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Another Parliamentary Question for the Spy Blog Wilson Doctrine category archive:

Topical Questions
Oral Answers to Questions -- Cabinet Office
11:30 am 12th March 2014

HC Deb, 12 March 2014, c306


David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden, Conservative)

The Wilson doctrine is a convention whereby Government agencies do not intercept communications with Members of Parliament without explicit approval from the Prime Minister. In a letter to my hon. Friend Nick de Bois in 2012, the Minister told him that the Wilson doctrine did not apply to metadata, thereby exposing whistleblowers to risks from which parliamentary privilege should protect them. Will he review this policy, discuss it with the Prime Minister and report back to the House?


Francis Maude (The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General; Horsham, Conservative)

I absolutely understand the point that my right hon. Friend makes and I will undertake to look at this with my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister.

We will be watching for any (lack) of progress on this important issue.


@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.

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 ?

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


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.

The tendering process by the joint West Midlands and Surrey Police forces, dangling the prospect of up to £3.5 billion of contracts over 10 years to private companies, has been handled ineptly.

Given the amount of public money at risk, it has reluctantly had to publish the vague tender document in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The Guardian has published Key extract of contract note for bidders for police services

Instead of concentrating on uncontentious areas to potentially save money on, such catering or motor vehicle maintenance, they have idiotically included a list of "services" which impinge on what should be the core functions and duties of the Police, whilst at the same time not actually promising the private sector that an unspecified number of these service areas are not actually up for being privatised.

The activities involved are covered by the 'Police Activity Glossary' (PAG), which identifies the activities each police force conducts. Bidders should note that not all these activities will necessarily be included in the final scope, and that each police force will select some activities from these areas where they see the best opportunities for transformation. A revised version of the PAG is as follows

Without a clear definition of exactly what they want, is it any wonder that billions of pounds of public money is wasted by public bureaucrats when awarding contracts to the private sector ?

  • Assure Service - Manage performance, maintain professional standards, assure compliance, manage risk, provide legal services
  • Bring Offenders to Justice - investigate crimes, detain suspects, non-judicial disposal, develop cases, support prosecution
  • Deal with Incidents - Respond to incidents, manage scenes of incidents, investigate incidents, manage major incidents, support victims and witnesses
  • Lead Service - Support the Leadership of the organisation to develop strategy, policy and plans, manage change, and manage partnerships
  • Manage Public Engagement - Patrol neighbourhoods, manage public relations, manage customer relationships, report on performance, manage contact
  • Manage Resources - Manage suppliers, manage finance, manage people, manage ICT, manage fleet and livestock, manage equipment, manage facilities
  • Protect the Public - Manage high risk individuals, improve communities, protect vulnerable people, disrupt criminal networks, manage planned operations, protect vulnerable places, manage licensing, manage road safety

The only vaguely acceptable area on this list for the use of private sector partners is the "Manage Resources" activity.

West Midlands Police have also been spinning nonsense like "front line services will be preserved" or "the Chief Constable will still be accountable" etc.

West Midlands Police Explore The Value of Business Partnership to the Police Service

The regular, sworn Police constables, are barely trusted by the public to conduct do these tasks competently, honestly and impartially, why should anyone trust a private company to do so at all ?

What profit motive is there for a private company to actually reduce crime and therefore the the need for their services ? N.B. the same can be asked of any of the public sector Police bureaucracy as well - they have no effective interest in reducing their own budgets and empires either.

What public accountability is there for when, not if, things go badly wrong with a private sector contractor, which inevitably must look to its own profits first, before any "public service" ethos comes into play.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (the publicly funded, but unaccountable private company whose current or former members might might well be tendering for "Lead Service" activity contracts ) has weighed in with a Press Release:

ACPO comments on private companies taking a role in the delivery of policing

[...]

While there are a number of tasks in a criminal investigation, such as gathering CCTV evidence or checking phone records, which do not necessarily need to be done by a police officer, the investigation itself would always be overseen by a police officer in much the same way as a doctor oversees treatment of a patient although other healthcare professionals carry out particular tasks

Yes these tasks such as "checking phone records" absolutely must be done only by proper Police constables. Private sector companies or even civilian police employees should not be trusted with access to such potentially sensitive personal data.

Abuses of Communications Data by Police officers are already bad enough - letting presumably lower paid civilian workers or private sector company employees have access to these systems will make it even easier for "News of the World" / private investigators style abuses


It appears that one of the previous, hated, Labour government schemes for even more, very expensive, snooping on millions of innocent people's internet and phone activities, is being resurrected by the Coalition government with the misleading title of the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP)

The Open Rights Group has a useful wiki about CCDP and its predecessor schemes.

They also have a Petition against the CCDP for you to sign.

Dear David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May,

I do not want the government to try to intercept every UK email, facebook account and online communication. It would be pointless - as it will be easy for criminals to encrypt and evade - and expensive. It would also be illegal: mass surveillance would be a breach of our fundamental right to privacy. Please cancel the Communications Capabilities Development Plan.

It is almost as if the out of touch politicians and bureaucrats in Downing Street, Whitehall and Marsham Street have not bothered to notice the recent public and internet industry backlashes against legislative attempts to further snoop on and inconvenience innocent internet users, such as the SOPA bill in the USA or the ACTA treaty in the European Union (which this Coalition Government, shamefully, did not veto), which only served the private interests of lobby groups and not the wider interests of the general public.

Why have none of the Whitehall policy advisors learnt anything from the amount of ridicule, that their unworkable and repressive knee jerk reaction, to somehow ban or censor the use of mobile phones and social network messaging systems, after they were used by some, but not all of the rioters in August last year ? Exactly the same systems were also used, by more sensible people, simultaneously with the riots, to help innocent people stay away from riot affected areas and to help to organise the cleanup of the damage.

With the Government's utter failure to make out any evidence based business case for further intrusive legislation, they risk a public backlash which could limit their existing, overbroad, easily abused powers, with which they already fail to catch terrorists or serious organised criminals with, under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, but which appear to have been corruptly used to snoop on celebrities and innocent people at the behest of certain mainstream media news organisations.

NO2ID press release: Home Office prepares to announce total surveillance plan

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:

It looks like the Home Office is setting out to leapfrog China and gain the UK an unenviable position as the most monitored society in history. The automatic recording and tracing of everything done online by anyone - of almost all our communications and much of our personal lives, shopping and reading - just in case it might come in useful to the authorities later, is beyond the dreams of any past totalitarian regime, and beyond the current capabilities of even the most oppressive states.

This Daily Telegraph report is what seems to have re-ignited this weekend's outcry against this scheme:

Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan

Details of every phone call and text message, email traffic and websites visited online are to be stored in a series of vast databases under new Government anti-terror plans.

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent

9:00PM GMT 18 Feb 2012

Landline and mobile phone companies and broadband providers will be ordered to store the data for a year and make it available to the security services under the scheme.

The databases would not record the contents of calls, texts or emails but the numbers or email addresses of who they are sent and received by.

For the first time, the security services will have widespread access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Direct messages between subscribers to websites such as Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games.

The Home Office is understood to have begun negotiations with internet companies in the last two months over the plan, which could be officially announced as early as May.

The Home Office appears to be showing its usual contempt for the general public and for our fundamental rights of privacy and free association, by only bothering to consult with tame "communications industry" representatives, who have no commercial interest in protecting the public's privacy, so long as they do not have to pay for the data retention and snooping equipment themselves.

[...]

A Home Office spokesman said: "It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public.

Unless those "certain circumstances" are very, very tightly controlled, with criminal penalties which can be used against any Government official or agency or private sector sub-contractor who abuses them, we will expect the worst.

Access to Communications Data should no longer be allowed to be self authorised, a judicial warrant should be obtained first.

The current Interception of Communications Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy, has no real powers and cannot cope with more than a tiny fraction of the existing email interception warrants and is not consulted at all, on most of the hundreds of thousands of self authorised Communications Data demands for mobile phone records and location data

There is no hope that he can provide any public reassurance whatsover when CCDP extends such Data Retention and snooping to Twitter, Facebook and to online games etc. i.e. systems which are not run by Communications Providers (fixed line Telecommunications, Mobile Phone and Internet Service Provider companies)

We meet regularly with the communications industry to ensure that capability is maintained without interfering with the public's right to privacy.

The commercial interests of the "communications industry" and the pressure applied to them through the threat of losing their Government monopolies and spectrum licences means that they are not the only people who should be consulted about upholding the public's right to privacy.

Where they can get away with it, they also try to exploit the public's communications data privacy for commercial gain.

The Government should be protecting the public from the privacy invasive excesses of the "communications industry", such as Deep Packet Inspection based advertising, not conspiring with them cosily in secret, to further reduce the privacy of millions innocent members of the public.

How many of these "regular meetings" have there been to discuss CCDP ?

How many meetings have there been with civil liberties and privacy or consumer watchdog groups to discuss CCDP ? We suspect that there have been none.

[Time for a few Freedom of Information Act requests to the Home Office to see if they have bothered to "consult" with anyone except the vested interests]

As set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review we will legislate as soon as Parliamentary time allows to ensure that the use of communications data is compatible with the Government's approach to civil liberties."

c.f. Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review (808 Kb .pdf)

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government's "approach to civil liberties" is nothing to be proud of. They have yet not reversed, as promised, any of the repressive Labour legislation, apart from the Identity Cards Act.

They still have not sorted out the legislative disasters created by Labour, such as the Extradition Act 2003 or the plethora of repressive but often unworkable or actually counter-productive Terrorism and Serious Crime legislation.

All that can be said of their legislative dithering so far, is that they have not yet made things much worse, with more technically inept, catch-all Labour style legislation.

The several parallel Metropolitan Police investigations into the News of the World "phone hacking" scandal, Operation Tuleta and Operation Weeting and Operation Elevden continue to produce no arrests and no prosecutions of corrupt Police or Mobile Phone industry insiders, with respect to the alleged abuse of Communications Data privacy, especially the abuse of Mobile Phone Location Data.

Surely it is obvious now even to the most technologically illiterate politicians and Whitehall civil servants, that there is no effective regulation of Communications Data investigation systems.

Communications Data snooping by the Police etc can be a powerful investigative technique, but only when it is clear that it is not being abused.

Public confidence in the use of these techniques has been damaged by allegations (so far without much hard proof) that disreputable tabloid newspapers have been able to gain access to this highly intrusive, private information, which can only have come via corrupt police or intelligence agency or mobile phone network staff.

BBC reports that lawyers in civil cases before Mr Justice Vos have claimed:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15794225

18 November 2011 Last updated at 16:29

NoW hacking victims claim investigator tracked phones

A private investigator was involved in illegally tracking mobile phones, hacking victims have claimed.

Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for phone hacking for the News of the World, is linked to the so-called pinging of mobiles and computer hacking, a High Court civil case heard.

Pinging is tightly regulated and restricted to police, security services and a small selection of other bodies.

Mulcaire and News International have yet to respond to the claims in court.

[...]

The allegations were aired at a case management hearing in the civil cases for breach of privacy brought by hacking victims against News International, the owner of the now defunct NoW.

[...]

In July, the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Tuleta, alongside phone-hacking inquiry Operation Weeting, to probe allegations of computer hacking.

Operation Tuleta is examining breach of privacy claims received by police since January.


Sea also the previous Spy Blog article and comments back in July 2011:

NYT: NOTW bought mobile phone location data for $500 a time from corrupt police

N.B. under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, there are no criminal sanctions available against the Police or others who abuse Communications Data, of which Mobile Phone Location Data is a part, although there is a penalty of up to 2 years in prison for illegal Interception of the content of mobile phone voice or data communications, which is what the the News of the two News of the World employees were convicted of back in 2007.

The deliberate loopholes in this lax regime , brought in by the technologically inept yet authoritarian Labour government e.g. the totally ineffective and secretive Interception of Communications Commissioner, have not been tightened up by the dithering Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition government,

The proposals to slightly strengthen the roles of the Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Intelligence Services Commissioner and/ or the creation of an Intelligence Services Inspector General outlined in the recent Green Paper on Justice and Security , do not apply to "normal" Police cases.
.

if you are a potential whistleblower or an investigative journalist or political blogger or even a police or intelligence agency handler of Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS), you may well need to obtain or recommend, a hard (but not impossible) to trace, disposable "burner" pre-paid mobile phone, to arrange face to face meetings or document / data / money etc. dead drops.

If you have established initial contact with a potential confidential source or whistleblower, at least do them the basic security courtesy of not having to share a contact number with other confidential sources - an investigation into one such source, may very well draw attention to and betray the identities of other unrelated sources who have contacted the same phone number.

See our Hints & Tips for Whistleblowers etc. article: Buying a pre-paid phone card or mobile top up calling credit voucher anonymously

Tesco supermarkets are currently selling what they claim to be the "Cheapest Unlocked Mobile on the High Street" for under £10:

997_450.jpg

Samsung_GT-E1080i_display_450.jpg

Samsung_GT-E1080i_from_Tesco_450.jpg

This is a very basic voice and SMS only phone (no camera, no removable SD memory etc.) but consequently with a long standby battery life (a claimed 560 hours i.e. over 3 weeks), so it could be used as a disposable Tracking device, if registered with a web map phone tracking service.

The choice of Free SIM cards (otherwise available for 99p each) is: Lycamobile and Lebara (often used for cheap international calls) and the main UK brand names i.e Vodafone, Orange, O2, T-Mobile and Virgin.

Tempting as it is to buy two or more such cheap phones (for the spare battery and power charger alone), do not do so from Tesco. They seem to have an arbitrary, unpublished or poorly advertised "rationing" policy in place, limiting the number of such "bargain" phones which an individual customer can buy at a time e.g. "one per customer in 24 hours".

You do not want the supermarket checkout operator to have to "consult" with the floor supervisor or have to argue about how many phones you are allowed to buy, not if you are trying to remain forgotten and anonymous in case of future whistleblower leak investigations.

Obviously if you are getting a trusted third party to buy the pre-paid mobile phone for you, this may be less of a risk to consider.

About this blog

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

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

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

Email & PGP Contact

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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

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

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers