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

When the Home Office issues an official Press Release, quoting a Minister, James Brokenshire the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State responsible for Crime Reduction, about the issuance of some new official legal guidance, is it really too much for members of the public to expect that someone, amongst the vast array of Press Officers, Special Political Advisors , Private Office staff, or even the Minister himself, would actually bother to read the guidance document published on the official Home Office website ?

The Press Release: New Guidance to help pubs, clubs and shops spot fake ID
is dated Thursday, 24 Feb 2011

which points to

False ID

[...]

On 24 February 2011, we released guidance to door staff in pubs and clubs on how to spot false documents and what to do once they have confiscated them.

This is additional to the false ID posters that were released in 2010.

The "new" guidance:


http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/alcohol/false-id/false-
identity-guidance

Guidance published in February 2011 provides advice to door staff at pubs and clubs on how to spot false documents and what to do once they have confiscated them.

Date: Wed Feb 23 15:50:15 GMT 2011

False identity guidance (PDF file - 2mb - Warning: large file)

Incredibly, even though this document has a preface by the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition Home Office Minister James Brokenshire and is dated 24th February 2011, the Home Office has taken no notice of their very own

Identity Documents Act 2010

1 Repeal of Identity Cards Act 2006

(1)The Identity Cards Act 2006 is repealed.

(2)But--

(a)sections 25 and 26 of that Act (possession of false identity
documents etc), and

(b)section 38 of that Act (verifying information provided with
passport applications etc), are re-enacted by this Act (with
consequential amendments and, in the case of section 38, also with
minor amendments).

We are not talking about a minor typographical error or two, but multiple pages full of no longer legal references to the repealed "Identity Cards Act 2006" e.g. page 7 and the whole of Annex B pages 32 to 34

If the licensed Security Industry door supervisors etc. attempt to seize people's suspected fake id documents, using this inaccurate Home Office guidance, citing these repealed legal powers, they could be prosecuted for theft, which would be a career ending mistake, which James Brokenshire and the Home Office would be responsible for.

Here is a link to a copy of the original, for you to compare with any future revisions of this "new guidance" - false-identity-guidance.pdf which, according to its meta data, was created between 15:02 and 15:43 on Wednesday 23rd February 2011 i.e. the day before the Press Release was published on the public Home Office website.

Spy Blog noticed this on Thursday and has waited in vain for the "razor sharp minds" at the Home Office to correct this rubbish.

If the Labour party was doing its job as the Official Opposition, of scrutinising, in detail, the work of the Government, they would have immediately noticed this stupid error and could perhaps scored a genuine political point off the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government

It appears, however, that their Home Affairs spokeswoman Yvette Cooper (the third Labour politician in this post in less than a year) and her colleagues, are just as incompetent in Opposition, as they were when in power.

N.B. simply blaming the low level civil servant driving the Adobe InDesign CS4 (6.0) software used to create the offending (.pdf) is not the solution - this incident points to wider management failures at the Home Office.

Those of us who do try to keep an eye on what is spun out of the Home Office's Marsham Street kremlin, should welcome the role of pubs, clubs, shops and professional door supervisors, in dealing with underage drinking etc., but should we should call for a public apology and the withdrawal of this Home Office "guidance" until all the inaccurate mentions of the now repealed "Identity Cards Act 2006" have been removed.

BBC 4 is showing a 3 part series of one hour documentaries entitled The Great Offices of State by Michael Cockerell.

The first one, about the notorious Home Office, entitled The Dark Department was shown last night, but it is available online via the BBC iPlayer, for the next few days.

Marsham_Street_Peel_building_026_450.jpg
(26 seconds into the programme)

Obviously there are a lot of "talking heads" interviews, including all the current Labour Government''s six Home Secretaries (politicians),

  • Jack Straw 2 May 1997 - 8 June 2001
  • David Blunkett 8 June 2001 - 15 December 2004
  • Charles Clarke 15 December 2004 - 5 May 2006
  • John Reid 5 May 2006 - 27 June 2007
  • Jacqui Smith 28 June 2007 - 5 June 2009
  • Alan Johnson 5 June 2009 -

Also interviewed were three of the four Permanent Secretaries (top civil service mandarins like the fictional - Sir Humphrey Appleby from the classic TV comedy / satire Yes, Minister) i.e. the people who really run the Home Office, in spite of the meddling and ill thought out polices imposed by the by the politicians.

  • Sir David Normington 2006- Sir_David_Normington_626_450.jpg

  • Sir John Gieve 2002-2006
    Sir_John_Gieve_4506_450.jpg

  • Sir David Omand 1997-2002 (not interviewed)

  • Sir Richard Wilson 1994-1997 (now Lord Wilson of Dinton)
    Lord_Wilson_2417_450.jpg

Several politicians and civil servants from the previous Conservative and Labour governments were interviewed as well.

There was a brief look at some of the catalogue of disasters which the Home Office has been responsible for in recent years, and quite a bit of mention of the out of touch, "bunker mentality" of the Home Office collectively as an institution.

No doubt the politicians babbled on at great length, but the soundbites which each of them got to broadcast, do seem to make them all seem a bit more human, given the impossible tasks which the Home Office claims to be able to deal with, and which they claim to be able to reform.

However, we do wonder about John Reid's extraordinary attack by implication. on the Secretary of State for Defence !

I believe, very very strongly, that there should be one Minister at Cabinet level, one Secretary of State, eh, eh, who got up, every morning, and thought, my main task today, is the safety, and security, of the people of this country. And , the Home Secretary can now do that.


(c.f. around 52 minutes and 18 seconds into the programme)

So no Secretary of State for Defence thinks daily about the "safety and security of the people of this country" ? Really ? The Labour incumbents in charge of the Ministry of Defence (including John Reid himself) may well have all been as incompetent and useless in practice, as the Labour Home Secretaries, but it is unlikely that any of them did not bother to think daily about the "safety and security of the people of this country".

The most interesting bits of the programme, were those filmed on the day of the arrival of the newly appointed, current Home Secretary Alan Johnson at the Marsham Street headquarters of the Home Office.

He was met by the current the Permanent Secretary Sir David Normington and
was shepherded about under the auspices of Simon Wren, the Home Office media spin doctor.

Simon_Wren_David_Normington_Alan_Johnson_405_450.jpg
(4 minutes 5 seconds into the programme)

Censorship and Personnel Security

Presumably whole committees of Home Office civil servants and securocrats and BBC bureaucrats checked the BBC footage, in case it inadvertently reveled some sensitive information.

The scene (at around 9 minutes 23 seconds into the programme) where Sir David Normington shows Alan Johnson into his new office, displays a "blurred out" sign on the wall, the top half of which presumably might identify the location of the Home Secretary's office within the 3 building Marsham Street office complex.

Home_Secretarys_office_name_plate_censored_923_450.jpg
(9 minutes 28 seconds into the programme)

Surely this is minor risk, compared with the complete lack of any censorship of the vehicle number plates of the Ministerial Jaguar

Ministerial_Jaguar_254_450.jpg
(2 minutes 54 seconds into the programme)

and the presumably armed escort Audi vehicle

Escort_Audi_308_450.jpg
(3 minutes 8 seconds into the programme)

in the underground car park "meet and greet" scenes ?

Obviously Spy Blog has censored these vehicle number plate images, but the "cat is out of the bag".

The unobscured faces of the Ministerial Driver and the presumably Metropolitan Police armed bodyguard, were also clearly visible in several scenes.

Some of the old Home Office ways still linger on

Was it really necessary to allow the audio sound to identify "Natasha" as the member of the Private Office staff who sits physically nearest to the Home Secretary's office, and who handles the Secret and Top Secret (paper) document folders ?

Top_Secret_3712_450.jpg
(37 minutes 12 seconds into the programme)

Top_Secret_Natasha_3720_450.jpg
(37 minutes 20 seconds into the programme) - pixellation by Spy Blog.

Surely there should be a consistent policy for such censorship ?

We simply cannot be bothered to alert the BBC or the Home Office to these potential security risks - they usually ignore such warnings (the Home Office certainly does its best to try to evade or ignore our Freedom of Information Act requests), or they try to "shoot the messenger".


Could someone please explain why so much public money is being wasted by the Home Office on their website each year ?

Departmental Internet
Home Department
Written answers and statements, 1 February 2010


Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 1 February 2010, c80W)

Chris Grayling (Shadow Home Secretary, Home Affairs; Epsom & Ewell, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his Department spent on its website in 2009-10.

Alan Johnson (Home Secretary; Kingston upon Hull West & Hessle, Labour)

The Home Office website is

www.homeoffice.gov.uk

The amount spent on the main site and Home Office sub-sites is forecast to be £762,000 for the 2009-10 financial year.



£762,000 a year !!

The taxpayer is being ripped off ! What exactly are they wasting over three quarters of a million pounds a year on ??


Apart from
www.homeoffice.gov.uk

the sub-sites include:

http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk - Crime Reduction
http://inspectorates.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic - HM Inspectorate of Constabulary
http://www.ips.gov.uk - Identity and Passport Service
http://www.imb.gov.uk - Independent Monitoring Boards (why is this not paiid for by the Ministry of Justice which is now supposed to be in charge of Prisons)
http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk - Police
http://press.homeoffice.gov.uk - Press Office
http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk - Science and Research
http://security.homeoffice.gov.uk - Security
http://commercial.homeoffice.gov.uk - Supplying the Home Office
http://drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk - Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives
http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk - UK Border Agency

It is unclear if the supposedly independent Agencies, Quangos and NDBPs pay for their own websites out of their own, separate Home Office budgets or not. e.g. the Association of Chief Police Officers, the The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland , the Security Service MI5, the Office of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner etc. etc.

The Press sub-website in particular is useless. It simply does not provide an up to date or even out of date but complete archive of even Home Office Press releases sent by email and fax to the mainstream media.

We were astonished by how little work the >over 64 staff in Home Office Press Office appear to do, if you go by their online web (in)activity.

We suspect that 60 Press Officers produce rather more than the meagre one or two Press releases a week which appear on the Press or Main home Office websites.

Surely the Home Office does not treat Press releases as if they were national security secrets ?

Unless and until they publish all their Press release, Media Briefings, "lines to take" etc. on their website, in an easily searchable format i.e. HTMl web pages, RSS aggregation feeds etc., then they will always be seen as trying to spin / manipulate the media and to always be dishonestly hiding something from the public.

See our Freedom of Information Act request of just over a year ago:

Home Office: Press Office output for week of Mon 9th Feb 2009 ?

All the other sections of the Home office website , are also very static, and the existing documents could be published and indexed automatically from the Microsoft Office originals, for virtually no extra cost at all.

We repeat - what exactly are they wasting £726,000 a year of our money on ?

ICO Decision Notice FS50198733 - Home Office: Terrorism Act 2000 s44 stop and search Authorisations:

Given the recent European Court of Human Rights judgement about the controversial and widely abused Terrorism Act 2000 section 44 "stop and search" without "reasonable suspicion" legal powers, and, without any measurable positive effect on terrorism, we think that the Home Office and the Information Commissioner's Office are both very wrong in their decision to refuse our modest Freedom of Information Act request.

See European Court of Human Rights Judgment against the Terrorism Act 2000 section 44 stop and search without reasonable cause powers

More comments on this Decision Notice soon, when we have some feedback from our expert friends.

Reference: FS50198733

Information Commissioner's Office

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Section 50)
Decision Notice Date: 8 February 2010

Public Authority: Address:
The Home Office
Seacote Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P4DF

[...]

Summary


The complainant requested copies of all Authorisations for the power to stop and search issued under the Terrorism Act 2000. During the investigation, the request was refined as being for certain information contained within those Authorisations.

The public authority refused to release any information citing the exemptions at section
23 (Information supplied by or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters), section
24 (National security) and section 31 (Law enforcement). The complainant did not contest any information withheld by virtue of section 23.

The Commissioner's decision is that the exemption at section 24(1) is engaged and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure. He finds that this exemption applies to all the remaining information sought by the complainant so the exemption at section 31 has not been further considered.

The Commissioner has also identified procedural breaches which are outlined in the Notice below. The complaint is therefore partly upheld.

[...]

59. As cited in paragraph 34 above, "... 'national security' means the security of the United Kingdom and its people". The Commissioner is of the opinion that releasing the requested information would cause specific and real threats to national security. He believes that the information could be used by terrorists to support and influence their activity. He therefore believes that any advantages gained by further informing the public would be significantly outweighed by the factors for protecting the public by maintaining the exemption. The complaint is therefore not upheld.

60. As the Commissioner finds that all of the remaining requested information (to
which section 23 does not apply) is exempt by virtue of section 24(1) he has not gone on to consider the exemption at section 31(1 )(a), (b) and (c).

[..]

The decision


66. The Commissioner's decision is that the public authority dealt with the following elements of the request in accordance with the requirements of the Act:

  • the requested information was properly withheld under the exemption at section 24(1) of the Act.

67. However, the Commissioner has also decided that the following elements of the request were not dealt with in accordance with the Act:

  • in failing to provide a response compliant with section 1(1 )(a) within 20 working days of receipt of the request, the public authority breached section 10(1);
  • in exceeding the statutory time limit for providing a response the public authority breached section 17(1).

Steps required


68. The Commissioner requires no steps to be taken.


Other matters


69. Although they do not form part of this Decision Notice the Commissioner wishes to highlight the following matters of concern.

[...]


Information Notice

75. During the course of his investigation, the Commissioner has encountered considerable delay on account of the Home Office's reluctance to meet the timescales for response set out in his letters. The delays were such that the Commissioner found it necessary to issue an Information Notice in order to obtain details relevant to his investigation.

76. Accordingly, the Commissioner does not consider the Home Office's approach to this case to be particularly co-operative, or within the spirit of the Act. As such he will be monitoring the authority's future engagement with the ICO and would expect to see improvements in this regard.

[...]

Download the OCR / edited text of FOIA Decision Notice FS50198733 as a Rich text Format document.

ICO Decision Notice FS50198733 (.rtf)

h_threatlevel_substantial.gif

Yesterday the Security Service MI5, dutifully alerted us via email, that the Terrorism Threat Level had been reduced a notch from SEVERE to only SUBSTANTIAL

Current threat level

The current threat level is assessed as SUBSTANTIAL (as of 20th July 2009 - see threat level history for previous changes).

This means there is a high likelihood of future terrorist attacks and indicates a continuing high level of threat to the UK.

See The UK's threat level system for more information on what threat levels mean, who decides the level of threat and how the threat level system is used.

The Government continues to maintain a state of heightened readiness in response to the threat from international terrorism. It remains the Government's policy to issue warnings or advice if this ever became necessary to protect public safety in the event of a specific and credible terrorist threat.

Source and form of the threat

The threat of international terrorism comes from a diverse range of sources, including Al Qaida and associated networks, and those who share Al Qaida's ideology but do not have direct contact with them. A threat could manifest itself from a lone individual or group, rather than a larger network. Domestic terrorism related to Northern Ireland, principally from dissident Irish Republican and Loyalist terrorist groups, also remains a threat.

The terrorist threat can take a number of forms, as terrorists may use a variety of methods of attack to achieve their objectives. These may include explosive devices, firearms, missiles, kidnapping, infiltration and electronic attacks. See the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) (new window) website for practical advice on how to defend against these threats.

This page has been produced in consultation with the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC). It will be regularly reviewed and updated. Whilst every care has been taken in preparing this summary, the Security Service accepts no liability for any statement contained therein (see our Content Disclaimer).


What exactly is anyone doing now , which is any different from before ?

The general public is still being told to Obey and Report Anything Suspicious, as always..

MI5 and the terrorists are unlikely to be doing anything different from normal either.

Note the importance given to the Content Disclaimer !

MI5 Security Service senior management officials appear to be trying to cover themselves legally, from any blame (or lawsuits) arising from any failures on their part:

Security Advice disclaimer

The Security Service shall have no liability to any person for the accuracy or contents of the security advice published on this website. The Security Service assumes no responsibility to any person. No warranties are given. No liability is accepted for any inclusion or omission herefrom or the absence of any other information or matter. Furthermore, no liability or responsibility is accepted for any further advice given or omission to give further advice, prior to or subsequent to the advice published on this website.

The MI5 Security Service website now sports an RSS syndication feed for News and Updates, with little buttons to spread the News items to Digg, de.licio.us, Reddit and Stumbleupon

All very "Social Networking" aware, however the actual feed

https://www.mi5.gov.uk/upload/rss.xml

does not include any mention of the change to the Terrorism Threat Level.

Reminder: Home Office RIPA CoP Con closes today

|

There is still time to send in your response (via email) to the Home Office Public Consultation on the

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: Consolidating orders and codes of practice

which closes officially today, Friday 10th July 2009.

Ignore the attempt to only focus on the official Questions, and feel free to tell the Home Office your positive suggestions about, and constructive criticisms of, the current mess of Regulations.

N.B.There is another current Home Office Public Consultation:

Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment

which closes on July 20th:

See Spy Blog:

Communications Data public "consultation" with only one permitted option

Although it seems that the Labour Government has delayed the Parliamentary rubber stamping, originally scheduled for this Wednesday, to sometime later, perhaps next month, a couple of the Secondary legislation Draft Statutory Instruments which list some more of the the devilish detail of the National Identity Register compulsory centralised biometric database and ID Cards scheme are now available online.

See the previous Spy Blog article: National Identity Cards Scheme creep - 4 Draft Orders laid before Parliament under the Identity Cards Act 2006

The two new Draft SIs are:

There are two major issues with the detail of this latter SI, both to do with the extra information which ALL Applicants (for a new entry on the National Identity Register, or for a Modified Entry, within 3 months of when their circumstances have changed) .are REQUIRED to supply.

These data are not included in the statutory list of Registrable Facts listed in the Identity Cards Act 2006 Schedule 1 Information that may be recorded in Register

e.g.

(a) full name by which the applicant is commonly known for official purposes,

(b) any other names by which the applicant is or has been known for official purposes and details of the period during which the applicant is or has been so known ,

What exactly are these "official purposes" ?
Official purposes of the Home Office?
Any other UK Government Department ?
Any UK non-Governmental agency like the Police or your semi-privatised National Health Hospital Trust ?
Any other European Union Government Department or agency ?

Any and all of these are capable of misspelling your name on their plethora of incompatible computer systems.

Why should you have to help the Home Office to propagate errors and mistakes, on a database that will haunt you for the rest of your life, and beyond ?

Much more sinister, is the demand for :

(m) a contact telephone number for the applicant,

(this phrase occurs in three different Schedules to these Regulations)

Why is this REQUIRED to be supplied by ALL applicants ?

It may come as a surprise to the Home Office, but not everyone in the UK actually has a "contact telephone number" !

Note that there is no provision for a contact email address !

Postal addresses, even for those who are homeless, are already covered in the rest of the Regulations.

Who will the Home Office be handing this contact telephone number data over to ?

N.B. "contact telephone number" is not going to be stored on the National Identity Register database or the ID Card itself, but it must still be supplied as part of the registration or modification process. Therefore it is exempt from the vague promises made by the Labour politicians and apparatchiki, about the privacy and security of the actual National Identity Register database itself.

So why is there this demand for for a "contact telephone number", for which there is no good reason for the Home Office to be told about, and kept updated for the 5 to 10 year lifetime of each ID Card, and cumulatively for the rest of your life ?

This has all the appearance of a sneaky attempt to link Names and Addresses to unregistered pre-paid mobile phone handsets, something which would fit in with the rest of the Home Office's Communications Traffic Data retention and snooping plans.

It also looks suspiciously like the sort of data which the Home Office would like to sell to private sector companies, like the controversial, data hungry 118800 mobile phone directory service. (see The Register - Mobile directory made legal threats to get personal details)

There is no easy or cheap error correction mechanism, set forth in this series of complicated Statutory Instruments.

All the power is with the bureaucrats, or their sub-contractors, and all the legal responsibility, risk and expense in chasing up errors, is lumped on to the innocent members of the public, on whom this ID cards scheme is being inflicted.

Will any Members of Parliament actually bother to scrutinise these Draft Statutory Instruments in detail, or will they simply be rubber stamped, as usual ?


Home Office ministers re-shuffled

|

Gordon Brown has handed the poisoned chalice of the post of Home Secretary to Alan Johnson, presumably to diminish his chances of becoming Labour party leader, after Gordon Brown is removed or resigns.

Johnson is now the 6th Labour Home Secretary since 1997,and we have no expectation that he will be any more competent than his predecessors.

No matter how much he smiles on television, he has obviously subsumed any principles he ever had as a former post man, former (?) Communist, and former Post Office workers Trades Union leader. When he was Trade and Industry Secretary, he oversaw some of the decline of the Post Office - will he resign when Mandleson now sells off most of the Post Office, or not ?

As Education Secretary, he fell for the "Omega 7 fish oil capsules make children more intelligent / better behaved in school" hype and nonsense, and seemed to be advocating compulsory medication with the "snake oil".

See Alan Johnson considering behavior control Omega-3 supplements in schools

Alan Johnson has also spouted utter rubbish regarding the number of errors made by the Criminal Records Bureau.

"And Education Secretary Alan Johnson said the number of mistakes was only 0.03 per cent of the checks carried out.

He said: "We have to get it into context. This is not about unsuitable people being allowed to work with children, this is about erring on the side of caution and people who are suitable being caught in the system."

The Alan Johnson / NuLabour spin approach is to divide the 2700 into 9 million and get a figure of 0.03% , he then claims that this is a statistically insignificant number, which it is.

However if you divide 25,000 "unsuitable" people discovered by 9 million checks, that is also statistically insignificant i.e. only 0.28 %

However if you divide 2700 the number of falsely reported criminals, by the number of alleged criminals (which includes the falsely accused ones) 25000, you get 1 in 9 negative CRB checks are false i.e. refer to innocent people, which is far, far too high a percentage.

If there are 2700 people who have been falsely accused of being criminals due to mix ups with similar names and addresses, it is a reasonable hypothesis that at least the same number of criminals will have been given an "all clear" CRB check result, for the same reasons i.e. a false negative result.

Will he be equally confused by Home Office crime statistics ?

His time as Health Secretary has also been undistinguished - the wasteful and insecure NHS medical records data spine project and the continued losses of confidential NHS data continued under his stewardship. What happened to "Swine Flu" ?

The re-shuffle at the the Minister of State level, sees Vernon Coaker moved to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Presumably his replacement as Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security is to be the Rt. Hon.http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/david_hanson/delyn" target="_twfydh" title="TheyWorkForYou.com - David Hanson - new window">David Hanson, who has been moved the Ministry of Justice from being the Minister of State responsible for the National Offender Management Service and youth justice i.e. for Prisons etc.

Phil Woolas remains in place, presumably still in charge of Immigration (and with Treasury "responsibility for revenue protection at the border"), although he was no match for the charming Joanna Lumley, over the Ghurka Justice Campaign

Such is the incompetence of Labour Government re-shuffles and re-organisations of the Home Office, that these roles still need to be confirmed - the unlamented Tony McNulty (who has now left the Department for Work and Pensions and the Government, presumably due to his unseemly 2nd home allowance claims) and Liam Byrne (the former management consultant former "Android" and e-government software solutions salesman now seems to have been absorbed into the Treasury from the Cabinet Office) , swapped roles a few days after the split of the old Home Office which spawned the Ministry of (in)Justice.

Perhaps there will be further changes at the junior Parliamentary Private Secretary level - depending on who else the vindictive unelected Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his henchman, the unelected doubly disgraced Lord Mandelson further annoy and harass out of Government.

Will the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Identity Meg Hillier, who is so out of her depth when trying to promote the notorious ID Card and National Identity Register database scheme, remain, or will she join the several other women Ministers who have left, partly because of Gordon Brown 's misogynistic style of leadership ?

Will the undistinguished Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State responsible for Crime Reduction, Alan Campbell survive ?

How much longer can the unelected Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Security and Counter-terrorism, Admiral Lord West of Spithead stand this Government ?

Seven unelected Ministers (who do not have to pass any public appointment scrutiny hearings, like in, say the USA or the European Commission), is far too many, but it shows the dearth of talent amongst Labour MPs.

One of the rumours which Sky News and the other mainstream media were on about last week, was that Louise Casey, the controversial former Home Office civil servant and NuLabour "anti-social behavior tsar" apparatchik, might become a Minister, which would also require her ennoblement, although, conceivably, she might be inflicted on the Department for Communities and Local Government rather than on the Home Office.

Perhaps some of the scandals which have been suppressed by the deliberate Whitehall political delays to Freedom of Information Act requests, may now be slowly starting to emerge.

Home Office Immigration scandal whistleblower Steve Moxon, writes:

Beverley Hughes is quitting 'cos she's just been found out to be a liar: new FOI disclosures

Beverley Hughes, MP and children's minister, is standing down, she says, to spend more time with her family.
Oh yes?
It's an old euphemism.
Just a coincidence then that she is not responding to her local paper's request to discuss the new Freedom of Information disclosures of Home Office documents proving she lied in the immigration scandal over which she presided?

Bev had to resign as minister for immigration back in 2004 for 'misleading the House (of Commons)' -- lying, IOW -- re what she knew of problems with visas at our Romanian embassy. This was in the wake of my coming forward as a 'whistle-blower' over systematic illegal non-application of immigration law across all immigration casework [rubber-stamping applications without checking them, in a procedure named BRACE -- 'backlog reduction accelerated clearance exercise' -- which was applied to all cases for periods].

What is new -- with the long-awaited disclosure from the Home Office after my FOI request back in 2005, when the Act first came into law -- is that it is now proven that she lied about the whole wider problem of illegal administration of immigration applications.

This shows that she is unfit to be either a minister (which she still is; though not of immigration, obviously) or an MP.

Below is my analysis re the most telling lines from the Home Office disclosure documents (which are archived in several small bundles on their website's FOI pages).

The documents are available at the Home Office FOIA disclosure page:

Information relating to "BRACE" (Backlog Reduction Accelerated Clearance Exercises) from 2004

These documents also provide a glimpse into the draughting and re-draughting of Government "Lines to take" by the Press Office civil servants and by Special Political Advisor spin doctors.

This is all even further evidence, that the notorious David Blunkett, who was in charge of the Home Office back in 2004, which failed to handle "Immigration" policy properly, should never be inflicted on us again as a Government Minister, no matter how desperate Gordon Brown is to re-shuffle his Cabinet.

The Information Tribunal, re-constituted after the previous one was overruled by the High Court, on the grounds of Parliamentary Privilege, has yet again ruled in favour of the publication of the the by now very out of date, but still important, Office of Government Commerce Gateway Reviews into the early stages of the Home Office's controversial ID Cards Programme which became the compulsory centralised biometric database National Identity Register scheme.

Information Tribunal Appeal Number: EA/2006/0068 & EA/2006/0080 Information Commissioner's Ref: FS50070196 & FS50132936 (.pdf)

JUDGMENT

The Tribunal upholds the Decision of the Information Commissioner in his Decision Notice dated 31 July 2006 and orders the disclosure of the two Gateway Reports there set out save that the names of all other parties to the said Reports, both interviewees and reviewers, be redacted and/or deleted, the said disclosure to take place within 28 days of the promulgation of this Decision.

i.e. publication by the 19th March 2009.

If the OGC does not appeal against this Judgment again, thereby wasting even more public money, given the forensic detail in which the legal issues have been examined, multiple times now,, it will be over 4 years since the initial Freedom of Information Act request.

N.B. it is what is not included in these reports, which may prove to be as interesting as what they actually do say.

See the Spy Blog UK FOIA requests category archive OGC Gateway Reviews of the Identity Cards Programme, for other blog postings on this long running saga, which has the Government has spent at least £120,000 on legal fees alone, in order to try to stifle transparency and freedom of information, on a matter of immense public interest.

Spy Blog was trying to be fair to the Home Office Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security Vernon Coaker, who was quoted on the topic of Communications Traffic Data retention, access and snooping, in this article in the Daily Telegraph, last Thursday

Councils to be given power to snoop on calls and emails

Councils and public bodies are to be able to access all email, telephone and internet records, sparking new fears over the surveillance state.

By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Last Updated: 8:37PM GMT 11 Feb 2009

[...]

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said: "It is the Government's priority to protect public safety and national security. That is why we are completing the implementation of this directive, which will bring the UK in line with our European counter parts.

"Communications data is the what, where and when of the communication and plays a vital part in a wide range of criminal investigations, and prevention of terrorists attacks as well as contributing to public safety more generally. Without communications data resolving crimes such as the Rhys Jones murder would be very difficult if not impossible.

"Access to communications data is governed by Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which ensures that effective safeguards are in place and that the data can only be accessed when it is necessary and proportionate to do so".

This article relate to the Statutory Instrument bringing into force the second phase of the European Union Directive mandatory Communications Data Retention scheme (which this Labour Government was one of the prime "policy launderers" behind the scenes at the EU level)

See the Spy Blog article: Home Office response to Consultation on second phase of EU Comms Data Retention Regulations (internet email, internet telephony etc.) coming into force on 6th April 2009

Our reaction to this is the same as that of UK Liberty, who points out

OK, he either does not know what he is talking about or he is deliberately conflating intrusive surveillance (e.g. bugs) - which aided the convictions in the Rhys Jones case - with mass surveillance (e.g. recording everyone’s telecoms), i.e. lying.

If it ever takes the Police 12 months (the new Data Retention period) to start to use Communications Traffic Data to investigate the the murder of a child in public, then heads should roll, starting with the Home Office Ministers.

Keeping millions of innocent people's Communications Traffic Data for 12 months would have done nothing to speed up or assist the investigation and prosecution of the Rhys Jones murder case, as this relied on targeted Communications Traffic Data requests and narrowly targeted i.e. electronic bugging devices placed secretly in one of the suspect's homes..

Naturally, we wanted to check if The Telegraph was somehow misquoting Vernon Coaker, so we wanted to see the Press Release or speech etc. on the Home Office Press website http://press.homeoffice.gov.uk

Only_5_Home_Office_Press_Releases_this_week_300.jpg

However, even today, Monday 16th February 2008, this official Home Office dedicated press release website is still only displaying a measly 5 press releases published last week, with no mention of Vernon Coaker's remarks.

The Home Office has now published its responses to the Consultation on

Consultation: Transposition of Directive 2006/24/EC

which closed back in October 2008.

This is the extension of mandatory Communications Traffic Data Retention, beyond what would be otherwise permitted under the Principles of Data Protection i.e. another end run around the protections of the weak Data Protection Act 1998, applied to internet access, internet email, and internet telephony.

This was set to be implemented on 15th March this year, 18 months after it was applied to landline and mobile phone telephony, but now the Draft Regulations state that they will come into force on 6th April 2009.

The Summary of the Responses to the Consultation does not include any reassurance for the public, or even anything to indicate that this was anything more than a "going through the motions" consultation exercise.

Responses to the consultation on transposition of directive 2006/24/EC (.pdf 493Kb)

5. A total of 54 responses were received and the respondents are listed
below. The general reception of the draft Regulations from public communications providers was positive. In particular, there was continued support for the Home Office's pragmatic approach to implementing the Directive in the UK

[...]

Many responses were from members of the public opposed to the Directive on principle (24 out of 54 responses). These responses did not distinguish between the Directive and the draft Regulations on which we were consulting

Nonsense - we certainly distinguished between the two.

As is usual with Home Office consultations, they deliberately Ask The Wrong Questions, assuming that the entire policy is going to be implemented, one way or another, when what they should be consulting on is whether aspects of the policy should be rejected altogether as a matter of principle or as a matter of technical complexity and cost to the public.

This Government Response is limited to issues which can be addressed in the Regulations. We would advise respondents whose comments are not directly addressed here to contribute to the forthcoming consultation exercise on how the Government can maintain its communications data capability generally

There is no indication of when the supposed Consultation on the Communications Data Bill, which it is rumoured, will go far, far beyond this EU mandatory Data Retention and snooping, will appear. It was promised "by the end of January 2009", but it is now mid February.

Question 2: Is the data required to be retained specified clearly in the draft regulations? If not, why not and can the specification be clearer?

9. The majority of respondents who had a view on this question considered there was a need for meaning to be given to certain terms and in particular "internet email" and "internet telephony". However, the DRD makes clear in Article 2(1) that the definitions in Directive 95/46/EC, in Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive), and in Directive 2002/58/EC (Privacy and Electronic Communications) shall apply. For example the term "email" has the same meaning as "electronic mail" which is given meaning within the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, transposing Directive 2002/58/EC into UK law. Both terms therefore refer to:

    "any text, voice, sound or image message sent over a public electronic communications network which can be stored in the network or in the recipient's terminal equipment until it is collected by the recipient and includes messages sent using a short message service".

10. Some respondents suggested that more technical detail should be provided within the draft Regulations. However, the Government's experience of working with public communications providers under the ATCSA voluntary code of practice and the first phase implementation of the DRD suggests that it is unhelpful to provide a high level of technical detail in the legislation as terms that might be meaningful to one business area, may be completely inappropriate for another or may already be given meaning within other legislation.

To whom, precisely, is specific technical detail "unhelpful" ? Not to the industry, and not to the public.

It is the Home Office's job to state clearly and precisely what technical details are required and which ones are exempt from the regulations.

Unless and until they do state in detail, what exactly is, and what is not to be logged and retained, then all their "cost estimates" in the Impact Assessment are fiction.

This response from the Government is not acceptable.

11. The Home Office therefore proposes to continue the practice, initiated through the ATCSA voluntary code, of developing meaningful detail through bilateral consultation and specific agreements with individual public communications providers (in cases where the public communications provider's own business practices do not already meet Government's public protection requirements).

Note the utter lack of any involvement by members of of the public, citizens, taxpayers or customers in this cosy, secretive "bilateral consultation".

What is your definition of a "surveillance society" ? It is probably not the same as Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's still secret definition.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, like her Labour party fellow travellers, seems to be spewing Orwellian doublethink and newspeak, where normal sounding English words, have their meanings utterly reversed, without displaying any sense of shame, or pang of conscience, at their perversion.

Safeguards, openness, proportionality and common sense.

From now on, all of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's policy statements will be analysed with these categories in mind. We suspect that she will be found wanting in all of them.

Unfortunately these weasel worded soundbites, which touch on several topics about which Spy Blog regularly comments on, are the current Government's substitute for detailed, practical, cost effective policies:

Apologies for the length of this blog article fisking of this speech, but she uttered a lot of weasel words which need to be challenged:

<fisk>

Home Secretary's speech: Protecting rights, protecting society

16 December 2008

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith delivered this speech to the Intellect Trade Association on December 16, 2008.

Today I'd like to address one of the most pressing questions we face as a modern society - how we secure our rights and liberties as individuals, at the same time as ensuring the wider protection of all in our society against terrorism, crime and disorder.

Balancing these individual and collective rights has always been a key responsibility of government.

One which this increasingly repressive and authoritarian, yet morally weak, Labour government, has failed to get right.

Those lovers of awful Orwellian control architecture, the Home Office, which festered for years in the creepy, brutal and impractical 50 Queen Anne's Gate buildings, with their notorious heating and ventilation systems. have set up a Competition for Architects and Designers:

Home Office launches counter terrorism competition for design students

It is easy to partially protect buildings for the elite, against suicide truck bomb attacks, through the use of ancient fortification techniques like moats and a raised piano nobile - which were originally designed against ancient or medieval battering rams and rioting mobs of peasants.

Many drab Government or Corporate buildings feature lots of reinforced concrete, small toughened safety glass windows, net curtains (with a large amount of slack at the bottom to gather up flying debris) etc., and vast numbers of intimidating or sneaky CCTV cameras, but to protect large crowds of the hoi polloi, is an altogether much more difficult task.

The actual competition brief is available from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, commonly known as the RSA.

Public spaces, safer places - designing in counter terrorism (.pdf)

A project for students of architecture and design

Developed in collaboration between the Home Office and NaCTSO (National Counter Terrorism Security Office), the RSA and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), this project aims to draw attention to the issues of security and counter-terrorism in the process of designing places visited and used by the public.

[...]

The Project Brief seems to be rather unrealistic

Two suicide PBIEDs and two suicide VBIEDs were deployed in Vincent Square, a piazza full of people enjoying lunch on a warm, sunny day. One VBIED was able to enter the front atrium of an office block facing onto the piazza. The resulting blast caused the building to collapse. The two PBIEDs were detonated within the crowd of people on the piazza and the second VBIED managed to get close to a building but was unable to penetrate it. Although there was extensive damage to the building it did not collapse

Not even the largest Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices have managed to penetrate a building atrium and collapse a modern building in recent years e.g. neither.the US Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983, nor the Baltic Exchange in City of London in 1992, nor the Arndale Centre in Manchester in 1996, nor the London Docklands South Quay attack in 1996, nor the very recent the Marriott Hotel bomb last month in Islamabad Pakistan.

Buildings which did suffer collapsed floors e.g. the FBI building in Oklahoma City in 1995 either had car parking access under the building or collapsed after subsequent fires. Even a bomb in an underground car park right up against the structural supports in not guaranteed to cause a building collapse - the World Trade Center in New York survived such an attack in 1993.

N.B. the current chief executive of the RSA, is the notorious Mathew Taylor, the NuLabour apparatchik who was Tony Blair's "chief political advisor", who verbally attacked the UK political blogosphere, but somehow now publishes his partisan Labour party political thoughts on his own blog which is, inappropriately hosted, on the Royal Society of Arts website.

Will anyone researching an entry for this competition, who takes photos of public buildings and their existing anti-terrorism "features", be harassed by jobsworths in the current "War on Photographers" ?

Will anyone researching an entry for this competition who does some proper calculations and research into bomb resistant materials, designs and techniques, be arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 collection of information "thought crime" law ?

Will the winners of this competition be snapped by companies competing for the planned new replacement for the "prize winning architect" designed US Embassy in Grosvenor Square ?.

It appears that the Home Office and their sub-contractor PA Consulting have put people's lives in danger, by losing an unencrypted memory stick, containing the personal name and address details of every prisoner in in the UK, about 84,000 people, and also the 43,000 most dangerous criminals.

How many murders, kidnappings , rapes, blackmail attempts etc. will this lead to, if this data gets into the hands of serious criminals or vigilantes ?

Why should anyone believe that the National Identity Register will not be compromised in a similar way, by exactly the same people i.e. the Home Office and their "delivery partner" PA Consulting ?

Remember that when, not if, something similar happens to your biometric fingerprint details on the National Identity Register, they will have been compromised for the rest of your life.

Why were PA Consulting mucking around with a copy, or multiple copies of live data containing tens of thousands of real records ? That is not required to develop a new "tracking system", until the very final testing stages of the project, at which point the full security and scalability of the system should already have been proven.

See the Home Office's Crime Reduction website description of JTrack, which seems to operate over the Police National Network.

Will anybody actually resign over this disaster ? It will cost a lot of money, to change the identities of Protected Witnesses and Confidential Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS), and innocent members of their families, many of whom will be on these lists, and some of whom are being actively hunted by other criminals.

See the whistleblower story in the Daily Mail:

New data fiasco as Home Office 'loses' secret records of worst offenders

By James Slack

Last updated at 11:28 PM on 21st August 2008

Secret personal details of Britain's most dangerous criminals have been lost by the Government.

The public could now face an enormous bill to protect paedophiles, rapists, drug runners and killers from vigilantes or rival gangsters.

The names, addresses, details of convictions and even jail release dates of almost 130,000 people were all in Home Office files lost when a computer memory stick went missing.


The Home Office tentacle, the Identity and Passport Service, has published the latest 10 Year Cost guesstimate Report for their increasingly hated Identity Cards and centralised biometric database National Identity Register scheme.

Identity Cards Scheme Cost Report May 2008 (.pdf)

This is not a fair and accurate summary of the progress of the controversial scheme.

Illegal delay in publishing the Report - yet again

They have to go through the motions, by law, and publish this report, introduced as a weak compromise by the former Labour Minister Frank Dobson, to sabotage any proper detailed Cost / Benefit analysis of the entire scheme.

Publishing this Report is a Statutory Duty of the Secretary of State to be produced every six months,

The Identity Cards Act 2006 Section 37 clearly states, with no room for misinterpretation:

37 Report to Parliament about likely costs of ID cards scheme

(1) Before the end of the six months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must prepare and lay before Parliament a report setting out his estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the ID cards scheme during the ten years beginning with the laying of the report.

(2) Before the end of every six months beginning with the laying of a report under this section, the Secretary of State must prepare and lay before Parliament a further report setting out his estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the ID cards scheme during the ten years beginning with the end of those six months.

This latest report, is again, 2 months late, since the Act came into force in early March 2006. There is no excuse whatsoever for the previously delayed reports, and it is scandalous that the Home Office have not even bothered to give a feeble excuse as to why this latest "back of a fag packet" report is so late. Their next report should be a an interim report covering the next three and a bit months, and should be published on time, every 6 months thereafter.

Somehow we do not believe that the Government would waive any fines imposed on the public, if they chose to register under the NIS two months late.

This really does show the contempt for transparency and for Parliament and the general public, which the Labour Ministers and their apparatchiki display. If the Labour Government so blatantly ignores Section 37 of their own Identity Cards Act, for their own bureaucratic and political advantage, then how can they be trusted not to ignore the "safeguards" regarding your very personal data, built into the rest of the Act ?

Today's High Court Judgment regarding our FOIA request, made over 3 years and 4 months ago is totally unacceptable:

High Court upholds OGC appeal against Information Tribunal and suppresses publication of the Home Office ID Cards Gateway Reviews, on grounds of "Parliamentary Privilege"

Bad news for Transparency, Open Government,and Freedom of Information - the OGC has won their appeal in the High Court against the Information Tribunal, over the disclosure of the early Gateway Reviews of the Home Office's Identity Cards Programme.

Having decided that Parliamentary Privilege was engaged, because the Information Tribunal had made a reference to a House of Commons Select Committee Report, referring to the desirability of publishing OGC Gateway Reviews, Mr. Justice Stanley Burnton then actually rejected all the other OGC grounds for appeal.

[...]

It is utterly despicable that Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689, which is supposed to protect freedom of speech in Parliament, has, instead, been abused to suppress the disclosure of the early Office of Government Commerce Gateway Reviews of Home Office Identity Cards Programme, requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

What use is the whole system of Parliamentary Select Committees, if their publicly published Reports cannot be made use of in this way ? They might as well all be scrapped.

The politicians and civil servants are making fools of themselves over this whole national centralised biometric database scheme, and in their wasteful attempts to keep their failings secret, by delaying and denying Freedom of Information rights.


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