeguards for privacy. It was absolutely right that something had to be done, but that Bill was not the right approach. We must wait to see what approach the Home Secretary will now take, because Government Members are squabbling so much among themselves that the result is a shambolic approach to a serious issue. Time and again, that is what we see: there is strong rhetoric from the Home Secretary, and then the reality simply does not stack up.

So no actual detailed ideas about Communications Data from the Labour party either.

Controversial Labour MP Tom Watson, is one of the politicians who inflicted the NuLabour surveillance state on us and who helped to ruin the UK economy, but he is also one of the most experienced MPs when it comes to using the internet. He has been prominent in the News International mobile phone voicemailbox hacking scandal and was even put under surveillance by private investigators hired by that tainted media group.

Recently he has been doing what many other politicians have failed to do for so many years, by calling attention to some "old news" but still toxic paedophile ring allegations.

His recent blog post

10 days that shook my world

November 3rd, 2012

It's ten days since I raised a question about intelligence suggesting a paedophile ring that touched the very heart of a previous government. I'd done so because a very credible retired child protection professional had lived with a gnawing suspicion of a cover up for many years.

[...]

All very worrying, but this is exactly what we expect backbench MPs to be doing.

However, Tom Watson goes on to mention:

the 50 plus emails and numerous phone calls and letters I have received

and

I'm not going to let this drop despite warnings from people who should know that my personal safety is imperilled if I dig any deeper. It's spooked me so much that I've kept a detailed log of all the allegations should anything happen

We have some Questions for Tom Watson and for every other Member of Parliament who such alleged victims and whistleblowers may try to contact.

  1. What steps have you taken to protect the anonymity of your whistleblower sources ?
  2. Are you and your staff at least keeping encrypted copies of these allegations, stored in multiple locations ?
  3. Why not publish a PGP Public Encryption Key - you are now quite experienced with computer and internet technology, but if you need help, then contact some experts e.g. at the next CryptoParty London
  4. At the very least, why not install a Digital Certificate on the web server used to process your online web contact form so that the contents can be submitted through an SSL/TLS encrypted session ?

  5. Why not remove all the evil 3rd party tracking from your Contact web form e.g. http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/contacting-tom-watson hands over the IP address and browser details etc. of every visitor to a Google Analytics server in the USA (and therefore also to the UK and US intelligence agencies).

If "powerful people" really are trying to cover up such scandals as organised child rape (the academic term "paedophilia" hides the horror of the crime), then any potential witnesses or whistleblowers should practice some basic techniques to preserve their anonymity when contacting a Member of Parliament. e.g. see the resources listed at http://ht4w.co.uk - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

The Wilson Doctrine is supposed to prevent the "tapping" (interception of the content of communications) of landline and mobile telephones (and fax and email and postal mail) of Members of Parliament by government departments or the Police

However it does not apply to the Communications Data (i.e. who communicated with whom, when and where etc.), which will usually be enough to betray the identities of your confidential contacts in such a scandal.

The "Wilson Doctrine" applies nowadays to the Members of the House of Commons and to Peers in the House of Lords, but does not apply to the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament or the European Parliament, even though these bodies are also directly elected.

Neither does the "Wilson Doctrine" apply to tabloid journalists, private investigators, ex-spook/military/police "security" company mercenaries or foreign intelligence agencies with privileged telecomms and internet infrastructure insider access, who may also be trying to identify your contacts to intimidate them, or to prepare propaganda to discredit their allegations.

N.B. there are no criminal sanctions specifically for the abuse of Communications Data, not even in the current Draft Communications Data Bill

Even if there is no conspiracy of people in positions of power, who might try to silence or suppress such allegations, Members of Parliament and Investigative Journalists have a duty to protect all of their confidential sources, no matter how seemingly low level and mundane. They should use readily available, often free, technical and procedural safeguards, including the use of encryption, just in case there is one whistleblower whose case really needs such precautions, either now or in the future.


This summer, the Australian government passed the contoversial Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 into law. This introduces some modest (by UK standards) mandatory Data Retention powers.

If only we had something so restricted in the United Kingdom instead of the Orwellian policies championed by Charles Farr, the Labour appartachik at the Home Office who has somehow been allowed to continue to peddle his repressive policies to the Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government.

Nevertheless, some enlightened Australian activists piclked up on some tweets by @Asher_Wolf, in Melbourne and the #CryptoParty Twitter hashtag was born.

This now worldwide meme is essentially about provoking the technologically able minority to spread some of their knowledge and experience about basic Cryptographic and Anonymity enhancing tools such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP / GPG ) and TrueCrypt encryption software, Tor anonymity cloud proxies and the Off-the-Record (OTR) add ons to internet chat software, not just amongst their friends and peers, but to less experienced, less technical users, such as investigative journalists, whistleblowers and political activists, who may actually need to use them much more urgently, even in this supposed Western liberal democracy here in the United Kingdom

This has led to CryptoParty events springing up spontaneously in Australia, USA and mainland Europe and even in Cairo Egypt, with plans / interest in Asia etc.

Notable by their absence, perhaps due to language difficulties or local repression are any planned CryptoParties in say, Moscow or Beijing, even though the pro Putin Kremlin funded RT.com is one of the few major international news outlets to have picked up on the meme. - Ain't no party like a cryptoparty: privacy goes viral .

The first CryptoParty has already happened in the UK, in Cardiff on Saturday 22nd September 2012, with expressions of interest in Manchester, Sheffield and Swansea.

CryptoParty London

CryptoParty London. with about 100 people already registered to attend is set for next Saturday 29th September 2012, starting at 6pm..

The Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ) where this is due to happen is actually "in the belly of the beast" kindly hosted for free by Google Campus in London.

Google Campus: Ground Floor
4-5 Bonhill Street
London EC2A 4BX

(between Old Street and Moorgate Tube stations, just off the City Road)

(free) Registration for CryptoParty London is via Eventbrite

Please register and come along if you are an investigative journalist or blogger or elected politician with whistleblowers, confidential sources or consituents' private business to protect or if you simply want to protect your sensitive data from criminals.

CryptoParty London is not commercially or politically aligned with any company or faction[ and everyone is welcome.

Obviously Google is both one of the potential commercial snoopers on people's privacy and communications, but say, an offshore https://gmail.com email accoujnt and its Chrome browser, with SSL website pinning, could also cause big technical problems for Charles Farr's evil Draft Communications Data Bill plans.

Hopefully the process of exposing techies (who know how to download, verify, configure and use such software tools, but who often have very little to actually hide when using them) to real world computer literate but much less technical journalists and political campaigners (who lack the technical knowledge, but who really should be protecting their communications and confidential contacts) will spur the improvement of the the often jargon filled and unfriendly User Interfaces which Cryptographic software such as PGP or GPG have currently avaialble.

Normal people should not have to make impossible choices about Cryptographic alogrithms or Hash functions.

Neither should they be forced to switch from their familair Windows or Macintosh or Android or Apple IOS smartphone environments, to install Linux etc. simply to communicate confidentially and relatively anonymously.

As you may have guessed by now, Spy Blog is heavily involved in the London CryptoParty and will be trying to spread some knowledge and experience about practical, common sense Anonymity techniques and perhaps an overview of UK Surveillance legislation threats, leaving the topics of PGP, TrueCrypt, OTR and Tor to other able experts.

It is impossible to properly debate the forthcoming Draft Communications Data Bill, without having an appreciation or firsthand knowledge of such widely available software tools and techniques, which will render it a huge waste of public money and simply an infringement on the civil iberties of millions of innocent people, for little or no appreciable gain against spies, terrorists or serious organised criminals.

Will this CryptoParty meme spawn a new generation of CypherPunks, who will influence the all too often technologically inept Whitehall civil servants and politicians, in a positive way ?

The private sector near monopolies which operate within the UK government regulated telecommunications / internet service provider market are inherently not to be trusted to look after the Privacy and Anonymity requirements of their captive customers.

For example, when registering a Vodafone Sure Signal device, which plugs in to your domestic or business broadband internet connection and acts as a short range 3G mobile phone signal booster femtocell.

Vodafone_Sure_Signal_3G_booster_450.jpg

Despite the fact that purchasers of such devices are doing them a huge commercial favour, saving them lots of money in otherwise necessary improvements to their 3G mobile phone network infrastructure, Vodafone have a cheeky / creepy "help" pop up on their Clear Signal device registration page.

Not content with demanding your Post Code and street address (but not your actual house / office number within the street), you have to give the Clear Signal device a Name, which is presumably available to their network engineers and other snoopers.

Vodafone_Sure_Signal_3G_broadband_backhaul_registration_450.jpg

Surname_Year_of_Birth_pop_up_444.jpg

Stuck for a name? Try using your surname and the year you were born.

Under the controversial Government proposals in the Communications Data Bill, if you were foolish enough to betray your Surname and Date of Birth in this way, which is not necessary for the proper functioning of the mobile phone network, then the information in this data field would undoubtedly be seized without a warrant as Communications Data and probably also fed into spamming / marketing databases as well, even though it is clearly "content" which should require an Interception Warrant. (not, unfortunately, actually one signed by an independent Judge)

It is likely that the Sure Signal Name will find its way into Call Detail Record (CDR) and other logfiles associated with each individual 3G mobile phone voice , SMS text or data call, which will be passed on to people or organisations who would not routinely have access to the Registration database or other Subscriber Data.

It is already a scandal that your financial bank and credit card details which you used to purchase a subscription, contract or phone handset with, are at risk of being snooped on or abused by people and organisations, who are only supposed to be doing simple "reverse telephone directory" lookups of who a particular phone or internet or email account is registered to.

Follow the latest Communications Data Capabilities Programme (CCDP) snooping news on Twitter via the #CCDP hashtag.

The prime critic of the Draft Communications Data Bill, Dr. Julian Huppert (Liberal Democrat) had to miss some of the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill 's first Oral Evidence session from:

Charles Farr OBE, Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, Richard Alcock, Director of Communications Capability Directorate, and Peter Hill, Head of Unit for Pursue Policy and Strategy Unit, Home Office

"the surveillance state éminence grise of repressive surveillance policies Charles Farr (why is he still in a position of influence under the Coalition after his disastrous New Labour policies ?)" dominated the Home Office evidence.

Charles_Farr_1.png"

[Charles Farr centre of Home Office panel, gesturing) with Professor Ross Anderson sitting just behind him]

Charles_Farr_450.jpg"

We await the full transcript of the session, which is still available online (requires Microsoft Silverlight on Windows) at:

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=11242&wfs=true

Here are a couple of important points to watch out for:

circa 15:52

Charles Farr (CF):

(Home Office survey) figures for Communications Data for which applications are made and which is obtained:


27% drugs related
15% propert offences - arson, armed robbery, theft
12% financial offences
10% sexual offences
6% homicide
5% / 5.65% for missing persons
5.7% for harrassment
4% for offences against ther person
4 / 5% for explosives ???

speeding is not mentioned


Interception of Communications Commissioner's Annual report due out next week / published this Friday 13th.



Anonymisation will "cease to be a significant problem."

16:01

CF:
if you have the data, provided for in this legislation, then you can resolve, increasingly, anonymous communications, which are a feature of, the communications environment in which we live.

Put it another way, if you have the right kind of data, issues of anonymisation, cease to be a significant problem.


[...]

Well, err, if people choose to take greater efforts at anonymisation, that is not necessarily a problem for this Bill. errm, If they are engaged in a criminal activity, which we are investigating, then of course, in theory it may become a problem.

I am satisified that with the techiques which are being developed, and which will be, err,
facilitated, by retention, of a kind envisaged in this legislation, errm, many workarounds
can be defeated.

However, there will be cases, where people can find, of course, perhaps temporarily, workarounds to, to, some of what is envisaged here. But I emphasise, we still envisage, that by 2018, we can stem the capability gap, and restore coverage to something 85% of what we need.


Black boxes / DPI only on UK networks for traffic from overseas ISPs who do not play ball

N.B. nothing to stop these being used on UK only traffic or on fioreign traffic in transit to and from other countries via the UK

[more transcript on black boxes, later, perhaps]


David Maclean , Lord Blencathra (LB), the chairman of the Committee made some welcome comments:

RIPA & CDB public authorities: "was I lied to then or are we being conned now ?"

16:41

LB:

Some of us, who have around a long time, have heard almost those exact words
whilst serving on the RIPA committee in 2000, where the, where we were dealing with the big 4 on the face of the Bill, I think, and then the Minister let slip that there were some other public authorities that could be added as well

Under questioning, he then produced a letter to the whole committee, which showed that when the Bill was completed, there about 32 public authorities added. 12 months later we ended with 500 and we've got 650 So I wonder, was I lied to then or are we being conned now ?

Historical data on claimed benefits of Communications Data

Quantitative figures are something which should have been in every Interception of Communications Commissioner's Report, but which has been kept secret

17:08

LB:

Before I ask some other colleagues to participate, could I stress that the Committee would like a paper, for them
to get historical data, how many lives saved, err, children safeguarded, money recovered, which would help us come to
a conclusion on whether the extrapolated data, or the, the, plans for the next 10 years are optimistic, or not,

No criminal sanctions in the Bill, why not ?

One warning note of potential disagreement emerged from Nick Brown, the former Labour Chief Whip.

Nick Brown (NB) asked about penalties for misuse, however he did not agree with the Chair that Criminal Sanctions would work.

We will be watching out to see if he manages to influence the final Committee Report to water down this vital point.

17:23

LB:
... on the face of this Bill, to reassure the public, that any abuse of powers, by a police officer, or any other, designated person, will be treated very seriously. Why not put some criminal sanctions in the Bill ?

CF: We can certainly, take that away

Charles Farr did not sound very enthusuastic about that

LB: ...it just seemed to me, that sanctions in those were, a bit more training, a bit more advice, whereas if there was a possibility of a criminal
penalty there, whether or not it was used, might ewassure the public

NB: I am quite happy to leave it there for now, but I think that we should return to this, and there is doubt in my mind as to whether
criminal sanctions actually work.

LB: If you have any further advice to give us about criminal sanctions, we will happily recieve a paper on it.


Parliament's Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill has now published its official Call for Evidence: (.pdf 83 KB)

It is interesting that there are 26 Questions, far more than normal for the Parliamentary rubber stamping process that is usual for a Draft Bill:

Most Spy Blog readers will have their own opinions about these "26 Questions (but a bitch ain't one)" and the ones which are missing from this list.

Here are a few points which spring to mind which might stimulate your own Evidence Submissions to the Joint Committee,

N.B. remember to take some precautions (c.f. ht4w.co.uk) if you are an "insider" and do not want to risk tipping off the vested interests who are promoting this Bill, who have the self-authorised power to snoop, in secret, on your Communications Data and that of the Joint Committee, without a warrant, c.f. the immediately previous Spy Blog article

[...]

Below are specific questions about the details of the draft Bill. The Joint Committee would appreciate written submissions on any of these questions on which you have evidence to contribute It is not necessary to address every question. The Joint Committee will also welcome other comments related to the draft Bill, even if not directly addressing the questions below.

GENERAL:

1. Has the Home Office made it clear what it hopes to achieve through the draft Bill?

The evasive media propaganda from the Home Office , including Theresa May the Home Secretary and the surveillance state éminence grise of repressive surveillance policies Charles Farr (why is he still in a position of influence under the Coalition after his disastrous New Labour policies ?), has contained no technical details whatsoever, so it is certainly not clear exactly what the scheme will or will not apply to.

2. Has the Government made a convincing case for the need for the new powers proposed in the draft Bill?

No!

They are in "Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something (No Matter How Expensive Or Stupid)" mode.

3. How do the proposals in the draft Bill fit within the wider landscape on intrusion into individuals' privacy?

More snooping, no effective counterbalances to prevent abuse by bureaucratic public agencies.

No specific abuse of Communications Data related criminal sanctions, to deter corrupt or evil individuals within such agencies.

4. What lessons can be learnt from the approach of other countries to the collection of communications data?

Plenty of other countries happily work with Judicial warrants for Communications Data, rather than the UK "self-authorisation" approach.

5. Are there any alternative proposals with regard to the technique and cost of obtaining
communications data that the Government could consider?

Data Preservation for specific, narrowly targeted investigations, restricted to Serious Crimes only, rather than massive Data Retention of almost entirely innocent data.

There should be no access to, say, Location Data, whatsoever for petty "general crime" investigations, especially not by non-Police or non-Intelligence agencies.

If, say, a Tax Investigation is serious enough to require Communications Data, then it is serious enough for a joint investigation with the Police i.e. no HMRC staff should have access on their own, like they do now.

6. The draft Bill sits alongside the Data Retention Regulations. How will these two pieces of legislation interrelate? Would it be preferable to have one overarching piece of legislation that governs the retention of communications data?

Please do not try to "policy launder" the repressive UK proposals and inflict them on the other 400 million innocent people throughout the European Union! The EU Data Retention Directive was originally proposed by the then Labour Home Secretary Charles Clarke when the UK held the revolving Chair of the European Commission and then the Government pretended that they had been forced to comply with it, because the EU told them to do so.

7. If it is concluded that the provisions of the draft Bill are essential, are there any other measures that could be scrapped as a quid pro quo to rebalance civil liberties?

They are certainly not essential.

There is a vast amount of repressive legislation brought in mostly by the previous Labour government (but with some old Conservative stuff as well) which must be repealed, regardless of this Communications Data Bill to "rebalance civil liberties".

Almost none of these repeals are in the much delayed and rather weak Protection of Freedoms Bill.

8. Will the proposals in the draft Bill pose a risk that communications service providers see the UK as a less attractive base. What might be the effect on business?

Increased prices to consumers

Vodafone etc. already minimise the tax they pay by not being wholly based in the UK.

This Bill will undermine the efforts of the Treasury and the BIS to attract them to invest in the UK.

COSTS:

9. Is the estimated cost of £1.8bn over 10 years realistic?

Where did this mythical figure come from ?

Draft Communications Data Bill impact assessment (PDF file - 309kb)

Since when has the Home Office, or any Government Department, ever been able to accurately predict costs 10 years into the future ?

Where is the detailed independent Impact Assessment ? The Home Office's Impact Assessment is just deluded wishful thinking.

The Home Office is literally financially innumerate and cannot be trusted
even to supply correct figures for its own accounts
, let alone to make reliable estimates for any major IT project whatsoever.

Look at their appalling inability to even guesstimate to the nearest billion pounds, anything to do with their, thankfully defeated, centralised National Identity Database Scheme.

Can anyone actually point to an example of a major IT system which the Home Office has been involved in, which has not been late, over budget and which has actually had a positive outcome on reducing crime etc. rather than just being "Seen To Be Doing Something" as part of the pretence to be "tackling" or "addressing" a problem ?

10.The Home Office suggests the benefits that could be delivered by the enactment of the draft Bill could be worth between £5-6bn. Is this figure realistic?

No !

Where is the detailed independent Impact Assessment ?

The Draft Communications Data Bill privacy impact assessment (PDF file - 516kb) is not detailed and is full of airy fairy hand waving wishful thinking about the alleged "benefits" of the proposals.

The Home Office regularly lies about the alleged financial benefits of its policies.

They really have no clue at all - Serious Crime is still being estimated
as costing the UK economy "between £20 billion to £40 billion a year" a figure which was used to justify the Serious Organised crime Agency and which is exactly the same wildly imprecise one which is being used to justify the replacement for SOCA, the National Crime Agency.

Not only do they lie about such estimates, they wage propaganda smear campaigns against even well researched academic studies which do try to estimate the cost / benefits of their policies (from ID Cards to Drug Policy etc.)

The cost justifications include "tax revenue" (something which the Home Office has no expertise in) and "criminal assets seizures" - something which the Home Office has utterly failed in. Why did the (criminal) Assets Recovery Agency set up by the Home Office have to be disbanded ? Because it was costing more to run and administer than the paltry amount of money that was being seized. How can this be a justification for alleged billions of pounds of "benefits" of the Communications Data Bill ?

SCOPE:

11.Are the definitions of communications data and communications service provider appropriate? Do they sensibly define the scope of the powers in the draft Bill?

No!

When the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000 was "debated" (it was not properly scrutinised by Parliament) the politicians were told that Communications Data was "itemised telephone bill" information.

Over the years the deliberately vague RIPA wording was abused, without further Parliamentary debate, to include new forms of Communications Data especially Location Based Services mobile phone data.

Communications Data must be legally defined in the Bill / Act to clearly differentiate between:

a) Subscriber Data for landline telephone, mobile phones and internet service provider accounts - the only sort of Communications Data which, say, Local Authority Trading Standards departments should be allowed to request on their own - anything more serious which might need other Communications Data should involve the Police.

b) Mobile Phone Location Data has 4 levels of intrusiveness
- historical Locations Data where a voice call, SMS text message or internet data was sent or received from

- real time (or near real time) Locations Data where a voice call, SMS text message or internet data was sent or received from

- historical Location Data of the automatic handshakes between a mobile phone handset or other device and the network, typically every 10 minutes or so or when a phone is switched on or off - such data is not instigated by a human, but is automatic collected.

- real time (or near real time) Location Data of the automatic handshakes between a mobile phone handset or other device and the network, typically every 10 minutes or so or when a phone is switched on or off. - such data is not instigated by a human, but is automatically collected.

e.g. The Fire and Rescue or Ambulance services should have real-time mobile phone Location Data access when a 999 call is made for emergencies so that they can respond quickly and can try to detect fake 999 calls. They should not be allowed to see the historical Location Data History of a mobile phone (and very likely that of its owner). There are no conceivable circumstances for them to have access to the real time (or near real time) tracking of a mobile phone device which is not making or receiving a voice or SMS text or internet data call.

The forthcoming European Union eCall plan to put a mobile phone device in every
new vehicle sold in the European Union, which is activated when an airbag goes off in an accident is an example of something which must be covered by this Bill i.e. 999 call responders should have Location Data access when there is an accident, but even the Police should not have immediate real time access to the resultant automatic mobile phone device vehicle location tracking history, without an independent judicial warrant..

Unlike in 2000, when RIPA was "debated", an increasing number od SmartPhones and other devices now include Global Positioning System (GPS) chips within them. These are not necessary for the transmissionor reception of voice, SMS text or internet data calls. However the GPS latitude, longitude, elevation and location tracking history may be periodically upload automatically, with or without the knowledge or active intervention of the user.

The Communications Data Bill should make it absolutely clear as to whether such GPS data is forbidden from being collected, stored and "Filtered" as Communications Data or not, something which it is unclear at the moment.

12.Which public authorities should be able to access communications data under the draft Bill? Should it be possible for the Secretary of State to vary this list by Order?

When RIPA 2000 was first introduced, the number of public bodies was small i.e. mostly the Police and Intelligence Agencies.

There was a vast expansion later on, via Secondary legislation, by Order which , as always, Parliament failed to scrutinise properly. This lead to such stupidities as the Egg Marketing Board being given RIPA powers.

It also lead to the abuses (through ignorance and petty bureaucratic tendencies) by Local Authorities, leading to scandals like the Poole Council using RIPA directed surveillance powers to snoop on innocent families suspected of being school catchment area cheats.
There is every reason to suppose that similar abuses involve disproportionate use of Communications Data powers, but, the Interception of Communications Commisioner's Annual Reports are so censored of any meaningful detail that we cannot be sure.

There must be no Order making powers at all in the Communications Data Bill.

There is a Home Office / Ministry of Justice legislation slot in every Queen's Speech,
so any absolutely necessary amendments (usually involving the renaming of Agencies or Departments) can easily be accomplished through Primary Legislation, with a chance for proper debate and scrutiny and amendment by Parliament, something which almost never happens with hated Secondary Legislation by Order.

13.How robust are the plans to place requirements on communications service providers based overseas? How realistic is it that overseas providers could be pursued for breach of duty?

Completely unrealistic.

A few large US companies with subsidiaries in the UK may "voluntarily" comply, provided that there is a competitive "level playing field" i.e. provided that their main rivals also comply.

But why should any Chinese or Russian or Iranian etc. ISPs ever comply ?

USE OF COMMUNICATIONS DATA:

14.Are the circumstances under which communications data can be accessed appropriate and proportional? What kind of crimes should communications data be used to detect?

Make it the same as the RIPA section 1 definition for Interception i.e. Serious Crime only, defined as likely to attract a prison sentence of at least 3 years in prison for a first time offence if convicted.

There are many occasions where access to Communications Data, especially Location Data about a communication is actually more intrusive than the Interception of the contents of the communication, which may be very brief and / or harmless (or coded).

If as is not really clear at the moment, the plan is to use Deep Packet Inspection and Digital Certificate man-in-the-middle attacks on world wide web connections, then since , effectively, Interception is involved, the collection of Communications Data should be treated as such.

15.Is the proposed 12 month period for the retention of data too long or too short?

Far too long.

All the Mobile Phone Communications Data cases which , say, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner cited e.g. the Soham murders, did not require 12 months of Communications Data, only a couple of weeks worth.

The recent murders in Toulouse, France where 4 murders were carried out by a terrorist / petty criminal motorbike assassin, who was tracked down through his Communications Traffic analysis of web server log files of an advert for a motorbike placed by one of his victims also did not require months of Communications Data Retention, only a few days.

That case illustrated the problems with the vast amount of such data. The 576 IP addresses from the web advert log files is not very many, but it took the Police far too long to analyse the data they already had immediate access to, allowing the serial killer, who had already been on their list of possible terrorist suspects for years, to strike again.

This will not be improved in the UK by the Communications Data Bill - automatic Filtering devices will not magically produce actual investigative break throughs without sufficient trained human resources - "finding a needle in a haystack by adding more haystacks" is a strategy which is bound to fail.

SAFEGUARDS:

16.Applications for accessing communications data will be subject to a series of safeguards including approval by a designated senior officer within the public authority making the request. How should "designated senior officer" be defined? Is this system satisfactory? Are there concerns about compliance with Article 8 ECHR?

The "self authorisation" approach provides no transparency or public accountability tfor Communications Data access.

Keep and improve the idea of a Single Point of Contact with the technical and legal experience to reject disproportionate or multiply repeated or vexatious requests for Communications Data. Have this SPoC pass on the request to an independent Judge for a a proper, narrowly defined Warrant.

Publish this request and / or warrant automatically online as soon as the the need for immediate operational secrecy has expired i.e. as soon as an arrest has been made.

17.Would a warrant system be more appropriate? If you favour a warrant system should this apply to all public authorities including law enforcement agencies? Should a warrant be necessary in all circumstances? And what would the resource implications be?

Yes a warrant signed by an independent Judge (not one signed by the Home Secretary or any other politician or senior Whitehall bureaucrat) which can be challenged in Court if necessary should be required for all Communications Data snooping, including the Police and Intelligence Agencies.

Remember that snooping on Communications Data can be as intrusive or even more intrusive than the actual Interception of the contents of the same Communication.

18.Is the role of the Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Information
Commissioner sensible?

No.

They do not provide any proper reassurance to the public with their existing budgets, under resourced budgets, and non-existent or heavily constrained criminal sanctions and a far too cosy relationship with the bureaucratic Whitehall Departments and Agencies and large companies they are supposed to be keeping an eye on.

They fail to do a proper job of in their existing roles, how can adding extra Communications Data Bill roles improve their performance at all ?

Scrap them both and start again with a proper Privacy Commission Department with ample technical and financial resources to deal with lots of individual cases directly affecting the public.

PARLIAMENTARY OVERSIGHT:

19.Are the arrangements for parliamentary oversight of the powers within the draft Bill satisfactory?

No !

Parliament has proved itself to be useless at scrutinising Secondary Legislation by Order. This is almost never rejected and can never be amended even slightly, so all kinds of evil is smuggled in by the the Executive, without any proper detailed scrutiny or even a cursory basic sanity checking second opinion.

Given the years or so that it took for all of the the Codes of Practice under RIPA to be published, Parliament should insist that any such Codes of Practice be published within a year of the passing of the Bill.

All of the Communications Data Bill should come into force at once, there should be no leeway for the Home Office to dither an not bring bits of it into force for months or years afterwards like they did , much to their discredit, with the Regulation of Investigatory powers Act 2000. If legal powers are not need now, then they should not be in the Bill.

There should be an automatic sunshine clause which repeals any of the parts of the Bill which have not been brought into force after say a year or two at the most.

There will always be a Home Office / Ministry of Justice Primary Legislation every year if minor amendments have to be made but the Internet and Telecommunications are such critical parts of our society and economy, that any further necessary changes in this area deserve their own specific Primary Legislation.

ENFORCEMENT:

20.Are the penalties appropriate for those communications service providers who fail to comply with with the requirements of the draft Bill?

No!

Why should the Communications Service Providers be penalised for the inevitable technical failings of the mysterious and obsolete even before thay have come into service "Filtering" black box single points of failure ?

Read the small print of your contact with your telecommunications or internet provider - they cannot be reasonably be held to be responsible for Acts of God,, adverse weather , power failures, faulty software upgrades by third party software suppliers etc. etc. for the services they provide. Why should they face penalties under the Communications Data Bill for exactly the same failures which affect the collection of Communications Data snooping ?

21.Are the penalties appropriate for those public authorities that inappropriately request access to communications data? Should failure to adhere to the Code of Practice which is provided for in the draft Bill amount to an offence?

That is the wrong question !

The existing Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 section 1 on Interception provides for criminal penalties of up to 2 years in prison for unlawful Interception of the content of communications.

There are no criminal sanctions at all for the unlawful collection or access to the possibly equally intrusive Communications Data.

The Communications Data Bill should be amended to include such criminal penalties specifically aimed at Communications data abuse by individuals either within Communications Service Providers or within the Authorised Public Bodies i.e. the Police, Intelligence agencies.

Unlike RIPA section 1 there must be no secrecy provision i.e. up to 2 years in prison for revealing the mere existence of an Intercept warrant.

All Communications Data requests (but obviously not the resultant Communications Data itself) should be published on the web immediately and automatically after the Communications Data is no longer needed for a specific investigation i.e. once an arrest has been made when there is no longer any need for operational secrecy.

That should result in far fewer frivolous requests, less chance of authorised insiders using the system for personal or celebrity stalking or corruption and will highlight attempts at disproportionate mass surveillance "data trawling" and fishing expeditions.

Perhaps then there might be same restoration in public confidence in the Home Office, the Police and Intelligence Agencies etc., all of whom have betrayed the high standards which the public rightly expects of them.

TECHNICAL:

22.Does the technology exist to enable communications service providers to capture communications data reliably, store it safely and separate it from communications content?

Hopefully not - this is a hugely difficult technical problem.

We do not want a Deep Packet Inspection Great Firewall of Britain, which could provide the infrastructure for current or future political repression.

23.How safely can communications data be stored?

Technically, quite safely using strong encryption, which is something which is not mandated in the current Code of Practice.

Code of practice for the acquisition and disclosure of communications data (PDF file - 970kb)

In practice, given the incompetence and corruption which has been shown by individual authorised insiders, even those with the highest security clearances, there is no chance that all such Communications Data will be stored securely, all of the time. There will be leaks and data breaches, in proportion to the amount of the data collected.

24.Are the proposals for the filtering arrangements clear, appropriate and technically feasible?

Until the Home Office clearly publishes a detailed technical specification of exactly which systems e.g. Web email, Twitter, FaceBook, Skype, Voice over IP, Peer to Peer Filesharing, Tor etc. and exactly which security encrypted protocols it is hoping to circumvent through Man-In-The-Middle attacks etc. ist is not possible to definitively answer such a Question.

All our experience with previous complicated Home Office IT systems makes us assume that this will be complete cock up, which will probably introduce previously exploitable vulnerabilities into our Critical National Infrastructure which will be abused by foreign intelligence agencies and criminals.

25.How easy will it be for individuals or organisations to circumvent the measures in the draft Bill ?

Until it is clear exactly which systems and protocols the Communications Data Bill will be applied to, that cannot be answered fully either.

It is not trivial to legally circumvent Communications Data snooping entirely, but it is possible right now, especially if you are a criminal and use stolen credit cards, stolen mobile phones etc.

See also ht4w.co.uk Spy Blog's Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc., who are forced to use some of the same techniques used by political dissidents living under dictatorships and by criminals.

26.Are there concerns about the consequences of decryption?

Strange Question. Decryption by whom, of what ?

Decryption by the Government of the encrypted Communications Data that the black box snooping Filters will collect ?

Decryption by the Government of Intermediate or Root Certificate Authority Digital Certificates to snoop on https:// by default services like Twitter or Google Gmail web email ?

The Deep Packet Inspection infrastructure which can do that can also be used by corrupt insiders to steal money flowing through e-commerce or internet banking or City of London financial trading systems and to snoop on and harass stalking victims etc. Is that really what the Government wants to create ?

You need not address all these questions.

"address" is not the the same as "Fully Answer" or "Solve the Problem"

Hopefully these 26 Questions and our brief notes will inspire you to write your own Evidence Submission to the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill.

We will see if their eventual Report is nobbled by the former Whips and politicians with too comfy a relationship with the Intelligence Agencies who are on this Committee.


Here are some notes on the Membership of the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill

Please lobby these people with your opposition to the Draft Communications Data Bill.

N.B. Just as with the now suppressed Detainee Inquiry (whose second anniversary of doing not very much at all comes up this Friday 6th July 2012) into allegations of complicity in torture, the Intelligence Agencies and the Police and private sector Defence contractors will be intensely interested in identifying potential witnesses and especially potential whistleblowers who might wish to give Evidence to this Committee, so that they can prepare their own positions if and when they are called to give evidence and to nobble any "security risks" within their own ranks.

The Wilson Doctrine only forbids the interception of the telephones, faxes, emails, tweets and SMS text messages of Members of Parliament the House of Commons and of Peers in the House of Lords.

It does allow for the (self authorised) collection of Communications Traffic Data, the very subject of this Bill, about anybody who contacts this Joint Committee to give them a political message or to provide Evidence to them.

If you intend to contact the Committee (which is about to make its formal call for evidence soon) , then please take some precautions, either to protect your own whistleblower anonymity, or as a matter of principle, to demonstrate what a waste of money and a blow to the UK economy, these expensive proposals will be.
c.f.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers etc.
http://ht4w.co.uk

Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for
Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists,
Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Unlike the faceless bureaucrats and lobbyists who are proposing this Bill, here are some images (from the Parliament.uk website) and some brief opinions of the runners and riders on this Committee, which is supposed to scrutinise this controversial legislation.

Will they be swayed by principled civil liberties or technological arguments ? Or will they cut backroom political deals with the vested interests and lobbyists for more surveillance snooping powers and budgets ?

Rt_Hon_Nick_Brown_MP.jpg
Rt Hon Nicholas Brown - Labour

Former Minister and New Labour Chief Whip. Gordon Brown's political "enforcer"
Very experienced in secret backroom political wheeling and dealing

It will be astonishing if he champions anything but more snooping powers.

Michael_Ellis_MP.jpg
Michael Ellis - Conservative

new MP in 2010
Former barrister

Dr_Julian_Huppert_MP.jpg
Dr Julian Huppert - Liberal Democrat

new MP in 2010
Academic computational biochemist

So far the lone voice of opposition to the dafter aspects of the Bill, but will he be pressured by the devious former Whips into political compromises ?

Stephen_Mosley_MP.jpg
Stephen Mosley - Conservative

new MP in 2010
Had a career in IT before becoming an MP, but before the vast increase in internet usage.

"Degree in Chemistry from Nottingham University, Stephen worked for IBM for four years before setting up his own IT Consultancy in 1997."

Craig_Whitaker_MP.jpg
Craig Whittaker - Conservative

new MP in 2010
Former Retail Manager

David_Wright_MP.jpg
David Wright - Labour

Former Labour government and opposition Whip
Junior to Nick Brown, but with an equally untrustworthy voting record.

Lord_Armstrong_of_Ilminster.jpg
Lord Armstrong of Ilminster Cross Bench

Former Cabinet Secretary

The actual Whitehall Sir Humprey who coined the phrase "economical with the truth" during the MI5 Spycatcher book publication censorship affair.

Will be perceived to be biased in favour of more snooping by the Intelligence Agencies.

Lord_Blencathra.jpg
Lord Blencathra - Conservative

David Maclean the former Tory Chief Whip who masterminded the sneaky attempt in the Commons to exclude the the House of Commons (and as an afterthought, the House of Lords) from the Freedom of Information Act, just as the MPs expenses scandal was breaking.

Currently a lobbyist for the government of the Cayman Islands tax haven.

Not a champion of free speech, transparency or liberty.

Apparently he is set to be Chairman of the Joint Committee

Baroness_Cohen_of_Pimlico.jpg
Baroness Cohen of Pimlico - Labour

A former solicitor and writer of crime fiction novels

Lord_Faulks.jpg
Lord Faulks - Conservative

Former barrister and Queen's Counsel

Lord_Jones.jpg
Lord Jones (N.B. Parliament.uk website URL say Stephen Jones, but points to Barry Jones) - Labour

He is a former MP who has also served on the useless Intelligence and Security Committee from 1994-97 so he cannot be trusted to stand up for the general public's rights and freedoms.

Lord_Strasburger.jpg
Lord Strasburger - Liberal Democrat

Property developer, businessman, party donor


Despite their claims to be merely "civil servants", subservient to Parliament and the general public, MI5 the Security Service are meddling in politics again.

Security Service Act 1989

2 The Director-General.

[...]

(2)The Director-General shall be responsible for the efficiency of the Service and it shall be his duty to ensure--

[...]

(b) that the Service does not take any action to further the interests of any political party

How then can Jonathan Evans, the Director General of MI5 the Security Service comment in public in support of forthcoming legislation proposed by the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government, such as the controversial Draft Communications Data Bill or the equally controversial Justice and Security Bill ?

The Olympics and Beyond

Address at the Lord Mayor's Annual Defence and Security Lecture by the Director General of the Security Service, Jonathan Evans.

Mansion House, City of London, 25 June 2012

The main legacy of the London 2012 Olympics, from MI5's point of view, appears to be more intrusive state snooping:

OLYMPICS

8. At the forefront of our minds are the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The security preparations for the Games have been long and thorough. Members of my Service have been involved in advising on the physical design and security of the sites, but also in the accreditation of those working at the venues and in ensuring that intelligence collection and analysis for the security operation can meet the increased demand. This is not a solo activity. We are working as part of a mature and well developed counter-terrorist community in the UK and with the close support and co-operation of friendly Services overseas, who have been extremely generous in their assistance. We are also anticipating an Olympic security legacy after the Games - better intelligence coverage of potential threats, better integration at the local and national level of security and intelligence effort, and new, closer and better developed intelligence co-operation at the international level. I hope and expect that this legacy will live on well after the Games themselves have closed.

The speech then gave the usual uninformative stuff about Terrorism, but made no
mention whatsoever of any successful or failed Counter-Intelligence operations against Foreign Intelligence Agencies

Have the Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies all packed up and gone home ? Are no Middle Eastern governments spying on their political opponents in London any more ?

CYBER SECURITY

21.

[...]

The front line in cyber security is as much in business as it is in government. Britain's National Security Strategy makes it clear that cyber security ranks alongside terrorism as one of the four key security challenges facing the UK. Vulnerabilities in the internet are being exploited aggressively not just by criminals but also by states. And the extent of what is going on is astonishing - with industrial-scale processes involving many thousands of people lying behind both State sponsored cyber espionage and organised cyber crime.

[...]

23. Much of the Security Service's work in this area is undertaken through the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, in which we have made a significant investment in recent years. Working in close collaboration with GCHQ, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, and also with law enforcement, we are currently investigating cyber compromises in over a dozen companies and are working with many others that are of high economic value and that are potential future targets of hostile state cyber activity. But this is only a tiny proportion of those affected.

24. And the internet has developed from a communication network to what is called the "internet of things" - connecting via the internet the buildings we work in, the cars we drive, our traffic management systems, Bank ATMs, our industrial control systems and much more. This increases the potential for mischief and leads to risks of real world damage as well as information loss. We are contributing to the international process of ensuring that the appropriate IT security management standards are in place to manage some of these new risks. So far, established terrorist groups have not posed a significant threat in this medium, but they are aware of the potential to use cyber vulnerabilities to attack critical infrastructure and I would expect them to gain more capability to do so in future.

So what have MI5 done to protect us from the "collateral damage" or deliberate targeting of UK companies and organisations by US / Israeli government sponsored malware like Stuxnet or Flame ?

Where is the mention of the critical national infrastructure threat posed by the remote switch on / switch off and surveillance capabilities of proposed electricity or gas Smart Meters ?

Where is the mention of the surveillance and bomb targeting threat posed by "Contactless" RFID Passports ?

[...]

26. The Boards of all companies should consider the vulnerability of their own company to these risks as part of their normal corporate governance - and they should require their key advisors and suppliers to do the same. One major London listed company with which we have worked estimates that it incurred revenue losses of some £800m as a result of hostile state cyber attack - not just through intellectual property loss but also from commercial disadvantage in contractual negotiations. They will not be the only corporate victim of these problems.

£800 million !

British Petroleum or BAE Systems ? Was it the Russians, the Chinese or the Americans ?

Why were there no diplomatic expulsions as a result ?

Has there been any "cyber" retaliation of any sort ?

Now the political meddling begins:

JUSTICE AND SECURITY BILL

29.
[...]

Secrecy is essential if we are to avoid our opponents knowing whether they are on our radar and learning how we go about our work, and if sensitive sources are not to be put at risk.

Transparency is essential if MI5 is retain any public trust and confidence that they are not wasting our money and snooping unnecessarily on innocent people and to prove that they are not covering up political or bureaucratic scandals rather than protecting genuine national security secrets.

Who cares if our opponents know that they are "on our radar" ? The professional ones will already be acting accordingly even if they are not.

"learning how we go about our work" in general terms is not an excuse for secrecy - MI5 do not have a monopoly on intelligence tradecraft or techniques.

Where is the deterrent effect if everything about MI5 techniques and operations is kept secret ?

Obviously protecting "sensitive sources" is a reasonable excuse for secrecy, but only during an ongoing operation, not for decades thereafter.

Pretending that all of our enemies are well resourced national intelligence agencies with lots of analytical staff, who might sometimes be able to deduce some crumbs of intelligence about where MI5's resources have been deployed or concentrated in the past, is wrong. Even if they could, that is insufficient to know tactically where they are deployed now or where they will be in the future.

30. I therefore welcome the recent proposals from the government to ensure that where sensitive intelligence-related material is relevant to a civil case it will be possible for the Judge to decide to consider it in a closed process. No material that is currently considered in public will be made secret under the new arrangements and the effect will be that more, rather than less, material will go before the courts. But the sensitive material will be protected. This will mean better justice and better accountability.

Presumably this speech was carefully vetted beforehand, so it is astonishing to see this political spin on the Justice and Security Bill.

It will be Ministers and Whitehall civil servants, not independent Judges who determine if Closed Material Procedure is applied to a particular bit of evidence in a civil case. i.e. the very people who are being sued in a civil case for, say, complicity in torture or breach of confidentiality etc. will be able to prevent the complainants from seeing evidence either for genuine national security reasons, or, unfortunately and just as likely, to cover up a political or bureacratic scandal.

The Justice and Security Bill would also nobble the the use of "Norwich Pharmacal" discovery orders, which have led to the revelations of illegal complicity in torture by UK intelligence agencies.

The Justice & Security Bill proposes minor changes to the role of the Intelligence and Security Committee

31. The government also proposes that the Intelligence and Security Committee should have a wider remit, with stronger powers to hear sensitive evidence and a more direct link to Parliament - again leading to better and more transparent accountability, which we welcome.

Since Jonathan Evans is not complaining that these changes go too far, it is obvious that these changes are utterly cosmetic and that MI5 is confident that they can still run rings around the parliamentarians, as have they done in the past.

There is also some political spin on the Draft Communications Data Bill:

32. At the same time, the proposed legislation to ensure that communications data continues to be available to the police and security agencies in the future, as it has in the past, is in my view a necessary and proportionate measure to ensure that crimes, including terrorist crimes, can be prevented, detected and punished. It would be extraordinary and self-defeating if terrorists and criminals were able to adopt new technologies in order to facilitate their activities while the law enforcement and security agencies were not permitted to keep pace with those same technological changes.

Jonathan Evans as Director General of MI5 the Security Service should not be seeking to influence Parliament about extra snooping powers and infrastructure which will be used against "crime" and "criminals" in general, rather than just in exceptional terrorism cases.

The spin from the Home Office, supported by the Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, another serving public official who should not be meddling politics, is that the Communications Data retention and "filtering" and snooping will only be for "terrorism and serious crimes". In fact the text of the proposed Bill applies to all levels of crime, including the most minor and petty infringements of unjust or ineptly constructed bureaucratic regulations, exactly the sort of thing which has been abused under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

It is inconceivable that neither the Home Office nor the Metropolitan Police nor MI5 the Security Service are unaware of this, so this section of the speech must also be treated as deliberate political meddling for more authoritarian snooping powers and budgets.


SpyBlog recently got a postcard from the Brocken, the highest mountain in the Hartz mountains in northern Germany.

The post card from the Brockenhaus has the motto Augen auf und durch ("eye up and through"). There is a square hole cut into the centre of the card, which you are supposed to hold up to your eye.

brockenhaus_augen_auf_und_durch_450.jpg

Whose creepy "all seeing eye of Sauron" is peering through the image ?

N.B. the new proposed Draft Communications Data Bill and the exisiting Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 cover the dissemination of Communications Traffic Data regarding Postcards i.e. who sent what, to whom, when and where from / where to.

RIPA also uses the term Communications Providers for Interception purposes, which includes not only telecommunications and internet service provider companies, but also public postal services and parcel couriers etc.

Most of the idle chatter on Twitter and in mainstream media forums about sending letters or postcards (which also supply DNA , fingerprint and other forensic clues to investigators or snoops) instead of electronic communications, so as to preserve privacy and / or anonymity, is either misinformed or is deliberate propaganda.

Currently under RIPA this only applies public postal operator or postal services providers, but the NuLabour style Communications Data Bill if passed, would allow any company, even those outside the telecomms or postal sectors, to be designated by the Home Office, simply by Order i.e. without proper debate or the opportunity for amendments, and have the huge burden of "not needed for business use" snooping and monitoring inflicted on them and their customers,

What is new in the Communications Data Bill regarding postal services, is that by treating them exactly like telecommunications companies, they will now be subjected to the 12 month Data Retention "for Filtering" aspect, which is something not covered by the European Union Data Retention Directive, implemented by the The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009, which only apply to telecommunications and internet Communications Providers.

The exposed Brocken plateau is now in a national park and has a narrow gauge railway, with steam engines, popular with tourists, rather like Snowdonia in north Wales.

Due to its height it is also the site of television transmitters and microwave relays.

However, during the Cold War, its proximity to the East / West German border meant that it was also used by the Soviet military for electronic warfare listening on western military units.

The Brockenhaus information centre for the Hartz National Park, is situated in the converted "Stasi Mosque" (Stasi-Moschee), topped with a fibreglass radome , which was formerly a WW2 radar station and then a TV / Radio transmitter and then an electronic snooping station capable of picking up analog mobile car phones, police and military frequencies etc. in West Germany.

There were plenty of other NATO listening stations on the other side of the border doing exactly the same sort of thing i.e. spying on East Germany, but also on West Germany e.g. on the second highest mountain in the Hartz mountains Wurmberg just across the valley and border and at the nearby Stöberhai (both now demolished).

The Stasi snoopers of yesteryear would be astonished by the level of state data trawling surveillance which our supposedly democratic Western liberal government is inflicting on millions of innocent people.

Maybe the Communist police state bureaucracy mentality actually won the Cold War after all.

About this blog

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

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

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

Email & PGP Contact

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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

Current PGP Key ID: 0x80CFAA4C which will expire on 6th September 2014.

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers