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The Emergency Debate on the Wilson Doctrine on Monday 19th October 2015:

Commons Hansard 19 Oct 2015 : Column 694

Almost no MPs bothered to attend this Emergency Debate on the operation of the Wilson Doctrine.


The MPs who did speak:

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con)
Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind):
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May)
Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con)
Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con)
Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)
Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab)
Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con)
Dr Andrew Murrison (South West Wiltshire) (Con)
Ms Margaret Ritchie (South Down) (SDLP)
Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) (DUP)
Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green)
Martin John Docherty (West Dunbartonshire) (SNP)

Will Her Majesty's Opposition hold the Government to account over this shoddy deception ? Or will the Corbynistas be overshadowed by the Scottish Nationalists ? Will the handful of Conservative MPs who seem to care about liberty and privacy and freedom have any effect on the Government ?


Chris Bryant, who lead this Emergency Debate, made a lot of sense in his analysis of the current Wilson Doctrine debacle, but the attitude of the rest of the Labour party, almost none of whom bothered to turn up, is still suspiciously unclear.

He rightly chided the Home Secretary for rushing through the Data retention and Investigatory powers Act in a single day, and hoped that the forthcoming Investigatory Powers Bill which might be able to ut the Wilson Doctrine or similar into law would not be similarly rushed through.

Andy Burnham (Lab) the Shadow Home Secretary turned up for a bit, and lurked next to Chris Bryant, but did not bother to speak

Where was the Deputy Leader Tom Watson (Lab), who is supposed to be a patron of the Open Rights Group and who did ask the Question which prompted Theresa May's "caveated statement" on the Wilson Doctrine earlier this year ? ?

Where were the Corbynistas ?

Dominic Grieve's contribution to the debate was restricted to promising that as Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, the Committee would consider MP and Constituency interception procedures along with other legally privileged lawyers and journalists etc.

Given the other things they must look into, it is unclear if they will contribute anything before the full Investigatory Powers Bill is set in motion early next year.

Peter Bone yet again asked the Home Secretary how many MPs have had their telephones intercepted since 1966. Her silence confirms that the number is clearly not zero, making a mockery of even the very narrow definition of the Wilson Doctrine which is now being spun by the Government.


David Davis correctly summed up the Wilson Doctrine is effectively dead:

"the doctrine is dead. Whether or not it is legally dead, it is in practice dead. It is dead in the eyes of the people--whistleblowers, campaigners and so on--who might come to us, and we have to do something to replace it."

He also mentioned the vital importance of metadata, which the Wilson Doctrine sneakily does not "protect".

Spy Blog would also like to see protection for Constituents, Campaigners, Journalists, Whistleblowers and other elected representatives all the other RIPA an non-IPA surveillance techniques included in the new Investigatory Powers Bill e.g. MetaData / Communications data / Traffic Data (RIPA 2000 Part II) , compelled access access to Encrypted Data (RIPA III), CHIS Covert Human Intelligence Sources (informers and infiltrators), bugging and tracking devices (Police Act 1997 Part III) etc.


The Scottish Nationalist Party outnumbered the Labour Party and emphasised the need for Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, Northern Ireland Assembly and UK Members of the European Parliament to have their communications with constituents and whistleblowers etc. protected.


The 3 MPs from Northern Ireland pointed out what even Theresa May admitted was a "conundrum" - it is unclear with the shifting changes made in secret to the Intelligence Agencies Guidance, did the Wilson Doctrine apply or not apply to those "double dipping" Members of Parliament MPs who were also simultaneously Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) ?

Caroline Lucas of course was a party to the the Investigatory Powers Tribunal case and mentioned the point Spy Blog noticed that even though the Wilson Doctrine has no legal power, neither do the Draft Code of Practice (not yet presented to, let alone approved by Parliament) nor the internal Intelligence Agency Guidance.


The lack of interest in their constituents' privacy and liberties shown by the absent MPs does not bode well for the forthcoming Draft Investigatory Powers Bill.

Last week the US Government admitted to a second massive security failure within a year at the Office of Personnel Management, which holds human resources details on all 4 million or so current and former Federal Government employees.

These systems appear to have been hacked for over a year and most if not all of the data has been exfiltrated, allegedly to China (not a firm attribution, given how easy it is to leave fake clues in malware).


As the OPM announcement of 4th June 2015 makes clear, this puts millions of people at risk of financial fraud via so called "identity theft".

However, things are much, much worse than mere "identity theft". It is now reported that the copied data includes the completed SF86 Questionnaire for National Security Positions forms (127 pages 7.4Mb .pdf also mirrored here in case you are blocked from accessing a US government website) and perhaps the results of Background Information interviews and checks for the highest levels of security clearances, not just for ordinary Federal bureaucrats, but also for Intelligence Agency personnel.

It should be obvious how a Foreign Intelligence agency could be assisted in finding potential sources / agents / traitors to suborn, through bribery or blackmail or appeals to ideology or religion, who have listed their financial, marital, medical or other personal details and problems on such forms.

It should be obvious how a Foreign Counter Intelligence Agency could use the information revealed in this form on relatives and contacts living abroad, as well as the Passport or ID Card numbers of the applicants for security clearance and those of their families.

Given the closeness of the Intelligence Agencies of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, it is not unreasonable to ask:

1) When was the UK government informed of the OPM security breach ? The admission came only last week, but the breach appears to have been discovered in April and the security breaches seem to have been active for over a year.

2) How many UK nationals holding US security clearances are affected ?

3) What is the UK government doing to protect them ?

4) Given the similar nature of United Kingdom security vetting systems i.e. an allegedly secure Web Portal, a long and complicated Security Vetting form submitted online (possibly insecurely due to the reliance on an Adobe plug-in which only worked in insecure versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer - only changed recently) and a back end Oracle database, what evidence rather than mere assertions, is there that UK systems like the Defence Business Services National Security Vetting Portal has not been attacked and similarly compromised ?


5) Who, if anyone, has audited the UK systems in the light of the OPM disaster and when will their report be published ?

N.B. This should be a task that the Intelligence and Security Committee should have been working on, but they stopped working 2 months before the General Election and a new Committee has still not yet been appointed.

6) Given the push for cost savings and a possible rationalisation of the disparate GCHQ, Security Service MI5 and Secret Intelligence Service SIS/MI6 security vetting systems onto a common platform, as recommended by the Intelligence and Security Committee Annual Report 2011 pages 79 - 80, is it safe to do so ?

7) Why isn't the Government pro-actively reassuring the public about these National Security worries by ordering independent security penetration tests of these systems right now, and publishing the outcomes (but obviously not any detailed vulnerabilities found) instead of their lazy and corrupt policy of Neither Confirm Nor Deny ?

8) Why aren't professional journalists and Parliamentarians holding the Government to account by asking such questions instead of Spy Blog ?

Who is scrutinising the activities of the United Kingdom's Intelligence Agencies ?

Not, it appears, Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee according to this Press Release issued on Tuesday 24th February 2015:



At a meeting of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament earlier today, the Rt.
Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP informed the Committee that he had decided to step down from the role of Chairman with effect from the end of the meeting, and Would be making a public statement to that effect.

The Committee accepted the Chairman's decision.

Regardless of whether it right for Members of Parliament to supplement their £67,000 a year plus expenses incomes, as Sir Malcolm Rifkind claimed the Intelligence and Security Committee and especially its public face, the Chairman, needs to be seen to be impartial and independent, both from the Government and from private sector lobbying influence.

N.B. it is still a bit unclear whether the passing of the Justice and Security Act 2013, making the ISC a statutory "Committee of Parliament", entitles the Chairman of the ISC to claim an extra £14,876 a year which Chairmen of Select Committees are paid.

He also needs to be competent and to be aware that he personally is a target of hostile and perhaps even of "friendly" government and private sector intelligence agencies.

The fact that Sir Malcolm fell for a journalistic sting involving an apparently Chinese communications company, really did bring his Operational Security judgement into question. He met representatives of an apparently Chinese company, within what should have been his secure office environment, without having done any background security checks first and without having them scanned to see if they were carrying surveillance electronics (which they were).

It is irrelevant that he thought that he was not discussing anything secret with these potential Chinese employers, he should have known that all intelligence agency recruitment plays start off with something innocuous. He and / or his office staff would have been more vulnerable to targeted email or phone malware attacks, coming from a "trusted" source i.e. his potential or actual Chinese employer. Even arranging for future meetings could betray the timing and perhaps the location of supposedly secret meetings with intelligence agency staff.

At the meeting, the Committee completed its major Inquiry into Privacy and Security, and its Report will now be sent to the Prime Minister.

Given that that concludes the substantive work of the Committee in this Parliament, and that the Committee has no further formal meetings scheduled before the prorogation of Parliament, the Committee decided that there was therefore no need for it to elect a new Chairman for the remaining few weeks.

All further matters which arise during the life of this Parliament will be dealt with by the
Committee as a whole.


1. The ISC was established in 1994 under the Intelligence Services Act, and was reformed under the Justice and Security Act 2013. This legislation made the ISC a statutory committee of Parliament and strengthened its powers.

The Committee now has greater access to information, including primary material held within the Agencies. Its remit has also been expanded to include oversight of intelligence and security operations, and oversight of all intelligence and security activities of Government.

2. The ISC is a cross-party committee of nine parliamentarians from the Commons and the Lords. The Committee's membership is as follows:

The Rt. Hon. Lord Butler KG GCB CVO
The Rt. Hon. Hazel Blears MP
The Rt. Hon. George Howarth MP
The Most Hon.the Marquess of Lothian QC PC
The Rt. Hon.Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP
The Rt. Hon. Sir Menzies Campbell CH CBE QC, MP
Dr Julian Lewis MP
Mr Mark Field MP
Ms Fiona Mactaggart MP

Why is Sir Malcolm Rifkind still a Member of the Intelligence and Security Committee ?

The security risks and the impression of "cash for access" sleaze from the lobbying for a "Chinese" company sting, should have been enough for an "ordinary" Member to "step down".

Why has the ISC not bothered to elect even a temporary Chairman ?

Were they hoping not to have to answer questions from the media or the public, by pretending that convention that only the Chairman speaks for the ISC in public still applies ?

The reason for the convention i.e. possible public confusion, is clearly not working. There have been press quotations from both Sir Malcolm Rifkind (why doesn't he maintain a dignified silence until he is exonerated for everything except stupidity or vanity, by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and by the Conservative party inquiry ?) and from Sir Menzies Campbell on the "Jihadi John" radicalisation and MI5 story.

3. The completion of the Committee's Inquiry into Privacy and Security marks the end of a major piece of work which began in July 2013.

The ISC has since taken evidence from a wide range of witnesses, from Ministers to academics and campaign groups, including in public sessions held in October 2014.

In line with its procedures, the completed report is now being sent to the Prime Minister and a version will be published before the end of March.

It is extraordinary that Malcolm Rifkind was so stupid or greedy to appear to be peddling influence / lobbying contacts for cash from a Chinese communications company (thankfully a journalistic fake.)

It is intolerable that there now appears that there will be no scrutiny whatsoever of the intelligence agencies by this Committee, for at least the next 2 months, until after the General Election.

Have ISIS, AL Quaeda and Putin all decided to go on holiday ? Of course not and hopefully neither have our intelligence agencies, so neither should the ISC.

There is a massive amount of scrutiny work which they simply have not done in the past, some of which they could certainly be working on before the General Election in May.

One feature of the ISC Reports under the Chairmanship of Malcolm Rifkind, compared with those under his predecessors, has been a lot less public reporting on the various dodgy building and information infrastructure projects upon which large sums of public money have been spent and in some cases, wasted.

At the very least the ISC could spend the next few weeks getting status reports on all the ongoing and planned building and IT and recruitment and training projects.

If they had been reviewing the monthly project management reports, which the intelligence agencies surely must compile internally, then perhaps they would actually have known about hugely controversial and dangerous schemes like GCHQ's TEMPORA, which took them by surprise when it was revealed as a result of the media revelations of Edward Snowden.

For the ISC not to have bothered to schedule any meetings on these ongoing oversight issues for the next 2 months, is a dereliction of their public duty.

NuLabour MP Paul Goggins.

Paul Goggins always gave the impression of being a decent, caring, hard working MP, unlike so many of his NuLabour colleagues.

Mactaggart (one of the richest Labour MPs, from a Tory property speculating family) was one of the repressive authoritarian junior Ministers at the Home Office, at the same time as Goggins.

In spite of the supposed reforms to the Intelligence and Security Committee, she has now been nominated to be a member by the Prime Minister (presumably in secret consultation with the Labour leadership).

The House of Commons rubber stamped this nomination on 13th May 2014.

HC Deb, 13 May 2014, c720

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That Fiona Mactaggart be appointed to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament under Section 1 of the Justice and Security Act 2013.--(Tom Brake.)


HC Deb, 13 May 2014, c723

Question put and agreed to.

There is no sign of any actual "election" of Members of the ISC by MPs (or Peers) from a list of security cleared candidates, as recommended by various reports.

Given the pre-announced constraints, what Questions can the Intelligence and Security Committee actually sensibly ask the heads of GCHQ, Security Service MI5 and Secret Intelligence Service SIS/MI6, during tomorrow's "historic" first televised Open Evidence session ?

The Committee will question the Agency Heads on the work of the Agencies, their current priorities and the threats to the UK. Among other things it will cover the terrorist threat, regional instability and weapons proliferation, cyber security and espionage. However, since this is a public session, it will not cover details of intelligence capabilities or techniques, ongoing operations or sub judice matters. The Committee questions the Agencies about these details in their closed sessions.


Sir Iain Lobban, Director, GCHQ;
Mr Andrew Parker, Director General, Security Service; and
Sir John Sawers, Chief, Secret Intelligence Service.

will have rehearsed and / or have received tax payer funded "media coaching", like other senior civil servants have done when appearing before televised Parliamentary Committee sessions. Sir John Sawers, a former diplomat, is likely to require the least "coaching".

Here is are some Spy Blog suggested Questions for the ISC to ask:

Some Witness protection but currently no Whistleblower protection

Given the new powers of the ISC under the Justice & Security Act 2013 Schedule 1 (7) Protection for Witnesses

Protection for witnesses

7(1) Evidence given by a person who is a witness before the ISC may not be used in any civil or disciplinary proceedings, unless the evidence was given in bad faith.

(2) Evidence given by a person who is a witness before the ISC may not be used against the person in any criminal proceedings, unless the evidence was given in bad faith.

However, many potential whistleblowers will be scared of even contacting the ISC to merely discuss possible future witness testimony, regarding issues or details about which the senior managers of the Intelligence Agencies may not themselves be aware of. This will happen before any ISC witness immunity can be invoked, since this can only apply to actual evidence, rather than to investigative tip offs etc. for the ISC to probe further.

N.B. even if the Intelligence & Security Committee became a proper Joint Select Committee of Parliament, the legal privileges under the Bill of Rights would still only be Witness rather than Whistleblower protection.

Questions for the Open Session

Will each of the heads of the Intelligence Agencies publicly assure the Committee, the public and potential whistleblowers within their agencies and within their private sector subcontractors, that:

  1. They will not seek to use any of their Interception, Communications Data, Confidential Human Intelligence Sources or other Surveillance powers to try to identify potential or actual whistleblowers, who try to contact the Intelligence and Security Committee with tip offs, stories, testimony or hard evidence, regarding issues which the senior management of the agencies might not actually be aware of e.g. regarding knowledge or suspicion of the use of torture etc.
  2. They will not try to get the Police to conduct such "ISC whistleblower hunts" on their behalf and will forbid Foreign Intelligence Agency partners from doing so either.
  3. Contacting or actually giving evidence to the ISC will not affect an individual's Security Vetting / Clearance.
  4. Contacting or actually giving evidence to the ISC will not affect existing or future commercial contracts let by the intelligence agencies
Unless a current or future UK whistleblower can make use of the Intelligence and Security Committee, to get real or imagined wrongdoing properly investigated, without the risk of pre-emptive or post facto retaliation by the Intelligence Agencies, then it is more likely that they will simply dump their evidence anonymously to the internet at large, instead of using newspapers to (in most cases) responsibly publish them and raise legitimate democratic issues, like the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has done.

Promises about Whistleblower Protection are not enough on their own

Even if the ISC does extract such Whistleblower Protection promises from the current heads of the Intelligence Agencies, these need to be codfied into law, backed up by criminal sanctions, to bind their successors.

In addition, the ISC still needs to use suffcient technological and human counter espionage measures, because Hostile Foreign Intelligence Services (whether "enemies" or "allies") and criminals will also be targeting the Members of the Committee and their staff and families, to try to glean the identities of the Committee's confidential contacts and sources.

Will this Open Evidence session actually reassure the sceptics (like Spy Blog) of the effectiveness of the scrutiny provided by the Intelligence and Security Committee ?

Or will it be little more than a recital of how everything that the Intelligence Agencies do is lawful and that they should be trusted regardless ?

Send your own Questions (or tip offs) to the ISC

You can send the Intelligence and Security Committee an email with your own Questions or even tentative first approaches with a view to giving evidence in private via:

which will be encrypted in transit on the network, but which will be vulnerable to GCHQ and NSA and other snoopers whilst on the public internet.

Postal address is:

Intelligence and Security Committee
35 Great Smith Street

You are also welcome to send your Questions anonymously to Spy Blog, which will then be passed on to them as securely and as anonymously as possible:

Spy Blog PGP public encryption key for

After being hastily cancelled in the first week of July 2013, the Intelligence and Security Committee has again announced the "historic" first ever open oral evidence taking session with the three heads of the UK's intelligence agencies.

23 October 2013
posted 23 Oct 2013 03:04 by ISC Admin
Open Evidence Session

At 14:00 on Thursday 7 November, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament will be holding an Open Evidence Session with the three heads of the UK Intelligence Agencies:

Sir Iain Lobban, Director, GCHQ;
Mr Andrew Parker, Director General, Security Service; and
Sir John Sawers, Chief, Secret Intelligence Service.

No doubt all three are rehearesing what they will say and are being given taxpayer funded TV media coaching, so that they do not make fools of themselves in public.

Sir John Sawers a former Ambassador and British Permanent Representative to the United Nations, is likely to have most experience with the media, but the ISC is unlikely to ask any of the tree of them any hard questions.

This will be the Committee's first Open Evidence Session: it will be the first time the three heads of the Intelligence Agencies have appeared in public together to talk about their work.

The session will give an insight into the world of intelligence, and the work the Agencies do on behalf of the UK. It represents a very significant step forward in terms of the openness and transparency of the Agencies. The Committee will question the Agency Heads on the work of the Agencies, their current priorities and the threats to the UK. Among other things it will cover the terrorist threat, regional instability and weapons proliferation, cyber security and espionage.

The sort of things readers of the censored ISC Annual Reports have become used to.

However, since this is a public session, it will not cover details of intelligence capabilities or techniques, ongoing operations or sub judice matters. The Committee questions the Agencies about these details in their closed sessions.

So absolutely everything to do with the Edward Snowden revelations will be kept secret.

The session will be held on the Parliamentary estate and will last approximately an hour and a half. It will be broadcast on

Clearly not this is not likely to be a Parliamentary Committee Room in the main Palace of Westminster and the "secure" brutalist bunker architecture of the QE II Conference Centre is part of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), not part of the Parliamentary Estate.

At a guess one of the Portcullis House Committee rooms might be used as they are already wired up for TV broadcast and which it is easier to smuggle the secret squirrels in and out via the maze of the Norman Shaw Building etc. for security reasons.


Parliamentary Estate boundaries as per Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 section 128 - crossing these boundaries without permission is criminal trespass.

The session will be broadcast on a short time delay. The time delay is a security mechanism to allow the Committee to pause the broadcast if anything is mentioned which might endanger national security or the safety of those working for the Agencies. A similar process was used during the public hearings for the Iraq Inquiry.

There will be a limited number of seats available in the meeting room itself. For security reasons, the Committee has agreed that for this first Open Session these seats will be available to full Parliamentary pass holders and a small number of print journalists only. A notification of the event has been posted on the parliamentary intranet and pass holders have been invited to apply for a seat, which will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis.

Media arrangements are being dealt with separately.

The week before and the weekend after this "historic" session, there is likely to be a lot of Whitehall "media handling" and spin to manipulate the usual suspect newspapers and broadcast media to emphasise the official line and to ignore the unanswered (and probably unasked) questions.

Submit Questions for the ISC to ask the heads of GCHQ, MI5 & SIS

We invite Spy Blog readers to submit their own Questions for the heads of the UK Intelligence Agencies either for the open session or for the closed one, either directly to the ISC:

Postal Address

Intelligence and Security Committee
35 Great Smith Street

Email Address

Alternatively, if you suspect that you may be tracked and monitored by the Intelligence Agencies, especially if you are a current or former employee, Spy Blog will pass on your Questions as anonymously as possible on your behalf.

Spy Blog PGP public encryption key for
Fingerprint: F529 A804 A171 548E B2B7 A724 A165 A294 80CF AA4C
expires on 6th September 2014

See also Spy Blog's Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for
Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Intelligence agency staff whistleblower protection

The ISC has the theoretical power to protect actual witnesses giving evidence from any criminal or civil prosecutions or internal disciplinary measures. This is all very well for hiding the sins and errors of the heads or former heads or senior staff of the intelligence agencies, but is not adequate for more junior staff or contractors, whose evidence or testimony may contradict or may have been hidden from the more senior staff. These people risk their security clearances and commercial contracts if they speak out and so should get extra protection.

There should be whistleblower protection afforded by the Intelligence and Security Committe, similar to that outlined in our correspondence with the Detainee Inquiry (which was nobbled when trying to look into allegations of torture complicity by the UK intelligence services & MOD etc.)

Witness but not whistleblower protection for the Detainee Inquiry into torture complicity of MI5, SIS, GCHQ

Without this, middle level or senior intelligence agency staff, fearful for their own jobs, could well authorise the deployment of the full panoply of their state backed surveillance powers in a "mole hunt" exercise, self-justified on "internal national security" grounds, to try to identify who has attempted to "spill the beans" to the Intelligence and Security Committee, regardless of whether they actually go through with it or actually say anything really controversial.


Jemima Khan, Henry Porter and William Sieghart invite you to:

Mass Surveillance The debate in Britain must not be silenced

Twitter: @stopbuggingusUK
Twitter hashtags: #debatestartshere and #stopbuggingus

Tickets via email:


RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)
66 Portland Place
London W1B 1AD

Google Map

When ?

Monday 4th November 2013

6.45pm to 9.00pm [N.B. it now looks to be starting at 6.30]

Confirmed Speakers:

Alan Rusbridger (editor of The Guardian)
David Davis MP
Sir Simon Jenkins
Jo Glanville (PEN)
Tom Watson MP
Wolfgang Büchner (Editor-in-Chief, Der Spiegel)
Julian Huppert MP

It would be better if some proponents / defenders of the current surveillance state were willing to try to justify the status quo in the light of the Edward Snowden revelations as these speakers are all very likely to agree with each other.

The proximity of this event to the BBC and the presence of some print / online media editors should ensure some media coverage.

Remember that there will be a Whitehall led "media handling" / spinning campaign in the run up to the potentially very dull Intelligence and Security Committee televised open evidence session with the heads of the the three UK intelligence agencies (invited print media only in the audience) on Thursday 7th November 2013. There needs to be media coverage which counters the likely spin.

The meeting location is opposite the Chinese Embassy . Will the nearby Met Police / MI5 surveillance teams now "accidentally" log all the meeting attendees' mobile phones & add their CCTV images to their political "extremist" databases ?

Hopefully any Spy Blog readers who do attend will leave their usual mobile phones at home and / or will have registered via a disposable, one time email alias.

The Observer carries an extraordinarily worrying claim by Sir Malcolm Rifkind the chair of the supposedly independent Intelligence and Security Committee, which is supposed to provide statutory oversight of the intelligence agencies, in debate with Henry Porter.

Henry Porter v Malcolm Rifkind: surveillance and the free society

Malcolm Rifkind and Henry Porter
The Observer, Saturday 24 August 2013 20.49 BST


What you clearly don't understand is that the ISC has two duties, not one. The first is to criticise and condemn the intelligence agencies if they exceed their powers or act foolishly. The second, just as important, is to defend them and declare their innocence when unfairly attacked by journalists or politicians. They cannot defend themselves. We are determined to do so, but only when the facts justify it.


According the Intelligence Services Act 1994 which set up the Intelligence and Security Committee, its remit was:

10 The Intelligence and Security Committee.

1)There shall be a Committee, to be known as the Intelligence and Security Committee and in this section referred to as "the Committee ", to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of--
(a)the Security Service;
(b)the Intelligence Service; and

The recent Justice and Security Act 2013 slightly increases the powers of the ISC, but its purpose and duty remains the same

Main functions of the ISC

(1)The ISC may examine or otherwise oversee the expenditure, administration, policy and operations of--
(a)the Security Service,
(b)the Secret Intelligence Service, and
(c)the Government Communications Headquarters.

(2)The ISC may examine or otherwise oversee such other activities of Her Majesty's Government in relation to intelligence or security matters as are set out in a memorandum of understanding.

Therefore the duty of the Intelligence and Security Committee is the first role of scrutiny but not the second of public relations !

The ISC has no legal remit to

defend them and declare their innocence when unfairly attacked by journalists or politicians

It is nonsense to pretend that

they cannot defend themselves

There is no legal barrier to the heads of Mi5, MI6 and GCHQ from giving public interviews themselves or having official spokesmen and official press releases to counteract any unfounded rumours and speculation.

Each of these intelligence agencies is supposedly politically answerable to either the Home Secretary or the Foreign Secretary, both of whose departments employ a surfeit of public relations and media spin doctors, who could and should issue official, on the record, public statements on behalf of the intelligence agencies as required.

The practice of "anonymous Whitehall sources", selectively officially briefing journalists in secret, fools nobody except themselves.

The Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister should te the ones defending the intelligence agencies. They should resign if and when the intelligence agencies are caught out having exceeded their democratically ethically acceptable roles, whether or not the agencies have been acting under the legal cover of a carte blanche under the UK's sneakily worded laws, which make it almost impossible for them to act illegally.

The Intelligence and Security Committee must not be seen to be fulfilling the role of a public relations department for the intelligence agencies, as this looks like a conflict of interest and destroys public trust in the whole system of supposed Parliamentary scrutiny .

Unfortunately that is exactly what it seems to have become under the chairmanship of Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who, incredibly, is making Spy Blog look back to previous Labour chairs of the ISC with a hint of nostalgia.


Spyblog has always been a strong supporter of journalists or other online publishers protecting the Anonymity of whistleblowers or other confidential sources by using the most professional human and technological techniques available.

However, whistleblower anonymity is rarely maintained indefinitely. It is vital whilst a whistleblower is in immediate danger of arrest or other reprisal, but very often a genuine whistleblower wants to go public with their story.

This now seems to be the case for Edward Joseph Snowden, the former CIA employee and computer systems infrastructure contractor recently working for the NSA in Hawaii, who has identified himself as the source of the recent revelations published in The Guardian and the Washington Post.

Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations

Monday 10th June 2013 is unlikely to shed much light on the United Kingdom aspects of this affair.

Home Secretary Theresa May and MI5 involvement in the #Woolwich murder suspects - nothing will be revealed because the court case is still in progress.

Supposedly the new Director General of MI5 the Security Service Andrew Parker is meant
to have given evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has been on television on Sunday, failing to reassure the public that GCHQ and NSA have not been snooping on innocent UK people

Hague claimed the standard "Intelligence gathering in UK is governed by strong legal process. It is authorised, necessary, proportionate & targeted

Will William Hague resign if it is disclosed that the US snooping on the UK was not always under direct British control and in accordance with UK rather than US law ?

Exactly the same sort of unconvincing assurances were made by his Labour predecessor Jack Straw in regard to torture / rendition by the USA and with the cooperation of UK intelligence agencies. Straw had to admit that he had mislead Parliament over rendition flights to and from UK sovereign territory. The Detainee Inquiry if it is ever re-convened after being nobbled, and the court cases from Libya will show either that Jack Straw was lying about sanctioning assistance in kidnapping and torture or he was not informed in detail by MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service and not informed by GCHQ who should have been monitoring this.

Spyblog expects that William Hague's statement to the House of Commons on Monday will try to divert attention from the main allegations regarding the revelations about the NSA's global snooping efforts and British GCHQ involvement in them, by waving the usual "terrorism" flag and claiming that GCHQ always operates within UK law.

The inference that the NSA's PRISM system was used by the British authorities, presumably GCHQ, to generate 197 reports has lead to speculation that could have been illegal interception under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
However, if William Hague has signed a warrant under the Intelligence Services Act 1984, which gives GCHQ effectively a carte blanche to do stuff overseas that would otherwise be illegal here in the UK, then, technically, he will be able to claim that all such snooping was , in fact legal.

He will not, of course mention any specific details of those 197 cases or reports, but the wretched "neither confirm nor deny" nonsense which he repeated on Sunday will no doubt come into play again.

What possible justification is there for "neither confirm nor deny" for anything whatsoever to do with the intelligence agencies, no matter how far removed from actual tactical operations or live investigations ?

There is no problem in discussing the cost or lack of value for money of say large military defence procurement programmes for submarines or aircraft carriers or combat aeroplanes etc. Doing so does *not* harm our national security and gives no significant advantage to a potential enemy whatsoever. It may actually deter some potential enemies from attacking us in the first place.

But the UK government will try to hide behind the outdated "neither confirm nor deny" nonsense when it comes to even mentioning the code names of mulch-million pound computer projects used by GCHQ etc.

Hague will also claim that , somehow, the Intelligence and Security Committee provides independent scrutiny of the UK Intelligence Services.

The ISC has never commanded much respect from the public in the past and even the slight changes to its remit and powers to investigate recently brought in this year would not have applied to the recent revelations, which go back to 2006 or so.

Coincidentally, the Intelligence and Security Committee seem to be off to the USA on Monday for a previously arranged trip to be briefed by the more powerful US intelligence watchdog committees.

None of the members of the ISC can be considered to be even moderately expert at computer and internet and telecommunications technology. Malcolm Rifkind managed to confuse Interception of Content with Communications Data when recently championing a revival of the #snooperscharter in the aftermath of the #Woolwich murder.

So it is completely plausible to assume that they will be easily bamboozled by technical jargon and fail to grasp the nuanced threats to the United Kingdom if they are actually briefed on the details of PRISM or Boundless Informant and the underlying snooping infrastructure upon which these systems rely.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind and the other other members of the ISC should ask:

1) Is the FBI / NSA snooping on the mobile phone Communications Traffic meta data of the phones belonging to the members of the Committee and their staff ?

N.B. There are no protections for "foreigners" under the relevant US snooping laws, as demonstrated by the top Secret Verizon / FISA court order, no matter how friendly they are to the USA.

2) The ISC's own website is hosted on, which is hosted by Google, with their Reports being published via Google Docs,

The ISC should establish, whilst they are in the USA, who exactly has been given access to the web server visitor logfiles.

If they cannot get straight answers to those two simple questions, which affect the security and effectiveness of the Intelligence and Security Committee itself, then they cannot provide any public reassurance whatsoever in this whole affair, regardless of what William Hague might claim in his statement.

The Justice and Security Bill 2013 is now awaiting Royal Assent and the Pariament website has not yet published the consolidated final text of the Act online.

However it is possible to see amendments which have been passed:

"secret courts" Closed Material Procedure

The controversial "secret courts" Closed Material Procedure stuff has been passed and has successfully distracted the opposition from properly scrutinising the other bits of the Bill in any great detail.

Reading some of the coverage of the "secrets courts" controversy, one might have been led to believe that the existing system is somehow open and accessible to all, especially online,

The truth is that there is a vast amount of deliberate secrecy and sheer incompetence (espcially online) which effectively hides much of the supposedly "open" justice system from the public, only giving the (rich) privileged few access to some, but not all of it.

Try using the HM Courts & Tribunal Service website to try to work out which cases are actually being heard next week or next month and in exactly which Court room - impossible.

Try (in vain) to find any Court Transcripts of cases officially online

Spy Blog does not think that Closed Material Procedure will make much difference on its own - it is in addition to Public Interest Immunity certificates and in camera court proceedings, it does not replace them.

Nobbling of Norwich Pharmacal orders

2) Of much more interest to the Whitehall securocrats is the nobbling of Norwich Pharmacal orders, which is what gave the legal team in the case of
Binyam Mohamed such leverage and embarassed various MI6 managers and officials in Court (with their identities etc. being kept secret, under exisiting legislation and procedures)

Given what could be revealed in the torture complicity cases from Libya, Iraq, Afganistan etc. or if it ever gets re-started the currently suppressed Detainee Inquiry, the new section 14 Disclosure proceedings and section and section 15 Review of certification are likely to be used to cover up historical political enbarassment rather than to protect actual, up to date tactical operational information.

There has been barely any mention of this in the media or in Parliament.

Freedom of Information Act to apply to the Intelligence and Security Committee

One welcome amendment is the one to Schedule 2 one which amends the Freedom of Informationm Act 2000, to allow Freedom of Information Act requests to the Intelligence and Security Committee itself, but don't get too excited about this, no real secrets are likely to be disclosed.

Obviusly they will bat away any request for material supplied by the Intelligence Agencies themsleves, under the standard FOIA exemptions, but, it will be interesting to get some figures about the workings of the Committee itself and about the number of complaints, or investigations and any delays etc.

There will also be FOIA requests about the how much public money the ISC spends and on what.

However, there seems to be another control freak power within this legislation which extends the power of the ISC to refuse FOIA requests.

ISC: Publication of information received in private

Inserted into Schedule 1:

"Publication of information received in private


(1) This paragraph applies to information received by the ISC in private in
connection with the exercise of its functions.

(2) The ISC--
(a) may only publish the information by way of a report under
section 3, and
(b) must not otherwise disclose the information to any person if the
ISC considers that there is a risk that the person will publish it.


if the ISC considers that there is a risk that the person will publish it. is puzzling and appears to set up a conflict with spirit of the Freedom of Information Act, since every FOIA disclosure is at "risk" of being published

This could be used to refuse any FOIA requests, no matter how innocuous, because of the FOIA exemption section 44 (a) Prohibition of disclosure because this would be "prohibited by or under any enactment," i.e. this Act itself

This could be applied even to historical information with no current tactical operational value e.g. correspondence with dead dictators which has not been supplied directly by the intelligence agencies themselves etc.

It would also allow the ISC to simply refuse to give any meaningful statements to the press or media - i.e. Leveson Inquiry media censorship enacted !

ISC: some legal protection for Witnesses, but not proper Whistleblower protection

Also inserted at the end of Schedule 1 is:

"Protection for witnesses


(1) Evidence given by a person who is a witness before the ISC may not be used in any civil or disciplinary proceedings, unless the evidence was given in bad faith.

(2) Evidence given by a person who is a witness before the ISC may not be used against the person in any criminal proceedings, unless the evidence was given in bad faith."

All well and good, so far as it goes.

This would prevent evidence from say the former head of MI6 who was in charge when
an allegation of torture complicity was made, from being used in court from now being sued or prosecuted, on the basis of what he says to the ISC.

However this is insufficient on its own, to encourage any serving intelligence officers from reporting potential or actual malpractice or illegality, from contacting the ISC for them to investigate.

What use is this "witness protection" if there are no actual criminal or civil or disciplinary proceedings, but a whistleblower is identified to the intelligence services and they revoke his or her security clearance or change his or her duties to a less trusted role, not because of what the whistleblower said but because of the fact that they said anything at all to an external body i.e. they they broke the culture of omertà

There may or may not be a resultant Employment Tribunal case, but the whistleblower's career within the intelligence agency would effectively be over.

What is true for actual whistleblowers, also applies to potential whistleblowers who have not actually provided any evidence to the ISC yet, but who have tried to contact them "anonymously".

What is really required is protection by the Intelligence and Security Committee of the identities of any internal whistleblowers

c.f. Spy Blog letter to the Detainee Inquiry re: lack of whistleblower anonymity protection and immunity from prosecution

As there should have been with the now defunct Detainee Inquiry, there should also be an explicit prohibition against Communications Data snooping or other Directed Surveillance ("stakeouts, following people and vehicles, photographing meetings) or Property Interference (planting electonic audio / video "probes" or bugs or GPS tracking devices) techniques or the use of Covert Human Intelligence Source informers or undercover operativess, aimed at the members of the Intelligence and Security Committee, their staff and familes, or, more likely their mobile phones, telephon lines, internet connections, email accounts or their physical offices.

Actual Interception of communications, in theory requires a Secretary of State to authorise the RIPA warrant, but snooping on Communications Data or other surveillance techniques for "national security" or to "prevent leaks of sensitive information" does not. The temptation for an intelligence agency as a whole or for powerful officials within such an agency, with something to hide which might affect their own careers, is enormous.

The Attorney General, the Cabinet Secretary and the heads of each of the intelligence agencies should issue binding orders or "guidance" on their subordinates along the lines of what was actually produuced for the Detainee Inquiry, which should also apply to any actual or potential witnesses or whistleblowers in contact with the Intelligence and Security Committee

c.f. Witness but not whistleblower protection for the Detainee Inquiry into torture complicity of MI5, SIS, GCHQ

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.


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.

We wiil use this verifiable public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels, as appropriate.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x8FE1A2FF65A3AF4B which will expire on 1st October 2016.

You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from
(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:

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)


Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog - ethical and technical discussion about the 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

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 - 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 have gone on to set up other online tools like The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the 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 - New Alliance's ID Cards page - 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 - 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 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 - 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 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 journalist network.
The Practical Nomad Blog Edward Hasbrouck on Privacy and Travel
Policeman's Blog
World Weary Detective

Martin Stabe
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
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


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.


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 - 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


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

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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

syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
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."

SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

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.

FreeFarid_150.jpg - 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)

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).

Amnesty International's campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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."

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

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."

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

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


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."


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

wblogocrop_150.jpg - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers