Recently in Wannabe Spies Category

This wannabe spy case highlights the incompetent use of a mobile phone and a lack of basic security by the Royal Navy.

The Metropolitan Police were involved in the actual arrest since MI5 the Security Service does not have the power of arrest and they have released some details about the case:

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Petty Officer jailed for selling secrets

12 December 2012

A Petty Officer was jailed for eight years today (12 December) at the Old Bailey for planning to hand over top secret information to the Russians because the Royal Navy had passed him over for promotion.

"A Petty Officer" This Metropolitan Police Service press release is in contrast to those involving Police Officers, who are always described as former Police Officers by the time they are convicted of a crime.

Edward Devenney, aged 30, wanted to 'hurt' the navy and spent three months cultivating a relationship with men he believed to be Russian agents.

But unbeknown to communication specialist Devenney the 'Russian agents' worked for the British Security Service and had filmed and recorded their discussions with him at a hotel shortly after they had initially met at the British Museum.

Devenney pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in a public office by offering to obtain information about the workings and operations of the nuclear submarines he worked on, during an earlier hearing at the Old Bailey.

He had also pleaded guilty to one count of breaching the Official Secrets Act 1911 by covertly taking photographs of the Top Secret code encryption system on board the nuclear submarine HMS Vigilant.

This is actually a genuine use of the much abused tag "Top Secret"

MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, Senior National Co-ordinator Counter Terrorism said:

"Devenney abused his position of trust and responsibility by taking photographs of a Top Secret encryption system. He then spent three months cultivating a relationship with men he believed to be Russian Agents offering to pass on whatever information they may find useful.

"His actions had the potential to cause substantial harm and damage to the security of the UK. It is only thanks to the joined up working between the Met Counter Terrorism Command, British Security Service, and the Ministry of Defence that more serious consequences did not result from his actions."

Devenney, who joined the Royal Navy in May 2000, was a high level vetted communication specialist, who had served on three Trident nuclear submarines.

In early 2011 he was withdrawn from a training course for promotion to Chief Petty Officer because of poor performance and later that year joined HMS Vigilant.

So why did the Royal Navy nuclear submarine personnel vetting and psychological support people not detect that he was unhappy ?

The Belfast Telegraph reports

Earlier Devenney told the Old Bailey he had grown disillusioned with the Royal Navy after his chances of promotion were dashed by defence cuts.

He claimed to have just been cleared on a rape charge at the time, and said he was drinking heavily and suffering bouts of depression.

Devenney said he asked for his promotion training course to be deferred for a year but his absences without leave and conduct had led to a warning that he would be sacked if it continued, the court heard.

Why are drunken sailors allowed anywhere near nuclear missile submarines ?

Lots of spies and Covert Human Intelligence Sources have been recruited from vulnerable people who have been passed over for promotion.

On 17 November 2011 Devenney made his first attempt to contact the Russian Embassy in London by making 11 calls to four different phone numbers at the Embassy.

Has there ever been a time since the invention of the telphone, when calls to and from the Russian Embassy have not been under constant surveillance ?

When the Russians stupidly cut themselves off from the civilised world in the Soviet era, the only way to telephone anyone their government / intelligence agencies was via their local Embassy, but that situation changed several years ago.

Wannabe spies can now make direct dial calls to landline and mobile phones almost anywhere in the world or contact Russian diplomats via Twitter or email. etc.

Two days later he used his mobile phone to take three photographs of Crypto material onboard HMS Vigilant which he downloaded to his laptop. Crypto material is the electronic key used to encrypt highly classified messages so they can be sent securely to UK Armed Forces, and NATO partners.

What possible excuse is there for anybody to have a mobile phone on them when on a nuclear missile submarine ?

Why are crew, dockyard staff and visitors not checked for mobile phones etc, using airport or prison style metal detectors and / or "see through your clothes scanners", both when entering or leaving the submarine ?

The BBC reports

Two days later, he took his phone onto the submarine HMS Vigilant and took photos of code material for the military's "crypto" secure communications system - again, his lawyer said, after a heavy night of drinking.

This material was kept in a safe secured by a combination lock and key which was in turn kept in a secure compartment with restricted access.

He was supposed to have access to the room but not the safe.

'Falklands' folder

The material - if put together with other intelligence - might have allowed another country to crack the encrypted communications of the British military including communications with Nato partners.

One of the major security questions is whether, when his behaviour was clearly noticed as poor, he should have still been allowed to access secure rooms - especially after he had been drinking heavily.

On the 5 December, Devenney returned a missed call on his mobile and spoke to a man named 'Dima' who claimed he worked at the Russian Embassy and was instructed to respond to Devenney's earlier calls. Devenney hung up but then entered into a dialogue over text message.

Even though "intercept evidence" is not allowed to be used in a UK Court, there clearly must either have been Interception of Devenney's calls to the Russian Embassy, or there must have been an MI5 human intelligence source within the Embassy who took or overheard one or more of the 11 calls.

In his early messages a sceptical Devenney texted: "Your accent sounds remarkably fake and like British intelligence. #Entrap.".

So at this point, there had been no offer by Devenney to sell any secrets, so perhaps this was actually Entrapment.

However he continued to text Dima, and on 8 December he asked: "When can we talk about what I may be able to offer." He received the reply: "I call you next week".

But was the alleged "Dima" encouraging and grooming Devenney to betray secrets between the 5th and 8th of December ?

On 13 December Devenney was called by another man 'Vladimir' who claimed to be an associate of 'Dima'. Devenney told Valdimir that he wanted to communicate by text, rather than by phone, and told him: "Can't speak, at home. I'm disillusioned with my employers and feel let down by them. Think we can help each other".

"at home" ?? He sent SMS text messagaes to someone he thought was a Russian intelligence agent from his own home ? Are Communications Specilaists really so ignorant of Mobile Phone Location Data ?

Did he use an unregistered, pre-paid mobile phone or did he use a normal phone easily traceable to him ?

Devenney kept in regular contact with the two men and he arranged to meet Vladimir at the British Museum in London at 14:00hrs on Saturday, 28 January 2012 and they went on to a nearby hotel where Dima was waiting.

Which Hotel was it ?

During the course of the hour long meeting, Devenney told them:
= about submarines he had worked on, including details of a secret operation involving HMS Trafalgar and specialist personnel
= he was a Chief Petty Officer
= he was the chief systems technician for communication equipment periscopes, radar and electronic warfare equipment on HMS Vigilant
= HMS Vigilant's sailing dates.
= the precise due date of the arrival in Plymouth of the Trident class nuclear submarine HMS Vengeance.

Devenney said that he did not want money for any information. He felt he had been treated badly by the Navy after his officer training was cancelled and had thought of leaving but then got the idea that he wanted to "actually hurt" the service "but not too much so that I get caught".

Even if an initial disclosure to an intelligence agency is harmless, it will be used to blackmail you into revealing more secrets later.

Detectives from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command arrested Devenney on 6 March while he was on duty in Devonport. They seized the mobile phone he used to make the calls and to take the photographs, his laptop, and a spare key for the HMS Vigilant Communication Room which he should not have had.

A Communications Specialist who does not know about computer and mobile phone encryption and / or secure data erasure ?

In his initial police interview, Devenney was still under the impression that the two men he had spoken to were Russians. He told police his intention was never to pass on any information that could have been harmful to the UK but claimed he was trying togain credibility having reached an 'all time low in his career'.

Why were the Metropolitan Police doing these interviews, rather than the Ministry of Defence Police ?

During his last police interview Met detectives finally revealed that the 'Russian agents' were in fact members of the British Security Service and that the hotel meeting had been fully recorded. After hearing extracts of himself giving details about HMS Trafalgar, he said: "That was unbelievably stupid and I've no excuse for that."

The United Kingdom Security Service MI5 has an interesting little Quiz, to help pre-screen potential Intelligence Officer recruits,

https://www.mi5.gov.uk/careers/investigative-challenge-quiz.aspx

Spy Blog disagrees with several of the "correct" answers to this Quiz. If these really reflect the MI5 Security Service Intelligence Officer mindset, then there needs to be some retraining as soon as possible.

N.B. if you have gone to the MI5 website, or have arrived at this Spy Blog web page through, say, a Google web search or through Twitter or a blog RSS feed and you have not bothered to take any precautions to hide or fake your computer's IP address and web browser details, cookies etc. from foreign companies and governments, then you should have, in our view, already failed the MI5 Intelligence Officer recruitment procedure.

Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member.

Unfortunately, we suspect that MI5 still does not take "cyber security" / privacy and anonymity as seriously as it should.

The Quiz need Adobe Flash to be installed on your computer to run and imposes an artificial time deadline,

You can examine the source material and the questions (with the "correct" scores for each option) at your leisure, at our Spy Blog answers - MI5 Investigative Challenge Intelligence Officer Quiz web page.

This fictional scenario involves some alleged foreign intelligence officers operating from their Embassy in London (see the Spy Blog London Diplomatic List archive). However, in real life, Counter-intelligence operations against foreign intelligence officers under "diplomatic cover" in London takes up only a small proportion of MI5's resources compared with Counter-Terrorism..


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Having taken a break from updating Spy Blog, I am finding it hard to summon up enough enthusiasm to continue - you get what you pay for.

I may eventually comment on the astonishing character assassination of the deceased Dr.Gareth Williams, who may have worked for GCHQ on secondment to MI6 / SIS.

Have a look at WikiSpooks for a partial roundup of the lurid tabloid press and media coverage and some of the conspiracy theories regarding this as yet unexplained death.

The release from prison of convicted former MI6 / SIS computer technician and incompetent wannabe spy Daniel Houghton, after only being held on remand for 184 days is a scandal, especially when compared with the earlier case of Corporal Daniel James, who is serving 10 years in prison:

  Daniel James Daniel Houghton
Criminal ChargesConvicted under the Official Secrets Act 1911 section 1 - communicating information that was "calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy"

According to the blog of Michael Smith, who is trying to challenge his own conviction under the Official Secrets Act, for passing on secrets to the KGB during the Cold War

Statement from officer M. Head of the intelligence at ISAF/NATO in Afghanistan in 2006. (M at B79) 'The references contained in the text of the emails do not in themselves provide any great cause for concern in terms of the information they impart. They appear to be comments that may have been overheard and possibly misunderstood by the author who appears to have a rather exaggerated sense of his/her importance. I know of no damage to NATO - ISAF or UK operations that would be caused solely on account of the content of these emails. "Job is black" could possibly be a reference to Special Forces operation but doubt it. Alamara has been at some time a UK military base (it was in the south). It is not in the north Iran/Iraq border.'

Given a sentence of 10 years in prison

Two charges involving alleged CDROM and USB memory stick documents the jury did not come to a verdict on.

"Between September 1, 2007 and May 31, 2009, within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, you stole property, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, belonging to the British Security Service, contrary to section 1(1) Theft Act 1968."

[No evidence offered by the prosecution]

"On March 1, 2010, within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, being a person who has been a member of the security and intelligence services, without lawful authority you disclosed articles relating to security or intelligence, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, which were in your possession by virtue of your position as a former member of the British Secret Intelligence Service, contrary to section 1(1) Official Secrets Act 1989"

Plead guilty - sentenced to only 12 months in prison, but freed immediately !

NationalityBorn in Iran, naturalised British citizenBorn in the Netherlands, dual Netherlands and UK citizenship
special skills and accessPashtun language translator attached to senior British Army General in Afghanistanformer MI6 Secret Intelligence Service technical computer employee with a "top marks" degree in Computer Interactive Systems
Communications Data Traffic security
None - bland, unencrypted public emails to the Military Attache at the Iranian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan - it would be a major scandal if these were not being routinely intercepted 
 no email reported

Used his own mobile (?) phone
to contact the
Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (AIVD)
in the Netherlands, using his own name
Smuggling of documents from secure buildings USB memory
CDROM
- found in his baggage (when on his way back to a tour of duty from the UK to Afghanistan) and shared military quarters
USB memory and  camera flash memory devices

Portable hard disk
Moneyno £2 million asked for, £900,000 in cash handed over to him during the "sting" arrest
Use of Encryption
 no  astonishingly for a former employee of an intelligence agency with a computing degree - none !
Dead Letter Drops
 None.

Handed over USB memory devices, CD, portable hard disk etc. in a London hotel room. Told his "sting" contacts that he had left a USB device at his mother's address in Deorset Subsequent searches also found a USB device at his own home.

 Clandestine face to face meetings with handlers
 none - neither in Afghanistan nor back in the United Kingdom Meetings in Holland with AVD and in London hotel in the "sting" arrest
 Prison sentence Currently serving 10 years in prison
 Held for 184 days on Remand, already released from prison immediately after being sentenced to only 12 months in prison
Potential risk to UK national securityMinimalSubstantial - "The judge told Houghton: 'You were employed by the security services and attempted to sell secret material for very large sums of money.

'In particular you attempted to sell staff lists which would have disclosed the identity and homes and whereabouts of agents whose identity must be protected almost at all costs.

'If the material had found its way into the hands of a hostile power it would have done enormous damage and put lives at risk."

Actual damage to UK securityNoneSlight - the Netherlands intelligence service must now be privy to some or all of the MI5 / MI6 staff list details etc.
A success for UK Counter Intelligence and Security procedures ?No - the tip off / accusation appear to have come from the United StatesNo - the UK authorities knew nothing about it until the Dutch tipped them off.

The Guardian reports:

Former MI6 worker pleads guilty over official secrets

Daniel Houghton, who faces prison, was arrested in Scotland Yard sting at central London hotel in 2009

* Haroon Siddique and agencies
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 14 July 2010 12.26 BST

A former British spy

Working for MI6 / SIS the Secret Intelligence Service does not automatically make you into a "spy". Perhaps Daniel Houghton's computer skills were used as a technician or website developer etc., rather than as an Intelligence Officer, who might analyse or control or participate in foreign spying missions with Covert Human Intelligence Sources or "secret agents" or informers or "intelligence assets" etc.

who tried to sell top secret files to foreign agents admitted two offences under the Official Secrets act today.

He did become a wannabe or failed spy, once he attempted to sell British secrets to what he thought was a foreign intelligence agency

Daniel Houghton, who worked for MI6 between September 2007 and last May, was arrested in a Scotland Yard sting at a central London hotel in March after offering to sell documents to Dutch intelligence agents for £2m.

Was the name of this "central London hotel" really not mentioned during any of the Court proceedings ?

Which one was it ? Any notoriety will soon become history and will bring in tourists.

The information consisted of MI5 files he had accessed while working for MI6

Why did an MI6 employee have access to MI5 files ?

What happened to "air gaps" or "data minimisation" etc ?

and a list of his former colleagues with their home addresses and mobile phone numbers.

Not just a copy of an internal email / office / job title directory then, but home addresses and mobile phone numbers. .

This really could have put their lives at risk of harassment or even physical danger.

Did the "Dutch intelligence agents" get their hands on some or all of this sensitive data ? Can they really be trusted ?

At the very least all the mobile phones listed should have been changed.

They should not just have changed the numbers or SIM cards, but also the mobile phone handsets as well, since the handsets supposedly unique International Mobile Equipment Identifiers can be so easily cross referenced with any Call Data Records made by the MI5 and MI6 people using the old phone numbers.

Appearing at the royal courts of justice,

Presumably that should read the "Royal Courts of Justice".

25-year-old Houghton denied a count of theft but admitted two charges of unlawful disclosure of material relating to security or intelligence contrary to the Official Secrets act.

The MI5 documents concerned specialist techniques developed by spies for gathering intelligence.

MI5 cannot claim exclusive copyright on such techniques, which they may have borrowed or stolen from someone else in the first place.

Houghton burned many of the files onto DVDs and CDs on his office computer before taking them home.

The former MI6 agent, who holds British and Dutch nationality,

One of the hated former Labour government's "nazi" style powers could be used by the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition Home Secretary Theresa May, to deprive Daniel Houghton of his British citizenship and right of entry to or abode in the UK, just as she has done in the case of the Russian spy Anna Chapman,

Provided that the Netherlands government does not revoke his citizenship first, the British government would not be making him stateless, by depriving him of his British citizenship, which they are not allowed to do.

Immigration and Nationality Act 2006 section 56 Deprivation of citizenship

(2) The Secretary of State may by order deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good."

approached the Netherlands intelligence security and intelligence service offering to sell information in August 2009.

Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst(AIVD) (General Intelligence and Security Service)

N.B. an SSL/TLS encrypted website only ! When will MI5 and MI6 and GCHQ move to this ? (hint: it actually makes tracking visitors a bit easier) .

A meeting was arranged for 18 February 2010 but, unknown to Houghton, the Dutch had tipped off MI5. Houghton was secretly videoed and bugged as he used a memory card and laptop computer to show his wares to the Dutch agents.

The former spy said he would throw in two lists containing details of MI6 employees he had worked with.

One contained more than 300 names, while the second had the home addresses and mobile phone numbers of 39 agents.

300 names does sound like an internal email distribution list.

39 names are probably his former work mates and friends who he was willing to betray.

How long before mischief making fake disinformation claiming to be these alleged lists of names of MI5 or MI6 employees, gets published by WikiLleaks.org or cryptome.org or by various conspiracy theory websites ?

After Houghton's initial offer to sell the information for £2m, the price was negotiated down to £900,000 and, in a subsequent phone call, a meeting was set for the handover two weeks later. During negotiations, he revealed he had a second memory card, containing further information, hidden at his mother's home in Devon. This card has never been found.

Why did he put his mother and family at risk in this way ?

Many people would have tortured and killed them all for far less than £900,000, in order to get hold of that memory card.

There has been no mention of encrypted files in any of the reports on this case - why did Daniel Houghton not bother to use anything like PGP or TrueCrypt ?

Why did he not arrange to use a Dead Letter Drop or even a courier service ?

What about electronic funds transfers to foreign bank accounts in tax havens ?

On 1 March, Houghton handed over two memory cards and a computer hard drive after displaying the contents on a laptop.

As he left the London hotel carrying the suitcase, he was arrested by plain clothes officers from Scotland Yard's specialist operations wing after a brief struggle.

Why exactly did the idiot agree to any meetings in London ?

When Houghton handed over the information to supposed Dutch spies, he claimed he had given them "everything".

But officers from Scotland Yard's specialist operations unit found hard copies of classified paperwork, some marked top secret or secret, while searching his shared rented flat in Hoxton, east London.

Another wannabe spy or whistleblower who had paper copies of secret or top secret documents at home !

Why did he not digitally photograph or scan them and then strongly encrypt the files and then destroy the paper copies ?


They also discovered a Sony memory card containing about 7,000 files, some of them deleted, thought to be copies of a list of MI6 agents and the files he tried to sell.

Deleted files can be recovered, especially from flash memory devices which do not always erase data very well due to

a) their local Wastebaskets (actually hidden under some Apple operating system versions !)

b) Many flash memory cards have WIndows FAT filing systems on them, for which there are plenty of "recover deleted photo images" programs available.

c) Their Wear Leveling algorithms which spread used flash memory locations relatively evenly, because at some point flash memory cells become permanently burned into a logical one or zero state, unlike magnetic recording media.

See the section on CD-ROMs and DVDs and USB flash memory media our Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Maybe the "etc." should include "wannabe spies" - although we suspect that such people will never bother to read it.

Some of the documents held by him have yet to be traced, and security service officials have warned that unauthorised disclosure of the material could have a significant impact on operations to protect Britain.

Houghton is also said to hold potentially valuable experience of security techniques in his memory.

So what ? Most readers of Spy Blog probably know much more dangerous stuff than the incompetent Daniel Houghton !

Is The Guardian advocating the abuse of some sort of Orwellian Labour party style "thought crime" offence like the catch all Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 Collection of information ?

Piers Arnold, prosecuting, told the judge, Mr Justice Bean, that the pleas entered today were acceptable to the prosecution.

He asked for the theft matter to be adjourned until after Houghton had been sentenced "with the prosecution's intention to offer no evidence in respect of that charge".

Presumably they had little or no evidence of actual physical theft of memory device or hard disks etc.

Unless the hard copies of the secret or top secret documents were originals rather than photocopies or computer printouts, then proving an offence under the Theft Act 1968 section 1 would have been difficult.

Surely the Government's lawyers must have known that they cannot use the Theft Act 1968 section 1 for "intellectual property" or "trade secrets" or even "national security secrets" since its wording demands the permanent deprivation of something physical.

Houghton claimed his actions were "directed by voices" and the defence has submitted psychiatric reports in mitigation.

This BBC report claims, however, that

Police sources said Houghton appeared to have been motivated by greed.

One senior source said he was living a "champagne lifestyle on ginger beer wages".

The prosecution is to obtain its own independent report ahead of sentencing at the Old Bailey on 3 September, although Bean warned that custody was "inevitable".

The Official Secrets Act 1989 section 10 Penalties lists a maximum penalty of up to 2 years in prison and / or a fine for each,of the two Section 1 offences that Houghton has plead guilty to. Technically he could be sentenced to 4 years in prison, if the sentences were made to run consecutively.

We suspect that he will not spend that long in prison - remember that it costs the taxpayer about £35,000 a year on average to keep someone in prison, probably more, if Houghton is put into a maximum security Category A prison.

The arrest of 10 Russian "illegal" suspected SVR spies, in the USA, including the photogenic Anna Chapman, who appears to have spent 5 years or so working in the United Kingdom, and who married and divorced a British citizen, is full of interesting technical tradecraft and legal issues.

The arrest of another 11th suspect, Christopher Metsos, in Cyprus, who then appears to have been allowed to flee the country "whilst awaiting an Extradition warrant" on "money laundering" allegations from the USA", is , in its own way rather worrying, given the obvious use of Entrapment by the US authorities in this affair.

One area in which the US judicial system is better than that of the United Kingdom is in the online publication of Indictments, signed by investigating police or counter- intelligence agents, detailing the alleged activities of the accused.

These are often made available for free by the major US newspapers and provide a check against the wretched culture of "anonymous briefings" which the British media allow themselves to be manipulated by.

The New York Times seems to have been the first to do this, but copies of the two Indictments are now available from the BBC website:

BBC copy of the District Court Indictment against Anna Chapman and Mikhail Semenko(.pdf)

BBC copy of the District Court Indictment against the other 9 illegal spy suspects (.pdf) i.e. Christopher R. Metsos, Richard Murphy, Cynthia Murphy, Donald Howard Heathfield, Tracey Lee Ann Foley, Michael Zottoli, Patricia Mills, Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez.

Both documents make a distinction between spies under diplomatic cover working from Embassies, Consulates and, in this case the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York and "illegals".

"Illegals" are in two categories - those who operate under totally false names and identities of, in this case, US citizens, or those who operate under their own (Russian) identities.

See the infamous "Hollow Coin" case in the 1950's involving Rudolf Abel / Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher.


Why arrest this alleged spy ring now, after several years of surveillance ?

It is unclear why the US authorities actually decided to make a propaganda fuss and arrest these alleged "illegals" rather than simply threatening to deport them under immigration laws.

Presumably there is some sort of internal power struggle for scarce budgets and prestige, amongst the various US intelligence agencies.

The case has certainly shifted a lot of mainstream media attention from the BP oil pollution scandal, which probably pleases the White House spin doctors.

No actual Espionage or even Economic Espionage charges

None of the suspects are actually accused of obtaining or passing on any actual classified information.

None are actually accused of Espionage, (up to 20 years in prison) or even Economic Espionage (up to 10 years in prison and half a million dollars fine for stealing certain trade secrets).

There are no charges under the catch all "national security" provisions of the so called PATRIOT Act either.

The likelihood is that the alleged spies were either as yet inactive "sleepers" awaiting orders in the future, or were meant to be "agents of influence", or perhaps low level logistics support team members, without direct contact with any US traitors or personal access to real secrets.

The fact that two of them are accused of undertaking "dead drop" operations of money and of a false passport, at the behest of the FBI agent provocateurs who had gained their trust, implies membership of the logistics tail of the SVR espionage rings in the USA.

Similarly in the United Kingdom, none of the alleged activities set out in the Indictments would have fallen foul of the the UK's Official Secrets Act 1989

Unregistered Agents of a Foreign Government

They are accused of Conspiracy to Act as Unregistered Agents of a Foreign Government which carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

There is no such law in the United Kingdom.

If there was, how many Public Relations and Political Lobbying companies and individuals would be caught by such a law in the UK ?

Given the number of current and former MPs and Lords and Ministers (from across the political spectrum) who have acted for foreign clients and for foreign companies or organisations, which are controlled by foreign governments, it seems unlikely that any such law would be passed in the UK.

Entrapment

The interesting alleged technical details about the secret communications methods employed by this alleged spy ring are not in themselves illegal.

This is presumably why the US authorities went for their usual Entrapment method, using their people who managed to infiltrate or gain the trust of a couple of the suspects, to accept and deliver to a Dead Letter Drop, an envelope of cash or a false passport.

These acts were then videoed to provide evidence of activity as an "Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Government" a crime with a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

Since US laws and regulations do not allow "Unregistered Agents of a Foreign Government" to make use of the US bank or credit card or other financial systems, anybody who receives or passes on any money "from a Foreign Government" can be accused of "money laundering" or more usually, as in this case, the even more catch all inchoate offence of "conspiracy to commit money laundering", which has a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

In previous cases, the US authorities have even claimed that the salaries paid by the US Government to to Federal employees working for the FBI etc. who turned out to have been recruited to be Russian or Chinese or Cuban or Israeli etc. spies after their initial employment by the US Government, was evidence of "money laundering" since they were obtained under false pretences by "Unregistered Agents of a Foreign Government".

This is not "money laundering" in the the sense that UK laws are framed, aimed at Serious Organised Crime gangs involved in illegal drug or tobacco or alcohol etc. smuggling, human trafficking. Neither does this sort of activity qualify as "terrorism" money laundering.

Entrapment is much more heavily frowned upon in the UK legal system than in the USA.

BBC Radio 4 Six O'Clock News:15/04/2010 (iPlayer)

20.00 to 21.15 into the 30.55 broadcast.

Here's our Home Affairs correspondent, Andy Tighe

"The 25 year old is charged with stealing highly classified electronic files, containing intelligence gathering techniques belonging to MI5, the domestic Security Service.

He allegedly acquired them while working for MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, between September 2007 and May 2009.

It's claimed he tried to sell the files, but was caught in an undercover operation at a London hotel on March 1st this year, involving officers from the intelligence services and Scotland Yard.

Today at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, he was also accused of unlawfully disclosing lists of intelligence staff, containing sensitive personal details.

Wearing a jacket and open necked shirt, Daniel Houghton said nothing during the short hearing and gave no indication, as to whether he intends to plead guilty or not guilty.

He was remanded in custody and will next appear at a preliminary hearing at the Old Bailey on April 29th."

See also the BBC report Former MI6 man sent for Old Bailey trial, which is a slightly misleading headline, as a Preliminary Hearing is not the same as a full Trial at the Old Bailey.

It is not clear from Andy Tighe's BBC report if the " lists of intelligence staff, containing sensitive personal detail" were from MI5 the Security Service or MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service, or from both, or from other agencies as well.

Neither is it clear which bits of the allegations against Houghton relates to the Official Secrets Act 1989 and which to the Theft Act 1968,

See the Spy Blog category archive Wannabe Spies.

The importance of this case involves the bogus claims by Labour Ministers, that somehow the all of the insider staff who have access to, for example, the National Identity Register or the NHS Summary Care Record databases etc., will somehow have better personnel vetting and technological security measures than MI5 and MI6.

If these intelligence agencies cannot protect the "sensitive personal details" of their own staff from being smuggled out of their supposedly high security buildings and computer systems, then why should the general public believe Labour politicians and Whitehall mandarins, when they pretend to be able to protect the "sensitive personal details" of everyone in the whole country ?

Neither the Defence nor the Prosecution lawyers have sufficient security clearance !

The Magistrates Court bail hearing hearing is adjourned until Thursday 25th March 2010.

The Western Morning News (which covers the West of England, including Devon, where Daniel Houghton's family is based) reports:

Spy case delay over secrets clearance
Saturday, March 13, 2010, 10:00

A FORMER MI6 spy charged with trying to sell top secret files to a foreign country has not been able to brief his lawyers because they do not have security clearance to speak to him.

Daniel Houghton, whose family live in Holne, near Ashburton, Devon, and who studied graphic design in Exeter, remains in custody and cannot apply for bail until lawyers are given clearance.

Houghton, 25, is accused of attempting to sell confidential electronic files, including memory sticks and a laptop hard drive detailing MI5's intelligence-gathering techniques.

However, his lawyers and the legal team prosecuting him, found they would be in breach of the Official Secrets Act and could be charged with breaking the law themselves if they went ahead with the case.

This is suspiciously odd.

Previous Official Secrets Act trials have not needed specially cleared defence and prosecution lawyers.

Surely a Judge can be trusted to decide what secret evidence to include or exclude from an Official Secrets trial ?

Prosecutions under the Official Secrets Act need the consent of the Attorney General, so has she changed the rules, without any Parliamentary scrutiny or debate ?

Why are Crown Prosecution Service lawyers chosen for an Official Secrets Act case somehow not to be trusted ? Perhaps this media report is a bit misleading

"security cleared" lawyers are not necessary for the more serious charge (with a longer potential prison sentence) against Daniel Houghton under the Theft Act.

[...]

Piers Arnold, prosecuting, outlined the dilemma during a brief hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He said: "What the joint proposal is today is that the matter be put off for a period of two weeks with a view to carrying out the relevant security clearance procedures for the defence so they are in a position to take full and mindful instructions from their client."

Michael O'Kane, defending, said: "In order to get instructions from Mr Houghton with a view to ascertaining whether a full bail application can be made, we would be falling foul of the Official Secrets Act and exposing him to further offences as well as ourselves."

District Judge Timothy Workman adjourned the case until Thursday March 25, when a bail application is expected to be made.

[...]

How can the defence lawyers be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act, when their conversations with their client are supposedly Legally Privileged ?

Why do the lawyers, on either side, need full access to all the secret information allegedly being sold, simply for a bail hearing ?

Who will security vet the Judge in the case ?

"security vetting", is obviously no guarantee of any sort, since many other accused spies in the past have had a very high "security clearance", which proved to be worthless.

There is no legal basis, under the Official Secrets Act 1989, for any exemptions from prosecution for anybody, even if they actually do have a "security clearance", something which is not mentioned at all in the wording of the Act.

There is still no mention of why Houghton is not being prosecuted under the Terrorism Act section 58.

There is still no mention of which country's intelligence agency Houghton is accused of thinking that he was selling the top secrets to.

The Daily Telegraph reports that former the MI6 employee Daniel Houghton, who is being tried under the Theft Act and the Official Secrets Act, for ineptly trying to sell alleged MI6 and MI5 "intelligence gathering technique) secrets to undercover UK counter intelligence agents, used DVD / CD and USB flash memory technology to smuggle out and store the alleged top secret and secret documents:

Spycatchers trap MI6 man 'trying to sell secrets'

A former MI6 spy has been accused of trying to sell "top secret" intelligence files to a foreign government for £2m.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent
Published: 5:12PM GMT 03 Mar 2010

Daniel Houghton, 25, was caught in a sting operation after allegedly approaching a foreign intelligence agency offering to sell them information he had collected while working for the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6.

The files, which belonged to the domestic security service MI5, allegedly related to the capabilities of the security and intelligence services and the techniques they have developed to gather intelligence, sources said, and were labeled "top secret" and "secret."

Houghton, who worked for MI6 between September 2007 and May 2009, allegedly telephoned the foreign intelligence service three months after leaving MI6 to try and arrange a deal.

He telephoned a "foreign intelligence service" and expected not to alert the UK counter-intelligence units ??

But undercover MI5 officers, known as "spy catchers", met him in February to view the material on his laptop and allegedly negotiated a price of £900,000, while recording the meeting with hidden listening devices.

If the alleged "top secret" documents really deserved that level of classification, then some people and organisations would be willing to pay much more than that.

Houghton allegedly told them he had downloaded the information onto a number of CDs and DVD disks which he then copied onto a secure digital memory card of the type used in cameras.

He also allegedly told the undercover MI5 officers that he had copied material onto a second memory card which he had hidden at his mother's home in Devon.

They arranged to meet him again at a central London hotel where he allegedly showed them the material on a laptop and then handed over two memory cards and a computer hard drive.

Sources said he was allowed to leave the hotel room with £900,000 in a suitcase before he was arrested as he waited for a hotel lift by plain clothes officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.

It is understood Houghton told them: "You've got the wrong man."

Police have conducted a series of raids since the arrest on Monday at Houghton's shared flat in Hoxton, east London and at his mother's home, a farm house in Holne, near Newton Abbot in Devon.

They are understood to be looking for any copies of the material he may have downloaded and any other material he may have stolen.

Sources said they had found additional hard copies of material marked "top secret," "secret" and "restricted."

[...]

According to The Press Association etc

The two detailed charges he is facing are: Between September 1, 2007 and May 31, 2009 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court he stole property, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, belonging to the British Security Service. Contrary to section 1(1) Theft Act 1968.

The other charge is that on March 1, 2010 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, being a person who has been a member of the security and intelligence services, without lawful authority he disclosed articles relating to security or intelligence, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, which were in his possession by virtue of his position as a former member of the British Secret Intelligence Service. Contrary to section 1(1) Official Secrets Act 1989.

  • Does this imply that the authorities have no proof as to exactly when Houghton is alleged to have stolen the secret and top secret documents and have just bracketed his entire period of employment with MI6 ?

This case shows that trusted employees, even of MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service, can use easily concealed USB flash memory devices to smuggle out secret documents from supposedly heavily guarded buildings or computer networks.

This should be of interest to other, more honourable and less corrupt whistleblowers - see our Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

However, this case also shows a lack of professionalism by the wannbe corrupt spy, who seems to have revealed rather too much personal information about himself and his family to his supposed "foreign intelligence agency" customers. Meeting them in person a hotel room in London (rather than in a foreign country), not making use of Dead Letter Drops or encryption and expecting to simply walk away with £900,000 in cash in suitcase (without being robbed or murdered) after handing over the secrets , seems rather arrogant, naive, and obviously illegal.

  • Did Houghton work on a joint MI6 Secret Intelligence Service and MI5 Security Service operation ?

  • if not how did he have access to MI5 secrets when working for MI6 ?

  • Why did he leave the employment of MI6 last year ?

At the age of 25, he must have started stealing secrets only a year after leaving the University of Birmingham. Given the six months or more it can take for recruitment and Developed Vetting (DV) security vetting clearance, he must have started stealing secret stuff almost immediately that he had access to it.

According to the Daily Mail: Ex-MI6 agent appears in court charged with trying to sell top secret files 'for £2million'

Born in Holland, Houghton has dual British-Dutch nationality and is fluent in English and Dutch. Educated at Dartmouth Community College in Devon where his family live in nearby Holne, Houghton studied graphic design at Exeter College.

At Birmingham University, he studied computer interactive systems, achieving top marks which brought him to the attention of the security services

  • Did he hack in to their supposedly secure computer systems from the inside ?

We doubt that Daniel Houghton was employed as an "agent" or as a "spy" i.e. a Covert Human Intelligence Source (usually foreign but also within the UK) as the mainstream media headlines claim.

  • Was he employed as an Intelligence Officer or was he employed to work on their Information Technology systems ?

  • Which "foreign intelligence agency" did he think that he was betraying and selling the secrets to ? There really is no good reason for keeping that a secret from the British public.

  • Was he working alone, or did he have accomplices ?


Why the Theft Act 1968 but not the Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 Collection of information ?

  1. The Official Secrets Act 1989 section 1 (1) carries a penalty(defined in section 10 Penalties of "only" up to 2 years in prison and / or a fine (per offence), is obviously applicable to a former member of MI6.

  2. Unless Houghton was stupid enough to steal and to hand over the original CDs, DVDs or the computer hard disk, which physically belonged to his former employer MI6, then how does the Theft Act 1968 apply ?

    There would be no need for all the civil Copyright legal cases, if somehow, a mere digital copy of information or data could be misinterpreted as Theft as defined by the Theft Act 1968 section 1

    (1)A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it;

    [...]

    This cannot apply to digital copies of the information or documents - it can only apply to the originals or master copies on physical media or hardware.

    The theoretical maximum of up to 7 years in prison is for major thefts of property or money.

  3. Why is Daniel Houghton not also facing a Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 Collection of information charge, which attracts a penalty of up to 10 years in prison ?

    Surely "top secret" MI5 "intelligence gathering techniques" is obviously "information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" ?

    This is a catch all offence which does not require proof of any actual terroristic intent, only knowledge of the fact of its potential usefulness to terrorists.

    These documents, if accurately reported above, would be much more useful to terrorists, than the stuff which several people are in currently in prison for, which they downloaded from the internet.

Anonymous briefing before Court Reporting Restrictions apply

It is also worth questioning why the authorities seem to have anonymously briefed Duncan Gardham, the Security Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph in so much detail ?

This report (and our blog analysis of it) comes before any media reporting restrictions have been ordered, as Daniel Houghton is not yet facing trial by jury.

This seems to be a feature of recent national security trials - the accused is found guilty in the mainstream media, well before he faces an Judge and Jury, on the basis of anonymous leaks from nameless Whitehall bureaucrats, given to selected, favoured mainstream media journalists.

N.B. if the UK Government or legal system authorities want bloggers not to comment on a trial in progress, then they will have to inform us directly via email or through a comment posting, or through a prominent online public announcement that there are actually reporting restrictions in place and the details of exactly what they cover. We are reasonably intelligent, but not psychic.

Those of you taking an interest in this, or similar cases, should download and save your own copies of any relevant newspaper or blog articles to your own (secure and encrypted ?) computer systems, since the online versions could easily be be censored through secret injunctions or takedown notices, or just the threat of expensive legal action.

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