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

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

HC Deb, 12 March 2014, c306


David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden, Conservative)

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


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

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

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

The loss making (left of centre) Guardian newspaper is now lucky if it can sell 200,000 copies daily, a fraction of its tabloid or even "highbrow" rivals. It does, however, have a big influence online, but again mostly worldwide, rather than directly in the UK, where it cannot compete with, say, the right of centre / populist tabloid The Daily Mail.

The Guardian is one of the few organisations which still does real investigative journalism in the UK, especially when compared with broadcast media or their jealous commercial newspaper rivals . It has been one of the main conduits of leaks about the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK's GCHQ intelligence agencies via former CIA / NSA / Dell / Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Edward Snowden, since June 2013.

It is one of the main opinion forming newspapers read by the Westminster village of MPs and rival political journalists, by Whitehall bureaucrats and government politicians.

The current editor is Alan Rusbridger, who has been kind enough to say that Spy Blog is a useful resource.

On Tuesday 3rd December 2013, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, took the unusual step of "inviting" / ordering the Editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger to give oral evidence before the Committee, nominally as part of its often repeated, but frequently ineffective inquires into Counter Terrorism.

The Home Affairs Select Committee is supposed to be acting on behalf of the public, to scrutinise the vast and powerful securocrat empires.

Civil servants can claim some measure of protection by getting their Minister's to appear before a Select Committee, citing the "unofficial" but nevertheless precedent setting Osmotherly Rules, there is nothing to protect ordinary or eminent members of the public from being abused by a Select Committee whose members choose to conduct McCarthy style public witch hunts, to try to trap invited / compelled witnesses into "confessions" of disloyalty or criminality, even when there has been no such investigation or accusation by the police etc.

The transcript of the session is now online and only reinforces the impression of incompetence and malice which some of the MPs (both Conservative and Labour) displayed, which has caused some damage to the reputations of those MPs themselves and, by extension to Select Committees and to Parliament.

If, you are a member of the public, regardless of how famous or eminent you are and you are "invited" to appear before the Home Affairs Committee as a witness, you should seek legal advice and given the disgraceful Questions posed of some of the MPs to Alan Rusbridger, you should seriously consider refusing to appear.

HOUSE OF COMMONS
ORAL EVIDENCE
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Counter-Terrorism
Tuesday 3 December 2013
Alan Rusbridger
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and Cressida Dick

The Members present were:

Keith Vaz (Chair) - Labour, Leicester East
Ian Austin - Labour, Dudley North
Nicola Blackwood - Conservative, Oxford West and Abingdon
Michael Ellis - Conservative, Northampton North
Paul Flynn - Labour, Newport West
Dr Julian Huppert - Liberal Democrat, Cambridge
Yasmin Qureshi - Labour, Bolton South East
Mark Reckless - Conservative, Rochester & Strood
Mr David Winnick - Labour, Walsall North

Below is the lengthy (uncorrected) transcript with some Spy Blog annotations:

Spy Blog has re-submitted our FOIA Request which was refused over 6 months ago, on the grounds of imminent publication.

Cabinet Office - 6 F Off IA exemptions not to publish Detainee (Torture) Inquiry Interim Report requested back in December 2012..

Still no Detainee (Torture) Inquiry interim report over a year after submission to Downing Street

The process of clearing the report for publication has taken longer than envisaged, but it is important for the Government to be able to publish as full an accounting of the Inquiry's work as possible, without compromising national security and consistent with its legal obligations. Discussions with the Inquiry about clearing the report for publication are nearing a conclusion and it is hoped that the Government will be in a position to publish as full a version of their report as possible in the autumn, although no date has been set.

" in the autumn, although no date has been set."

It is now over 3 years since Prime Minister David Cameron announced the the setting up of Detainee Inquiry on 6th July 2010

It took a year for the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry to be produced and it only worked for about 6 months before being abandoned.

It then took another 6 months to produce the Interim Report, which has now been delayed / suppressed for another year.

Given that the Detainee Inquiry had hardly got into the detail of any investigations into the allegations of UK government complicity in the use of torture i.e. there had been no public witness evidence sessions etc., the Interim Report is likely to be quite content free, especially after the boycott by civil liberties and human rights organisations and the lawyers of some of the alleged victims of such torture..

Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, the retired High Court Judge who served as the RIPA Intelligence Services Commissioner, was presumably chosen to chair the Detainee Inquiry partty because of his experience in producing already self censored public reports, with confidential annexes for the Prime Minister. It is inconceivable that he would have put anything into the report which would have damaged national security tactical operations or confidential sources, so what, apart from political complicity, is there to censor ?

We would have liked to have seen our suggestions for witness anonymity and the promises from the Cabinet Office, the Attorney General and the heads of the Intelligence Agencies regarding immunity from prosecutions or disciplinary procedures for insider witnesses or whistleblowers who might have evidence about which the senior management of the Intelligence Agencies may have been unaware.

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

There is also the question of immunity of the Inquiry itself from being targeted by the Intelligence Agencies or their foreign based colleagues, to try to identify and neutralise or counter-spin any whistleblower evidence being considered by the Inquiry in private.

Given the recent revelations about NSA and GCHQ bulk snooping on transatlantic fibre optic cables, any future Inquiry must get explicit written promises that they will not be targeted for interception or Communications Data / Metadata analysis..

This is vital if there is to be, as promised, a future Inquiry into these torture allegations, which will face the same problems of credibility and excessive secrecy s the abandoned Detainee Inquiry.

Remember that since the original allegations of complicity in torture, highlighted by the Binyam Mohamed case, the Government has passed the Justice and Security Act 2013, which introduced Closed Material Procedure into civil cases, which has both pros and cons.

More importantly, they have nobbled Norwich Pharmacal Orders via section 17 of that Act.

It is now impossible to see how the revelations of rendition / kidnapping and torture in the Binyam Mohamed civil case, which saw former and current Secret intelligence Service officers having to give evidence (from behind a screen) in a civil court, could now take place, so one of the main possible reasons for the deliberate delays in the Detainee Inquiry would seem to have been removed i.e. the fear of another such court case

However the fall of the evil Libyan dictator Gaddaffi, also led to the some prima facie evidence of even more MI6 and other UK Government complicity in kidnapping and torture, something which the Detainee Inquiry noted but did nothing about..

Since the Detainee Inquiry obviously did not actually get around to investigating the Libya allegations, it is very puzzling what exactly there could be in this interim report, which is taking the Cabinet Office so long to censor.

If there really is nothing for the UK Intelligence Services to hide with respect to complicity in torture, then these delays are actually damaging to national security, because the public at home and abroad will be naturally suspicious of the activities of British intelligence agencies.

If there is something to hide, then the Coalition Government must show themselves to be strong enough to denounce and prosecute all of those involved, no matter how senior or distinguished. They should punish the securocrat bureaucracy to prevent it from happening again..


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

5

(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

6

(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

wblogocrop_150.jpg

On Wednesday 12th December 2012, Spy Blog attended the launch of the WhistleBlowersUK.org website, which offers free, pro bono legal, journalistic and psychological help for whistleblowers. They intend to campaign on changing the inadequate laws and bureaucratic "shoot the messenger" attitude which pervades the UK's power structures.

WhistleBlowers UK give some independent, not commercially motivated, advice on securely contacting them, which is good, but which needs amplification and more detailed, practical, step by step guides.

Are You a Potential Whistleblower?

We will try to minimise the stress and impact of what you are contemplating by showing you the correct process to legally assess, document and reveal wrongdoing in your workplace / sector / environment. In order to protect yourself under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (1998), the Employment Act (2008), or even the Official Secrets Act (1989), you should follow certain procedures and you will find it much easier to gain credibility - in front of a very sceptical and fickle public audience who are riven by a multitude of political views and vested interests - if you do so.

We can help you with the necessary confidential advice and assistance you will need in order to make the experience of whistleblowing worthwhile and create a positive outcome out of the negative situation you find yourself in at present. Most of all, do not be scared, you do have friends and supporters out there - you just haven't met us personally yet!
Talk To Someone With Experience In Your Field

If you wish to discuss your case, confidentially, with a fellow whistleblower who has experience in your particular sector (auditing, financial, medical, defence, or general commercial then please contact us on 0207 040 8224 and we will put you in touch with one of our members.

Concerns About Security And Confidentiality

The level of security that you adopt will depend upon the threat that you perceive to yourself, the capabilities of the organisation, the gravity of the information, and any implications arising from it, upon which you are intending to 'blow the whistle'. We are adopting a WORST CASE SCENARIO below - you may not need to take some or all of these precautions... BUT even with the best will in the world, whistleblowers in the past have been let down by allies, journalists and even regulators who have failed to take adequate precautions to protect their anonymity.

We have compiled a list of key points to help you protect your identity when communicating online or sharing documents with third parties.

In person

You may of course come to the Centre for Investigative Journalism offices, the temporary hosts of WBUK, at Gloucester Building, Gloucester Way, London EC1R 0BN.

By email

You will need an email address that has never been associated with you and which never will be associated with you. You need to set it up from a computer that has no link to you.

Do not use a computer, house or office network that you normally use. Generally, it is best to sign up for a Hotmail or any other popular free email account.

Make sure that this webmail accounty is based outside of the United Kingdom.

Ideally do not use Gmail / googlemail, which is strong on security but very bad for anonymity.

Only use this email address to make contact and correspond with one of our team. Ideally you will have a phone that we can call back (see 'by phone' section below). A message such as "call me John/Jane, you can call me securely on this mobile number, I have information/a story/ documents" will do.

Do not use your real name or any other identifiable information when registering the email account. Never access the special email from home or work - use an internet café or library. Normally, unless you work in an area of high security and government interest, using public wifi may be safe. Remember, you cannot reliably hide your electronic location, or IP address, from the network, although you can hide it from us and anyone who may be monitoring us. You can do this by using the 'Tor' service, or another anonymiser service. However, these tools could attract attention if you do so from places which may be monitored.

You can contact us at the following email address: info@whistleblowersuk.org

N.B. they have not yet published a PGP/GPG Encryption Key and there is no use of SSL/TLS encryption on the supporters email subscription form

Existing whistleblowers (who may well be contacted by others with similar experiwences) and their supporters should try to come along to the next CryptoParty London (or in other locations around the world) where expert users will guide them through the often somewhat daunting provess of configuring and using encryption and anonymity software and techniques, to protect potential whistleblowers and their evidence.

By phone

Do not use a mobile phone that you have used before, even if you use a 'Pay-As-You-Go' SIM card. The less smart the phone you use, the better. Buying a secondhand phone from a car boot sale or suchlike is the best advice we can give.

Do not use a smartphone with GIS services. If you need to contact us by phone, never use your own landline, mobile phone or any work phone - especially mobile phones issued to you by your employer. Using '141' 'conceal my number' isn't enough - the number is recorded anyway.

'Pay-As-You-Go' SIM cards and phones can be purchased from local shops for a few pounds; do not register the SIM, never give out the number and use it only for contacting 'Whistleblowers UK.' Alternatively, you can use public phones.

If you query is not sensitive you can contact us on this temporary number: 020 7040 8526.

WBUK should also publish publish a mobile phone contact number(s), which would be useful for recieving SMS text messages (less personally revealing than voicemail)

Buying and using a mobile phone also needs quite a few , common sense precautions and there are several things to be aware of to improve your anonymous use of such phones.

Similarly, there are some things to avoid when setting up "free" webmail accounts.

See CryptoParty London Bring & Swap ( .pdf)

After you make first contact

A member of the team will assess your situation and advise you. Should you wish to whistleblow, the advisor will discuss with you appropriate arrangements for meeting in person or for sending documents electronically (or as paper). We will, if required, make arrangements for you to disclose your information with a trusted journalist in the safest way possible.

Legal And Emotional Support

Once proper internal procedures for reporting wrongdoing have failed, employees bringing complaints have faced perpetrators or complicity in management and aggressive polices of harassment to hide wrongdoing and intimidate those who threaten to bring a complaint. We can support you during this difficult process by providing access to pro-bono legal and psychological advice.

Is Whistleblowing Right For You?

Several of the whistleblowers who have been involved in setting up this organisation say that while they wanted to change the world they live in, they would never wish their experience on their loved ones: "we didn't realise the heavy sacrifice involved when acting on one's conscience. We cannot recommend whistleblowing to everyone and sometimes the advice may be - find another way."

See also our Spy Blog:

http://ht4w.co.uk

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

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

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

His recent blog post

10 days that shook my world

November 3rd, 2012

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

[...]

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

However, Tom Watson goes on to mention:

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CryptoParty London

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

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

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

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

(free) Registration for CryptoParty London is via Eventbrite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Detainee Inquiry, headed by Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, was supposed to have investigated the allegations of complicity in torture and "extraordinary rendition", by the British government, especially its secret intelligence agencies - MI5 Security Service, SIS Secret Intelligence Service, GCHQ and possibly DIS the Defence Intelligence Staff.

However the Detainee Inquiry has been shut down before it even got started formally, even after 18 months delay, supposedly because of the suspiciously lengthy and ineffective Metropolitan Police Service and Crown Prosecution Service investigations into old allegations and the effect of the "smoking gun" documentary evidence discovered in Libya last autumn.

In order to probe exactly how potential witnesses and whistleblowers to the Detainee Inquiry might be protected from vengeful secret bureaucrats, Spy Blog requested, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the full, detailed text of the latest draft(s) (or the final version) of the promised undertakings from the Attorney General and the Cabinet Secretary and the heads of the intelligence services.

These Undertakings were promised by Prime Minister David Cameron when he set up the Detainee Inquiry over 18 months ago: The Prime Minister's Letter to Sir Peter Gibson 06 July 2010 (.pdf)

See the Spy Blog - FOIA request blog for the text of these FOIA disclosures:

Detainee Inquiry "undertakings" by the Attorney General and the Cabinet Secretary

Attorney General's Office disclosure

Attorney_General_to_Detainee_Inquiry_03Nov2011.pdf

This seems to be a reasonable level of legal immunity, especially for criminal offences which the Attorney General himself decides whether to prosecute or not e.g. Official Secrets Act cases.

The Detainee Inquiry is not a Tribunal or Court of Law (despite being chaired by a retired senior Judge) and it was not set up as an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 and so it has no legal power to compel any witnesses to give evidence,

How can it can enforce any prosecutions for giving, or conspiring to give it any "false evidence", which the Attorney General's undertaking explicitly does not give immunity for ?

Cabinet Office disclosure

Sir_Gus_O_Donnell_letter_21Nov2011.pdf

As expected by Spy Blog, the Cabinet Office letter by the then Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell (now Lord O'Donnell of Clapham) and its "overarching principles" seem suitable for protecting witnesses who are current or former intelligence agency staff members who espouse the official line e.g. by treating evidence given within the Terms of Reference of the Detainee Inquiry, as having been given "lawful authority" for the purposes of the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 7 Authorised disclosures

However the letter does not really provide the necessary guarantees for any whistleblowers who might contradict their current or former bosses.

Neither is it clear what whistleblower guarantees the vast array of private military contractors, defence industry suppliers and sub-contractors etc. who are not civil servants, but who will fear that their security clearances and government contracts could be at risk if they make allegations, or provide evidence which contradicts the official intelligence agency briefing positions, which those agencies might have provided to the Detainee Inquiry or which they might do so to a future inquiry.

There is no explicit prohibition on using the self authorised legal powers, human and technological resources available to each intelligence agency, to prevent them from snooping on the members and staff of the Detainee Inquiry itself (and their friends and families), so as to try to obtain advance notice of the identities of potential whistleblowers and the information or evidence which they might be offering to the Detainee Inquiry.

Spy Blog correspondence with the Detainee Inquiry

Spy Blog letter to the Detainee Inquiry re: lack of whistleblower anonymity protection and immunity from prosecution - August 2011

Reply from the Detainee Inquiry, regarding anonymity protection for whistleblowers, surveillance targeting against the Inquiry itself etc. - September 2011

Green Paper on Justice and Security

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The Ministry of Justice / Cabinet Office have produced a public consultation Green Paper on Justice and Security. which closes on 6th January 201.

Some Spy Blog observations on:

Nobbling civil cases and inquests

The first section seems to be about various proposed legalistic fiddles to the evidence procedures civil cases and Inquests.

They seem to be proposing to infect civil courts and inquests with the same wretched Special Advocate / Closed Material Procedures schemes which were introduced under Labour for the ineffective Special Immigrations Appeals Tribunal (SIAC) and the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (which rarely does anything at all).

They also appear to be trying to nobble the use of Norwich Pharmacal orders (a rarely used legal precedent which allows a third party not directly involved in a civil case, to be ordered to hand over information or evidence which is pertinent). Such orders have recently been applied to cases tainted with "national security" or "intelligence" rather than actual evidence.

If you believe the Green Paper, this is to allow better, more accurate "justice" in cases cases which involve genuine "national security" secrets, which might otherwise have to be abandoned or settled out of court by the government to preserve "the public interest" in secrecy.

The increasingly hated and incompetent previous Labour government always cloaked its repressive legislative onslaught on our civil liberties and freedoms with Orwellian newspeak and the Coalition seems to be following suit.

Whilst there is a case for keeping genuine time limited tactical intelligence, or the specific details of still viable technological intelligence gathering techniques, or the identities of Covert Human Intelligence Sources secret, there is no trustworthy mechanism for limiting such secrecy only to such examples.

Far too often, the "national security" classification of documents or witness testimony is really about preventing embarrassment to politicians, mandarins and apparatchiki in Whitehall etc.e.g. the torture claims case of Binyam Mohamed and the inquest into the "Friendly Fire" deaths of UK military personnel caused by trigger happy US Air Force ground attack aircraft pilots in Afghanistan etc.

It is all about maintaining the fiction of the appearance of "The Control Principle"

We expect our intelligence partners to protect our material when we share it with them, and we must be able to deliver the same protection of their material.

Confidence built up over many years can all too quickly be undermined. That is why, if the trust of the UK's foreign 'liaison' partners is to be maintained, there should be no disclosure of the content or fact of the intelligence exchange with them without their consent. This is known as the Control Principle.

The United States government, for example, regularly betrays this Control Principle, either through incompetence, or when it suits them politically e.g.

  • Leaving Diplomatic Cables involving the United Kingdom or our allies on vulnerable computer systems accessible by millions of low level US military personnel, bureaucrats and defence contractors, to then be published "for maximum impact" by the Wikileaks.org cult.

  • Several UK anti-terrorism raids involving international plots, have had to be rushed too early, before the alleged plotters have actually got their hands on any explosives or weapons or money etc.because the US government crowed about them in public, thereby perhaps tipping off some of the suspects.

Is this Control Principle going to be applied to all of the secret MI6 correspondence recently retrieved by journalists and human rights activists from abandoned government offices in Libya ?

In the Binyam Mohamed case, which is what led directly to the still not yet properly running Detainee Inquiry on UK Government complicity in torture, the "intelligence material" details in dispute had already been made public in the USA, but the UK government persisted in wasting public money on legal appeals to pretend to be upholding the "Control Principle".

Still no proposals about Intercept As Evidence

A major failing of this Green Paper is the lack of anything about the policy of No Intercept As Evidence.

This is Yet Another Broken Promise by the Coalition government - both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats claimed that they would sort this out, when making thei increasingly worthless pre-election promises. The Labour party, is as usual, failing to hold the government to account, presumably because they dare not remind people of their own repressive mendacity.

Whitehall is still dithering about this after all these years, with the "Advisory Group of Privy Counsellors" chaired by Sir John Chilcot, not actively doing anything about it, as he is presumably busy giving the likes of Tony Blair etc. an easy time of it over at the still running Iraq Inquiry anyway. - see the previous Spy Blog article Intercept as Evidence Report - £2.5 million spent and still no workable "legal model"

Intelligence and Security Committee

The slightly more interesting section is on proposed reforms to the Intelligence and Security Committee and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Commissioners - The Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner

All of these suffer from a lack of public visibility amongst the general public and a vast amount of scepticism about their effectiveness amongst those of us who do actually bother to read their censored public reports.

Question: What changes to the ISC could best improve the effectiveness and credibility of the Committee in overseeing the Government's intelligence activities?

3.4 The Government recognises the criticisms that have been made about current oversight arrangements, particularly that they do not provide sufficient public reassurance that current scrutiny is effective.

The Government does not want the ISC to have even the weak powers of a Select Committee

3.18 A possible option would be to change the status of the ISC to that of a departmental select committee. Departmental select committees have a remit 'to examine the expenditure, administration and policy' of the relevant government department and associated public bodies. A Standing Order, which would need to be renewed each Parliament, could cover appropriate handling of sensitive material, accommodation, staffing and reporting. Creating a select committee would result in oversight being demonstrably undertaken by Parliament.

3.19 However, under such arrangements the Government would clearly have no veto on publication of sensitive material.

That is the whole point !

There would be a real risk that, with fewer safeguards in place than under the present arrangements, Agency Heads would find it hard to reconcile their statutory duty to protect information with their statutory duty to facilitate parliamentary oversight.

Contempt of Parliament and contempt for the general public.

Sharing of less sensitive information and a corresponding reduction in both the credibility and effectiveness of the oversight the committee provided could be the result.

For these reasons, the Government believes this option should not be taken forward.

How can this be less effective or less credible than the current milksop that is the Intelligence and Security Committee ?

3.23 As the ISC has developed its role it has, with the agreement of previous and current governments, taken evidence from bodies beyond the three Agencies which are a part of the wider intelligence community within government These include Defence Intelligence in the Ministry of Defence (MOD), the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office and the central government intelligence machinery in the
Cabinet Office (including the Joint Intelligence Organisation). It has also, in its annual reports, made recommendations relating to those bodies. The ISC has proposed that this role should be formalised.

3.24 These bodies are part of larger departments (MOD, Cabinet Office and Home Office) which are overseen by the appropriate departmental select committee. However, where the work of these organisations relates directly to intelligence material, the relevant departmental select committees are not able to provide oversight. The Government proposes formally to recognise the wider role the ISC should play in overseeing the Government's intelligence activities by enabling it to take evidence from any department or body in the wider intelligence community about intelligence-related activity where to do so would help the ISC provides coherent intelligence oversight. This development would not affect the primary accountability of those bodies to the relevant departmental select committee of the House of Commons.

It is obvious that even Members of the Select Committee on Defence, like the Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock are not actually trusted with any secrets:

Why is Sir Stephen Lander (ex DG of MI5) involved in the SIAC deportation case of Katia Zatuliveter ?

However, what in the USA would be the criminal act of acting as an Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Government, is tolerated and encouraged by UK Ministers and top Civil Service mandarins, when it comes to commercial or political lobbyists as revealed in the Liam Fox / Adam Werrity scandal.

Accommodation, staffing and budget

3.31 We are considering possible changes to the ISC's staffing, accommodation and funding with a view to strengthening both the ISC's actual and symbolic connection to Parliament. The most tangible physical demonstration of independence, and a natural consequence of the ISC becoming a Committee of Parliament, would be to make
arrangements with the parliamentary authorities for the ISC to be accommodated in suitably secure premises on the parliamentary estate, rather than on the government estate. Similarly, its staff could have the status of parliamentary staff (rather than departmental civil servants based in the Cabinet Office), and its budget funded directly from parliamentary appropriation rather than the Cabinet Office's departmental budget.

3.32 The Government accepts that some of the proposals in this section, if implemented, would require a modest uplift in the Committee's current levels of resourcing. The ISC itself has made a case for an increase in its resourcing. Following decisions on next steps after this consultation, the Government - with the parliamentary authorities if the above plans are taken forward - proposes to review the level of resourcing that the ISC requires to support it in the discharge of its functions and the nature of the skills the Committee requires to have at its disposal.

How about an actual Investigative team with access to scientific forensic techniques for examining paper and computer documents ?

How about some forensic accountants who can "follow the money" any suspected trail of waste and corruption involving secret projects ?

How about proper secure and anonymous electronic and physical communications facilities, which the UK intelligence agencies are expressly forbidden from snooping on ?

How about a comprehensive intelligence agency whistleblower protection scheme backed up by criminal sanctions, to encourage internal whistleblowers who may have important allegations or evidence to bring forward to the ISC, without the fear of being detected or punished by their work colleagues or bosses.

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

Access to information

3.36 Under current legislation the ISC requests information from the Heads of the three Agencies who can, in theory, decline to disclose information if it is 'sensitive' (as defined by ISA - which could include information about sources or methods or relating to articular operations or which has been provided by foreign partners who do not consent to its onward disclosure). An Agency Head's refusal to disclose such information to the ISC can be overturned by the relevant Secretary of State on public interest grounds. In practice,

Agency Heads have rarely refused an ISC request for information.

The fact that they have actually done so repeatedly in the past, has been revealed in the public section of several of the ISC's censored Annual Reports.

The Government agrees with the ISC's proposal that the Committee should be given the power to require information from the intelligence Agencies. The Government also agrees with the ISC proposal that this should be subject only to a veto exercisable by the relevant Secretary of State, rather than by the Head of the individual Agency, as now.

About time too, although what actual difference the location of the exercise of such a veto will actually make in practice, remains to be seen.

Raising the public profile of a couple of the RIPA Commissioners

The Commissioners

The role of the Commissioners in intelligence oversight

3.39 Independent oversight of the Agencies is provided by the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner. The Commissioners are appointed by the Prime Minister for a (renewable) period of three years and must hold or have held high judicial office.

The Intelligence Services Commissioner's central function is to keep under review the issue of warrants by the Secretary of State, including those authorising intrusive surveillance (e.g. eavesdropping) and interference with property, in order to make sure that the Secretary of State's issue of the warrants was in compliance with legal requirements. The Interception of Communications Commissioner's central function is to keep under review the issue of warrants for the interception of communications. More details of the remits of the Commissioners can be found at Appendix G.

3.43 The Government proposes that the Commissioners' ability to discharge these types of duties is placed on a statutory footing, in order to ensure transparency, coherence and a clear basis of authority. This would need to be broad enough to cover current non-statutory duties and also a range of potential future duties. The Government proposes that this is done by adding a general responsibility for overseeing the effectiveness of operational policies to the statutory remit of the Intelligence Services Commissioner, who would maintain responsibility for monitoring compliance by the Agencies with the necessary legal requirements in the exercise of their intrusive powers. The specific areas on which the Commissioner focuses at any one time would need to be agreed, on an ongoing basis, with the appropriate Secretary of State.

3.44 The effectiveness and value of the Commissioners in providing assurance and challenge to Ministers is not in doubt.

Yes there is plenty of doubt !

They are highly respected former members of the judiciary whose experience and insight is invaluable in checking the necessity and proportionality of the use of the Agencies' intrusive powers. However, their low public profile means that they play a lesser role in providing assurance to the general public that the activities of the Agencies are at all times reasonable, proportionate, necessary and compliant with all legal obligations. A number of steps have been taken recently to increase the public profile of the Commissioners. The Commissioners' most recent annual reports have been revised to make them more readable and with the inclusion of more qualitative information of potential interest to readers. A new dedicated website for the Commissioners has been established and is expected to go-live around the time of publication of this Paper. These steps are important as they allow the Commissioners to explain to the public how their offices work, what they do and how they link into other elements of the oversight landscape. The Government considers that future appointments should bear in mind the importance of the public element of the Commissioner role.

This "new dedicated website for the Commissioners " got off to a typically inept start:


MI5 inspector's website shut down after security blunder

A new website for the former High Court judges responsible for oversight of MI5, MI6 and wiretapping has been shut down after it emerged that anyone could edit any page of it.

By Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent

8:00AM BST 23 Oct 2011

The security blunder forced the Intelligence Services Commissioner, Sir Mark Waller, and the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Paul Kennedy, to pull the plug on their new website on Friday afternoon following enquiries by The Telegraph.

Every page contained an "edit" link that allowed anyone visiting the website to change any text and upload files.

After it was shut down a secure version was published at a new address

[...]

The secure version of their new website is at
www.intelligencecommissioners.com.


Inspector General

The Government have also floated the idea of an Inspector General, but their proposal in Appendix I is rather half hearted:

Question: Are more far-reaching intelligence oversight reform proposals preferable, for instance through the creation of an Inspector-General?

Appendix I
Possible model for an Inspector-General


1. An Inspector-General (IG) could oversee the powers and policies of the security and intelligence agencies and retrospectively review their operational activity. An IG for the Agencies could replace the Intelligence Services Commissioner and part of the remit of the Interception of Communications Commissioner.

2. An IG could be responsible for oversight of all the Agencies' covert investigation techniques, including the use of authorisations under the Intelligence Services Act 1994, and use by the Agencies of powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) Part I Chapter I (interception) and Chapter II (communications data), Part II (surveillance and CHIS) and Part III (encrypted data). It could also be responsible for oversight of requirements arising out of new government policies or legislation or the development of new practices. The IG could also provide legal advice and guidance to the Agencies on the use of their covert investigative techniques.

Doesn't the existing role of Intelligence Services Commissioner already do this ?

3. An IG could review the policies and procedures of the Agencies that relate to operational activities, including ethical matters. Ethical matters could be referred from, and reviewed, in close co-operation with the Staff Counsellor.

Who are these Staff Counsellors to which intelligence agency whistleblowers could complain to regarding, say, ethical concerns they have about intelligence operations involving torture or excessive snooping on innocent people ?

Rt. Hon. Sir John Chilcot "was Staff Counsellor to the Security and Intelligence Agencies (1999-2004) and the National Criminal Intelligence Service (2002-06). "

What a small, cosy world there seems to be amongst senior Whitehall mandarins and Judges, even after they retire.

If you were a whistleblower within these organisations today, would you trust

  1. The personal integrity of such a former Whitehall mandarin or retired senior Judge - probably yes

  2. His Operational Security technical computer, communications and "Moscow rules" style anti-surveillance tradecraft, to keep your identity secret from your work colleagues and managers and from other intelligence agencies - almost certainly not

4. An IG could have a retrospective review function that would include the ability to launch its own enquiries into past Agency operational activity. It could have a right to request intelligence, subject to Ministerial veto.

That would be a change from the current RIPA only remit of the intelligence Services Commissioner.

5. This would create two distinct oversight bodies: one focused on the Agencies, and one on all other public authorities with RIPA powers.

The risk of this approach is that oversight of interception would be split between two different bodies, possibly leading to different standards or approaches emerging. This would need to be managed and would not necessarily be straightforward.

Oversight of Interception is not as much of a problem as the lack of proper oversight of the vastly larger number of requests / demands for Communications Data, something which the existing Interception of Communications Commissioner fails to satisfy the demand for public accountability.

6. The IG could have a statutory duty to consult the Prime Minister on its annual work programme. It could produce an annual report for the Prime Minister, and publish reports on the outcome of the retrospective enquiries into Agency operational activity and reviews into operational policies. The IG could have a duty to develop an effective public profile for its work.

There must be clear, very effective methods for members of the public and for whistleblowers to contact the Inspector General , securely and anonymously, in the first instance, without the technical or legal risk of being snooped by the very intelligence agencies that they might be complaining about or about which they are providing evidence of wrongdoing or incompetence or corruption etc.

A single, censored, RIPA Commissioner or Intelligence Security Committee style Annual report to the Prime Minister absolutely will not inspire any public or even Parliamentary confidence whatsoever.

Any such reports should be made directly to Parliament, like the Information Commissioner.

7. An IG could be appointed by, and answerable to, the Prime Minister. The post could have some form of pre-appointment scrutiny by Parliament and/or could be advertised publicly. The role could be filled by a suitably experienced judge. If this was not a judicial appointment, the IG could be a senior civil servant but would need to be supported by a legal adviser with the appropriate legal and/or judicial experience. The IG could head up a team which would include a Secretariat and specialists with responsibility for aspects of the work of the IG (e.g. interception)

No! The post should be independent of the executive arm of government i.e. it should be an appointment by the Queen, just like a High Court Judge.

Spy Blog suggestions

Question: What combination of existing or reformed arrangements can best ensure credible, effective and flexible independent oversight of the activities of the intelligence community in order to meet the national security challenges of today and of the future?

Question: With the aim of achieving the right balance in the intelligence oversight system overall, what is the right emphasis between reform of parliamentary oversight and other independent oversight?

Question: What changes to the Commissioners' existing remit can best enhance the valuable role they play in intelligence oversight and ensure that their role will continue to be effective for the future? How can their role be made more public facing?

A few Spy Blog suggestions which apply to the RIPA Commissioners or the proposed Inspector General and to the supposedly beefed up Intelligence and Security Committee

  1. How about some photos etc. of the Commissioners (or the Inspector General) on their website ? Like Sir Peter Gibson (ex Intelligence Services Commissioner) on the Detainee Inquiry website (if they can get the hang of Wordpress hosted in Amazon S3 cloud) ?

    Sir_Paul_Kennedy_306.jpg

    Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy, Interception of Communications Commissioner (photo UPPA Ltd via Daily Mail)

    Sir_Mark_Waller_170.jpg

    Rt. Hon. Sir Mark Waller, Intelligence Services Commissioner (photo via Serle Court Chambers)

  2. How about proper whistleblowing secure and anonymous contact web forms, email, postal address, mobile phones etc. for tip offs and whistleblowers ?

  3. Statutory whistleblower protection counteracting the exemptions to current "normal" employment, and the various "national security" legislation

  4. "Wilson Doctrine" extension to the Commissioners / Inspector General and the Intelligence and Security Committee and also their staff and families. This would apply to their public duties and to whistleblower related communications, but obviously not to investigations into private corruption etc.

  5. Criminal sanctions including prison and unlimited fines for breaches of these rules by the intelligence agencies or the police or private sector sub-contractors etc.

  6. Multi million pound budget and staff to handle enquiries from the public and the media - very cheap when compared to the lack of intelligence sources caused by mistrust of the agencies

  7. Inclusion within the Freedom of Information Act regime, with the proviso that most of the National Security exemptions will apply to most of their casework and investigations. However requests about the Commissioners / Inspector General offices themselves e.g. number of complaints, waiting time for complaints to be processed or investigated etc should be made public without question or delay.

  8. Statutory basis for the oversight of Prisons, which was lumped onto the Interception of Communications Commissioner by Gordon Brown, and which takes up a huge amount of his time and resources

Respond to the Consultation

Is it worth bothering to submit these to the formal Consultation process ?

There is an unencrypted web form:

http://consultation.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/justiceandsecurity/the-consultation

Email: justiceandsecurity@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

Post: Justice and Security Consultation, Room 335, Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AS

by Friday 6th January 2012

If you are a potential or actual whistleblower, working in the United Kingdom intelligence services, who had information regarding involvement in torture, which might contradict what the senior managers and officials who will be appearing before Sir Peter Gibson's Detainee Inquiry, would you be satisfied with the assurances given below ?

Would you risk your career or life, or those of your family and friends, on such such assurances ?

See our previous blog article of the 11th August 2011, before the revelations from Libya: Spy Blog letter to the Detainee Inquiry re: lack of whistleblower anonymity protection and immunity from prosecution

The Detainee Inquiry
35 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BQ
Telephone: 020 7276 5544


From the Secretary to the Inquiry

13 September 2011

[name]
Spyblog
Via E-mail [email address]

LACK OF ANONYMITY PROTECTION FOR POTENTIAL OR ACTUAL WHISTLEBLOWERS TO THE DETAINEE INQUIRY.

Thank you for your e-mail to Sir Peter Gibson on behalf of Spyblog and its readership, in reference to the provisions of anonymity protection for whistleblowers and a number of issues related to the Inquiry's work. I am responding on Sir Peter's behalf.

The Inquiry takes the welfare and safety of any witnesses who provide evidence to us very seriously. The Inquiry's Protocol (available on our website) makes clear that witnesses may provide evidence to the Inquiry in private if the Inquiry believes that there is a good reason for them to do so.This is designed to ensure both the welfare and safety of witnesses by the protection of their identity, and the provision of full and frank evidence to the Inquiry. Any request by a witness to appear in private will be given careful consideration by the Panel. By way of further reassurance, the only people present during private hearings will be the witness and any one person they choose to accompany them, the panel, Counsel to the Inquiry, members of the Inquiry staff and contracted stenographers with the appropriate security clearance (see paragraph 37 of the Protocol). Should we find it necessary to seek further information from a Department or Agency as a result of evidence given by a witness, we would not reveal the source of the information leading to the request. We believe that the current measures are sufficient at this stage to protect the anonymity of whistleblowers or anyone else who has good reason to give evidence in private, but we will keep this under review

As you have identified, the Prime Minister stated in his letter of the 6 July 2010 to Sir Peter Gibson that 'the Attorney General has agreed to provide an undertaking that evidence given by witnesses may not be used against them in criminal proceedings, whether their evidence is given in public, private or both (other than in proceedings where he or she is charged with giving false evidence or conspiring to do so in the course of this Inquiry)' We are currently liaising with the Attorney General's office on producing a comprehensive undertaking which we are confident will address the concerns you have around potential prosecution of whistleblowers under legislation such as the Official Secrets Act. We hope to receive a final version of the undertaking soon and will then publish it on our website as you suggest. We will then confirm with the Cabinet Secretary and the Heads of the intelligence services their analogous undertakings to staff in respect of disciplinary proceedings based on the evidence provided, this was also set out in the Prime Minister's letter.

You raise an important point about assurances from the UK Intelligence Agencies in respect of their cooperating with the Inquiry. We have been assured by the Prime Minister that we will receive full co-operation from the Government and its Security and Intelligence Agencies. The Inquiry believes that this would cover all of the activities you have mentioned, as the type of behaviour you have explained regarding the Agencies deploying surveillance techniques on the Inquiry's Staff or asking Agencies in other countries to do likewise would go against this assurance of full cooperation.

Thank you for your recommendation in reference to encryption of the website to allow for individuals to submit evidence while protecting their identity. We continue to review our website and its security and will consider the points you have raised.

Finally on the important point in reference to ensuring that redactions placed on documents cannot be removed, the Inquiry takes its obligation to redact sensitive material, including individuals' personal details where they must be kept private, very seriously and are mindful of this risk. We shall, of course, do everything we can to ensure that this situation does not arise.

Yours Sincerely,

Alun Evans

With your help and feedback (either in the comments or via encrypted email, ideally using Tor or other IP Address obfuscation techniques) we will respond to the Detainee Inquiry, to press them further about the points in our Letter which they did not properly answer.

N.B. there are only a couple of working days left before the Attorney General and the Cabinet Secretary must reply to our Freedom of Information Act Requests for the promised Undertakings:


About this blog

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

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

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

Email & PGP Contact

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

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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

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

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

BLOGDIAL

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

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

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Rights Group

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

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

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

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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

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

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers