Results tagged “ANPR” from Spy Blog -

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor

12:00PM BST 16 Jun 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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


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

Vaughan Smith has now been quoted by the BBC:

Julian Assange friend's 'embarrassment' at camera claim

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

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

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

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

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

Phones claim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protection of Freedoms Bill

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statutory Code of Practice does not cover all public bodies

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

Why not ?

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

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

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

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

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

What about Factories and Offices and other private sector workplaces ?

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

National Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Through Your Childrens' Clothes Imaging Cameras

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

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

There should be criminal penalties for such abuse.

Aerial Reconnaissance drones

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

Surveillance Camera Commissioner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Central registration of CCTV camera systems

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

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

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

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

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


Various motoring blogs etc.(e.g. Honest John) have been reporting about the Castrol motor oil company's (ab)use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology for roadside "snoopvertising" billboard marketing purposes.

This Mail on Sunday report, however, uncovers Yet Another "data sharing without prior, individual, informed consent" scandal involving the notorious Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Drivers' details sold by DVLA are used in bizarre roadside adverts for Castrol

By Christopher Leake

The Government's controversial Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has launched an investigation into how the car registrations of millions of motorists were sold for use by a giant oil firm.

Castrol spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on a campaign promoting its oils, using giant advertising billboards on five major routes in London.

But when The Mail on Sunday contacted the DVLA on Thursday, the campaign - which has also raised safety fears - was halted, just four days after it began. It was due to run for two weeks.

The DVLA says it restricts the release of data chiefly to car parking enforcement companies, solicitors, finance firms and property companies - but insists that in every case the privacy of motorists is 'properly safeguarded'.

That is obviously a lie.

However, the agency does sell data, including the registration number, engine size, year, make and model of individual cars, to a number of organisations, including five motor industry data providers.

This is used to ensure garages fit vehicles with the correct tyres, batteries and replacement parts. But sources have admitted that in the Castrol campaign, the DVLA data was passed on by one of the five companies to a third-party contractor, which then used it in contravention of the ban on the use of registration numbers for marketing purposes.

Both the DVLA and Castrol have refused to identify the data firm at the centre of the scandal while the official inquiry is being carried out.

Presumably these are the DVLA Accredited Trade Associations:

* The British Parking Association (BPA) -
* The Association of British Investigators (ABI)-
* The Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) -
* British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) -
* Consumer Credit Trade Association (CCTA) -

Which one of these betrayed the DVLA data ?

Who is the "third-party contractor" ?

A spokeswoman for Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, the data watchdog, said last night that its officials had contacted the DVLA to seek assurances that drivers' personal details had not been released.

Remember that the definition of "personal data" includes partially or poorly "anonymised data", which can easily be cross referenced with another system e.g. Vehicle Number Plate and just the first part of the Post Code of the Registered Keeper address will be enough to identify the driver , in most cases.

The new Information Commissioner Christopher Graham needs to prove that he is not tainted by having been in charge of the Advertising Standards Authority, and therefore having had previous dealings with the Ogilvy advertising agency and with the Clear Channel Outdoor advertising billboard company, who seem to involved in this scheme - see our comments on the Clear Channel Create press release below.

A DVLA spokesman said: 'We have not provided any vehicle information to Castrol or received any fee from them in relation to their campaign. As soon as we became aware that vehicle information had been used inappropriately we contacted the organisation concerned to ensure this was stopped and are urgently investigating the case.'

There are two parts to the DVLA, the Vehicle data and the Driver data. This quote evades any mention of Driver data which might have been supplied to Castrol.

So what action will the DVLA actually take to punish those individuals and companies responsible ?

Chris Sedgwick, Castrol's UK & Ireland marketing director, said last night: 'We conducted this campaign as a short-term extension to the long-term service we have been running by web and text for years and believed it was entirely in line with the service provided by our data supplier.

'As soon as we were alerted to the issue we took steps to cease the interactive trial.

Castrol does not have direct access to DVLA data.'

So Castrol are trying to say that they are somehow not to blame either - what a surprise.

Will they punish their advertising agencies and other sub-contractors ?

This Clear Channel Create press release names some of the advertising people who have unprofessionally ignored, or sought to sneak around, the internationally recognised laid down in the Data Protection Act 1998.

The senior officials at the DVLA and the Directors of each of the companies mentioned are personally legally responsible for safeguarding the public's personal data.

The Clear Channel press release raises all sorts of Data Protection and personal Privacy and Security questions:

Castrol leads the way with UK's first personalised billboard advertising campaign

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has published:

The Management and Use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (.pdf 892Kb)

The policy advice on the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), is mostly common sense, especially regarding actual roadside ANPR with at least two other mobile patrol vehicles to actually stop and search vehicles which have been flagged up by the ANPR / Police National Computer / Local Intelligence database system.

This document does not say much about the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC), but there are some clues about the ANPR data stored on the Police National Computer, with some potentially abusable or easily misinterpreted Warning Markers and the PNC ID categories, which could easily lead to false positives, where innocent people being threatened with firearms or tasers. Similarly, known really violent and dangerous people could just as easily be stopped by the Police, who are unprepared for them, thereby potentially putting themselves and the passing public at risk, because of false negative matches, again involving just a single digit error.

Reading the

National Policing Improvement Agency annual report and accounts 2008-09

we were reminded of our previous Spy Blog article:

Police Receive £50 Million For 10,000 Hand Held Computers i.e. £5,000 each - are they gold plated ?


During 2008, the Home Office allocated £80 million of funding over the next three years to support the delivery of handheld computers to frontline police officers. The funding was provided to increase the number of devices used by officers to 30,000 by March 2010.

The roll-out, managed by the NPIA has already exceeded its first milestone to have 10,000 devices in force by September 2008, and the second phase of roll-out is well
underway. All forces in England, Scotland and Wales have now received a portion of the funding.


So £50 million has now magically become £80 million !


Table 2: Summary of other protected personal data related incidents
in 2008/09

Incidents deemed by the Data Controller not to fall within the criteria for report to the Information Commissioner's Office but recorded centrally within the Department are set out in the table below. Small, localised incidents are not recorded centrally and are not cited in these figures.

Category Nature of incident Total

I Loss of inadequately protected electronic equipment, devices or paper documents from secured Government premises - 0 (nil)

II Loss of inadequately protected electronic equipment, devices or paper documents from outside secured Government premises - 4 (four)

III Insecure disposal of inadequately protected electronic equipment, devices or paper documents - 0 (nil)

IV Unauthorised disclosure - 1 (one)

V Other - 0 (nil)

N.B. the carefully worded "inadequately protected devices or paper documents"

How many of the 10,000 portable devices which NPIA have issued have been lost or stolen ?

It is hard to believe that none of them at all have gone missing.

These may or may not prove to be "adequately protected"

Some other points of interest in the report:

We will eventually get around to fisking Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's Communications Data Bill and dodgy history of terrorism speech, but here is another "database state" function creep announcement:

It appears that Northgate Information Solutions, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Lothian & Borders Police, regarding some sort of Automatic Number Plate Recognition data mining service. This is not some enhanced add on anlysis software package simply for use internally, to help the Police make sense of the masses of ANPR data which they are collecting, the vast makority of which is on innocent motorists.

This deal follows the recommendation by Sir Ronnie Flanagan in his final report that police forces should ensure they are taking an entrepreneurial approach to policing in ethical income generation and in creating and exploiting business opportunities.

Examples of how the new service can be used include -

• Several robberies have occurred in a region - the services can be used to establish what vehicles were in the vicinity, allowing further investigations to be undertaken including direct access to the regional force crime and intelligence systems to establish what is known about these vehicles;

• An incident involving a vehicle has occurred and the police have nothing to go on other than the make, model and colour of the vehicle. Using the services the police can establish which registrations match with this make, model and colour and which of these have been spotted in the vicinity of the incident.

The vast majority of these vehicles and registrations in these two example scenarios will be of innocent drivers.

Presumably Northgate Information Services are hoping to sell this service, and the raw data and data mining analyses, including the traffic movements of innocent people caught by the ANPR surveillance infrastructure, to other Police Forces or other Governments or commercial companies, for a commercial profit, without the informed prior consent of any of the innocent motorists.

Northgate Information Systems used be McDonnell Douglas Information Systems. and are still American owned.They do a lot of business with central and local government, and had some of the Government websites and servers which they run, including the offical Labour Party website whisch they hosted at the time, disrupted by the massive Buncefield fuel depot fire and explosion near Hemel Hempstead, literally across the road from some of their offices.

See the Northgate Information Systems Press release Police forces across the UK to benefit from innovative new intelligence service:

Back in 2005, we warned that the unelected, unaccountable quango, the Association of Chie Police Officers and the Home Office were creating, by stealth , and without any public debate or consultation, a new National Automatic Number Plate Recognition Database which could retain the vehicle movement data of millions of innocent motorists, for excessive periods of time, i.e. up to 6 years.

See: ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) Data Retention guidance by ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers)

Our fears seem to have been confirmed by this report in today's Guardian newspaper, which seems to show that the entirely predictable scope or function creep of the project has already happened. "give them an inch, and they will take a mile".

Given the recent data security and privacy scandals, how can the public be confident that the private details of millions of innocent motorists, and the privacy of their journey patterns, has not already been lost or stolen on unencrypted laptop computer, USB memory device or CD or DVD ?

How can we be sure that this national database is not accessible online by unuthorised people, or by corrupt or incompetent authorised insiders, whether they be Policemen, civilian staff or sub-contractors or consultants etc ?

When the planned mass surveillance camera and communications infrastructure is fully deployed, the National ANPR Database, combined with commercial systems such as Trafficmaster, will present a serious potential risk to the safety and security of VIPs at risk of kidnapping or assassination, to high value commercial vehicles (e.g. armoured vans full of cash) at risk of hijacking or armed robbery, and to military weapons or explosives convoys, including nuclear weapons convoys etc. All of these usually travel via pre-planned alternative routes, which will be revealed, remotely, in real time, by such a system.

Fears over privacy as police expand surveillance project

Database to hold details of millions of journeys for five years

Paul Lewis
The Guardian,
Monday September 15 2008

The police are to expand a car surveillance operation that will allow them to record and store details of millions of daily journeys for up to five years, the Guardian has learned.

A national network of roadside cameras will be able to "read" 50m licence plates a day, enabling officers to reconstruct the journeys of motorists.

Police have been encouraged to "fully and strategically exploit" the database, which is already recording the whereabouts of 10 million drivers a day, during investigations ranging from counter-terrorism to low-level crime.

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

Tories pledge to curb use of CCTV cameras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just in case you thought that Spy Blog has not tried the available, alleged "checks and balances" which are supposed to prevent the disproportionate abuse of our privacy and freedoms, you might be interested in our brief correspondence with the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners, regarding the function creep of what were supposed to have been "save the environment" schemes: the London Congestion Charge and the London Low Emission Zone, but which have now mutated into a secretive, unaccountable, mass surveillance snooping scheme.

Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose
Chief Surveillance Commissioner
Office of Surveillance Commissioners
PO Box 29105,
London, SW1V 1ZU

Copy via email:

20th September 2007

Dear Sir Christopher,

I am writing to you in respect of the current Automatic Number Plate Recognition mass surveillance scheme, which was announced by Home Office Minister Tony McNulty on 17th July 2007, involving "real time" "bulk data transfers" between the London Congestion Charge system run by Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police Service.

" The Minister of State, Home Department (Mr. Tony McNulty): I would like to inform the House that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has signed a certificate to exempt Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) from certain provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 to facilitate the bulk transfer of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) data from TfL to the MPS. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police believes that it is necessary due to the enduring, vehicle-borne terrorist threat to London. The MPS requires bulk ANPR data from TfL's camera network in London specifically for terrorism intelligence purposes and to prevent and investigate such offences. The infrastructure will allow the realtime flow of data between TfL and the MPS.

As one of the conditions of this certificate, the MPS will provide an annual report to the Information Commissioner so that he can satisfy himself that the personal data processed under the certificate is required for the purposes of safeguarding national security, and that any processing that is undertaken other than under an exemption set out in the certificate is carried out in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will review the operation of the certificate in three months time when the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police provides her with a separate, interim report so that she can be personally satisfied that the certificate is being operated in accordance with the agreement and that the privacy of individuals is protected. In the coming months, proposals will be developed and discussed across Government to ensure that bulk ANPR data-sharing with the police is subject to a robust regulatory regime which ensures reasonable transparency and scrutiny."

This is obviously far more than a simple Data Protection Act section 29 Notice request for details about a particular suspect vehicle. The use of Ministerial Certificates must mean Mass Surveillance, presumably on a 24/7 basis, outside of the normal Congestion Charge enforcement period i.e. also at night, at weekends and on public holidays, to cover what would otherwise be "excessive data processing" for a purpose other than which the data was originally collected, without explicit personal consent, thereby flouting the fundamental Principles of Data Protection.

I note that there is no mention in the Ministerial Statement of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which surely must also apply to this Mass Surveillance project, especially in the light of your comments on Automatic Number Plate Recognition in your first Annual Report,

"11.3 Improvements in technology continue to enhance the capability of those charged with the responsibility of tackling crime. But, as indicated in last year's report, the speed of change often surpasses the limitations of current legislation. With regard to Automatic Number Plate Recognition, my position is the same as that of my predecessor and I adhere to the view that legislation is necessary to resolve some issues arising from enhanced technological capability."

Were any of the Surveillance Commissioners consulted about this project before it was announced ?

Have you given your permission for this Mass Surveillance scheme to go ahead, which must catch vast numbers of innocent people and vehicle movements, contrary to the principle of narrowly targeted, proportionate, lawful surveillance under RIPA ?

Yours Sincerely,


The short reply was frustrating and depressing - we are obviously "little people", whose concerns and worries, are simply ignored by the bureaucracy and the politicians:

Office of Surveillance Commissioners

[name] [address]

1 October 2007

Dear [name]

Thank you for your letter of 20 September about the Automatic Number Plate Recognition mass surveillance scheme.

The Chief Surveillance Commissioner has seen your letter and asked me to reply on his behalf. He notes your interest in these matters but does not think it appropriate to answer your questions.

I am sorry I cannot be more helpful.

Yours sincerely

[name of secretary]
Secretary to the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners

Office of the Surveillance Commissioners
PO Box 29105
London, SW1V 1ZU
Telephone: 020 7828 3421
Facsimile: 020 7952 1788

How is this supposed to represent adequate or proper "independent scrutiny" of the vast powers, and function creep of secret state surveillance snooping, which is increasingly and wastefully being directed at millions of innocent people, rather than being targeted proportionately and narrowly at actual terrorist suspects or serious organised criminals ?

Is it any wonder that people are frustrated by, and resentful of, the people and systems which purport to "protect" the public, whilst maintaining their freedoms and liberties, but which do not do so in practice ?

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.


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.

We offer this verifiable GPG / PGP public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) as one possible method to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, if it suits their Threat Model or Risk Appetite, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels e.g. encrypted Signal Messenger via burner devices,or face to face meetings, postal mail or dead drops etc. as appropriate.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x1DBD6A9F0FACAD30 which will expire on 29th August 2021.

You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from
(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:

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)


Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog - ethical and technical discussion about the 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

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 - 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 have gone on to set up other online tools like The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the 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 - New Alliance's ID Cards page - 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 - 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 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 - 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 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 journalist network.
The Practical Nomad Blog Edward Hasbrouck on Privacy and Travel
Policeman's Blog
World Weary Detective

Martin Stabe
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
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


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.


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 - 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


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

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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

syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
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."

SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

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.

FreeFarid_150.jpg - 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)

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).

Amnesty International's campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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."

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

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."

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

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


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."


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

wblogocrop_150.jpg - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers