Recently in HMRC privacy & security breach Category

Two years after a Spy Blog FOIA request, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has now disclosed some information regarding their seemingly counterproductive practice of having a two tier, Us and Them policy for extra "security safeguards" on tax records.

See FOIA disclosure regarding HMRC tax record special categories

Remember that HMRC lost / misplaced the sensitive personal details of the entire Child Benefit database - names, addresses, details of children, National Insurance Numbers and some bank account details, affecting over 23 million people - every family in the UK.

There is no excuse for a "two tier" system - everyone's tax records should be secure from targeted or casual snooping, regardless, not just those of "Special Category" members of the Soviet style nomenklatura who have flourished under this authoritarian and secretive Labour government, and who far outnumber the people who are genuinely under the highest threat of violence, if their sensitive personal details are snooped on or leaked or lost or stolen.

The best way to reduce such security risks, is to vastly simplify the bureaucratic and over complicated taxation system, and to ensure that HMRC obeys the principles of Data Minimisation, and does not collect and store excessive amounts of personal data on individual citizens in the first place.

Categories and Numbers, excluding those subject to the s23 exemption or the s44
exemption

As at April 2008

Class of individualNumber of records*
HMRC staff [for reasons of propriety]   95,000
Certain [e.g. criminal justice] investigators in Govt depts; certain members of the police and judiciary   25,600
Protected for personal reasons: eg transsexuals,Gender re-assigned cases, domestic abuse and witness protection cases   24,500
Ministers of the Crown, Elected representatives, researchers and certain former Elected representatives   8,120

* We believe that in the majority of cases the number of records will equate to the number of individuals in a category, but there is a small possibility that they may include more than one record for a few individuals.


[...]

[The records of "celebrities" are not protected by additional safeguards.]

Note that by far the largest group, larger than all the rest combined, to whom this "Special Category" status of extra "safeguards" for their tax records is accorded, are HMRC staff themselves !

What exactly does [for reasons of propriety] mean ?

Some possible further FOIA request questions:

  • Why are "researchers" of Elected Representatives given "special category" status". Presumably the context of the use of that term implies political or parliamentary "researchers", employed by Elected Representatives, presumably Members of Parliament (646 MPs) at the Westminster House of Commons, rather than, say, biomedical researchers who are targets for harassment or violence by animal extremists.

  • Does "Elected Representatives" include Members of the European Parliament (72 UK MEPs 741 in total), Members of the Scottish Parliament (129 MSPs), Assembly Members (60 AMs) of the National Assembly for Wales and the Members of the Legislative Assembly (108 MLAs) in Northern Ireland Assembly ? Does it also cover County, Local and Parish Council Elected Members ?

  • The figure of 8,120 seems very high for just current Elected representatives since the figure above add up to only 1684 (only 1015, if only UK MEPs are counted) and "certain former" Elected Representatives.

  • What about non-elected Representatives i.e. Members of the House of Lords ?

    The various Labour Lords who have been appointed as unelected, unaccountable Ministers, do seem to qualify.

  • Will HMRC reveal the list of "Special Employers", in general terms ?

  • It is noticeable that the vast majority of Military or Police or Prison Officer personnel are not given any "Special category" protection, even though their names, addresses and family details are of significant interest to terrorist and foreign intelligence agencies and serious organised criminal gangs etc.

  • Who is the current "head of SSD (Special Section D)", and what are his / her contact details ?

  • Is there a secure and confidential means of contacting Special Section D, without involving the main HMRC postal, telephone and internet infrastructure ?

One of the evils of national scale centralised databases is that they are inherently anti-democratic and discriminatory in practice, even when they claim to be "one size fits all" and "everybody is equal".

This certainly seems to be so for the red tape happy HM Revenue and Customs and their counterproductive attempts to run a secret two tier tax record security system.

Why should there be any Special Categories "of individual for whom security is a higher priority" when it comes to confidential tax records ?

  • Who exactly decides which individuals qualify for "special" treatment ?
  • What are the selection criteria for this "special" treatment ?
  • What are the de-selection criteria for this "special" treatment ?
  • How can we be sure that those people who are getting Special Category treatment actually deserve it e.g. because their lives are in danger, and that they are not simply Labour political cronies or people who are buying influence within Whitehall ?

See our UK FOIA request sub-blog article:

ICO FOIA Decision Notice FS50216168 against HM Revenue and Customs ordering disclosure of tax record Special Categories

The Information Commissioner has now issued a Decision Notice FS50216168 dated 25th January 2010::

6. The complainant wrote to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on 28 January 2008 requesting information about the tax categories of individuals for whom security is a higher priority.

'Regarding the story in the Daily Telegraph newspaper of Saturday 26 January 2008 about the security, privacy and confidentiality of tax returns and the Parliamentary Oral Answer given by the Financial Secretary to HM Treasury

Daily Telegraph 26 January 2008: Online tax system 'too risky' for the famous

1) Please list these special "categories of individual for whom security is a higher priority"
2) Approximately how many people are in each special category?
3)Who exactly makes the decision to to put someone into one of these special categories ?
4) When, if ever, is an individual removed from such a special category?
5) Does a special category extend to an individual's family as well?
6) How long has this policy of special categories been in place ?
7) Who exactly authorised this special category policy?
8) How exactly does adding an extra digit to a tax code or other special markings to a paper tax return, make it less of a target for human snooping or electronic sniffing of the data once it is in digital form? Surely this contravenes the well established security principles for handling 'sensitive' data whilst it is sharing common office or electronic network infrastructure ie that it should be indistinguishable from the rest of the data or documents, to reduce the temptation to casual snoopers ?
9) What about the previous 24 year tax record history of an individual before they become a 'celebrity' or politician etc?
10) Are these special category tax records included in the datasets handed over, through the statutory gateway, to the DWP Longitudinal Study? http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/longitudinal_study/ic_longitudinal_study.asp
11) What is the approximate annual cost of the extra infrastructure and personnel resources needed to handle these special categories?'

This has resulted in:

The Decision

91. The Commissioner's decision is that the public authority did not deal with the request for information in accordance with the Act:
• it breached section 1 (1)(b) by not providing the complainant with the requested information wrongly withheld under sections 36 and 38;
• it breached section 10(1) by not confirming to the complainant within the statutory timescale that it held the requested information;
• it breached section 10(1) by not providing the complainant with information within the statutory timescale;
• it breached section 17(1) by not providing the complainant with a valid refusal notice within the statutory timescale; and
• it breached section 17(1)(b) and (c) by failing to specify and explain exemptions it later relied on.

Steps Required


92 The Commissioner requires the public authority to take the following steps to ensure compliance with the Act:

• disclose the list of special categories not exempt by virtue of section 23 or 44;
• disclose the number of people in each special category not exempt by virtue of section 23 or 44:
• disclose the name of the decision maker who makes the decision to put someone in one of the special categories; and
• disclose the information withheld in relation to questions 4, 5 and 9.

93. The public authority must take the steps required by this notice within 35 calendar days of the date of this notice.

Will Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs disclose the requested information,as ordered to by the Information Commissioner, or will they waste public money and our time, by trying to appeal ?

Remember that this Labour government is also trying to sneak in similar two tier systems for their other national database disasters like the Children Database or the National Identity Register etc.

If these systems are inherently insecure, then they should not be implemented in the first place.

If they are properly secure, then there is no need for a "two tier" system for "special" people.

If you are as frightened and appalled by the rise of the Database State under this dismal Labour Government, and you want to keep the political pressure on the Conservatives so that they do not forget their pre-election promises, if they do get into power in May, then please join the cross party NO2ID campaign

The Mail on Sunday reported :

Hackers steal £1m in online tax scam

By Stephen Condron and Christopher Leake
Last updated at 9:11 AM on 13th September 2009

Police are investigating how criminals managed to steal £1million from the taxman by accessing a Government computer system and granting themselves rebates.

The thieves filed returns online using the passwords of genuine self-assessment taxpayers - then diverted the money to bogus accounts.

The sting prompted concern yesterday that the fraudsters may have obtained the passwords from one of the many Whitehall laptops stolen over the past few years.

And it is expected to lead to renewed criticism of the Government for making it difficult for people to make their tax returns on paper. So far, six million people have been persuaded to switch to filing them online.

Except, of course for the secret categories of people, whose Tax Returns are singled out
for "special" handling.

See our long running Freedom of Information Act request: HMRC tax record special categories

The system penetrated by the thieves, the Government Gateway, was set up at a cost of £18million as part of Tony Blair's vision for services to be administered electronically. It allows users to fill in forms online for anything from paying parking tickets to claiming child tax credit.

UK Government Gateway

The thieves are understood to have diverted the money to bank accounts set up fraudulently using the names of the password holders.

Scotland Yard's specialist e-crime unit, which arrested a man last week in connection with the case, is investigating whether the fraudsters used sophisticated software to find a weakness in Gateway or whether they targeted the computers of the people whose identities they stole.

The Police, not HMRC, should also be investigating possible HMRC insider staff collusion or corruption.

The Government Gateway also prints out authentication credentials, on special "security" stationary, which is supposed to make it difficult to read the contents without opening the envelope, like that used for credit card PINs, and sends them to your registered address via conventional paper postal mail.

Has this aspect of this massive security breach been investigated ?

Last November, The Mail on Sunday revealed how Ministers were forced to order an emergency shutdown of Gateway after a computer memory stick was found in a pub car park.

Officers are investigating whether this could have played a part in the latest breach, as the computer stick contained passcodes to the system.

[...]

Last October, the Information Commissioner revealed there had been 277 data breaches since the loss of 25million child benefit records was disclosed in November 2007.

HMRC has taken the attack on its system so seriously that it has provided a template for a letter accountants can send to clients to apologise and reassure them that their tax affairs will not be affected.

A 32-year-old man was arrested on September 3 and bailed to return to Bethnal Green police station in East London on December 3.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: 'The investigation into what is suspected to be more than £1million of fraud began in June after HMRC detected an e-crime attack on their system.'

An HMRC spokesman refused to comment on the case but said: 'In common with all commercial financial organisations, criminals try to steal from us. HMRC is determined to bring to justice anyone responsible for trying to obtain fraudulent self-assessment repayments.'

That HMRC statement does not appear on their public website - www.hmrc.gov.uk

Where is the assurance that it is now safe and secure to file your income tax self assessment forms online ?

There needs to be a public statement by the Minister responsible, i.e. by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling,

It is no good making the usual sort of meaningless "we are taking this Extremely Seriously" type of statement, given the department's appalling record of data security mismanagement, and the suspicion bordering on hatred, which many people now have for this Government.

If the security vulnerabilities have not already been dealt with, and independently tested, then Alistair Darling should resign, and the senior civil servants at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. should be sacked.

If everything has been sorted out properly, then why not say so immediately, with proof that the appropriate actions have been taken ?

The Daily Record reports:

Nightwatchman left tax files centre open and unguarded while he sneaked off for a burger

Jun 9 2009 By Stephen Stewart

A HUNGRY security guard left highly sensitive files at risk while he went in search of a McDonald's.

The nightwatchman quit his post at the Customs centre in Dundee and propped open a door so he could get back into the building as he had no keys.

Why was a night watchman left on his own in a building, without any keys ?

He then took a hire car that was left on the premises for the use of Customs staff and drove off in search of fast food.

The guard - who sneaked off at 1.30am on May 30 - even picked up a friend and went for a joyride.

But at 6am, he handed himself in at a police station, telling officers he'd taken the car without permission.

It was only then that the security breach came to light - prompting an investigation by Customs bosses.

The HM Revenue and Customs contact centre in Dundee is home to millions of confidential tax files which would be rich pickings for identity thieves.

The centre, employing 800 people, is in Sidlaw House and owned by property firm Mapeley, who are also responsible for security.

A Customs insider said yesterday: "It is one of the most bizarre things I have ever heard of. Management are obviously very embarrassed by this and have been trying to keep it very hushhush for obvious reasons.

"Mapeley are supposed to call hourly through the night to check on the lone security guard and send someone to the site if there is no reply.

A lone security guard, for millions of tax records, who then leaves the building unlocked and unguarded for several hours ?

That is unprofessional and probably criminally negligent.

It certainly breaches the 7th Principle of Data Protection, as per the Data Protection Act 1998 Schedule 1:

7 Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.

"There must have been several calls with no reply but no one attended."

It is understood Mapeley sub-contracted shifts to another smaller, local firm.

The entire Mapely and HMRC chain of management need to be investigated for criminal offences under the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of information which specifically applies both to civil servants and their private sector sub-contractors:


8 Safeguarding of information

(1) [...]

(a) being a Crown servant, he retains the document or article contrary to his official duty; or

(b) being a government contractor, he fails to comply with an official direction for the return or disposal of the document or article,

or if he fails to take such care to prevent the unauthorised disclosure of the document or article as a person in his position may reasonably be expected to take.

Hamish Drummond, of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: "The guy who disappeared was apparently normally a bouncer at a nightclub. There needs to be an overhaul of security."

A Revenue & Customs spokeswoman said: "HMRC are consulting with Mapeley."

A spokeswoman for Mapeley said: "We are aware of the incident which is now the subject of a police investigation."

A police spokesman said: "A 25-year-old man from Dundee was charged with road traffic offences. A report has been sent to the fiscal."

Mapely are a Guernsey (i.e.tax haven ) based property management company, which owns and then leases back and manages most of the outsourced offices and buildings used by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and the Home Office's Borders and Immigration Agency, including the Passport / ID Card interrogation interview centres.

This points to an obvious, serious security risk, that the computer and telecommunications and biometric equipment within these Interrogation Centres will be illegally tampered with or sniffed and intercepted.

To be fair, on current performance, even Ministry of Defence armed guards, would not guarantee that such tampering or interception could never happen in the future.

The Labour Government are up to their usual "bury bad news" media manipulation tricks again today.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has published the final Poynter Review into the lost copies of the entire national HMRC Child Benefit database scandal last October. - Poynter Review final report, 25 June 2008 (PDF file 1.13MB)

As if by magic, and obviously just a complete coincidence, the supposedly independent from Government, Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has also published its report into the incident today. - HMRC, Washington IPCC independent investigation report into loss of data relating to Child Benefit (144KB .pdf)

Unsurprisingly, the IPCC finds nobody at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, or at the National Audit Office, to be criminally responsible for breaching Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Perhaps the fact that HMRC got the Director of Public Prosecutions to sign prosecution immunity certificates to the is effect explains this, although this was probably necessary in order to secure the cooperation of the junior and middle ranking staff involved.

Apparently Robert Hannigans's Cabinet Office review of wider Whitehall data handling is also meant to be published today. Whether this takes into account the recent Top Secret Joint Intelligence Committee papers left on a train, or Hazel Blears' Restricted and Confidential Cabinet documents unencrypted on a stolen computer in her constituency office scandals, remains to be seen.

There is also meant to be a Ministerial Statement by Des "Swiss Tony" Browne, the embarrassing Defence Secretary, into the stolen, unencrypted laptop computer with personal details of 650,000 potential and actual military recruits.

Also published today is Sir Michael Pitt's final report into the lack of preparedness for last summer's floods in large areas of the countryside., which obviously must also be of interest to the mainstream media and broadcasters.

It may take some time for the media and for bloggers to comment properly on all of these reports (if they are fully available on line), which is, presumably, a deliberate media spin policy

There is no hint of any of the senior civil servants or of the supposedly politically accountable Ministers actually taking personal, responsibility for the scandals, and resigning with honour.

We are alternating between laughter and fury, at the catalogue of errors displayed by HMRC, which seems to stem from the incompetence of its former boss, the then Chancellor and current Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

We note that neither the Poynter Review, nor the IPCC has properly examined the National Audit Office's lax data handling procedures, especially in regard to their transfers of the unencrypted Child Benefit Data to and from their commercial audit sub-contractors KPMG.

Some brief quotations:

The House of Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs has published (in print, but , unaccountably in the 21st Century, there is no simultaneous public publication of a web version) a report entitled A Surveillance Society ?.

As with similar Home Affairs Committee reports, they seem to interview and taken evidence from a reasonable selection of people, most of whom are critical of one or more aspects of Government policy. However they then they meekly accept untrustworthy assurances from the likes of Tony "not fit for purpose, but still a Home Office Minister", McNulty, that the Government are "listening" or "tackling" or " reviewing" and that they are "taking things very seriously".

However, none of the RIPA Commissioners i.e. neither the Intelligence Services Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Peter Gibson, nor the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Paul Kennedy, nor the Chief Surveillance Commissioner the right hon. Sir Christopher Rose, gave oral evidence or submitted written evidence to this Committee,

This is a major failing of a Report which discusses the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and the "Wilson Doctrine", and has "Surveillance" in its title.

Anybody expecting firm conclusions and clear recommendations from this Report will, search for them in vain.

The first paragraph of the Conclusions and recommendations :

We reject crude characterisations of our society as a surveillance society in which all collection and means of collecting information about citizens are networked and centralised in the service of the state.

This is a fallacious straw man argument - the point at which a free society is crushed by a surveillance state occurs well before "all" i.e. 100% of such information is snooped on.

A commercial cartel does not need to control 100% of a market to have an effective monopoly - 30 or 50 % can give it a dominant market share, which none of its smaller rivals can compete fairly with. This Labour Government was not elected by even a simple majority i.e. over 50% of the electorate - only about 22% of the electorate voted for them in the 2005 General Election so it is deliberately misleading to claim that only absolutely 100% snooping constitutes a threat to our freedoms and liberties.

Yet the potential for surveillance of citizens in public spaces and private communications has increased to the extent that ours could be described as a surveillance society unless trust in the Government's intentions in relation to data is preserved.

Who is stupid enough to trust this Government with personal data ? We have to grudgingly hand it over, but surely nobody now trusts them with it ? They have a literally appalling record of incompetence and uncaring bureaucratic arrogance in this regard.

Therefore, since we do not trust this Government, we can describe the United Kingdom as a "surveillance society", according to this criterion.

The Home Office in particular and Government in general must take every possible step to maintain and build on this trust: our Report provides a starting point.

Even if the Government "accepts" this Report, and then. , by some miracle, actually properly implements all of this Committee's rather weak recommendations, that will not be sufficient to re-establish public trust.

Here are their vague "Ground rules for Government"

Hat tip to Rob Lewis from accountingweb.co.uk who reminds us that "HMRC gets bugging powers" which commence today 15th February 2008.

These are under amendments to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), brought in by under the Serious Crime Act 2007 Schedule 12, and brought into force through the The Serious Crime Act 2007 (Commencement No.1) Order 2008 No. 219 (C. 5)

As Rob writes

HMRC has stated that all surveillance will be conducted in compliance with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the Wilson Doctrine, and subject to checks by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners and the Interception of Communication Commissioners Office. However, the department will not need to seek external authorisation for any of its surveillance activities.

The move flies in the face of assurances given when the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise merged in 2005 that integration would not necessitate an alignment of powers. Professional bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales will be further disappointed that HMRC has yet to draw up its own code of conduct regarding the new powers.

We expressed our worries last January: Is SOCA so useless, that HM Revenue & Customs really needs "bugging and phone-tap powers" ?

We have still seen no coherent justification for the extension of the snooping powers of the former Customs & Excise side, to infect the former Inland Revenue side of the HM Revenue & Customs mongrel Department.

If tax investigations (not drug smuggling) are on a scale and seriousness, so as to justify telephone intercepts and intrusive surveillance (i.e. legalised burglary into homes and offices to plant bugging devices), or to recruit Covert Human Intelligence informers, then surely the Serious Organised Crime Agency should be involved in a joint operation, and they can authorise and audit the necessary surveillance under RIPA ?

How can the Labour government justify allowing tens of thousands more faceless HMRC bureaucrats, to have access to our most sensitive personal data, through the most intrusive snooping powers, when they still have not restored any public confidence and trust following their appalling betrayal after the Child Benefit database scandal and other failed IT management and training privacy and security disasters ?

Remember that the Poynter Review and the Hannigan Review etc. etc. are being used as an excuse not to do anything effective about these scandals until after the May 1st 2008 Local Elections.

HMRC have published some media spin to try dampen down the furore over their special categories for Westminster Politicians and Celebrities, which tries to divert attention from the inadequacies of their back office systems,

See our previous blog article:
HMRC tax record security only for a minority of the privileged, but not for the rest of us
for some background and Obvious Questions about this.

HMRC Online Services - secure and safe to use

Some newspapers and broadcast media have claimed that HMRC's online filing systems are not secure because Members of Parliament and a small number of other taxpayers cannot use the Self Assessment service.

This is completely untrue. A small minority of taxpayers, including MPs, cannot currently use online services because the additional internal safeguards on their records mean that their taxpayer reference numbers are not recognised on the authentication system.

This therefore has nothing to do with the security of our online services. HMRC online services use the highest levels of encryption generally available and authentication processes similar to online banks.

[...]

The security of the encrypted web session segment of the online tax return workflow process was not in question ! It is what could happens to everyone's tax returns once they are within HMRC shared infrastructure of back offices, internal postal courier and internal electronic networks, accessible by large numbers of low paid staff, that is the problem.

Focusing on just the encrypted web front end, and not examining the whole end to end workflow, is deliberate media manipulation by the HMRC spin doctors, which, unfortunately, may well bamboozle some of the mainstream media journalists and editors.

By adding an extra digit to the tax code of people in these Celebrity / Westminster Politician special categories, and, perhaps also to categories of people who are actually at more risk of physical danger if their home addresses are revealed, HMRC are making things less secure not more so.

If the various Poynter / Hannigan / Thomas and Walport / Burton and other Reviews, bother to look into the depths of the voluminous Ventral Government Departmental Standard Operating Procedures and Security Procedures, they will see, that it is standard practice to make sure that sensitive data does not stand out when it is being transported along common office or electronic network infrastructure, along with allegedly less sensitive data or documents.

This even extends to instructing, say, British Telecom, not to specially label data cables in their exchanges, as carrying Central Government Departmental data.

This is a common sense approach to reducing the risk of casual snooping or opportunistic thievery by internal staff who have potential access, if they make an effort, to specially marked or easily identifiable "juicy" VIP or Celebrity documents or data records, or highly Protectively Marked Material,

These HMRC special categories should be abolished, on the grounds of equality and actual security.

The Daily Telegraph reports on another disturbing Soviet style bureaucratic practice of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs: they seem to have two classes of tax record - one for the ruling elite of "celebrities, Members of the Royal Family and Members of Parliament", and then another, less secure category for all the rest of us.

This does not appear to be on any physical risk based criterion e.g. protected witnesses, members of the Special Forces or Intelligence Agencies, undercover policemen, or victims of stalkers etc, but simply on vague notions of celebrity or political office.

N.B. it should be made clear to terrorists, that Members of Parliament, even members of the Government, who are supposedly serving the Public, not just themselves, are not a worthwhile target, since we, as a society will simply replace them democratically, whilst mourning any individual casualties.

This is not the first time that such creepy and sycophantic behaviour has been detected with centralised national bureaucratic databases - it seems that there are similar plans afoot to exempt "celebrities" and possibly others, from having to register their details on the Children Database / ContactPoint , as well.

Why have Labour politicians instituted and approved such institutional discrimination ?

Online tax system 'too risky' for the famous
By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
Last Updated: 2:04am GMT 26/01/2008

The security of the online computer system used by more than three million people to file tax returns is in doubt after HM Revenue and Customs admitted it was not secure enough to be used by MPs, celebrities and the Royal Family.

Thousands of "high profile" people have been secretly barred from using the online tax return system amid concerns that their confidential details would be put at risk.

This provoked anger from consumer groups and accountants who said the same levels of security should be offered to all taxpayers regardless of their perceived fame.

The word "anger" does not come close to the level of fury and hatred which this policy will provoke amongst the majority of the public who are being treated as inferiors by the HMRC bureaucrats and Labour party politicians.

The Labour government has published the two Interim Reports announced by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling following their admission of incompetence and betrayal of public trust on November 20th regarding the scandal of the lost CDs containing the entire Child Benefit Award database for the whole country by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Neither of these reports shed any new light on what disasters have happened or on what detailed steps are going to be taken to prevent them happening again.

We suspect that the final versions of these reports, and all the other investigations and inquiries, will magically and conveniently for the Labour government, not actually be published until after the May 2008 Local Elections for the Mayor of London, Greater London Assembly, English local government authorities and mayors, and the local unitary local government in Wales, when these electorates will have the rare chance to express their disgust with the Labour regime politically.

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