Results tagged “RIPA Commissioner Report” from Spy Blog - SpyBlog.org.uk


2010 annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner (.pdf)

The Rt Hon Sir Paul Kennedy, Interception of Communications Commissioner, mentions some examples of Interception of Communications Errors:

Communications Service Providers

3 July Error 1 relates to a human error by a member of CSP staff, whereby a feasibility call was conducted on an agency contact officer's number rather than the warranted target number. Therefore the incorrect transposition of a phone number led to the wrong mobile telephone being placed under intercept. Staff changes and weekend leave meant that the error was not uncovered until three days after interception commenced. Once the error was understood interception was immediately suspended and any product collected was destroyed. The CSP reviewed the incident and implemented a new pro-forma which separated warranty details from contact details to ensure such a mistake was not repeated in future.

Hoist by their own petard !

What exactly is a "feasibility call" with reference to phone interception ?

Communications Data Statistics

7.13 During the reporting year public authorities as a whole, submitted 552,550 requests for communications data. The intelligence agencies, police forces and other law enforcement agencies are the principal users of communications data. Chart 1 illustrates that the number of requests submitted in the last three years has increased year on year by approximately 5%. I cannot give a precise reason for the steady increase, but it is indicative of the growth in communications technology. The statistics show that certain police forces have increased their demands for communications data and I believe that this is due, in part, to the fact that there is an increasing awareness amongst investigators of the type of communications data that is available and how communications data can used as powerful investigative tool.

Which mainstream media organisation or other online commentators will make the annual mistake of misquoting the "552,550 requests for communications data" figure, as if this was the "number of phone taps" or some other nonsense, this time ?


The use of spreadsheet charts to display some of the statistics is an innovation in this year's Report, but it does hide the figures from search engines which might otherwise read and index the text of the (.pdf) file.

Chart 1: Number of Notices / Authorisations for Communications
Data in the previous three year period

2008 - 504,073

2009 - 525,130

2010 - 552,550

7.14 Chart 2 illustrates the breakdown of the communications data requests by type. Nearly two thirds of the requests for communications data in the reporting year were for subscriber data under Section 21(4)(c), usually in the form of enquiries to ascertain the ownership of mobile phones

The figures for the number of communications data requests for 2010 are broken down as:

Subscriber Data - Section 21 (4)(c) - 65% of 552,550 = 359,158

Traffic Data - Section 21 (4)(a) - 26% of of 552,550 = 143,663

Service Use Data - Section 21 (4)(b) - 6% of of 552,550 = 33,153

Combination of (a), (b) and (c) - 3% of of 552,550 = 16,577


Wrong Numbers

This Interception of Communications Commissioner Report alludes to other "wrong numbers" or transposed figures on warrants etc.,

However, digging into one of the Case Studies reveals another, even more tragic "wrong number":

Case Study 2

Lancashire Constabulary - Operation Lace

Lancashire Constabulary used communications data very effectively when investigating the murders of Mr Abdullah Aziz Mohammed and his wife Ayesha Mohammed, and the attempted murder of their two children. The communications data initially identified two suspects who were shown to travel simultaneously into the vicinity of the offence location at the relevant time. This evidence was used to present the case to the CPS who agreed a charge of murder. However from the evidence available these two suspects could not have been responsible for setting the fire and further communications data acquired in relation to the two suspects actually assisted to exonerate them from the murders.

This is an example of how dangerous, to innocent people, the snooping on mobile phone Location Data can be.

They should never have been prosecuted on the basis of this "evidence" in the first place.

The two innocent people who were arrested, charged with murder and remanded in custody will remain forever on police and other databases

Two in court over Blackburn double fatal house fire

"Imran Ali, 29, from Manchester, and Peter Bowden, 39, from Lytham St Annes, were brought before Blackburn magistrates in separate hearings on Friday morning.

They are both charged with the murder of Abdullah Mohammed, 41, his 39-year-old wife Ayesha, and arson with intent to endanger life.

Both men were remanded in custody until a preliminary hearing at Preston Court on November 11. "

and

Blackburn fire murder charges dropped for two men

"The cases against Peter Bowden, 39, of Lytham St Annes and Imran Ali, 29, of Manchester, have been discontinued."

4 murderers were actually convicted:

Gang Jailed For Murder Of 'Wrong' Couple

The intended victim, Mo Ibrahim - who is no relation to the convicted man - lived at 135 London Road in Blackburn, while the Mohammed family were at 175 London Road.

None of the Case Studies illustrate anything which justifies the Data Retention of Communication Data belonging to millions of innocent people for a year.

If the Data Retention legislation had been repealed, all of these serious crime investigations would have proceeded exactly as before, with targeted access to just the current or very recent Communications Data of just the people who were being investigated.

Future Reports should include a breakdown of requests for historical Retained Communications Data i.e. older than 1 month, older than 3 months, 6 months or the full year.

We suspect that there will actually be very few of such requests for historical Retained Data and almost none of them will have been proportionate to current ongoing targeted investigations.

law Enforcement or Intelligence Agencies or Communications Service Providers should not be allowed to inflate the Data Retention use statistics, by pretending that a request for say, subscriber information for a currently used mobile phone counts as a "full 12 months historical Retained data" request, because the phone is on an annual or longer contract, where the name and address details have not changed in 12 months.

8.14 Regrettably serious weaknesses and failings were found in the systems and processes of 15 of the prison establishments which were inspected. This number has reduced from the previous year, but it is still too high and indicates a failure by managers and staff to ensure the interception of communications is conducted fully in accordance with the rules. Three of these prisons were visited twice during the reporting year. I am pleased to report that the re-inspection of one of these prisons found a complete transformation and consequently that establishment is now achieving a good level of compliance. Regrettably my Inspectors concluded that the other two establishments had
not made significant progress during the re-inspections and were still achieving a poor level of compliance. This is concerning considering the fact that they were subject to two inspections in the reporting year. These prisons have now provided an assurance that they will take the necessary remedial action, nevertheless they will again be subject to an early re-inspection to check that they have improved.

Since the Interception of Communications Commissioner does not technically even have a remit under RIPA to inspect prisons, but was asked to do so, he has now enforcement powers.

He should publicly name and shame these two "repeat offender".prisons.

At the very least, his inspection reports must be forwarded to the Independent Monitoring Boards of each of the prisons concerned.

Yet again there is duplication with Intelligence Services Commissioner' Report, regarding a few crumbs of information from the secretive Information Tribunal:

9.2 As I have explained in my previous Annual Reports, complaints to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal cannot easily be "categorised" under the three Tribunal systems that existed prior to RIPA. Consequently, I am unable to detail those complaints that relate to the interception of communications that would previously have been considered by the Interception of Communications Tribunal. I can only provide the information on the total number of complaints made to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The Tribunal received 164 new applications during the calendar year 2010 and completed its investigation of 208 cases during the year. 40 cases have been carried forward to 2011.

Assistance to the Tribunal

9.3 Section 57(3) of RIPA requires me to give all such assistance to the Tribunal as the Tribunal may require in relation to investigations and other specified matters. My assistance was not sought by the Tribunal during 2010.

Determinations made by the Tribunal in favour of complainants

9.4 During 2010 the Investigatory Powers Tribunal made six determinations in favour of complainants. Since its inception the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has now upheld ten complaints. One of the upheld complaints was made by a husband and wife who lodged a joint complaint and five by members of the same family. On the grounds of confidentiality, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules 2000 prohibit me from disclosing specific details about the complaint made by the husband and wife, but it is sufficient to say that the conduct complained of was not authorised in accordance with the relevant provisions of RIPA. The complaints made by the five members of the same family were the subject of an open hearing in November 2009 which was widely reported in the media. The case involved directed surveillance carried out by Poole Borough Council of a family in connection with an application made by the parents for a school place for their youngest child. The Tribunal found that the conduct complained of was not authorised in accordance with the relevant provisions of RIPA. The complainants made no application for remedies and none were awarded. The fact that these cases were upheld has led to changes in guidelines provided to Local Authorities on the use of directed surveillance and proposed legislation to change the procedures on the authorisation of this type of surveillance.

Directed surveillance by Poole Borough Council case did nothave anything to do with either Interception of Communications or the acquisition of Communications Data.


target="_rr2" title="Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2010 - PDF - new window">Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2010

The Right Honourable Sir Peter Gibson, in his last Report before he is succeeded by Sir Mark Waller, who was appointed as Intelligence Services
Commissioner with effect from 1 January 2011, tries his usual "Jedi mind trick" by passing out his public report, so as not to reveal anything of significance at all about the Intelligence Services and their use or abuse of their huge RIPA surveillance powers.


These are aren't the droids you are looking for...

Move along, move along

We are slightly intrigued by

1. I was appointed the Intelligence Services Commissioner under section 59 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) with effect from 1 April 2006. My appointment was initially for three years and was, from 1 April 2009, extended for a further period of three years to 31 March 2012. I stepped down as Commissioner on 31 December 2010 so that I could devote myself to the Detainee Inquiry which I have been asked to chair and a new Commissioner was appointed with effect from 1 January 2011.

and

25. Both I and my predecessor, Lord Brown, before me in our annual reports set out the functions of the Intelligence Services Commissioner. Despite that, it is apparent from the publicised criticisms of my appointment as chairman of the Detainee
Inquiry
that misconceptions as to the functions of the Commissioner still remain.

This seems to confirm our Spy Blog comments on the post facto announcement that a new Commissioner had been appointed three weeks after
he had taken up office in secret.

Intelligence Services Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Sir Mark Waller appointed early, announced late

Part III of RIPA

33. As I have noted above, Part III of RIPA came into force on 1 October 2007. However, no notification of any directions to require disclosure in respect of protected electronic information has been given to me in 2010 and there has been no exercise or performance of powers and duties under Part III for me to review.

Identity Cards Act 2006 (ICA)

34. Following the repeal of the ICA, Identity Cards ceased to be valid legal documents on 22 January 2011 and the database has now been destroyed. I am not aware of any acquisition, storage and use made by the intelligence services pursuant to the ICA of information which had been recorded in the National Identity Register.

Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005

35. I was consulted by the Home Office about control orders in accordance with the Act on 7 January 2010 and, on 21 January 2010, I advised officials there that in the absence of viable alternative arrangements I did not object, in principle, to the extension of the control order regime for a further period of 12 months

Move along, move along

Guidance on Detention and Interviewing of Detainees by Intelligence Officers and Military Personnel

28. In his speech on 18 March 2009, the then Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament that he had asked the Intelligence Services Commissioner, and the Commissioner had agreed, to monitor compliance by intelligence officers and military personnel with the Consolidated Guidance on the standards to be followed during the detention and interviewing of detainees, and to report to the Prime Minister annually. The period of this extra-statutory oversight commenced on 6 July 2010 when the Consolidated Guidance to Intelligence Officers and Service Personnel (the Guidance) was published. Also published at that time was a Note of Additional Information from the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary. I was not involved in the drafting of the Guidance or the Note.

[...]

45. In conclusion, I am not aware of any failure by intelligence officers and military personnel to comply with the Guidance in the period between 6 July and 31 December 2010. It is properly recognised within the Security Service, SIS and the MOD that compliance with the Guidance is mandatory and that personnel must be trained accordingly.

[...]

Move along, move along

ERRORS

50. 28 errors in respect of RIPA authorisations and ISA warrants were made and reported to me in 2010. Six errors resulted from a delay within one Government Department in dealing with the replacement of one warrant relating to six individuals with six applications for warrants, one for each individual. It is not possible for me to say anything further about the 28 errors without revealing information of a sensitive nature, but I have referred to them in more detail in the Confidential Annex. However, I can report that the majority of the errors occurred in respect of surveillance and interference with property for which there was no valid authorisation or warrant in force for a comparatively short time. Every such breach is a matter for regret. I have been given a full description of, and explanation for, each error. All the errors can properly be categorised as minor. None of the cases involved bad faith or any deliberate departure from established practices. In all cases, following the discovery of the errors, internal procedures have been reviewed and, where possible, strengthened with a view to minimising the risk of a future recurrence.

Move along, move along

THE INVESTIGATORY POWERS TRIBUNAL

[...]

53. The Tribunal received 164 new applications and completed 208 cases during the calendar year 2010. 40 cases were carried forward to 2011.

Assistance to the Tribunal

54. Section 57(3) of RIPA requires the Commissioner to give all such assistance to the
Tribunal as the Tribunal may require in relation to investigations and other specified matters. My assistance was not sought by the Tribunal during 2010.

Move along, move along

Determinations made by the Tribunal in favour of complainants

55. During 2010 the Tribunal made six determinations in favour of complainants.Since its inception the Tribunal has now upheld ten complaints. One of the upheld complaints was made by a husband and wife who lodged a joint complaint. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules 2000 prohibit me on the grounds of confidentiality from disclosing specific details about the complaint made by the husband and wife, but it is sufficient to say that the conduct complained of was not authorised under the relevant provisions of RIPA nor was it a complaint against any of the agencies or persons over whom I exercise oversight.

56. Complaints were also successfully made by five members of the same family and were the subject of an open hearing in November 2009. The case was widely reported in the media. It involved directed surveillance carried out by Poole Borough Council of a family in connection with an application made by parents for a school place for their youngest child. The Tribunal found that the conduct complained of was not authorised in accordance with the relevant provisions of RIPA. The complainants made no application for remedies and none was awarded.

57. The fact that these cases were upheld has influenced changes in guidelines provided to Local Authorities on the use of directed surveillance and proposed legislation to change the procedures on the authorisation of this type of surveillance.

These two cases have got nothing whatsoever to do with the Intelligence Services, but since this Report always has so little actual content, so we are presumably supposed to grateful for these crumbs of information, at second hand, from the secretive Information Tribunal.

The alleged "oversight" mechanism of an Annual Report which never says anything at all in public, actually detracts from public confidence in the Intelligence Services


Annual report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2010-2011 (.pdf)

The Chief Surveillance Commissioner, the Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose writes:

Chief Surveillance Commissioner

2.4 I was invited to oversee the removal of 'covert' cameras around specific areas of Birmingham. I have confirmed in writing that no cameras installed specifically for covert use were capable of use before the decision to remove them. All camera equipment has been removed and, by the time this report is published, I will have confirmed that all related 'street furniture' has been removed.

See Spy Blog: Project Champion Review - CCTV and ANPR mass surveillance ghettos in Birmingham

2.5 Towards the end of the year, significant media reporting relating to the activity of an undercover officer authorised to conduct activity against domestic extremism resulted in a number of investigations by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, SOCA and the IPCC. At the time of this report's preparation these investigations continue. I am monitoring all investigations to ensure consistent and accurate interpretation of legislation. I am reassured by the involvement and publication of the terms of reference of an objective External Reference Group in relation to HMCIC's investigation.

Will any of the senior Police officers and bureaucrats and politicians, who were responsible for the various undercover police spies and agent provocateurs
who have been caught infiltrating the various "environmental" protest groups ever be named and shamed or punished ?

What are their links to the state and private sector powerful vested interests ?

OSC guidance

3.4 I explained in paragraphs 3.6 to 3.8 of my last report that my Commissioners from time to time publish guidance; the latest was published in September 2010. If I continue to find that this document is not readily available to those who need it, or is not promoted by national associations, I may make it publicly available on my website. I have resisted this temptation so far because:

3.4.1 my small office does not have the capacity to answer the inevitable influx of requests for clarification that this would invite;

Surveillance is big business, affecting millions of people in the UK.

The taxpaying public has a right to demand the publication of this document and for clarifications to be answered promptly and fully.

3.4.2 law enforcement agencies in particular are concerned that tactics might be unnecessarily revealed;

3.4.3 it is not a comprehensive document which covers every eventuality and it might be misconstrued or misused; and

That sounds like bureaucratic backside covering.

Publish the guidance anyway.

How can it be misconstrued and misused any more than the Acts of Parliament
and the Codes of Practice upon which it is based ?

If these are not crystal clear then they must be amended.

3.4.4 it is not my remit to provide free legal advice, though I proffer guidance to public authorities which I have a responsibility to review, in order to raise standards and promote consistency.

Public Authorities should make this guidance available to everybody. Why should it be kept secret ?

Time for a Freedom of Information Act request to , say, the Metropolitan Police Service , for a copy of this Guidance.

Why are the RIPA Commissioners still excluded from the list of Public Bodies, even though they absolutely meet and exceed the conditions for such a listing under the FOIA section Schedule 1 ?

3.8 The procedural changes proposed in the Protection of Freedoms Bill involving magistrates in the authorisation process for local authorities and a higher threshold for authorised covert activity will not reduce the frequency or nature of my inspections even if the number of authorisations is reduced. My inspections will continue to focus on the training, knowledge and competence of local authority officials involved in the identification of activity which may be covert and which, if it is, should be authorised under the legislation in a clear and principled way.

So there is not going to be any reduction in Surveillance by public authorities as a result of the proposed Protection of Freedoms Bill ?

3.10 I have commented in previous reports that there appears to be an over-reliance on the capacity of the OSC to examine authorisations. I remain concerned that my limited capacity is misappreciated. Public authorities, particularly law enforcement agencies, should not be lulled into a false sense of confidence if at trial lawyers do not scrutinise relevant documents. Lack of challenge does not imply compliant authorisation. I mentioned last year (paragraph 5.19) that there is an expectation of authorisation. I add this year that authorisations should be of a quality to withstand examination at trial however rarely such scrutiny may occur.

Is this an oblique, soviet style hint, that there are some illegal cases involving authorisations which will not stand up to proper scrutiny ?

3.11 I have considered carefully, but resisted, a few requests to increase the duration between inspections. My inspection capability is limited. The sample of documents which can be examined is small and the inspection can only be regarded as a 'snapshot in time'; it is not an indicator of trends. Often key personnel change in the period between inspections. I recognise the inconvenience of an inspection (especially for law enforcement agencies) but less frequent inspections would not provide the effective oversight which Parliament requires of me.

Which snooping organisations are moaning about the current, totally inadequate level of inspections ?

"the effective oversight which Parliament requires of me."

is a misnomer - it does not actually represent properly transparent and effective oversight, which the public has a right to demand.

3.12 I have still not been given the power to inspect local authorities in Northern Ireland. I am concerned that these authorities have never been inspected.

That is a scandal which should have been rectified years ago.

3.14 I invited representation from the Association of Chief Police Officers Automated Number Plate Reading Working Group to one of the meetings in order better to understand its concerns regarding specific guidance on that topic. It is my intention to provide further guidance, if necessary, before this report is published.

Automated Number Plate Reading (ANPR) is a whole area of mass surveillance which the current and previous Surveillance Commissioner have ineffectively criticised.

No doubt the Chief Surveillance Commissioner will not actually investigate any actual or potential abuses of ANPR, only issue secret Guidance to the snoopers as per paragraph 3.4 above. He may even abrogate this responsibility and leave it to the new RIPA style Surveillance Camera Commissioner, proposed in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, to deal with.

OSC website

3.18 I have not had the capacity to improve my website. The Cabinet Office has recently decided that all government related websites, including those of Non Departmental Public Bodies such as mine, will migrate to a corporate process. It is essential that I remain independent and be seen to be independent.

At least the OSC actually has a website, unlike the other two RIPA Commissioners.

Neither the Chief Surveillance Commissioner nor the other two RIPA Commissioners
will ever be "seen to be independent" whilst they reports only to Ministers rather than to Parliament and the public directly. and whilst they weasel out of compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

3.25 In order to achieve a reduced budget for the financial year 2011 - 2012 I have reluctantly reduced my capacity by one Inspector and the Secretary post and downgraded a further post. My capacity has always been limited and I wrote to the Home Secretary to explain the impact of reducing my budget by £140K. I recognise the severity of the country's financial situation but a reduction of nine percent has serious operational repercussions in a tiny organisation. I am only able to work within this tight limit by reducing inspectorate and secretarial staff.

How about the Home Office reducing the amount of Surveillance it funds by 10 per cent ?

4.2 Statistics for directed surveillance and the use of CHIS have been supplied by all law enforcement agencies. I am pleased to report that all other public authorities have responded to my request for this statistical information, so this year's figures are again based on a one hundred per cent return.

4.3 It is important that these statistics are not misconstrued. Reports relating to local authority use of covert surveillance have been misleading and often inaccurate. I have identified no systemic attempts to misuse legislation. There are, occasionally and inevitably, misjudgments but these are rarely the result of abuse of power.

[...]

Misjudgments about proportionality etc. in the exercise of such powerful and dangerous legislation are an abuse of power, the only question is whether such inevitable human lapses within an inhuman system of surveillance bureaucracy, should be punished or not.

Given the secrecy which surrounds such surveillance, there is no effective system of public apology and financial compensation for the victims of such misjudgments - the Courts are only available to the rich and are useless for the protection of privacy.

The Surveillance Commissioner should "name and shame" the culprits in this Report, which is his only sanction, pathetically weak though that is.

Section 49 - encryption

4.11 During the period to which this report relates, NTAC granted 26 approvals from 30 applications. Permission was not sought in eight cases after NTAC approval. From the remainder, 17 had permission granted by a Circuit Judge, of which 12 have so far been served. Four were complied with and two were not; the remainder were still being processed. Five people were charged with an offence, of whom it was decided not to prosecute two. So far there has been one conviction with other cases still to be decided.

4.12 The conviction related to the possession of indecent images of children. Other offences include: domestic extremism, insider dealing, fraud, evasion of excise duty, drug trafficking and drug possession with intent to supply.

Not the complete absence of the words "terrorism" or "national security".

NTAC = National technical Assistance Centre, which has lurked somewhere under the GCHQ empire since 2006.

4.13 These statistics are provided by NTAC which is able to be accurate regarding the number of approvals it has granted. But it is reliant on those processing notices to keep it informed regarding progress. It appears that there has been delay in serving some notices after approval has been granted (hence the difference between the number approved and the number served). Notices, once approved, should be served without delay.

Delays by the legalistic surveillance bureaucracy ? Who could have imagined that, apart from, say Franz Kafka.

Legislation

5.4 At the time of writing, the Protection of Freedoms Bill is at the Committee stage.

[...]

it is not apparent why local authorities should be treated differently from other public authorities

Agreed

[...]

The higher threshold in the proposed legislation will reduce the number of cases in which local authorities have the protection of RIPA when conducting covert surveillance; it will not prevent the use of those tactics in cases where the threshold is not reached but where it may be necessary and proportionate to obtain evidence covertly and there will be no RIPA audit trail. Part I of RIPA makes unauthorised interception unlawful. In contrast, Part II makes authorised surveillance lawful but does not make unauthorised surveillance unlawful.

[...]

Why should the minority users of RIPA surveillance powers i.e. Local Authorities have to be authorised by Magistrates, when the vast bulk of request by the Police and Intelligence Agencies and other Government Departments e.g. DWP, HMRC etc. will
continue to be self authorised ? They should all have independent judicial warrant oversight of every application, before (or in emergencies, immediately after) the privacy intrusion happens, not just a RIPA Commissioner audit of a sample of requests every year or two.

5.11 We have evidence that some public authorities are purchasing highly intrusive technical capability without properly considering the legislative implications of its use. For instance, a single digital camera is capable of coverage equivalent to or greater than a larger number of analogue cameras; but the reduction in the number of cameras does not reduce privacy concerns. We have seen noise monitoring equipment that is capable of 'permanent' monitoring even though it has not been activated to store a recording in an easily interpreted form and I am not convinced that data is irretrievable. For this reason, my Commissioners have provided guidance that authorising officers should avoid accepting loose terminology and understand the capability of the equipment. Corporately, public authorities should ensure that equipment which is more capable than can be justified should not easily be procured.

Vaguely hoping that the purchasing of intrusive technology will somehow not happen is foolish - e.g. digital cameras are cheaper than analogue ones these days.

There should be detailed consideration of the technological capabilities being used or potentially abused, by those who supposedly, independently, scrutinise the proportionality of each application for covert surveillance.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose makes this interesting legal point regarding Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS):

Availability of powers

5.15 Many public authorities which are not law enforcement agencies prefer not to use CHIS. Their reasoning usually reflects a laudable desire to use less intrusive methods or a belief that they are ill-prepared to manage them compliantly. The desire is good practice and the belief is often accurate. However, the ease with which statutory criteria are met is often misjudged; a person, irrespective of motive, may be a CHIS if he uses a personal or other relationship to pass information to a public authority in a manner that is covert in relation to the person to whom the information refers. This may not be of significant concern if the reporting is occasional or when the information attracts no action or when it has been volunteered. It should be a concern if the individual reports information on which action is likely to be taken or if the information is likely to be retained for later analysis. Public authorities may not ignore this because they do not wish to use CHIS. In many cases, public authorities wish to retain the power but make no effort to prepare properly for the eventuality. In other cases, the public authority has decided that it no longer requires the capability, without recognising that it is dealing with persons who should be authorised as a CHIS. I have no power to insist on proper training or retention of powers. I can only draw the risk to the attention of the relevant authority. But I take this opportunity to remind public authorities that the threshold set by Parliament is low and that there is significant risk in reliance on a person within the statutory definition of a CHIS who is not authorised.

As always, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner tends to reveal a little more than either the Interception of Communications Commissioner or the Intelligence Services Commissioner ever do in their Annual reports.

Annual report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2009-2010 (.pdf)

Unlike the other two RIPA Commissioners, Sir Christopher Rose does actually have something to report about RIPA Part II:

CHIS = Covert Human Intelligence Sources
i.e. spies , undercover agents, paid informers, unpaid informers etc.

CHIS

4.8 There were 5,320 CHIS recruited by law enforcement agencies during the year; 4,495 were cancelled (including some who were recruited during the previous year) ; and 3,767 were in place at the end of March 2010. The figures for the previous year which were 4,278, 4,202 and 3,722 indicate a slight increase in usage.

4.9 During the current reporting year other public authorities recruited 229 CHIS of whom 182 were cancelled during the year with 90 in place on 31 March 2010.

During the previous year 234 were recruited, 153 cancelled and 106 were in place at the end of the year. Again just over half of CHIS usage was by government departments. The light use of RIPA/RIP(S)A powers by local authorities is even more pronounced in relation to CHIS recruitment. 97% recruited five or fewer and 86% did not use CHIS.

There are some criticisms of CHIS management and tradecraft:

5.9 There are too many occasions when inspections reveal poor tradecraft in managing CHIS. Infrequent physical meetings and reliance on communication by text messages are rarely adequate. There have also been instances where law enforcement officers have pretended to be the CHIS when communicating with his associates online, without properly providing the CHIS with an alibi. It seems to me that this is an unsafe practice.

The protection of CHIS is one of the main reasons cited for the vast amount of secrecy and lack of freedom of information and transparency in the Police and Intelligence Agencies etc.

Such amateurism in the handling of CHIS should be punished by removal of those responsible from any positions of power or authority involving CHIS - they could literally get people killed through such incompetence.

Encryption Keys and RIPA Part III

At last a few details about RIPA Part III:

NTAC = National Technical; Assistance Centre, now run by GCHQ, politically controlled by the Foreign Secretary.

Section 49 - encryption

4.10 During the period reported on, NTAC granted 38 approvals. Of these, 22 had permission granted by a Circuit Judge, of which 17 have so far been served. Six were complied with and seven were not complied with, the remainder were still being processed. Of the seven that were not complied with, five people were charged with an offence, one was not charged and the other is still being processed. So far there has been one conviction with other cases still to be decided.

4.11 The conviction related to the possession of indecent images of children and this offence is the main reason why section 49 notices are served. Other offences include: insider dealing, illegal broadcasting, theft, evasion of excise duty and aggravated burglary. It is of note that only one notice was served in relation to terrorism offences.

These statistics further aggravate the injustice to someone who does not fall into any of these categories see the previous Spy Blog article: "JFL" provides some more details about his imprisonment for refusing to divulge his cryptographic keys under a RIPA Part III section 49 notice

4.12 These statistics are provided by NTAC which is able to be accurate regarding the number of approvals it has granted. But it is reliant on those processing notices to keep it informed regarding progress. It appears that there has been delay in serving some notices after approval has been granted (hence the difference between the number approved and the number served) . Notices, once approved, should be served without delay. If delays continue, I will require an explanation.

Sir Christopher does not seem to have delved into whether or not the de-crypted plaintext or the cryptographic keys were actually stored securely, ideally also using strong encryption or not, once they had been seized as evidence through the section 49 orders.

Unless and until the public is reassured about that, then there will be lots of non-cooperation from businesses which risk massive "collateral damage" to their core business systems, as a result of police investigations involving only part of their computer infrastructure, or a few employees or customers.


There is nothing specific about Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), but there is a section on CCTV:

Closed Circuit TeleVision - CCTV

CCTV

5.22 My Chief Inspector has met the Interim CCTV Regulator and, as a member of the Independent Advisors Group, he will represent me in the development of the National CCTV Strategy.

How things have changed. Previously the Surveillance Commissioners took no interest in overt or covert CCTV spy cameras.

5.23 I am pleased by the proliferation of protocols between local authorities and police forces. In particular, I am satisfied that there is a wider acceptance of the need for authorisations to be shown to those responsible for using cameras covertly. But I am concerned at the number of inspections reporting the ability of some police forces to control, remotely, cameras owned, solely by or in partnership with, a local council. Sometimes control can be taken without the knowledge of the council CCTV Control Room or the guarantee that an appropriate authorisation exists. Equally, there is no guarantee that the person remotely operating the camera is appropriately qualified to conduct such an operation. Protocols should clarify the procedures to be followed when control is taken by others outside the CCTV Control Room and ensure that suitable safeguards are in place to prevent misuse.

Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2009 (.pdf), by the Rt,Hon. Sir Peter Gibson

Just like all the previous Intelligence Services Commissioner reports, the lack of public detail makes a mockery of the whole RIPA oversight process - it takes 16 pages to say almost nothing at all.

Yet again, there has been no call for Sir Peter to oversee any RIPA Part III encryption key or plaintext orders. This appears to have been left to the Chief Surveillance Commissioner.

Part III of RIPA

34. As I have noted above, Part III of RIPA came into force on 1 October 2007. However, no notification of any directions to require disclosure in respect of protected electronic information has been given to me in 2009 and there has been no exercise or performance of powers and duties under Part III for me to review.

The Intelligence Services Commissioner has gone through the motions with the Identity Scheme Commissioner Sir Joseph Pilling, bearing in mind the scrapping of the scheme which is still in progress.

11. On 16 November 2009 the Identity Minister, Meg Hillier, signed the Commencement Order allowing the Identity and Passport Service to begin issuing identity cards to members of the public living or working in Greater Manchester with effect from 30 November 2009 though it should be noted that identity cards were also made available to Home Office/Identity and Passport Service civil servants as well as airside workers in Manchester and London City Airport for a few weeks beforehand. On 10 December 2009 I had a useful meeting with Sir Joseph Pilling, the Identity Commissioner, in which we discussed our respective areas of responsibility under the ICA. I informed him that I did not envisage that I would need to obtain information about the acquisition, storage and use of data in the National Identity Register by organisations other than the intelligence services. At the time of writing this Report I am not aware of any acquisition, storage and use made by the intelligence services pursuant to the ICA of information recorded in the National Identity Register and in view of the intended repeal of the ICA it is unlikely that there will be any such acquisition, storage or use

Obliviously he has a good professional working contacts with the Intelligence agencies, but does that automatically taint him as the chairman of the Inquiry looking into allegations of complicity in torture of foreign terrorist suspects by MI5 or MI6 etc, appointed by PM David Cameron ?

He is already looking at:

Guidance on detention and interviewing of detainees by intelligence officers and military personnel

39. On 18 March 2009 the Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament about the detention and interviewing of detainees by intelligence officers and military personnel and announced my agreement to his request that the Intelligence Services Commissioner should monitor compliance by the intelligence agencies with the consolidated guidance on the standards to be followed during the detention and interviewing of detainees. My role in monitoring compliance will not commence until the consolidated guidance has been published. Such publication has not yet occurred,

The Report contains exactly the same words as the Interception of Communications Commissioner regarding the Investigatory Tribunal. A public agency broke the law, but will not be published for doing so. Why can they not at least be named and shamed in public ? There cannot be any "national security" grounds for not doing so.

Another year, another brief Annual Report by a RIPA Commissioner

Interception of Communications Commissioner Annual Report for 2009 (.pdf) , the right hon. Sir Paul Kennedy.

As with all the previous RIPA reports, the statistics about the number of Interception warrants or about the number of Communications Data requests are deliberately not broken down into any meaningful level of detail and should be ignored, although there will no doubt be plenty of media articles which are based on the headline figures.

How many people do these figures represent ? One criminal suspect could have many mobile phones, one interception warrant could be used to capture millions or billions of email messages.

There should be a breakdown of Communications Data requests since not all Public Authorities are allowed to request the full set of subscriber details, "friendship tree" call or email patterns and location data. Revealing such figures would not prejudice ongoing investigations.

As before, there are a trivial number of minor reported procedural and form filling Errors by the Police and Intelligence agencies (Interception and Communications Data) and , to a lesser extent the hundreds of other Public Authorities who have Communications Data powers, mostly due to keyboard typing errors.

Fewer of these Errors are now even being reported, in order to reduce bureaucracy:

3.11 Accordingly I agreed to a change in the error reporting system whereby public authorities now only report errors which have resulted in them obtaining the wrong communications data and where this has resulted in intrusion upon the privacy of an innocent third party. Other errors are simply recorded.

[...]

As before, we challenge the claim that the public are in any way "reassured" by this RIPA Commissioner (or any of the other RIPA Commissioners):

2.2

[...]

The Agencies always make available to me the personnel and documents that I have asked to see. They welcome my oversight, as ensuring that they are acting lawfully, proportionately and appropriately, and they seek my advice whenever it is deemed appropriate. It is a reassurance to the general public that their activities are overseen by an independent person who has held high judicial office

National Technical Assistance Centre snooping infrastructure down for 3 days

The National Technical Assistance Centre was formerly under the Home Office / MI5 now it is under the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and GCHQ.

Amongst other things they operate the "black box" legally authorised snooping under RIPA infrastructure which taps into major telephone and internet company infrastructure (not the same as GCHQ's main interception infrastructure)

2.27 Three errors attributable to the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC) were reported during the period of this report, one of which I now explain. NTAC reported a technical fault within their infrastructure that resulted in the prevention of delivery of intercept related information to the intercepting agencies for three days. A project to prevent this type of error occurring has been initiated and is expected to deliver improvements in the system in 2010.

How much public money is now being spent on NTAC and its "black boxes" ?

No Interception of Communications Commissioner involvement with Encryption, again ?

Yet again, on RIPA Part III, whilst the boilerplate text explaining the legal section of the Act is copied from previous reports, there is no mention of the Interception of Communications Commissioner having been advised of any Section 49 Notices demanding access to cryptographic de-cryption keys or to the plaintext information which has been protected by encryption.

Were all the cases in the past year really dealt with by the Other RIPA Commissioners ?

There is no mention of any reports or inspections by the Inspectors or by the ICC himself into how well or how badly the Code of Practice is being adhered to regarding electronic information protected by encryption.

Mobile phones in Prisons

It is interesting to see that the ICC and his inspectors seem to have finally taken our suggestion regarding illegal Mobile Phones in Prisons, made in previous years, that whilst they are inspecting the procedures for Interception and Communications Data analysis in Prisons, something which technically they have no power to do under the RIPA, but which they have been asked to do by successive Home Secretaries.


4.12 The inspections have also revealed that an alarming number of Category B local prisons appear to have a very limited capacity to monitor prisoners who pose a real threat to good order and security and this is a cause for concern. The smuggling of drugs and illicit mobile telephones are serious problems for most prisons, irrespective of their security status, and if a serious incident were to occur, which could have been prevented through the gathering of intercept intelligence, then prison managers and staff could find themselves in an indefensible position. Regrettably on occasions my Inspectors still have to emphasise this point in a number their reports.

4.13 The Category B local prisons, which were inspected during the reporting period, were asked to provide details of the numbers of illicit mobile telephones and associated equipment that had been seized in a six month period. Statistics from 25 prisons were collated and these revealed that 1,456 mobile telephones and 797 SIM cards were seized. Under the Offender Management Act 2007 and Prison Order 1100 dated 26 March, 2008 it is now a criminal offence to convey a mobile telephone or a component part of this equipment into a prison without the authorisation of the Governor and 11 of the prisons were making use of this legislation. However, the availability of such a large number of illicit telephones in the prison system is a serious cause for concern because prisoners can also use them to access the Internet.

4.14 Following the publication of the Blakey report in 2008 the Chief Operating Officer issued the Mobile Phones Good Practice Guide which was designed to help prisons minimise the number of mobile phones entering prisons and disrupt the number of mobile telephones that they were unable to find. Intelligence from the Pin-phones does help to prevent and detect attempts to smuggle them into the prison and this was part of the strategy. Clearly quite a number of the establishments are unable to implement the strategy fully because the resources and equipment are weighted far too heavily in favour of the offence related monitoring and this is a continuing problem. It is crucially important that prisoners are prevented from using mobile telephones to conduct criminal or illicit activity inside and outside the prison. Better use of the Interception Risk Assessments will eventually reduce the amount of offence related monitoring which needs to be conducted and this will in turn increase the capability to conduct more intelligence-led monitoring.

No mention of the Wilson Doctrine

There is no mention of the Wilson Doctrine in this year's public report, except for the background reference to current Prisons policy:

4.2

[...]

Communications which are subject to legal privilege are protected and there are also special arrangements in place for dealing with confidential matters, such as contact with the Samaritans and a prisoner's constituency MP

See the previous Spy Blog article: When will Prime Minister David Cameron re-affirm and extend the Wilson Doctrine on the protection from snooping on constituents' communications with their elected representatives ?

Still no progress on the use of Intercept Evidence in Court proceedings

2.10 Both the Advisory Group of Privy Counsellors and the government believe
that the potential gains from intercept as evidence justify further work in order to
establish whether the problems identified are capable of being resolved. The issues
involved are complex and difficult. I hope to be able to report on the progress
made on the planned further work in my 2010 Annual Report.

There are couple of positive bits of this report:

It looks as if the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government, like its Labour predecessor, needs to be reminded of its Statutory Duty, clearly stated in the text of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 - Part IV Scrutiny etc. of investigatory powers and of the functions of the intelligence services

Where is the Interception of Communications Commissioner Annual Report for 2009 ?

Section 58 Co-operation with and reports by s. 57 Commissioner.

(4) As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year, the Interception of Communications Commissioner shall make a report to the Prime Minister with respect to the carrying out of that Commissioner's functions.

(5) The Interception of Communications Commissioner may also, at any time, make any such other report to the Prime Minister on any matter relating to the carrying out of the Commissioner's functions as the Commissioner thinks fit.

(6) The Prime Minister shall lay before each House of Parliament a copy of every annual report made by the Interception of Communications Commissioner under subsection (4), together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of subsection (7).

Where is the Intelligence Services Commissioner Annual Report for 2009 ?

Section 60 Co-operation with and reports by s. 59 Commissioner.

(2) As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year, the Intelligence Services Commissioner shall make a report to the Prime Minister with respect to the carrying out of that Commissioner's functions.

(3) The Intelligence Services Commissioner may also, at any time, make any such other report to the Prime Minister on any matter relating to the carrying out of the Commissioner's functions as the Commissioner thinks fit.

(4) The Prime Minister shall lay before each House of Parliament a copy of every annual report made by the Intelligence Services Commissioner under subsection (2), together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of subsection (5).

Where is the Chief Surveillance Commissioner's Annual Report for 2009 ?

The Chief Surveillance Commissioner publishes a combined report under Police act 1997 Part III Section 107 Supplementary provisions relating to Commissioners. and under RIPA Part II Surveillance and covert human intelligence sources and RIPA 2000 (Scotland) section 22 Co-operation with and reports by Commissioner

In the past, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner has managed to publish his annual report before the other two RIPA Commissioners.

There are less than two weeks available for the Prime Minister David Cameron to lay these reports before Parliament, before the Summer Recess.

It would be as intolerable as it has been under Tony Blair or Gordon Brown for the clear Statutory Duty to report As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year, is weaseled into a 9 or 10 or 12 month delay in publication of Annual reports.

RIPA Commissioners Annual Reports for 2008

|

Regulation of Invesigatory Powrs Act 2000 (RIPA) Commissioners Annual Reports for 2008 (self censord, with a confidential annex):

Interception of Communications Commissioner:

2.33 Warrants (a) in force, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, as at 31 December 2008 and (b) issued during the period 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008 a b

Home Secretary 844 [929]* 1508 [1881]*

The total number of RIPA modifications from 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2008 = 5344 [5577]*

Scottish Executive 43 [28]* 204 [145]*

The total number of RIPA modifications from 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2008 = 610 [367]*

* For comparison purposes I have included in the parentheses warrant information for the period 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2007 as detailed in my 2007 Annual Report

[NB: Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 there is no longer a breakdown of the figures between Telecommunications and Letters.]

[...]

3.8 During the year ended 31 December 2008, public authorities as a whole made 504,073 requests for communications data to CSPs and Internet Service Providers (ISP). This figure is slightly below the number of requests which were made in the previous year. I do not intend to give a breakdown of these requests because I do not think that it would serve any useful purpose, although the intelligence agencies, police forces and other law enforcement agencies are the principal users of communications data.

We respectfully disagree.

This data should be broken down, by public authority, by the number of requests for Subscriber Details, for Location Based Services data (both one off instantaneous or last known position fixes, and for full Location History Tracking, and for full Traffic Analysis of friendship trees etc.

3.29 In some instances, however, errors may result in catastrophic consequences for members of the public. When that happens it is my responsibility and that of my Inspectors to investigate the circumstances and work with the public authority concerned to review their systems and processes to prevent them recurring. In this particular example the police took swift action when information from a reliable source suggested that a number of very young children were at immediate risk of falling into the hands of a paedophile ring. Subscriber information relating to an Internet Protocol (IP) Address was obtained in order to locate an address for the children but unfortunately it would appear this was not correct. The police entered the address and arrested a person who was completely innocent and further enquiries are continuing. This was a very unfortunate error and the whole process of obtaining data relating to IP addresses has been re-examined. In this case there was confusion between the Internet Service Provider and the public authority over how the data should be interpreted, particularly in relation to the critical international time zones. Better checks and balances have been put in place to help clarify the process, which includes liaison with the SPoC trainers and these should help to prevent similar errors in the future.

Has there been a prompt public apology and generous financial compensation for the victim of this "very unfortunate error" ? We doubt it.

3.51 There are approximately 110 other public authorities which are registered for the purpose of acquiring communications data. These include the Serious Fraud Office, Independent Police Complaints Commission, Charity Commission, Royal Mail and the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), to name just a few.

3.52 A temporary shortage of staff in the Inspectorate and a requirement to prioritise other inspections meant that it was possible only to inspect a few of these public authorities during the reporting year.

[...]


4.6 During the period covered by this report my Inspectors visited 89 prisons which roughly equates to two thirds of the whole estate.

i.e. the ISC is still spending a lot of resources on informally checking on Prisons,which are not formally covered by RIPA, but does not have the resources to check on Local Authorities etc. , who are.

Prisons should be inspected, so they should be formally put under the RIPA framework.

Such inspections should also look into the number of illegal mobile phones discovered in each prison, and into any collateral damage caused to Emergency Services and the neighbouring public by any jamming or shielding or IMEI / IMSI tracking systems put in place to counter them.

7.3 Finally I would like to draw your attention to the Wilson Doctrine. My predecessor could find no justification for it, and neither can I. The statute and the oversight regime exist to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, no-one's privacy is invaded without proper authorisation given because there seems to be good reason to take that step. Why should Members of Parliament not be in the same position as everyone else? At a time when other parliamentary privileges are under review it might be appropriate for this one to be swept away.

This assumes that the the public believe that the secretive RIPA Commissioners scheme is actually effective and trustworthy in holding over zealous petty officals in check, but that is simply not true.

Yet again, for some reason, the Interception of Communications Commissioner fails to even mention Encryption, except in his re-statement of his powers and duties, and about the NTAC centre visit which the RIPA Commissioners made.

Intelligence Services Commissioner

For a second year running, no Section 49 notices regarding access to cryptographic keys or de-crypted plaintext have been notified to the Intelligence Services Commissioner.

Part III of RIPA.

34. As I have noted above, Part III of RIPA came into force on 1 October 2007. However, no notification of any directions to require disclosure in respect of protected electronic information has been given to me in 2008 and there has been no exercise or performance of powers and duties under Part III for me to review.

[...]

Omagh Bombing

Furthermore, I concluded that there was no evidence before me to make good a number of assertions made in both the Panorama television programme and the article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.


Investigatory Powers Tribunal

For some reason, both the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner report annually and vaguely on the activities of the secretive Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which has never yet called any of the RIPA Commissioners before it for assistance.

The Tribunal received 136 new applications during the calendar year 2008 and completed its investigation of 70 of these during the year as well as concluding its investigation of 32 of the 41 cases carried over from 2007. 75 cases have been carried forward to 2009.6.3 In 2007 the Tribunal received 66 new applications and completed its investigation in relation to 31 of them, so in 2008 the workload increased by over 100%

[...]

Determination made in favour of two separate complainants by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal

46. During 2008 the Tribunal made two determinations in favour of two separate complainants. These are the second and third occasions that the Tribunal has upheld a complaint,

[...]

In its ruling in the 1st case the Tribunal ordered payment of an award of compensation to the complainant, as provided by section 67(7) of RIPA, though the respondents were not required to destroy the relevant records. In the second case, no award of compensation was made but the respondents were ordered to destroy the evidence of the unauthorised conduct.

The number of cases being considered by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal is surprising, given the secrecy which surrounds it.

Chief Surveillance Commissioner:

Section 49 - Encryption

4.11. My Commissioners and Inspectors attended a briefing by the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC) regarding the processes and procedures for the investigation of protected electronic information. During the period of this report, NTAC approved 26 applications for the service of a notice under s.49 of RIPA Part III.

1 Of these 17 went on to obtain permission from a Judge. No permissions were refused and 15 Notices were served.

2 Eleven individuals failed to comply resulting in seven charges and two convictions. The types of crime under investigation were: counter terrorism, child indecency and domestic extremism.

4.12. One Notice was served without the proper involvement of NTAC. The force concerned had relied on incorrect information from the Police National Legal Database. The individual on whom the Notice was served refused to comply but it was decided not to proceed.

The Labour Government, fearful of by-election results, public opinion polls, the media, the Opposition and some of its own backbenchers, has reduced the amount of time available for Parliamentary scrutiny and "Westminster Village" media interest, by sneakily and unnecessarily extending the Summer Recess from the end of business this Tuesday 21st July until Tuesday 13th October i.e. 3 months

Presumably there will be a splurge of Government announcements and media spin rushed out before Tuesday, which will attempt to divert attention from the Regulation of Invesigatory Powers ACt 2000 Commissioners' Annual Reports:

HC Deb, 16 July 2009, c77WS

Chief Surveillance Commissioner, Interception of Communications Commissioner and Intelligence Service

Prime Minister

Written answers and statements, 16 July 2009


Gordon Brown (Prime Minister, No Department; Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, Labour)

I can announce to the House that I have arranged for the annual reports of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Christopher Rose, HC 704, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Paul Kennedy, HC 901, and the Intelligence Services Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Peter Gibson, HC 902, to be laid before both Houses on Tuesday 21 July 2009.


This is the first time that publication of any of these RIPA Annual Reports has been pre-announced.

This will also be the first time that they have all been published on the same day.

N.B. these Reports are for the previous calendar year so they are already over six months out of date..

Given how short, and lacking in specific detail these reports usually are, they all should have been published in January.

Will the details of these Reports have been leaked and briefed to this weekend's newspapers, or will they have been successfully buried ?

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) established, for the first time in the UK, a comprehensive regulatory system to govern the use of a range of investigatory techniques, some of which had been used without any statutory regulations or safeguards for decades. RIPA set out clear parameters within which these techniques could be used, and established an independent oversight regime and an independent complaints tribunal.

This publication of heavily censored Annual reports, by RIPA Commissioners who have no budget and little inclination to independently investigate complaints by members of the public, should not be mistaken for proper transparency and democratic accountability.

The Home Office is now in the process of reviewing the statutory codes of practice on covert surveillance and property interference, and on covert human intelligence sources. It has recently completed a public consultation exercise on the revised codes of practice, and on all public authorities able to use certain techniques regulated in RIPA, the ranks at which those techniques can be authorised, and the purposes for which they can be used. The Government will shortly table statutory instruments giving Parliament the opportunity to debate a range of proposed revisions to the RIPA framework, following this consultation exercise.

Spy Blog has submitted some thoughts to the Home Office in response to the Public Consultation which closed on 10tth July.

N>B. There is still time to submit your responses to the other RIPA Consultation, which closes this coming Monday 20th July 2009:

Protecting the public in a changing communications environment

However, on past performance, this Government simply cannot be trusted to change their pre-set policies as a result of the responses they get from the public.

The previous official 12 week Public Consultation of RIPA Codes of Practice, back in 2006 was notable for the Statutory Instrument which was introduced halfway through the consultation period, and which came into legal force 3 days before the 12 week consultation period finished, making an utter mockery of the whole process.

This put into force the Government's favoured option on one of the Questions upon which the public was supposedly being consulted on (about about using Communications Traffic Data to identify dead or incapacitated people)

See:

Remember that Statutory Instruments can, in theory be debated, but this is done on a "take it or leave it" basis, with no chance of making any amendments.

Backbench Members of the House of Commons have consistently failed to properly scrutinise the thousands of such Statutory Instruments, and they always get rubberstamped into law, even when their length and complexity exceeds that of many full Acts of Parliament.

I am grateful to Sir Christopher, Sir Paul and Sir Peter, and to their support staff, for their work on these reports.

How about some proper independent public scrutiny of the increasingly powerful "Database / Surveillance / Snooper / Nanny" State which has been inflicted on us, with proper resources to investigate complaints from the public, able to punish abuses by petty public officials or by private companies and to veto policy disasters in the making by senior officials and Ministers ?

It is late December, the House of Commons is about to take an extended break until January 12th, for no good reason, except to further reduce the amount of detailed scrutiny of the Government which they are supposed to do

As in previous years, we have been awaiting the publication of the Annual Reports of the supposedly Independent Commissioners, all former High Court Judges, who are meant to oversee and audit the operation of the the Government's snooping and interception powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Just like last year, and the year before, there is no sign of the Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner, nor that of the Intelligence Services Commissioner, covering the period up to the end of the calendar year of 2007.

See these previous RIPA Commissioners' Annual Reports published by the Cabinet Office.

See previous Spy Blog articles:

Remember that the wording off the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is very clear - these Annual Reports must be "laid before Parliament" before the end of the calendar year to which they refer.

If these Reports are not "laid before Parliament" today, Thursday 18th December 2008, the last day of this Parliamentary session this year, then Members of Parliament should hold the Prime Minister to account for yet another breach of the law, and for further demonstrating his contempt for Parliament.

We especially look forward to figures and analysis of the number of requests for Communications Traffic Data from fixed line and mobile phone telecommunications companies, which has been specially retained under the European Union Directive, which came into force on 1st October 2007, and which would not otherwise have been available under normal business practices and under now abandoned safeguards of the Data Protection Act.

We also look forward to figures and analyses of RIPA 2000 section 49 notices requiring disclosure which demand Cryptographic Keys or Plaintext de-crypted electronic data. These section 49 notices may come under the scrutiny of either the Interception of Communications Commissioner Rt.Hon Sir Paul Kennedy, or perhaps the Intelligence Services Commissioner, Rt.Hon. Sir Peter Gibson.

  • How many times have the "no tipping off" secrecy provisions been invoked ?

  • How many times has the "national security investigation" power been invoked, which threatens a potentially longer prison term (up to 5 years in prison rather than up to 2 years) for refusal to comply with such section 49 notices ?

  • How many times has the Chairman of the Financial Service Authority been consulted about such notices about to be served on regulated financial institutions, as per the Code of Practice ?

  • How many times have actual Cryptographic Keys been handed over, rather than de-crypted Plaintext, in response to RIPA section 49 notices ?

  • How many refusals to comply with RIPA Section 49 notices have there been ?

  • How many prosecutions for refusal to comply with a RIPA section 49 notice have there been ?

  • How many convictions for refusal to comply with a RIPA section 49 notice have there been ?

Yet again, the deliberate delay in the publication of these two RIPA Commissioners' Annual Reports, contrasts with that of the other main RIPA Commissioner, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Rose, who, like his predecessors, managed to publish his report in the June or July , following the Calendar Year to which it refers.

See Office of the Surveillance Commissioners - Annual Reports

If these Annual Reports are not published today, then it will cast doubt on the integrity of the Home Secretary's promise of a public consultation starting in January 2009, over the Communications Data Bill, as these reports are directly relevant to that scheme.

Annual Report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2007-2008 (.pdf 32 pages) by the Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose, published on 22nd July 2008.

Unlike the other two RIPA Commissioners, there is a website for this one: Office of Surveillance Commissioners, which implies a bit more openness and transparency, but not much.

There is no mention this year of Automatic Number Plate Recognition, despite the mention of it in the previous two Annual Reports, and despite the scandalous slurping of the London Congestion Charge scheme CCTV, ANPR and other data into a secret Metropolitan Police system, which we wrote to Sir Christopher about, to no avail.

Sir Christopher gives no details about the use of the new RIPA Part III section 49 notice powers to demand Encryption Keys or plaintext decrypted electronic data, which came into force on 1st October 2007.

There are no more details about the Sadiq Khan MP / Babar Ahmad bugging in Woodhill Prison scandal, which Sir Christopher produced a separate report on.

The reports by the Chief Surveillance Commissioner manage to give a breakdown into various broad categories e.g. illegal drugs, kidnapping, terrorism etc. of the statistics which they publish, without compromising any national security or serious organised crime investigations, so why can't the other RIPA Commissioners do likewise ?

Local Authorities, by virtue of dealing with far fewer requests for Directed Surveillance or for the use of Covert Human Intelligence Sources than the Police, spend less on training, make more mistakes and do not seem to understand the concept of "proportionality". We feel that they should be stripped of these RIPA powers entirely.

Sir Christopher makes some peculiar comments on the Freedom of Information Act, to which his Office is not actually subject.

See our more detailed comments on this latest report below:

Interception of Communications Commissioner

Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner for 2007 (.pdf 16 pages) by the Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy, submitted to the Prime Minister on 27th June 2008, published on 22nd July 2008.

See our reasonably lengthy comments on this report below:

Intelligence Services Commissioner

Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2007 (.pdf 9 pages) by Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, submitted to the Prime Minister on 27th June 2008, published on 22nd July 2008.

This is always the least informative of the three RIPA Commissioners' Annual reports, with the bulk of the short report being taken up by a re-statement of the duties of the Commissioner under the legislation.

There are no statistics published in the public section of the report whatsoever, not even aggregated statistics, which the other two RIPA Commissioners publish without compromising either technical methods, or covert sources or alluding to any ongoing investigations whatsoever.

Statistics 35. Consistent with the practice followed since annual reporting by the respective statutory Commissioners began, I do not propose to disclose publicly the numbers of warrants or authorisations issued to the security and intelligence agencies. That is because it would, I believe, assist those unfriendly to the UK were they able to know the extent of the work of the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ in fulfilling their functions. The figures are, however, of interest and I have included them in the confidential annex to this report.

This practice has never been acceptable.

There is no evidence from either the other RIPA Commissioners, who do publish some aggregate statistics about warrants, or from other countries intelligence agency oversight bodies, which shows that such figures would assist "those unfriendly to the UK".

There is just one small nugget of information, which has, somehow slipped through, regarding the seizure of De-cryption Keys or of plaintext versions of encrypted electronic data:

Part III of RIPA

34. As I have noted above, Part III of RIPA came into force on 1 October 2007. However, no notification of any directions to require disclosure in respect of protected electronic information has been given to me in 2007 and there has been no exercise or performance of powers and duties under Part III for me to review.

Presumably this only covers the period from 1st October to the end of December 2007.

Does this show that the RIPA Part III powers are actually unnecessary for the three intelligence agencies, and that, given their horror of having to deal with the public directly, they are leaving RIPA section 49 notices to the Police ?

Errors
41. Thirteen errors in respect of RIPA authorisations and ISA warrants and one breach in the handling arrangements of one of the agencies were reported to me during the period of this report. In addition one intelligence agency reported to me a breach of the Terrorism Act 2000. It is not possible for me to say much about these errors without revealing information of a sensitive nature, but I have referred to them in more detail in the Confidential Annex. However, I can report that the majority of the thirteen errors occurred in respect of surveillance and interference with property for which there was for a comparatively short time no valid authorisation or warrant in force. Although any such breach is to be regretted, I think it right to say that all the breaches can properly be categorised as minor. None of the cases involved bad faith or any deliberate departure from established practices. In all cases, following the discovery of the errors, the agencies' internal procedures have been reviewed and strengthened with a view to preventing a future recurrence

The other RIPA Commissioners break down the admitted errors by each of the intelligence agencies, something which does not compromise national security in any way.

The Chief Surveillance Commissioner's report alludes to electronic bugging devices which have not been retrieved before the intrusive property interference warrant has expired, are the majority of these 13 cases of that nature ?

By not naming the individual agencies, even to vaguely list, without any operational details, the most minor of errors, the Intelligence Services Commissioner the Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, is giving the impression of having "gone native" and is not seen to be doing a proper job of public scrutiny, even if, presumably, he is actually doing his job conscientiously.

The only positive thing that can be said about the publication of the Annual Reports of the the 3 RIPA Commissioners, is, that for the very first time, they have all been published at the same time.

Thee Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part IV, legally requires that

58 (4)
As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year, the Intereception of Communications Commissioner shall make a report to the Prime Minister with respect to the carrying out of that Commissioner's functions.

and similarly that

60 (2)
As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year, the Intelligence Services Commissioner shall make a report to the Prime Minister with respect to the carrying out of that Commissioner's functions.

The Chief Surveillance Commissioner, whose office predates RIPA, which imposes extra duties and powers on him, has a similar legal duty under the Police Act 1997 Part III

"The Chief Commissioner shall make an annual report on the discharge of functions under this Part to the Prime Minister"

The wording of both of these Acts also sets a legal duty for publication:

"The Prime Minister shall lay before each House of Parliament a copy of every annual report made"

The Chief Surveillance Commissioner's Report, has consistently over the years been available and online in the July following the calendar year to which it refers. This is hardly a stellar performance, for such a short, vague report, which but this is better than the other two RIPA Commissioners, whose reports used to be published in October, and, scandalously recently over a year after the Calendar Year to which they refer.

It is welcome that all three Reports are available at the same time in July.

However, given the lack of detail in any of them, they should really be published before the end of January following the calendar year to which they refer.

The following is not meant to be a criticism of the integrity or professionalism of any of the individual RIPA Commissioners, who are all former senior Judges, but rather of their timid interpretation of their admittedly restricted roles under the legislation. and the deliberate budget constraints imposed on them by the Government.

See the next three blog articles:

This mechanism of a RIPA Commissioner's Annual Report, with no resources or willingness to investigate complaints from the public, does not provide the proper level of transparency and scrutiny of secret snooping and surveillance, which the public has a right to demand in a democratic society.

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.

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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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https://twitter.com/SpyBlog

Please bear in mind the many recent, serious security vulnerabilities which have compromised the Twitter infrastructure and many user accounts, and Twitter's inevitable plans to make money out of you somehow, probably by selling your Communications Traffic Data to commercial and government interests.

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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