Results tagged “CCTV” from Spy Blog - SpyBlog.org.uk

Automatic Number Plate Recognition Camera enforced electronic ghettos are a hot topic in East Anglia at the moment, with the controversial "snoop on the general public 24/7, even when not actually stopping criminals" scheme in Royston, Herfordshire, which has been reported to the Information Commissioner by several human rights and civil liberties groups.

Royston's ANPR "Ring of Steel'' - the shape of things to come?

However, the mainstream media are still more obsessed with celebrities, than with the rights and freedoms of the public.

Thursday's front page story in the Daily Telegraph made this claim:

WikiLeaks: Government 'spying' on Julian Assange during house arrest

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are claiming that the Government has erected CCTV cameras to spy on the house where he is staying in East Anglia.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor

12:00PM BST 16 Jun 2011

In a video, titled "House Arrest", and released by WikiLeaks, they claim that three cameras have been erected to watch who enters and leaves his temporary home.

The video, published today on Telegraph.co.uk, marks his six months on bail. It shows one of the cameras outside the entrance to Ellingham Hall, Norfolk.

Mr Assange has lived there for six months while he fights extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual crimes, which he denies.

All of the cameras have been installed since Mr Assange moved there in mid-December.

On the video, Sarah Harrison, one of the WikiLeaks' team, says: "This is one of the three cameras that is outside each entrance of the property.

"We suddenly noticed them appearing since we have been here. We believe they are monitoring everything that goes in and out of the property."

Vaughan Smith, who owns Ellingham Hall, adds: "I am not an expert on cameras but I believe that these take number plates and report number plates. I think the country is full of them but I don't know why I need quite so many of them around my house."

Is this what passes for investigative journalism by the "Whitehall Editor" of the Daily Telegraph these days ?

The "camera" to which Sarah Harrison is seen pointing to, is clearly a radar operated speed warning sign which should light up when a vehicle approaches at more than the speed limit e,g, 30 or 40 or 50 mph

See Case Study - Norfolk Interactive Fibre Optic Signs (the fibre optics refer to the method of illuminating the sign, rather that to any high speed communications network reporting to any central surveillance and control system).

These are not even "speed cameras", which issue Fixed Penalty Notices for speeding , they are just a primitive road safety feature.

speed_sign_1_450.jpg

speed_sign_2_450.jpg

The Google Street View copyright message on this image of the very same speed warning sign on the Yarmouth Road, Ellingham approaching the Hall Road turning says "2009" i.e. from well before anybody in Norfolk could have suspected that Julian Assange.would be held on bail there.

google_street_view_2009_radar_speed_sign_450.jpg

The following closeup shot may or may not be of a camera on a pole, somewhere, but it is not a close up of the same device which Sarah Harrison was standing next to - it is mounted on the pole via a horizontal bracket at 90 degrees to the direction the device is pointing.

The speed warning sign radar gun is mounted directly in the direction which the sign is facing.

not_the_same_camera_or_radar_unit_450.jpg

Other models of such signs have the radar gun integrated into the dark border surrounding the illuminated display.

Vaughan Smith has now been quoted by the BBC:

Julian Assange friend's 'embarrassment' at camera claim

In the video, Mr Smith, who owns the Frontline Club in Paddington, West London, said: "I'm not an expert on cameras but I believe these take number plates and record number plates."

He went on say that the "cameras" had been installed at some time in the past three months.

But in an interview with BBC Look East, Mr Smith said he now accepted they were unlikely to be automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.

"I have heard that the council claims that these are not, in fact, cameras at all, unless they have been tampered with," he said.

"They are, I think, radars and I think it is important to correct that information.

Phones claim

"I feel slightly embarrassed about this, if I'm honest, because I was asked to respond to some information.

"I was told it was a camera and what did I think of it but, nevertheless, it's important to get it right."

Mr Smith said it was possible the cameras had been tampered with, adding: "There's certainly evidence that our phones are being listened to."

Vaughn Smith is a journalist and war correspondent, so checking some basic facts just outside his home should not really have been too difficult for him.


Why not publish this evidence of phone tapping on wikileaks then ?

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "Two speed reactive signs were installed on Yarmouth Road in Ellingham in June 2002, of which one appears to be the sign that is featured in the film.

"Four other speed reactive signs were installed elsewhere in the village in 2003.

"These signs work by using a radar detector, which activates the sign if vehicles are travelling in excess of a certain speed."


So, according to Norfolk Council that is 6 "reactive speed signs", none of them installed in the last 6 months.

The location of Ellingham Hall is obviously not a secret, given that the mainstream media press pack has camped out on there in the past.

Perhaps there are actually some other CCTV cameras which the wikileaks cult supporters have noticed recently, in which case why not publish photos and the exact locations of these alleged surveillance cameras ?

The WikiLeaks cult supporters have, presumably, passed by these locations hundreds of times in the last 6 months to and from Julian Assange's daily signing in at the local police station which the video illustrates.

Just how incompetent are they at anti-surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques , (which people with enemies like theirs should be routinely employing) if they have not noticed these alleged "cameras" which have been in position, not for months, but for years ?

CCTV ANPR snooping and excessive data retention and "pattern matching" data warehousing applied to millions of innocent motorists, in secret, is a major civil liberties issue in the United Kingdom, which the WikiLeaks cult and the Daily Telegraph have managed to obscure with seemingly ill informed or false claims.

N.B. despite our criticisms of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, he is suffering unjustly from the hated former Labour government's Extradition Act 2003 and the European Arrest Warrant procedure, which was clearly introduced before the necessary harmonisation of different legal systems in the European Union has taken place.

There is a lot to digest in the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government's

Protection of Freedoms Bill

which seeks to undo some, but not all of the damage inflicted on our freedoms and liberties and on the public purse, by years of neglect, bureaucratic red tape, technological and financial incompetence and the authoritarian "Must Pretend To Be Seen To Be Doing Something To Appease The Tabloid Newspapers" legislation and schemes dreamed up by discredited previous Labour government politicians and their "revolving door" apparatchiks and bureaucrats.

Hopefully, if time and other commitments permit, Spy Blog will try to comment on most of the provisions of this Bill.

UPDATE 15 Feb 2011: The Cabinet Office has created a public website where you can comment on each clause of the Protection of Freedoms Bill:

"http://publicreadingstage.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

The reference to the Home Office's "Civil Liberties and Identity Policy Unit" is a bit worrying - are the same people who were driving the authoritarian National Identity Scheme, now also formulating policy on all "civil liberties" ?

An acid test of the Labour party since its election defeat will be how it scrutinises and enhances our freedoms and liberties through its Parliamentary scrutiny of this Bill. If it cannot even identify the weaknesses in this Bill and cannot successfully press the Government for positive changes, or it simply moans about "cuts" or just parrots the authoritarian lines fed to it by the control freaks hiding in the secrecy of Whitehall, then it will continue to be an object of hatred and derision. Given the make up of the Shadow Cabinet, the prospect of anything but dismal failure by the Labour party is slim.

Spy Blog originally started out online in 1996 (under the then Tory government) campaigning for a level playing field of legally enforceable, national regulations and standards for the even then unacceptable growth in unregulated CCTV surveillance cameras intruding on personal privacy and security in public and private spaces.

Although many years too late, it is welcome to see a start in this direction with the Statutory Code of Practice / Surveillance Camera Commissioner scheme proposed in the

Protection of Freedoms Bill Part 2 Regulation of surveillance Chapter 1 Regulation of CCTV and other surveillance camera technology

CCTV is not just about cameras but about linked Databases and Software

This Bill fails to acknowledge the fact that Closed Circuit Television is no longer just about Analog CCTV surveillance cameras and VHS analog tape recordings, but it is mostly about Digital Cameras and cross referenced, cross linked Computer Databases and Telecommunications Infrastructures. They also now work in multiple parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, not just in the visible light part of it.

The Code of Practice and the Surveillance camera Commissioner should have powers and budgets to deal with complaints and abuses about these technologies, which are already available or under development today.

There is a mention of one form of Software enhancement ot CCTV surveillance, that of Automatic Number Plate recognition, but other attempts at Software enhancements such as Facial Recognition databases, Lip Reading software (which can snoop on conversations out of earshot but in sight) , Gait biometrics (how individual people walk or run) , multi-spectral e.g. thermal Infra Red imaging (e.g. snooping on private houses, from the road or from the air, which seem to be radiating "too much" heat, and then kicking the door in, searching for illegal cannabis growing hydroponics systems) are ignored.

There is no mention of the various "See through Clothes" / "See through walls" spy camera imaging systems, which must also be nationally regulated.

Statutory Code of Practice does not cover all public bodies

Although it applies to Local Authorities , Police Forces and Police Authorities, this Bill does not apply to Whitehall Central Government Departments or their Agencies .

Why not ?

Surely the Bill, which specifically mentions Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) should also apply to the Highways Agency and the profusion of cameras and public and private sector ANPR systems e.g. the thousand of TrafficMaster ANPR cameras, on Motorways and A roads, as well as those operated by Local Authorities on minor roads ?

Motorway Road Works now routinely use SPECS camera systems to enforce the 50 mph speed limit, by taking ANPR images of all vehicles entering and leaving the road works and then calculating the average speed over the measured distance. What happens to the millions of such images taken each year, logging the time and date and location of millions of innocent motorists. Surely these should not be excluded from regulation by this Bill, because they are not operated by either the Police or a Local authority but by the Highways Agency ?

Transport for London controversially hands over all of its CCTV footage, from the London Congestion Charge and London Green Emissions Zone ANPR cameras, video feeds from its Traffic Cameras and from those on the London Underground "In real time, in bulk" to the Metropolitan Police for "national security" secret data mining and trawling, not just for any specific, targeted investigation. The notorious Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith signed a Ministerial Certificate exempting this data from the Data Protection Act. Why does this Bill not correct that vast extension of the Database Surveillance State ?

What about the CCTV / ANPR within the National Health Service or in Schools or Universities ?

What about Private Sector properties which are actually public or semi-public spaces like shopping centres, sports arenas , cinemas or theatres etc. ?

What about Factories and Offices and other private sector workplaces ?

Why are any of these CCTV / ANPR systems exempt from this Bill ?

National Security

There is no mention of the use or abuse of CCTV and ANPR Cameras and databases by the Intelligence Agencies or the Military Armed Forces.


National Security must not be glossed over or left to an obscure section in the the as yet unwritten Code of Practice.

There should be explicit provisions in the text of the Bill for authorising the temporary use of CCTV cameras and ANPR systems for "national security" directed or intrusive surveillance.

Where there are permanent "national security" CCTV / ANPR systems e.g. at Airports or Sea Ports and Fright Container Terminals etc. , they must be regularly inspected and reported on. If they are to act as a deterrent to criminals, spies and terrorists. The Surveillance Camera Commissioner must publish annual statistics as to their effectiveness.

If this highlights potential weaknesses and failings e.g. CCTV systems which are poorly maintained due to "budget cuts", a fact which which may conceivably be "of use to a terrorist" etc., then so be it.

It should be the duty of those running such systems to ensure that there is adequate management resources and budgets to tighten up any such loophole as son as they are found. Keeping them secret from the public, but almost certainly not secret from insiders and terrorists or espionage agents, is the worst possible way of running such schemes and any managers of such schemes should be named and shamed and prosecuted for misfeasance in public office if they persist in doing so.

Any such "national security" permissions should only be temporary and should have to be re-applied for and re-authorised every 6 months, just like RIPA interception warrants.

Remember that the controversial Project Champion ANPR / CCTV system involving the planned use of hundreds of cameras to create an electronic ghetto / political activist mass surveillance monitoring scheme, in a couple of areas of Birmingham with a large Muslim minority (but also snooping on the innocent majority of people of all religions and races) . This was a "counter terrorism" funded scheme which was sneaked in as a supposed "normal policing" anti-crime measure, inflicted on the local Police and Local Authority.

These extra "national security" scrutiny provisions should also apply to any systems commandeered or volunteered for use for "national security" purposes which are not wholly owned or operated by the Police or the Intelligence Agencies e.g. by Local Authorities or by private sector security monitoring companies.

Surely the Surveillance Camera Commissioner should have to give his temporary permission for any such, hopefully more narrowly targeted schemes ?

See Through Your Childrens' Clothes Imaging Cameras

See through your clothes passive millimetre wave or Backscatter X-ray or TeraHerz or Ultra Wide Band imaging systems should also be covered by this Bill - they certainly produce CCTV style images.

The use of such "see through your children's clothes 'perv scanner'" technologies should be confined to high security areas like Prisons and not permitted as general snooping systems, especially not in secret, on the public (including children) in the street.

There should be criminal penalties for such abuse.

Aerial Reconnaissance drones

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner must also have powers to regulate to prevent the abuse of the ever cheaper Aerial Reconnaissance drones and robot devices, which are being hyped up in the run up to take a share of the massive London 2012 Olympic Games security budget.

Surveillance Camera Commissioner

The role of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner appears to be the usual "jobs for the boys" sinecure based on the failed attempts to pretend that there is proper public scrutiny of the sometimes necessary state intrusions into our privacy, thorough the RIPA Commissioners, and without even the limited power and budget of the Information Commissioner.

Even the experienced and cynical observers of the UK Surveillance Database State who are regular readers of Spy Blog have difficulty in even naming, let alone trying to contact any of these secretive UK Commissioners.

These RIPA Commissioners may well be excellent people, former High Court Judges, but their roles and powers are deliberately crippled and they do not inspire any confidence amongst the general public, most of whom have never heard of them, let alone know how to contact them, a useless waste of time, since they refuse to deal with complaints from the public.

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner should be given the budget and manpower to employ technical experts as well as administrators and lawyers. The failure to do so has crippled the effectiveness of the Information Commissioner's Office, so this should not be repeated in this new role.

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner must be given the resources to interact with the public and have the power to investigate their complaints. The failure to do this has been a major failing of the RIPA Commissioners scheme i.e. the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, and the Intelligence Services Commissioner .

It is unclear what overlap and rivalry there will be between the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Information Commissioner.

It is extraordinary and hypocritical that whilst another section of the Protection of Freedoms Bill relaxes the control of the Secretary of State / Whitehall department over the budgets and staff approval of the Information Commissioner's Office, yet that outdated model is exactly what is being proposed for the new Surveillance Camera Commissioner, thereby fatally compromising the independence and trustworthiness of the office right from the outset.

The Protection of Freedoms Bill should explicitly include the Surveillance Camera Commissioner as a public body under the Freedom of Information Act, for precisely the same reasons as the Information Commissioner's Office is already subject to it - it meets all the criteria for inclusion in the List of Public Bodies as it will have been set up by an Act of Parliament.

It is an ongoing scandal that the RIPA Commissioners , who have also been created by an Act of Parliament are still not yet classed as Public Bodies for the purposes of the Freedom Information Act.

Why has this Protection of Freedoms Bill not corrected this bit of authoritarian Labour party / Whitehall smoke and mirrors ?

Central registration of CCTV camera systems

One of the stupidest wastes of Police resources is the never ending scramble, going door to door, to find and then "seize as evidence" any CCTV camera footage in a particular area, after a high profile assault, rape, murder, kidnapping or terrorist attack.

Such footage is less and less useful, as time passes after the incident, so any delays in finding such footage are critical.

In a country where every receive only Television set has to have an Annual Television Licence fee paid, it is very surprising to many foreign visitors, that the CCTV camera snooping systems require no such Fee and no local or national registration,

Why does this Bill not mandate the creation of such Local CCTV registers, through the simple inclusion of any CCTV camera system on the exterior of any building, as part of the Local Authority Planning process, which already covers the erection of signs, ventilation pipes and Satellite dish aerials etc. of a similar size and visual impact as CCTV "Death Star" domes ?

Why is there no mandatory (or even suggested) Data Retention period for CCTV video footage, before it is overwritten on tape or on magnetic disk ? It would be trivial to insist on this as part of the CCTV Licence Application, provided that different classes and sizes of systems were sensibly accommodated. A home security CCTV system should not be expected to hold weeks or months of images online, whilst that run by the Police in a City Centre should have the budget to do so.

There has been rather too much uncritical media hype in the Daily Mail and on the BBC , about the creepy "Internet Eyes" money making scheme.

This is so fundamentally flawed that it is surprising that it has not been dreamed up by the Labour policy weasel control freaks at the Home Office or at the "Department for Communities and Local Government (who seem to be trying to drop the words "Department for" on their web site)

Instead of employing properly trained and Security Industry Authority licensed, camera control room operators, but allowing them to use secure,Virtual Private Network video camera feeds, remotely from home (something which is potentially attractive to many part time or disabled workers) , the Internet Eyes scheme/scam tries to exploit the most gullible of "Big Brother" voyeurs, on the cheap.

Contrary to most of the media and blog headlines about this scheme, which falsely report that the public is somehow going to be paid to watch these CCTV feeds, it turns out that Internet Eyes are not actually planning to pay people to snoop at all. Instead they are only offering them the vague hope of winning a monthly prize.

However "Viewers" /snoopers have to pay for SMS "alert credits" at £1 per alert, and "Customers" / camera operators, may have to pay £20 a month at least.

There are many possible ways in which the public could be involved in CCTV based Neighbourhood Watch schemes etc., but none of them so far have overcome the fundamental problem of what can be done about criminals who are also your neighbours , and who have the same access to the Open CCTV / Neighbourhood Watch CCTV scheme as you do.

People seem to forget that CCTV camera feeds not only show the occasional flurry of "suspicious" activity, but they also show, the vast majority of time, the absence of police or security guards or business staff or home owners, i.e. they show when the coast is clear for criminals to attack their targets.

According to its website FAQ page, the Internet Eyes scheme attempts to get around this by not revealing the locations of the CCTV cameras which it is allegedly streaming images from to the "Viewer" over the internet. N.B. these feeds could be very easily faked - how can a "Viewer" know for sure that they are getting a live camera feed ?

This makes it worse than useless from an anti-crime alert point of view !

If any law abiding "Viewer" does, by some miracle, happen to see a violent crime in progress, he or she cannot actually pick up a phone and dial 999 / 112 to alert the local Police or Ambulance service about it - a vague "something is happening, I do not know exactly where)" is a waste of police time and could get them arrested for making a "hoax" 999 call, if they try to guess the location.

Why did none of the professional journalists involved with this story bother to ask about this obvious aspect of the scheme ?

The Home Office has been recently citing a review of published academic studies on Closed Circuit Tele Vision (CCTV).

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker even managed to use the word "privacy" in the same breath as "CCTV", which may be a first for a Labour Home Office Minister, or it may just be more NuLabour Orwellian newspeak re-definition of a common English word, to have virtually the opposite meaning.

18 May 2009 : Column 1202

House of Commons debates
Monday, 18 May 2009

Oral Answers to Questions -- Home Department
Topical Questions

2:30 pm

Christine Russell (Chester, City of, Labour)

Most people find the presence of CCTV in their neighbourhoods reassuring, and most police officers find them very helpful in assisting the detection of crime and the reduction of antisocial behaviour. However, there is also a strong view out there that they can result in a real invasion of an individual's personal liberty. Has the Department commissioned, or will it consider commissioning, a fully independent survey of the effectiveness of CCTV cameras?

Vernon Coaker (Gedling, Labour)

My hon. Friend has raised an important point about the balance between the rights of the individual and the protection of the community. The Home Office is examining the way in which we manage CCTV systems throughout the country, and also the possibility of establishing a national CCTV board.

According to a recent report from the Campbell Collaboration crime and justice group, CCTV has

"a modest but significant desirable impact on crime".

See:

Title Effects of closed circuit television surveillance on crime (.pdf)
Institution The Campbell Collaboration
Authors Welsh, Brandon P. Farrington, David C.
DOI 10.4073/csr.2008.17
No. of pages 73
Last updated 2 December, 2008

The report says that it is most effective in reducing crime in car parks and targeting vehicle crime, and that it is more effective in reducing crime in the United Kingdom than in other countries. I think that that is an endorsement of CCTV, but we must of course consider the impact on the privacy of the individual as well.

Of course the Home Office has actually commissioned research as far back as 1993, which also concluded that Car Parks (with improved Lighting) were where there was the only demonstrable Crime Reduction effect of CCTV.

This research has obviously been ignored by the Conservative and Labour politicians in power and by Home Office policy makers ever since.

See:

Understanding car parks, crime and CCTV: evaluation lessons from safer cities (.pdf)
Author:: Nigel Tilley
Crime Prevention Unit Series Paper No. 42
Home Office, Policing and Reducing Crime Unit
Research, Development and Statistics Directorate
United Kingdom
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 40
.


Spy Blog has been counting visible CCTV spy / surveillance / safety cameras, for over 10 years now ("from habit that became instinct").

We have even conducted and advised on "spot the CCTV camera tours" for the benefit of artists, academics and the media etc.

Sousveillance by the general people and by political activists, of the infrastructure of the surveillance state, is very topical now after the initial false claims about the lack of CCTV coverage of the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in the City of London.

The BBC Radio 4 iPM programme is encouraging their listeners to do a bit of CCTV camera spotting, and to send them the results.

BBC_Radio4_iPM_CanUSeeMe.jpg

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinised.

George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty Four

N.B. bear in mind that just because a particular CCTV camera can be spotted in public does not automatically mean that it is

  • a real camera rather than a deliberate dummy one

  • is actually switched on

  • is actually being watched by a real live, alert, CCTV operator who us not bored , distracted or overworked.

  • is being properly maintained and the lenses kept clean and clear

  • is actually recording all the time (some only take snapshots every few seconds or minutes)

  • produces an image which is of sufficient quality to identify someone positively

  • is not simply ignored by the police, due to budget and manpower constraints

Then there are all the cameras with long range zoom lenses or enhanced infrared night vision capabilities (something beyond even George Orwell's nightmare) or the deliberately concealed ones, which may be snooping on you , but which you cannot spot easily or at all.

Remember also the current "Climate of Fear" propaganda poster campaign which misleadingly claims

"A bomb won't go off here because weeks before a shopper reported someone studying the CCTV cameras"
See Metropolitan Police terrorism fear Propaganda Poster lies about bombs, reconnaissance and CCTV cameras - updated 25th March 2009

More details on the BBC Radio 4 iPM blog:

CCTV on iPM, you see?

* Jennifer Tracey
* 21 Apr 09, 04:31 PM

The contract of advertising agency Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy with the Metropolitan Police Service expires at the end of March.

They are being replaced by Gordon Brown's favourite ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, who gave him "Design services" during his Labour party leadership non-election "coronation" campaign.

ABV BBDO have also been awarded the lucrative Home Office ID Cards propaganda account.

Presumably Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy are at least partly to blame for the current Metropolitan Police Service anti-terrorism advertising campaign launched today.

This campaign includes this false and misleading poster, which claims a non existent link between public CCTV and protection against terrorist bombs:

"A bomb won't go off here because weeks before a shopper reported someone studying the CCTV cameras"

street_chemicals_cctv_450.jpg

There is no evidence that any Islamic extremist or Irish terrorists or Animal Rights extremists or neo-Nazi extremists, who have exploded, or tried to explode bombs, or set off incendiary devices, have been deterred from doing so by the presence of CCTV cameras. Some may have been tracked down partially through the help of CCTV footage, after their attacks or attempted attacks, but that is not what this poster is implying.

There is no evidence that any of them who have actually had access to any explosives, have ever been caught in the act of "terrorist reconnaissance" of CCTV cameras, neither by members of the public (which is what this poster misleadingly claims), nor by regular Police street patrols, nor even by any covert surveillance of known suspects.

Since you do not need any equipment to check out where public CCTV cameras are, just your eyes and your memory, it is unlikely that any real terrorism or criminal reconnaissance of CCTV camera systems will ever be detected in the way that this poster implies.

This poster is just Climate of Fear propaganda, and it will no doubt be used to justify the harassment of photographers taking photos, perfectly legally in public places, which have been infested with CCTV spy cameras, something for which there is plenty of evidence for.

See Matt Wardman's Official Harassment of Photographers in the UK: I have a Little List

We are reporting this misleading poster to the Advertising Standards Authority, and urge you all to do the same.

UPDATE:

David Mery rightly points out that this re-run of previous Climate of Fear campaigns is likely to lead to lots of False Positive denunciations of innocent people

Police calls for a climate of fear

Considering how bad trained police officers are at spotting terrorists, asking untrained people to attempt to do the same will end up creating more suspicion of anyone behaving a bit differently. This will obviously target those who have different customs and those who are afflicted by some illness, fuelling further discrimination. These campaigns also focus on common objects, recently photographers have been particularly targeted. Looking at our environment, be it buildings or CCTV surrounding us, - hostile reconnaissance as it is called by the police - is a cause for arrest but so far has not been a cause for any conviction.

UPDATE: 25th March 2009

The Advertising Standards Authority has decided to pass on the complaint about this poster to the Independent Advertising Standards Council for their consideration,

The Daily Telegraph reports some welcome political promises, which we will which hold them to in the future, from the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary David Davis regarding CCTV surveillance cameras.

Tories pledge to curb use of CCTV cameras

By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 12:49AM BST 21/05/2008

A Conservative government would put strict new limits on the use of surveillance cameras, David Davis, the shadow home secretary, pledged on Tuesday night.

Mr Davis told the Society of Conservative Lawyers that the widespread use of closed circuit television (CCTV) risks infringing civil liberties.

He proposed new rules on the use of CCTV and penalties for people and bodies that use the cameras to invade the privacy of the public. He also promised measures to improve the quality of CCTV footage to aid prosecutions.

Mr Davis said: "There is no argument for having CCTV which both infringes on our civil liberty but is of such poor quality it does nothing to protect us or provide evidence to bring perpetrators of crime to justice - as happens now.

"Conservatives would ensure any CCTV has to be maintained at sufficiently high standard to provide evidence admissible in court.

"We would also strictly limit access to these images to the police and other relevant agencies until they get to court, and set a mandatory punishment for breaches of these rules that infringe the privacy of the individual."

Britain is one of the heaviest users of CCTV in the world, with more than 4.2 million CCTV cameras across the country, one for every 14 people.

This figure is only an out of date guesstimate, made over 5 years ago, but the Labour government Surveillance State has never bothered, or perhaps never dared, to research a more accurate or up to date figure.

See "monitored on CCTV 300 times a day" etc. soundbites

There needs to be a level playing field, with CCTV regulations legally enforced , fairly and equally throughout the United Kingdom. This does not happen at the moment.

  • We would support the use of far fewer, but properly run and properly maintained CCTV systems, which are all registered with the Local Council planning authorities..

  • Providing that they are physically small, as most CCTV cameras are nowadays, it should be made easier to mount them closer to the ground. Under the current "no need for planning permission" building regulations, they are at least 2.5 metres off the ground, like advertising signs etc, to prevent people colliding with them by accident. This would give better pictures of people who currently succeed in obscuring their faces with hoodies or baseball caps etc.

  • Residents should be able to legally object, for free, to the siting CCTV cameras which snoop on them or their children, or which are used as a form of intimidation in disputes between neighbours.

  • This would aid the Police in serious crime investigations, especially where time is of the essence e.g. a missing child as they would not have to waste time and resources literally knocking on doors and trying to find out who, if anyone has some relevant CCTV footage.

  • The Government and the insurance industry should mandate open standards for CCTV image data transfers formats and connector cables. There are far too many incompatible proprietary data compression formats and cable end connectors in use.

  • There should be a legally enforceable CCTV image Data Retention period which is equal to or greater than the Data Protection Act Subject Access Request time limit to reply of 41 days, by which time most "CCTV evidence" is usually destroyed. Alternatively, the Data Protection Act should be amended to reflect the fact that most CCTV camera systems are on daily, weekly or monthly data re-formatting or overwriting cycles.

  • Where CCTV evidence is "seized" by the Police or the security agencies etc, it must not be kept and stored indefinitely. All copies must be proven to have been destroyed after a suitable Data Retention period. Extensions to such Data Retention periods must be independently reviewed.and not simply be rubber stamped automatically.

  • The regulations and legislation should a increase the number of CCTV Warning Signs, with up to date contact details of the Camera Operators - what is the point of a "deterrent" which nobody knows about ?

  • "CCTV" should also include all the "see through your clothes or your children's clothes" scanner and imaging technologies such as Passive or Active Millimetre Wave, TeraHerz or Back Scatter X-Ray etc.

  • There must be criminal penalties for the abuse of CCTV and other such systems

It is hard to resist shouting "Told You So !":

CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police

Owen Bowcott
The Guardian,
Tuesday May 6 2008

Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.

The warning comes from the head of the Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) at New Scotland Yard as the force launches a series of initiatives to try to boost conviction rates using CCTV evidence. They include:

  • A new database of images which is expected to use technology developed by the sports advertising industry to track and identify offenders.

  • Putting images of suspects in muggings, rape and robbery cases out on the internet from next month.

  • Building a national CCTV database, incorporating pictures of convicted offenders as well as unidentified suspects. The plans for this have been drawn up, but are on hold while the technology required to carry out automated searches is refined.

Use of CCTV images for court evidence has so far been very poor, according to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, the officer in charge of the Metropolitan police unit. "CCTV was originally seen as a preventative measure," Neville told the Security Document World Conference in London. "Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It's been an utter fiasco: only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. There's no fear of CCTV. Why don't people fear it? [They think] the cameras are not working."

For a supposed crime prevention deterrent, the number of warning signs that an area is actually under CCTV surveillance is usually totally inadequate.

There should be far more warning signs than actual cameras, but almost invariably, this is the other way around, with perhaps only one sign for every dozen or so cameras deployed.

More training was needed for officers, he said. Often they do not want to find CCTV images "because it's hard work". Sometimes the police did not bother inquiring beyond local councils to find out whether CCTV cameras monitored a particular street incident.

Which rather supports our demands for compulsory Registration and Licensing of CCTV camera systems, ideally at a local level, - the Police would be able to find relevant footage far more quickly than having to make door to door enquiries every time.

"CCTV operators need feedback. If you call them back, they feel valued and are more helpful. We want to develop a career path for CCTV [police] inquirers."

The Viido unit is beginning to establish a London-wide database of images of suspects that are cross-referenced by written descriptions. Interest in the technology has been enhanced by recent police work, in which officers back-tracked through video tapes to pick out terrorist suspects. In districts where the Viido scheme is working, CCTV is now helping police in 15-20% of street robberies.

"We are [beginning] to collate images from across London," Neville said. "This has got to be balanced against any Big Brother concerns, with safeguards. The images are from thefts, robberies and more serious crimes. Possibly the [database] could be national in future."

The unit is now investigating whether it can use software - developed to track advertising during televised football games - to follow distinctive brand logos on the clothing of unidentified suspects. "Sometimes you are looking for a picture, for example, of someone with a red top and a green dragon on it," he explained. "That technology could be used to track logos." By back-tracking, officers have often found earlier pictures, for example, of suspects with their hoods down, in which they can be identified.

This approach may sometimes be of use, but it can also lead to a lot of false positive misidentification of innocent people, given how popular some brands are.

"We are also going to start putting out [pictures] on the internet, on the Met police website, asking 'who is this guy?'. If criminals see that CCTV works they are less likely to commit crimes."

Cheshire deputy chief constable Graham Gerrard, who chairs the CCTV working group of the Association of Chief Police Officers, told the Guardian, that it made no sense to have a national DNA and fingerprint database, but to have to approach 43 separate forces for images of suspects and offenders. A scheme called the Facial Identification National Database (Find), which began collecting offenders' images from their prison pictures and elsewhere, has been put on hold.

He said that there were discussions with biometric companies "on a regular basis" about developing the technology to search digitised databases and match suspects' images with known offenders. "Sometimes when they put their [equipment] in operational practice, it's not as wonderful as they said it would be, " he said. "I suspect [Find] has been put on hold until the technology matures. Before you can digitise every offender's image you have to make sure the lighting is right and it's a good picture. It's a major project. We are still some way from a national database. There are still ethical and technical issues to consider."

[...]

Biometrics being oversold by eager salesdroids hoping to cash in on lucrative public sector procurement incompetence, and (mostly Labour) politicians grasping at technological magic wands, in the vain hope that they might cover up their lack of other solutions to social problems ? Who would have guessed ?

Any proposed National Database of CCTV images must not be sneaked in without full public and Parliamentary debate , like the DNA database has been.

There must be a much better, friendlier, more responsive system for correcting the inevitable mistakes, and for the prompt destruction of any data collected inadvertently by the system on innocent people.

There should be generous financial compensation and public apologies by those responsible for such errors and mistakes.

There should be criminal penalties for any insiders who abuse the data collected or analysed, with no exceptions for "national security" or "the prevention or detection of crime" etc.

This report echoes some of the concerns raised by the ACPO report published last October - see National CCTV Strategy - worryingly incomplete

The graffiti stencil artwork,"One Nation Under CCTV", presumably by "Banksy", which recently appeared in Newman Street in London, is definitely now a tourist attraction :

One_Nation_Under_CCTV_Newman_Street_22nd_April_2008.jpg

Here are some more Spy Blog photos and social observations:

Former street graffiti artist "Banksy", whose often witty stencil graffiti artworks, now fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds in art galleries, is being credited with a new wall painting in London, which appeared over the weekend.

The location is an "end of terrace" blank wall, on Newman Street, at the junction with Eastcastle Street. overlooking the rear entrance to the Rathbone Place Post Office sorting centre

See this map

Newman_Street_Banksy_DM1_300.jpg

The Daily Mail spins the story from the angle that this is supposed to be a secure parking area for Post Office vans, with a big fence and at least one CCTV camera (circled), supposedly guarded around the clock.

However what strikes us is the ambiguity of the slogan and the image, which seems to tolerate the idea of fascist / communist style mass surveillance and sloganeering. The figures of the private security guard and the dog (see next image) at the bottom left, are not trying to prevent the figure on the ladder from painting the slogan, they are looking on passively or with approval, whilst taking their own photo of the painter.

What is really annoying about Banksy and this particular piece of grafitti art is that he recently donated an artwork, which raised £195,000 at auction, to support the re-election of the notorious Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London, Hopefully the name of this anonymous purchaser / donor will be revealed in the election expenses returns.

Livingstone is a manipulative Labour politician, and an admirer of the Cuban and Chinese police state dictatorships, and of other terrorist supporting extremists, whose Transport for London and Policing policies have vastly increased the amount of CCTV and other surveillance, which is being inflicted, unaccountably and in secret, on innocent travellers and residents in London.

Ken Livingstone deliberately refused to appear at, or send a deputy, or provide any written answers to the Questions about the Database / Surveillance State issues put to the other main Mayoral candidates at the recent cross political party NO2ID Campaign organised Database State Mayoral Election Hustings on the 8th of April - he ended up appearing as a "Cardboard Cut Out Ken".

In that context, the location and timing of this "Banksy" looks to be supportive of the Labour Party surveillance and control cliques, rather than being in any way on the side of the angels, or of the majority of the unnecessarily snooped on public.

A couple more images:

"monitored on CCTV 300 times a day" etc. soundbites

|

Today's media is full of coverage about Privacy and Surveillance, no doubt as a result of the "A Surveillance society ?" conference of Privacy and Data Protection Commissioners from around the world, being held today tomorrow, together with the publication of the UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas's report: "A Report on the Surveillance Society" (.pdf 109 pages)

The TV media especially, have jumped on the chance to send broadcast cameras into CCTV surveillance control rooms and to follow reporters around the streets etc.

Some mention has also been made of the National DNA Database, notably the Sky News interview with Guy Herbert the General Secretary of the NO2ID Campaign

The soundbites of choice appear to be "you are monitored on CCTV camera 300 times each day", (is that 300 cameras looking at you once, or one watching you 300 times ?) and there are now "4,2 million CCTV cameras in the UK" i.e. "20% of the world's total".

As usual, such statistics tend to stretch the mathematical skills of the broadcast media to breaking point, as this figure for the number of CCTV cameras has been variously reported as "1 camera for every 12 people" or "1 camera for every 14 people" in the UK.

Of course we welcome the publicity being given to these issues, which we have been trying to raise public awareness about for the last 10 years.

However, we must point out that these soundbite statistics are just that, and are based on guesstimates made by Professor Clive Norris, as reported in an article in The Independent, which we noted back in January 2004 - how come the broadcast media have taken nearly 3 years notice ?

See:

  • "Estimating the extent, sophistication and legality of CCTV in London", by Michael McCahill and Clive Norris, published in CCTV edited by Martin Gill, Perptuity Press 2003 (now distributed by Palgrave Paladin) ISBN: 189928771X

Who knows what the true, up to date, figure for the number of CCTV cameras installed in the UK is ? Certainly not the Home Office, who refuse to regulate or license their use.

Public CCTV surveillance has been shown not to be particularly effective in preventing violent, or drunken street crime or terrorism. Studies have generally accepted that there can be a reduction or displacement of crimes against property, which is why many local shopkeepers tend to support such schemes.

However:

Richmond Informer Friday March 17th 2006

A case of Can't Cope TV

Cops Say they havn't got time to analyse video of burgalry

By Natalie Arsalane

A Teddington shopkeeper who was burgled has criticised the police after they refused to check CCTV footage - because they did not have enough man-power

Nigel Dawes' shop - Teddington Station Garden Centre - was burgled on February 26.

Thieves stole £400 worth of plants from the store, in Station Road, despite a council-run CCTV camera being yards from the shop.

When Mr Dawes contacted the police, he was told that because he did not know the specific time the theft took place, they could not check the film.

He then asked if he could check the tape himself, but Richmond Council would not allow him.

What is the point of such a public CCTV surveillance system if does not deter criminals and if nobody checks the footage ?

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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  • FOI Officer: The point is, the police cannot reject requests for CCTV read more
  • wtwu: @ FOI officer - there may be nothing on the read more
  • FOI Officer: The National Security exemption would not apply, as no national read more
  • Anonymous Person: This seems to be a common problem http://www.sudburytoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=850&ArticleID=1387601 read more
  • A Tench: Just been looking at the Subject Access Request from Richmond. read more

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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