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GCHQ Sir Iain Lobban's valedictory speech


A few comments, in context, on:

Sir Iain Lobban's valedictory speech - as delivered
Full transcript of the speech given by Sir Iain Lobban, Director GCHQ, at the Cabinet War Rooms on 21 Oct 2014.

Weirdly, the GCHQ website no longer seems to support the use of https:// SSL / TLS encryption at all, unlike Security Service MI5 and Secret Intelligence Service SIS / MI6

In the middle of the summer, when I resolved to give this talk, the following events were taking place around the world:

  • A commercial airliner flying at over thirty thousand feet over eastern Ukraine was shot down with a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system, with the loss of 298 lives, 80 of them children
  • Fierce fighting on the ground continued after Russia's annexation of Crimea
  • ISIL advances in Syria and Iraq continued, treating local populations with devastating savagery, and the video of the beheading of the first western hostage spread across the internet
  • the American, Canadian and British embassies suspended operations in Tripoli due to armed clashes between Libyan militias in the country
  • the National Crime Agency carried out further arrests of predators involved in child exploitation

  • thirty-five adults and children, one of whom died, were discovered in a lorry, illegally trafficked from Afghanistan
  • £100 million pounds-worth of cocaine was seized off the coast of Ireland
  • Nearly 200 cyber incidents against the UK's networks of national significance were detected and responded to.

As my teams pivoted to tackle such intelligence and security requirements, and I marvelled yet again at their dedication and tenacity, I decided I wanted to use the occasion of my departure from this post to reflect publically on the profession to which I've devoted the past 31 years: to explain why people like me are motivated to do what we do. After all, it's sometimes called the second oldest profession in the world, and like the oldest, you tend not to talk about it as a career choice. But that's exactly what I want to do now. That career choice is one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I want to tell you why.

I also want to think aloud about the place of intelligence in national life, which makes this exactly the right place for this final public speech. Has there ever been a politician who was so comprehensively focused on intelligence, and on the policy and processes underpinning the production of intelligence, as Winston Churchill?

I joined GCHQ in what felt like the dark days of the Cold War. The majority of my early postings in the department were focused on the Warsaw Pact: a massive challenge. And as I leave, once more we look towards and beyond the Urals. Perhaps I needn't have bothered... Certainly the bookends of my career illustrate how the world continues to be a dangerous and unpredictable place.

But there's a longer timespan in which we should situate the work that GCHQ does today.

UK Signals Intelligence celebrates its centenary this year. There was no Sigint organisation in this country on 4 August 1914, but in November 1914 the First Sea Lord, Winston Churchill, issued a Charter. That Charter prescribed the operating model for Room 40, the section in the Admiralty which had started producing intelligence from intercepted and decrypted messages, would operate. Churchill oversaw the birth of British Sigint, and was instrumental in the creation in 1919 of GCHQ, under its former name of GC&CS.

In another dark time, a sparkling generation radiated their genius from dingy huts at Bletchley to defend a beleaguered nation against the Nazi onslaught:

  • They sent the intelligence to leaders right here in these War Rooms
  • Just as today, GCHQ continues to supply our National Security Council with the intelligence necessary to make the right strategic decisions.

It was here that Churchill applied the lessons he had learned during the First World War about keeping the use and the protection of Sigint in balance: intelligence is of no use if you can't use it, but it will quickly disappear if those using it do not protect its source.

In his Charter for Room 40, Churchill proposed that his Sigint staff should study intercepts, past and present, and compare them with what actually happened in order to penetrate the German mind. This process of traffic analysis was further developed at Bletchley Park, where analysts built a picture of hostile activity by analysing communications for patterns, connections and abnormalities.

  • Today, we continue to look for the patterns, connections and abnormalities that indicate of illuminate hostile capability and intent.

Bletchley Park saved the lives of numerous seamen and the shipping, materiel, and other supplies criss-crossing the Atlantic and the Arctic, all the while stalked by enemy submarines, providing intercepts on which evasive action could be taken. They kept those vital supply routes open.

  • Today, we continue to use intelligence to safeguard the electronic networks on which our trade, our finance, our way of life, now depend.

By June 1944, Sigint could tell General Eisenhower about the German Order of Battle in Normandy, about German perceptions on where the Second Front would be opened, on German intentions to respond to it, and on the success of his deception plan.

  • I am not going to tell you the details of the way we support the UK military today, but let me assure you that our aim is to ensure that every British or allied Commander has the same complete Information Superiority that Eisenhower had. The stakes of our mission today engage life and death as compellingly now as they did then. We are fiercely proud of the work we do to support troops in the front line, foiling attacks on British and allied forces deployed anywhere in the world.

But today's ask is in some ways broader than that of Bletchley Park:

  • With our partners at Mi5 and SIS we apply all our skills to keep our streets safe from terrorists
  • We work to stop the spread of destructive weapons across the world
  • We strain sinews to locate hostages imprisoned in dark and dangerous places, tragically not always with success
  • With the National Crime Agency we battle serious and organised crime
  • We counter internet fraudsters and their malware to save the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

We counter internet fraudsters and their malware to save the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds

GCHQ appear to be spectacularly unsuccessful in this regard, given the estimates of billions of pounds of attempted internet fraud each year.

Perhaps this is because the same "phishing" and malware techniques used by fraudsters seem to be used by GCHQ themselves, according to the Snowden revelations.

How many malware authors and distributors have been prosecuted and convicted in the UK ? Almost none. How many were caught by GCHQ ? Zero.

How many foreign cyber attackers have been extradited to the UK ? Zero

And we also battle to save something upon which nobody can place a value: we strive to protect our children from terrible abuse.

Wars, terrorism, fraud, child sexual exploitation - nothing new in that, you might think. Until you recall that we're witnessing the biggest migration in human history. In the six years since I took up this post, almost one and half billion people have joined the enormous exodus to the internet. That's a doubling of the people accessing information and communicating online. There are over six and a half billion mobile subscribers in the world, nearly two billion active social network users.

We all know that the beautiful dream of the internet as a totally ungoverned space was just that - a beautiful dream. Like all utopian visions, it was flawed because it failed to account for the persistence of the worst aspects of human nature. Alongside the amazing benefits - the comprehensive information, education, health, the communities of interest, the commercial opportunities and efficiencies - there are the plotters, the proliferators and the paedophiles. From what we know of ungoverned spaces in the real world, do we really believe that the world would be a better place if the internet becomes an ungoverned space where anybody can act freely with impunity?

the other impractical utopian vision is the myth that the state can or should provide absolute security.

Those who would do us harm don't want to be found. They choose certain routers or applications to hide in the darkest places of the internet. We have to enter that labyrinth to find them. We work to crack their defences. We have to understand what adversaries seek to do to us, and dedicate ourselves to preventing them from realising their plans. And the vast majority of those criminal threats to the UK are posed by groups or individuals based overseas. So we need strong intelligence and cyber capabilities to identify them and, where international law enforcement doesn't work, to disrupt them directly. This combination is increasingly essential.

where international law enforcement doesn't work, to disrupt them directly

"Disruption" is particularly evil concept, as it does not seem to require any actual evidence or proportionality or regard for collateral damage to the innocent or an appreciation of the economic damage to the UK.

But how to find them in the first place? We used to map the frequencies of the Warsaw Pact's naval, ground, and air forces, just as our predecessors at Bletchley Park tracked the frequencies used by U boats and panzer divisions. But now most of the time there's no tell-tale frequency to intercept, and our adversaries use a diverse range of complex comms methods. Unfortunately, there's no '' for us to log onto and to find terrorists or serious criminals: instead we have to search for them in the vast morass of the internet.

N.B. of course there is already a is a domain name and website registered, but hopefully GCHQ are not targeting it "just in case".

Again, I reach back to the First World War. The reason that there was no Sigint on 4 August 1914 was that the members of the Royal Navy's signal staff who had, from time to time, looked at foreign use of radio, had looked at random messages and had found little or nothing of interest. When they saw a message saying "Proceed to Grid 1596 by 0830 hours" it was dismissed as of no interest. It was only the collection and examination of many such messages that led to an understanding that such items were like tiny fragments of a mosaic: Sigint's job is to reveal the big picture. In the first few weeks of the war, those in Room 40 began to look at what today we would call the network,
focussing on the bigger patter of message traffic which produced intelligence about German intentions.

Today, of all the communications out there globally - the emails, the texts, the images - only a small percentage are within reach of our sensors.

  • Of that, we only intercept a small percentage
  • Of that, we store a miniscule percentage for a limited period of time
  • Of that, only a small percentage is ever viewed or listened to, as permitted by our legal framework, and self-evidently, constrained by resource.

TEMPORA snooping on fibre optic communications cables - "full take" cached for 3 days, "metadata" stored for 30 days, as revealed by Edward Snowden, appears to contradict these claims.

We access the internet at scale so as to dissect it with surgical precision. Practically, it is now impossible to operate successfully in any other way. You can't pick and choose the components of a global interception system that you like (catching terrorists and paedophiles), and those you don't (incidental collection of data at scale): it's one integrated system.
That process has other benefits beyond obtaining the intelligence needed by our nation and its allies. By understanding the technicalities of obtaining intelligence, we can help government, businesses and citizens to protect their systems and their data. And by understanding trends in both the technology itself and how it's used, we can help to build the kind of skilled workforce that our country will need in order to flourish in the future.

It is the duty of the state to protect its citizens and to develop a system of capabilities to ensure that its protection is as complete as it can be: the question becomes how we use that system in a way that is consistent with the law, and with values you and I are determined to uphold.

It's a process of intelligence-gathering laid down by law, pored over by parliament, inspected by independent commissioners and under the supervision of a Tribunal. And we wouldn't have it any other way. We've even implemented certain internal safeguards beyond what is required. We've done so because we want to belong to a society that can have confidence in its intelligence services. And so, even when we hear fellow citizens saying things like: "I don't mind being watched because I've nothing to hide" or "I don't mind because it's the price of security," that's depressing for us. The people who work at GCHQ would sooner walk out the door than be involved in anything remotely resembling 'mass surveillance'.

"mass surveillance" does not mean total blanket surveillance i.e. billions or trillions of events a day. It is still "mass surveillance" if only hundreds or thousands of people are caught up in it directly or indirectly.

I want to make it absolutely clear that the core of my organisation's mission is the protection of liberty, not the erosion of it. And that presenting our activities as some sort of binary option - security or privacy - is to represent a false choice: we are committed to doing our utmost to deliver security at the same time as protecting privacy to the greatest extent possible.

GCHQ's compliance regime, like those of our sister Agencies, is supported by a strong culture and ethos of personal accountability. My staff undertake mandatory policy and legalities training before they can access operational data. And we underpin all this internally with a series of processes to uphold not just the letter, but the spirit, of the relevant laws and policies. We respect privacy and take utterly seriously our obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. We actively seek to minimise intrusion into everyday lives, working in accordance with the principles of necessity and proportionality. By definition, the acquisition, aggregation, usage, sharing and retention of information involve varying degrees of interference with, or intrusion into, the privacy rights of individuals. So those activities can only be undertaken if judged to be necessary in the interests of our statutory purposes - national security, economic wellbeing, or the prevention and detection of serious crime - and proportionate in what we seek to achieve.

This is perhaps the most interesting part of the speech, which seems to contradict the repeated questioning of the witnesses giving oral evidence in public to the Intelligence and Security committee last week about "balance" and "is privacy engaged at the point of collection ?" :

  • And so, even when we hear fellow citizens saying things like: "I don't mind being watched because I've nothing to hide" or "I don't mind because it's the price of security," that's depressing for us.
  • And that presenting our activities as some sort of binary option - security or privacy - is to represent a false choice: we are committed to doing our utmost to deliver security at the same time as protecting privacy to the greatest extent possible.
  • By definition, the acquisition, aggregation, usage, sharing and retention of information involve varying degrees of interference with, or intrusion into, the privacy rights of individuals

Why did the ISC waste so much time on these topics, when even Sir Iain agrees with the human rights activists and lawyers and academics on these points ?

Those principles of necessity and proportionality are fundamental to the functions and ethos of the Agencies, and are critical components of the legal framework within which the Agencies strictly operate. They are applied within every investigation, and are subject to multiple layers of scrutiny and controls.

From the Snowden revelations, it seems that none of this applies to NSA or other 5 Eyes partners (Australia, Canada and New Zealand) when they target UK citizens in the UK or overseas, or their internet or telecommunications traffic routed in transit overseas. They then share the raw data or the processed analyses with GCHQ and other UK intelligence agencies, in secret, with little or no effective UK oversight.

On top of that, GCHQ has an Ethical Framework, setting out our approach to ethical decision-making, applying objectivity and professionalism to those principles.

So why doesn't GCHQ publish this "Ethical Framework" so that the public can be reassured ? Surely this does not contain any "sources and methods" details ?

It's not for me to act as a cheerleader for the system of oversight and scrutiny that apply to GCHQ and my sister intelligence and security Agencies. But I will say that it is the most coherent and well-developed system of which I am aware in relation to such agencies around the world, with its triple lock of:

  • Authorisations by a Secretary of State
  • Informed, rigorous scrutiny by the Intelligence Services Commissioner and by the Interception of Communications Commissioner - and I commend Sir Anthony May's 87-page open report from April this year to the interested reader
  • Review by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, as strengthened by the recent Justice and Security Act.

2013 Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner (.pdf)

And that triple lock is supplemented by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal which can hear, and indeed is hearing, legal challenges against our activities, with access to secret material.

This "triple lock" is worse than useless for investigating real or imagined abuses of the system against individuals or groups - it is all too secret and relies on public trust in government bureaucracies which simply does not exist.

And some things do need to remain secret. Let me reflect on the relationship between the intelligence profession and the journalism profession. That relationship may be complex, but let me be clear: we may get frustrated when our efforts are undone, our enemies advantaged, and our integrity questioned, but we're not frustrated by the free press itself. We do what we do precisely to safeguard the kind of society that has a free press.

Why can't GCHQ and the other intelligence agencies have official spokesmen, just like in the USA, to correct the misreporting in the press ?

"Neither confirm nor deny" is a counter-productive policy which literally insults the intelligence of the public, fuels conspiracy theories and destroys public trust, not just of GCHQ but of the UK government in general.

I wonder if it's worth musing upon the shared motivations between our professions. I don't just mean the mutual concern with sources and methods. I mean something more fundamental: at the height of their professions, intelligence officers and journalists both care deeply about knowledge; we are scrupulous about the integrity of the analysis that our reporting depends upon; we both seek the truth; and to get it, we both have to shine a light into dark and often dangerous places, places where we aren't exactly welcome. The difference is what happens to the truth we find. For journalists, the public interest is served by publicity itself; for us, the public interest is served by some things remaining secret.

Over my three decade career I've spent about half of it in roles where it's been necessary to consider whether, and if so how, to use Sigint, to employ it outside the ring of secrecy, to 'disclose' it. The trick is to release the facts so action can be taken if necessary, but to avoid risk to the sources and methods involved. These are, for the most part, very finely balanced judgements made by deep professionals with an instinctive feel for what needs to be released so it can be used, at the same time as applying structured tests so as not to throw away the fragile 'edge' of knowledge secured by intelligence penetration. Back to Churchill again! It's crucial that the targets whose communications we seek to exploit for the purposes of our national security do not know what we can and can't do.

Presumably Sir Iain is talking about the Police and (secret) Courts and the censored RIPA Commisioners' and Intelligence and Security Committee reports when he talks about disclosing Sigint "outside the ring of secrecy" because GCHQ has never bothered to give any useful information to the public, even at a general policy level, without exposing any tactical details.

Secret does not have to equal sinister. The idea that it does is perhaps inspired by the portrayal of uncontrolled intelligence operations in popular films and TV programmes. The reality is more mundane, but contrary to what you might expect, it's also more inspiring. GCHQ staff are drawn from the British population. Yes, we have people with diverse skills and talents, and geniuses from our past, like Alan Turing, remind us that neuro-diverse conditions can frequently unlock exceptional contributions. But basically they are normal, decent human beings - people who spend their lives outside work shopping at Sainsbury's or the Co-op, watching EastEnders and Spooks, listening to Radio 4 and TalkSport, drinking in pubs, wine bars and Cotswold tea rooms, and worrying about their kids, the weather, the football, cricket, and rugby, and what to have for tea. They give their time to charitable causes and help children in local schools.

N.B. No mention of Geoffrey Prime the KGB Communist spy, who was not detected by GCHQ counter-intelligence, but by the local Police ,who arrested him for paedophile sex attacks on local children in the Cheltenham area.

"Prime constructed a system of 2,287 index cards bearing details of individual girls; each card contained information on their parents routines and detailed when they were alone at home"

Imagine what such a cunning spy and paedophile could do with GCHQ insider access to the internet, regardless of any laws or internal policies.

It is the potential unauthorised abuse of powerful state surveillance systems by corrupt or fanatical privileged insiders which is the worry and which is not alleviated by "neither confirm, nor deny" or "it's all legal with oversight" platitudes.

Outside work, we are the people that the inhabitants of Cheltenham, Gloucester and the surrounding area regard as friends, neighbours and customers. We don't suddenly lose our souls the moment we swipe into the Doughnut. My staff are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job.

...Ordinary people, but their extraordinary job can demand extraordinary sacrifices.

Sometimes those sacrifices are economic. My staff choose public service even where they possess astonishing skills prized by the market.

Sometimes those sacrifices are social. Intelligence professionals can't share the details of their work with family and friends. Imagine having no chance to share the good days and download the difficult days. And the same goes for the gratitude of the wider population: it's a rewarding form of public service, but more often than not, the thanks are received behind closed doors.

Their enemies don't stop, so neither can they - the analyst who misses their Christmas dinner to rush in for an urgent task; the teams mounting a 24/7 operation to find a fellow citizen taken hostage overseas. They miss sleep and family commitments over days, weeks and sometimes months, working against the clock, trying to save someone they've never met. They scour far-flung networks for clues and identifiers, feeling the thrill of a breakthrough and, sometimes, despair if they are unsuccessful and people are harmed. One of my saddest duties is to talk to teams devastated by such an outcome.

And the psychological sacrifices can be severe. Like the police or the military, British "spies" have to deal with the worst of human behaviour. Have no doubt that dealing with that is emotionally arduous. They have to look at some highly disturbing images of grotesque things being done to children, at graphic videos of beheadings. They examine such things carefully for clues to the perpetrators. You can imagine the potential effect of looking at such images day-in and day-out, and so we have mechanisms to support people in these roles. I can assure you viewing of such material at GCHQ is not taken lightly. We do it because our job is to protect your loved ones.

So I believe - passionately - that intelligence and security work in the United Kingdom is a noble profession. It helps good decision-taking. It can prevent wars and disrupt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It does prevent terrorist attacks. It pursues criminals who threaten the most vulnerable. A monument in the National Memorial Arboretum honours those who have dedicated their careers to the pursuit of Signals Intelligence.

And, as I complete my own journey from Iron Curtain to Final Curtain, and give way to a distinguished successor waiting in the wings, I cherish my choice of career. My colleagues and I joined the intelligence services to protect others from those who would do them harm. That has always been the passion of our profession. It was our passion when we resisted the Wehrmacht, the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe; it was our passion during the Cold War when we wrestled the Soviet machine; and it's our passion today.

Back to Winston Churchill: he was responsible for two momentous decisions which transformed GCHQ, and which mark it to this day.

  • He personally approved the proposal to share every single one of Bletchley Park's secrets with the United States, a decision which led to what is the most enduring intelligence partnership in history.
  • And he personally answered the urgent appeal made to him by Turing, Alexander, Welchman and Milner-Barry for more resources: "Action this day: Make sure they have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this has been done". This decision transformed GCHQ: it became the organisation it is today, enabled by technology to produce intelligence at scale and at pace.

And even earlier than that, when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924, he demanded access to Sigint reporting, writing to the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin: "In the years I have been in office since Room 40 began in the autumn of 1914, I have read every one of these flimsies and I attach more importance to them as a means of forming a true judgement of public policy in these spheres than to any other source of knowledge at the disposal of the State". He shared our passion, and our predecessors recognised it and responded to it.

When I joined GCHQ, there were still veterans of Bletchley Park working in Cheltenham. They had worked alongside those who had started Sigint in 1914, learning not just how to do their jobs, but learning too why they did their work the way they did, and how GCHQ had grown and adapted as new sources became available, or productive sources were turned off. I learned from them, and eventually, as the Director of GCHQ, have had the responsibility of ensuring that the thread of continuity that links us to our past continues to extend into the future.

I won't pretend that I've enjoyed every minute of the media attention, but the only thing worse than being in the eye of the storm would have been to be anywhere else. Had that been so, I'd be unable to bear witness now to my fellow professionals, ordinary men and women whose integrity has been insulted time and again, and whose response to such provocation has not been a noisy retort but a quiet resolve - a resolve to continue doing extraordinary things for others. I will miss them, the friends who made the same career choice: their skill, their sacrifice, their silence.

I said this to the parliamentary committee in a closed evidence session, and I'll say it again now:

  • My staff are the embodiment of British values, not a threat to them.

Most current GCHQ staff are probably not a threat to British values, but the automated infrastructure of snooping is a huge threat to us all, including such privileged insiders themselves.

  • What if an extremist government takes power ?
  • What if a weak government fails to prevent the ponderous bureaucracy from sleep walking us into a repressive surveillance state on autopilot, as officials and politicians try to deflect blame and protect their budgets and empires, by seeking to "leave no stone unturned" in their surveillance activities ?

What will Sir Iain Lobban do next ? Will he enjoy a quiet retirement or will he magically appear as a Director or Consultant in the "revolving door" world of Defence / Intelligence / Lobbyist companies ?

How different, if at all, will his successor Robert Hannigan as Director of GCHQ ?


The new Director General of the Security Service (MI5), Andrew Parker gave his first public speech, yesterday Tuesday 8th October 2013, at the following in the tradition of his predecessors, before an uncritical audience at traditional at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Whitehall.

The Guardian has a useful analysis:MI5 chief's defence of GCHQ surveillance: extracts and analysis by Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor

The full text of his speech is worth commenting on, given the mainstream media briefing and spin, which, apart from The Guardian, is wholly uncritical of all of the claims and evasions made in this speech.

Address by the Director General of the Security Service, Andrew Parker, to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Whitehall, 8 October 2013.

RUSI is a securocrat thinktank which is literally in Whitehall, opposite next to the Banqueting House, on the same opposite side of the road as to Downing Street, between the Cabinet Office and Horse Guards.

Google Maps Streetview of 61 Whitehall.

[Thanks to the readers who pointed out the error with the geography]

It is now the traditional venue for MI5 Director General's public speeches. N.B. neither the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) nor GCHQ have bothered with even this tiny level of public transparency.

1. I'd like to start by thanking Professor Michael Clarke and the Royal United Services Institute for offering this forum for my first published speech as Director-General of MI5. RUSI is rightly recognised at home and around the world in the leading rank of independent, authoritative voices on national security matters.

2. I was appointed Director-General of MI5 in April. MI5 is a highly specialised and professional organisation. Its work has been critical to the safety and security of the country and our people for over a century. Leading MI5 is both a tremendous privilege and an enormous responsibility. Those responsibilities are as wide ranging as they are serious. Our work is ever more subject to public debate and scrutiny. I want to use the opportunity of my first public speech tonight to open my contribution to those debates.

"ever more subject to public debate and scrutiny" - really ? where ? Not in Parliament nor in the DA-Notice observant mainstream media.

3. I will focus on three things:

  • the MI5 of 2013, and what guides and shapes it;
  • the enduring and diversifying threat from Al Qaida and its imitators; and third
  • the question of how in a world of accelerating technological change MI5 will continue to be able to get the information it needs to protect the UK.

4. Let me begin with a personal perspective. I joined MI5 30 years ago, fascinated and drawn by the opportunity to work in a professional organisation doing work of real national importance. That might sound starry-eyed, but it has been my genuine experience every day since.

5. Over the years, with many excellent colleagues, I have been greatly privileged to be part of MI5's work in protecting the UK through numerous extraordinary and historic events that have shaped the life of this country.

6. Covert threats to the UK's security can arise from many different quarters. Wherever and whenever they do it is MI5's job to be there, gathering intelligence, investigating and disrupting to protect the United Kingdom.

7. We have seen countless examples of the capacity of individuals, groups and nations to act aggressively for a host of reasons, be it from fear, suspicion or a sense of grievance. We are all too familiar with the way that terrorism, espionage, cyber attack, and weapons of mass destruction are all features of the darker side of our modern world.

8. Of course the type and mix of security threats shifts. Over recent decades new threats have emerged (Al Qaida), old ones have fallen away (Cold War subversion), mutated (Northern Ireland-related terrorism) or branched out in new forms (cyber espionage).

9. MI5 has changed with the times too. So have our close partner Agencies: especially GCHQ, SIS and the police, upon whom our work depends. Together we have a rich and proud history of continually adapting, reshaping, developing new skills and ways of working, and growing innovative capabilities to meet new challenges.

10. The past decade has seen some of the greatest shifts in MI5's post-war history. In recent years we have responded to the rising threat of Islamist terrorism, taken on a new lead role for intelligence work in Northern Ireland, built cyber work, and helped secure the Olympics. As I speak today we are tackling threats on more fronts than ever before.

"built cyber work" - what exactly is the MI5 rather than the GCHQ or Police aspect of this ?

11. But some things don't change. For over a hundred years MI5 has been protecting this country and its people from many kinds of danger: through two World Wars, the Cold War and bloody campaigns of terror. Critical to our success down the decades, and still today, are the enduring qualities that define MI5.

12. I had the pleasure of speaking to several hundred retired members of the Service earlier this year. The audience spanned recent leavers right back to a distinguished colleague who had served during the Second World War. They strongly recognised those defining qualities that remain at the core of MI5 today:

  • the energy, commitment and clarity of purpose;
  • the deep importance of integrity, objective judgement, and the rule of law;
  • operational agility, skill and sheer inventiveness; and
  • the way we work together in common endeavour.

13. Security threats are a feature of the modern world, but they do not define it. We are all lucky to be able to live without fear in a free society. It is the task of MI5 and all the vital partner agencies on whom we depend to keep it that way. We deal with threats and dangers all day every day. But for the public at large security concerns are rightly not a dominant part of daily life. Lethal terrorist attacks in the UK remain rare. MI5 and partners have a long track record of detecting and preventing most attempts.

14. But our task is getting harder. The threats are more diverse and diffuse. And we face increasing challenges caused by the speed of technological change. Those are my twin themes tonight.

"Lethal terrorist attacks in the UK remain rare" - not rare, but extremely rare. How much of this is due to MI5 is completely unclear.


15. My predecessor spoke last year about cyber threats. This evening I am majoring on terrorism. Describing the reality of the terrorism threat we face is challenging in public discourse. I've heard too much exaggeration at one end, while at the other there can sometimes be an alarming degree of complacency.

16. A partial picture does the public a disservice. It ultimately tends to corrode confidence in what MI5 and others do, and why. That is one of the main reasons why my predecessors over the past 20 years have made it an occasional habit to speak on the record. None of us joined MI5 to make public speeches. But I too believe strongly that the public is owed an explanation of the threats the country faces and what we are doing about them. Ministers properly take the day-to-day role in doing that, but I think it right that from time to time the public also hear direct from those who work behind the scenes to defend them.

Ministers are meant to be responsible for MI5 and the other intelligence agencies, but they simply do not bother to explain any of their actions, in any worthwhile detail.Instead they pretend that they can "neither confirm nor deny" nor "discuss" anything to do with "national security.

How convenient for them, but this stupidity breeds mistrust in the whole of government and lets conspiracy theories run wild.

17. I'm not focusing on Northern Ireland terrorism this evening in detail, but given its importance and its central part in MI5's work, I can't leave it without saying a few words. We have obviously seen enormous progress in re-building normality in Northern Ireland in the fifteen years since the Good Friday Agreement. But we still have to deal with continuing incidents of violence on both sides.

18. MI5 is necessarily focused on the darkest end. Various terrorist factions remain determined to kill people. We and the Police Service of Northern Ireland detect and disrupt the vast majority of their attempts. But occasionally we are all stung with the tragedy of wanton murder, as we saw most recently with the shooting of David Black last November. Rejecting the political process in Northern Ireland, these ragged remnants of a bygone age are in a cul-de-sac of pointless violence and crime with little community support. We will continue to work with the police to put these thugs and killers in front of the Courts.

Those "ragged remnants of a bygone age" in Northern Ireland still seem to be better armed and have much better access to weapons, explosives and bomb making skills, than any of the recent Islamist extremist plotters.

There should be more focus on Northern Irish terrorism than on purely overseas Islamic extremist plots or fund raising.

19. Turning to international terrorism, let's start with the plain facts: from 11 September 2001 to the end of March this year 330 people were convicted of terrorism-related offences in Britain. At the end of that period 121 were in prison, nearly three-quarters of whom were British. In the first few months of this year there were four major trials related to terrorist plots. These included plans for a 7/7-style attack with rucksack bombs, two plots to kill soldiers, and a failed attempt to attack an EDL march using an array of lethal weapons. There were guilty pleas in each case. 24 terrorists were convicted and sentenced to more than 260 years in jail.

Most of these had no access to weapons, explosives or even money.
Many of those convicted were not actually plotting anything in the UK at all.

The foiling of the potential armed attack by an Islamic extremist gang on the English Defence League extremist march had nothing whatsoever to do with MI5. The idiots got the time of the EDL march wrong and were stopped and arrested by Police, because their car had no insurance, with a car boot full of unsophisticated weapons !

Six admit planning to bomb English Defence League rally

Andrew Parker should have been advised not to use this (non) example in a speech about MI5 and Terrorism.

Far too many of these convictions have been simply for Orwellian Thought Crimes under the notorious Terrorism Act s58 Collection of information - most educated readers of Spy Blog have more knowledge in their heads, than many of those who have been convicted under this section ever downloaded from the internet e.g. the probable honeypot Inspire Magazine

c.f. Spy Blog MI5 / MI6 / GCHQ / CTIRU should positively deny any involvement in "Operation Cupcake" alleged cyber attack on "Inspire" magazine"

N.B. slide 20 in the Washington Post's version of a recent release from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (censored in The Guardian version) shows that "Inspire Magazine" was a successful NSA hacking target after 8 months.

EGOTISTICALGIRAFFE (Washington Post version)

20. Today, the threat level for international terrorism in the UK is assessed to be 'substantial': attacks are considered a strong possibility. But what does that really mean?

21. Since 2000, we have seen serious attempts at major acts of terrorism in this country typically once or twice a year. That feels to me, for the moment, unlikely to change.

22. While that tempo seems reasonably even, the ground we have to cover has increased as the threat has become more diversified.

23. Ten years ago, the almost singular focus of the international CT effort was Al Qaida in South Asia. Since that time we have seen violent Islamist groupings in various countries and regions exploiting conflict, revolutions and the opportunity of weakened governance to gain strength and refuge. Some have adopted the Al Qaida brand, becoming franchised affiliates with what at the same time has been a declining Al Qaida core in South Asia.

24. A time-lapse sequence of a world map over the past decade would show outbreaks in Iraq, North & West Africa, Yemen, Somalia, and most recently Syria.

25. Al Qaida and its affiliates in South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula present the most direct and immediate threats to the UK. For the future, there is good reason to be concerned about Syria. A growing proportion of our casework now has some link to Syria, mostly concerning individuals from the UK who have travelled to fight there or who aspire to do so. Al Nusrah and other extremist Sunni groups there aligned with Al Qaida aspire to attack Western countries.

Why devote any expensive resources to people who are planning to travel to fight in Syria or elsewhere ?

Would today's MI5 be snooping on a modern day Eric Blair (better known as George Orwell) who volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War ?

Many of those who do so will either be killed or disillusioned, rather than posing any sort of threat (without access to weapons or explosives etc.) if they ever come back to the UK.

26. The ability of Al Qaida to launch the centrally directed large scale attacks of the last decade has been degraded, though not removed. We have seen the threat shift more to increasing numbers of smaller-scale attacks and a growing proportion of groups and individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of terrorism. It remains the case that there are several thousand Islamist extremists here who see the British people as a legitimate target.

27. Overall, I do not believe the terrorist threat is worse now than before. But it is more diffuse. More complicated. More unpredictable.

28. We have again seen the reality of terrorism this year. At the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria and then in Nairobi two weeks ago, we saw once more the unconstrained intent of the terrorists in action and the impact on Britons living and working around the world. And on 22 May, Fusilier Lee Rigby was brutally killed in Woolwich -- the forthcoming trial prevents me saying more. And we have seen violent attacks against Muslims and Mosques.

MI5 did nothing at all to prevent the murderer of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich despite having the alleged murderers under various levels of surveillance for years.

It may even be that the repeated harassment and attempts to recruit the chief suspect and members of his family into becoming MI5 informers actually contributed to this stupid and evil murder.

The Intelligence and Security Committee is meant to have looked into this, but., of course, they have not actually told the public anything, whilst the murder trial proceeds, but don't hold your breath for anything at all critical of Mi5.

Again, Andrew Parker should have been advised not to use this (non) example in a speech about MI5 and Terrorism.

Counter Terrorism

29. I'd like to turn now to counter terrorism. The months preceding 7 July 2005 saw widespread scepticism about the threat... Surely it couldn't happen here? I was Counter Terrorism Director the day Al Qaida murdered 52 people in London. I led the Service's CT response - a story for another day. But the steps we and our partners were then able to take with an injection of new resources led directly a year later to what has been described as the biggest counter terrorism success in modern history. Al Qaida tried to bring down a number of transatlantic airliners using liquid bombs -- the reason why there are restrictions on taking liquids on planes today. Like so many other attempts before and since, we were able to detect that plot and, with partners, stop it.

Therefore Andrew Parker must have been complicit in or and should take personal responsibility for MI5's failure to supply the supposedly independent and all powerful Intelligence and Security Committee with all the relevant information regarding the July 2005 attacks.

The ISC had to sheepishly issue a second report into the July 2005 attacks and both the ISC and MI5 lost a huge amount of public credibility and public trust as a result.

Report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 (2006)

Review of the Intelligence on the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 (2009)

The airliner liquid bomb threat over-reaction has caused millions of pounds of economic damage and has actually put passengers lives at more risk.

The huge pile of baggage which built up at Heathrow airport and elsewhere when the restrictions on liquids were rushed in, which then was flown on passenger planes as well as cargo planes, without the associated passengers on the same plane. This risked Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie style bomb attacks and aided drug smuggling instead of making the public any safer.

30. But, as events have tragically shown, we can't stop them all.

31. There can be no doubt that the UK has one of the most developed and effective set of counter terrorist capabilities and arrangements in the world. But I don't say this with any boasting. As I've often said to heads of sister agencies overseas who have made such admiring remarks, what we have in the UK is not the product of some clever consultant on a management away-day with a flipchart and a marker pen. It was not designed and implemented in some giant leap.

32. The reality is of course that the UK has built and then advanced through many stages a set of defences over four decades in response to near-continuous severe terrorist threat. Over that time in Great Britain and Northern Ireland thousands of people have died at the hands of terrorists. We have continually adapted, adjusted and advanced what we do to counter it, applying hard won lessons, sometimes painfully learned. With partners in GCHQ, SIS, and the police, we continually challenge ourselves to move forward and keep improving. Increased investment and the skilful leadership of my predecessors have created a Security Service in the UK that is the envy of the world. Similar advances have been made in the agencies we depend upon.

33. In one sense counter terrorism is an extraordinary proposition. Let me say what I mean. Terrorism, because of its nature and consequences, is the one area of crime where the expectation sometimes seems to be that the stats should be zero.

34. Zero. Imagine applying the same target to murder in general, or major drugs trafficking. That is the stuff of 'pre-crime' in the Tom Cruise movie 'Minority Report'.

35. Life is not the movies. In a free society 'zero' is of course impossible to achieve in the face of persistent and serious threats - though we will keep stretching for it. The utter unacceptability of terrorism is the reason why so much effort is rightly devoted to intelligence work to detect plans and thwart plots before they occur.

36. A strong record of success risks creating an expectation of guaranteed prevention. There can be no such guarantee.

"though we will keep stretching for it." - We do not expect MI5 etc. to completely protect us from every terrorism attack and they should not be allowed to even try to snoop on all (or most) of our (innocent) communications, all of the time.

37. And then there is the difference between knowing of someone and knowing everything about them. Let me say what I mean. With greater resources since 7/7 we have worked very hard to identify as many as possible of the people in the country who are active in some way in support of terrorism.

38. As my predecessors have said at different times, there are several thousand of them, with varying degrees of involvement. My repeating this immediately risks conjuring the perhaps reasonable-seeming assumption that knowing who somebody is means MI5 then somehow knows everything about that person and can continually monitor every aspect of their life. We cannot.

Sounds like a pre-emptive washing of hands regarding the Drummer Lee Rigby murder.

Our impression of that murder is that the two alleged murderers only talked face to face to each other whilst planning an almost random , spur of the moment attack. Unless there had been an armed MI5 or Police surveillance team tracking them, no amount of MI5 communications or other remote surveillance could have prevented this evil murder.

39. The idea that we either can or would want to operate intensive scrutiny of thousands is fanciful. This is not East Germany, or North Korea. And thank goodness it's not. Successive Governments have made careful decisions about both the scale and powers of organisations like MI5, proportionate to the threats, and have gone no further. Britain is a democracy that rightly prizes the freedom of the individual. We do not want all-pervasive, oppressive security apparatus.

That is not how East German or North Korean state surveillance works, though, is it ? Even they did not / can not snoop on everything all of the time.

Surely everyone in MI5 must be familiar with this famous quote from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four part 1 chapter 1.

Spy Bog George Orwell's 1984 - telescreen and the surveillance society

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

40. Knowing of an individual does not equate to knowing everything about them. Being on our radar does not necessarily mean being under our microscope. The reality of intelligence work in practice is that we only focus the most intense intrusive attention on a small number of cases at any one time.

There is no reason to disbelieve Andrew Parker when he states the obvious regarding properly authorised and sanctioned, narrowly targeted snooping.

Nobody has ever been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act or the Computer Misuse Act or the Data Protection Act or The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act etc. for malicious, private snooping , stalking, harassment of their ex-wives or partners (something we absolutely know happens in other organisations like the Police or the Department for Work & Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs etc.) or for financial gain (by selling information to tabloid journalists or foreign intelligence agencies or for insider trading financial speculation.

If MI5 and the other other intelligence agencies want to try to regain the public's trust, which they have lost, they will have to be much more open and ruthless in stamping out, in public, any abuses of the massive snooping infrastructure that they have built in secret.

41. The challenge therefore concerns making choices between multiple and competing demands to give us the best chance of being in the right place at the right time to prevent terrorism. There are of course processes for making these decisions, but I can't emphasise too strongly that it is not and never can be a precise science, and it should not be treated as if it were. It centres on the art of judgement by intelligence professionals, who rarely have more than fragments of a picture to work with.

42. We are not perfect, and there are always things we can learn, do better and sharpen up on. That we have a habit of doing so is one of our enduring strengths. And it's right that independent scrutineers like the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) can look at what we have done and help point out areas in which we can improve.

The neither the secretive RIPA Commissioners nor the Intelligence and Security Committee, command any public trust - they are all seen, rightly or wrongly, as Whitehall poodles.

43. I am very pleased that we are a highly accountable Service. It is critically important to the sort of country we all want to live in that organisations like mine do not have free rein, and equally that we are not politically directed. We operate under law. I am in charge of our operations, but am accountable to the Home Secretary. She in turn is accountable to Parliament and the British People, responsibilities that I know she treats with the utmost seriousness.

Like all her recent Labour and Conservative predecessors as Home Secretary, this "utmost seriousness" does not actually involve taking responsibility for MI5 failure and honorably resigning from office, does it ?

44. There is an important double-lock there: Minsters cannot direct MI5 operations, but equally I have to explain and answer for what we do. MI5 initiates operations, but conducting the most intrusive activity requires the signed authority and consent of the Secretary of State in every instance.

Not just a "Secretary of State" but a "senior official" can also sign an Intelligence Services Act warrant or a RIPA Interception warrant, after Charles Clarke's failures to properly notice identical boilerplate text on what should have been individual, different warrants he was supposed to individually scrutinise and sign. This led to the amendments in the Terrorism Act 2006 s31 & s32

45. Our accountability goes much further. MI5 is overseen independently by Parliament through the ISC, inspected by two independent Commissioners (usually senior Judges), held to account on any complaints from the public by a senior and independent Tribunal of judges and lawyers, and audited by the National Audit Office. We give evidence in court.

Neither the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Anthony May nor the Intelligence Services Commissioner, Sir Mark Waller (until December 2013)

are still Judges. They are retired Judges and no longer have any legal powers e.g. Contempt of Court etc. which could be used to fine or imprison truculent Intelligence Agency personnel.

They are very secretive and refuse to engage with the public, a necessary task for which they have no legal mandate and no budget for.

46. Rightly, these arrangements are tough and testing. They have just been strengthened further by the passage of the Justice and Security Act. This has expanded the powers and the resources of the ISC by a significant degree, allowing them for the first time to investigate operational matters of significant national importance.

The ISC is virtually technologically illiterate and has no experience of successfully scrutinising multi-million pound Information Technology projects, which are so common in intelligence agencies these days.

47. I welcome this reform and the enhanced confidence it can give to the public. The fact that much of this oversight necessarily happens out of public hearing leads some commentators to mistake silence for weakness. That is plain wrong. From my experience, I know that all of the bodies I have mentioned and their supporting staff pursue their responsibilities very fully, professionally and conscientiously.

48. We are also coming soon to the first Public Hearing at which the Agency Heads will be televised answering questions from the ISC in Parliament. Whilst it can never replace the value of candid and classified evidence given in closed session about the detail of our work, it will be an important and visible extension of the accountability process and one which is transparent and tangible to the British public.

This televised session was supposed to happen in the first week of July.

When exactly is it now scheduled for ? (no information on ISC or MI5 websites)

There should be a mechanism for the general public to submit Questions to be put to the heads of the UK intelligence Agencies by the Intelligence and Security Committee. However, we fear that this will be a bland, meaningless bit of public relations, not proper transparency or scrutiny.

There are plenty of questions which do not require the revelation of tactical secrets or sources or truly secret techniques.


49. I want to mention some of the challenges we face doing our work in the future. I'll do so in the way I talk about this to my staff. I often describe the work of MI5 as a duality: keeping the country safe today, and ensuring we remain able to do so tomorrow. In other words, doing all we can to tackle the threats the country faces today, while also positioning ourselves and developing the capabilities we need to be able to protect the UK against future threats. That second aspect might seem obvious but in a rapidly changing world it is becoming ever more important. It will require constant effort and forward thinking if we are to have the ways and means to hold back tomorrow's threats.

50. Let me explain. Our success in the future depends on how well we are able to respond to two principal themes. I have mentioned the first already: the diversifying threat landscape on all fronts. The challenge for us and for SIS and GCHQ is how to spread our effort effectively across a broader, shifting front. As always we will need to ensure we are at all times looking where the problems for the UK are developing most strongly. That applies across the whole range of fronts, not just terrorism.

"That applies across the whole range of fronts, not just terrorism."
e.g. G20 summits, the United Nations, European Union, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SWIFT, Saudi banks, Brasilian petroleum and mineral industries, Belgacom Belgium's main telecommunications company, Tor users etc. , according to the revelations from Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden

51. The second, perhaps greater, challenge is the accelerating technology race. The internet, `big data', and leaps in technology continue profoundly to change how we all live. There are healthy debates about how society and indeed the economy gain most from the best, while setting aside less welcome effects. Its relevance to our subject tonight is in the opportunities it gives to terrorists, and the challenges posed to us in tracking what they do.

52. What do I mean? The internet is used by terrorists for many purposes: broadcasting their propaganda, radicalising vulnerable individuals, arranging travel, buying items, moving money and so on. But the primary issue is communication.

53. When I joined the Service, communication between remote individuals was by telephone or by letter. Where there were grounds to do so, both could be covertly intercepted under legal warrant. We could reasonably assume that we could acquire the whole content of the target's communication for analysis. At a lower threshold we could acquire their call data: a list of what calls they had made and received, without the content.

54. The internet and related technologies offer a rather different world - better in so many ways, but better too for the terrorists. Through e-mail, IP telephony, in-game communication, social networking, chat rooms, anonymising services, and a myriad of mobile apps the terrorist has tens of thousands of means of communication. Many of those routes are now encrypted. Further advances are made every day.

"tens of thousands of means of communication" - not even full time professional internet experts have access to or will ever use "tens of thousands".

55. How the UK decides to respond to these developments will directly determine the level of security available against the threats we face. Retaining the capability to access such information is intrinsic to MI5's ability to protect the country.

56. Shifts in technology can erode our capabilities. There are choices to be made, including, for example, about how and whether communications data is retained. It is not, however, an option to disregard such shifts with an unspoken assumption that somehow security will anyway be sustained. It will not. We cannot work without tools.

57. Technologies advance all the time. But MI5 will still need the ability to read or listen to terrorists' communications if we are to have any prospect of knowing their intentions and stopping them. The converse to this would be to accept that terrorists should have means of communication that they can be confident are beyond the sight of MI5 or GCHQ acting with proper legal warrant. Does anyone actually believe that? We would all like to live in a world where there were no good reasons for covert investigation of people. But as events continue to prove, that is not the world we are

58. And let me be clear - we only apply intrusive tools and capabilities against terrorists and others threatening national security. The law requires that we only collect and access information that we really need to perform our functions, in this case tackling the threat of terrorism. In some quarters there seems to be a vague notion that we monitor everyone and all their communications, browsing at will through people's private lives for anything that looks interesting. That is, of course, utter nonsense.

Be very clear, just because Mi5 does not officially look through your innocent private (non terrorist, non criminal) communications now, the mere fact of snooping on them and storing them puts them at risk from rogue insiders (especially where personal jealousy or personal financial gain) and from future spies and extremist politicians who may change the current rules.

Until MI5 and their sister agencies can prove that they have really robust internal mechanisms to prevent such rogue or future malicious abuses of the surveillance infrastructure, it is better that they not be trusted with anything except narrowly focused investigations, coupled with an aggressive data destruction policy.

We do not expect 100% "security" and they should not have 100% access to our communications.

59. What we know about the terrorists, and the detail of the capabilities we use against them together represent our margin of advantage. That margin gives us the prospect of being able to detect their plots and stop them. But that margin is under attack. Reporting from GCHQ is vital to the safety of this country and its citizens. GCHQ intelligence has played a vital role in stopping many of the terrorist plots that MI5 and the police have tackled in the past decade. We are facing an international threat and GCHQ provides many of the intelligence leads upon which we rely. It makes a vital contribution to most of our high priority investigations. It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will. Unfashionable as it might seem, that is why we must keep secrets secret, and why not doing so causes such harm.

It should be Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is responsible for GCHQ, making such a defence of their snooping activities.

At the very least it should be the Director of GCHQ Sir Iain Lobban, who defends his own organisation in public, not the Director General of the Security Service MI5.

What precise information has been of any value to terrorists whatsoever, in the revelations by Edward Snowden ? How does the revelation of the cover name of say TEMPORA and the millions or billions spent on it, without any real technical details at all, make any difference to a potential terrorist ?

The only operational details revealed have been about spying on supposedly friendly allies and international organisations, who are clearly not terrorists.


60. In closing, let me remind you of something that is too easily forgotten. MI5 is in the end an organisation of members of the public from every walk of life who care very much about the sort of country we live in. That's why they work there. Believe me it's not for the money. Our whole raison d'être is the protection of the freedoms we all enjoy. The fundamental principles of necessity and proportionality run deep in the Service. We bring thoughtful and considered balance to decisions about use of intrusive techniques. Far from being gratuitous harvesters of private information, in practice we focus our work very carefully and tightly against those who intend harm. The law requires it. All our internal controls, systems and authorisation levels are built accordingly and subject to independent inspection and oversight.

61. Threats are diversifying, but not diminishing. The internet, technology and big data are transforming our society. We have a tough job to do in rapidly changing times. We can't stop every plot, much as we try and much as we would like to. There are choices ahead that will determine whether we can sustain what we do, or accept that it will erode.

62. But, standing before you today, I can say that we are well placed to tackle the bulk of the threats we face, because of the support we receive from our colleagues in GCHQ, SIS and the police and, most of all, because of the commitment of the men and women who make up MI5.

Ok, we support what you meant to be trying to do, but we do not trust the under resourced, technologically illiterate, far too secretive and public hating ,supposedly independent scrutiny of your activities
Note that there is no mention whatsoever in this speech of what, if anything, MI5 is doing in Counter Intelligence. Have all the foreign intelligence agencies operating in or against the United Kingdom magically stopped ?

The Coalition Government has again re-affirmed that the WIlson Doctrine still applies.

HL Deb, 3 July 2013, c238W

Wilson Doctrine

Asked by Lord Strasburger

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Wilson Doctrine on the interception of MPs' telephone calls still applies; whether it covers internet-based communications; and whether it applies to members of the House of Lords.[HL1217]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Though it has been the longstanding practice for successive Governments not to comment on surveillance or interception operations. I can confirm that the Wilson Doctrine still applies, and applies to both Houses I refer the noble Lord to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair's written answer to Norman Baker MP on the terms of the Wilson Doctrine on 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 367W. and his subsequent confirmation that it continues to apply on 30 March 2006, Official Report. columns 95 and 96WS. His earlier written reply to a question by Norman Baker on 4 December 1997, Official Report, column 321W, made it clear that the Wilson Doctrine applied to telephone interception and to the use of electronic surveillance by any of the three security and intelligence agencies. This is still the position.

Strangely, this Written Answer mentions Norman Baker MP and the then Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair's re-affirmations of the Wilson Doctrine, but does not mention the more recent ones by Labour's Gordon Brown or by the current Conservative coalition government Prime Minister David Cameron.

Is this because Lord Stasburger , Lord Wallace (Government Whip) and Norman Baker (now a coalition Transport Minister) are all Liberal Democrats ?

Constituency emails between you and your Member of Parliament

If like Spy Blog, you have emailed your Member of Parliament, on constituency related or political matters, in the last 18 months or so, whilst Project Tempora has allegedly been in operation,according to Edward Snowden's revelations in The Guardian etc. using an email service based in North America, it seems very likely that your emails have been copied and stored for at least 3 days and the Communications Data stored for at least 30 days.

How does this square with the Wilson Doctrine claim at all ?

RIPA and ISA Warrants and Certificates

Foreign Secretary William Hague claimed in the Commons on 10th June (
HC Deb, 10 June 2013, c31) before the Tempora revelation,, that all GCHQ operations are legal.

Therefore GCHQ's Project Tempora must be covered by a Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Warrant or Certificate and / or by an Intelligence Services Act 1994 Warrant, all of which need to have been signed by a Secretary of State, usually but not necessarily always, the Foreign Secretary for GCHQ.

However, if the Wilson Doctrine remains in force and since there has been no statement to Parliament saying that circumstances are such that it no longer applies wholly or in part, no Secretary of State can have signed any such Warrant or Certificate authorising snooping on Parliamentary constituency emails.

So who is lying and how should they be punished ?

Resist the newspeak - "collection" is really interception

Neither the public , nor Parliamentarians nor the press and media should allow themselves to be fouled by any attempt to use the the weasel worded Orwellian newspeak which the National Security Agency and the Obama government in the USA have tried.

They have tried to pretend that "collection" of the contents of emails is somehow not "interception" until a human analyst reads it, rather than an automated system. By that false logic,no crime is committed if someone plants a computer virus or hacks into a system and copies your credit card or internet bank details and passwords, until they actually read them and use them

There are other dangers to our freedom and liberty if securocrats are allowed to get away with such evasion about automated data trawling, especially if they decide to automatically share the results to travel or financial blacklist databases or even to automated robotic killing machines like missile armed drones, without any human intervention and sanity checking.

Private bank accounts and money transfers through tax havens by current or former intelligence agency operatives, are major plot themes in several of John le Carré's espionage thriller novels.

Is the media manipulation groundwork being prepared for the revelation of a major UK intelligence scandal, or is this Mail on Sunday story just some "silly season" disinformation ?

Did Russian mafia kill the body-in-a-bag spy? MI6 man found dead in holdall in London, was developing secret technology to track gangsters' laundered cash

By Abul Taher and Robert Verkaik

Last updated at 10:05 PM on 25th June 2011


But now security sources say Williams, who was on secondment to MI6 from the Government's eavesdropping centre GCHQ, was working on equipment that tracked the flow of money from Russia to Europe.

The technology enabled MI6 agents to follow the money trails from bank accounts in Russia to criminal European gangs via internet and wire transfers, said the source.

'He was involved in a very sensitive project with the highest security clearance. He was not an agent doing surveillance, but was very much part of the team, working on the technology side, devising stuff like software,' said the source.

He added: 'A knock-on effect of this technology would be that a number of criminal groups in Russia would be disrupted.

'Some of these powerful criminal networks have links with, and employ, former KGB agents who can track down people like Williams.'

If "former KGB agents" can penetrate the operational security of this "very sensitive project with the highest security clearance" then either it was protected incompetently or there has been a massive security betrayal.

Not only was would the existence of this project have to have been revealed to the "Russian mafia", but details of its technological progress and therefore the potential threat it posed and also the personal details of the key personnel involved would have all had to have been betrayed.

If so, then by whom ?

  • Is there Yet Another Traitor within GCHQ or Mi6 like Geoffrey Prime or Kim Philby ?

  • Has the notoriously insecure US Government let the cat out of the bag again, for domestic political reasons, without thought for the consequences to for the United Kingdom, again ?

  • Why is alleged Russian money laundering the target ? Surely vastly more money is laundered through London, by, say US based criminal gangs or Mexican or Colombian drug smugglers ?

    In order to snoop on "Russian" mafia finances (or that any other country), it would require access to all international financial transactions, passing through every financial centre, tax haven or third party country.

  • Is the "Russian" spin on this story being played up to divert media attention from Chinese communist espionage stories, during Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 's visit to the UK this week ?

Bear in mind that it was the Daily Mail which first raised the idea of some sort of "Russian" connection with the case, Did spy's killer steal state secrets? MI6 agents search for 'missing' laptop or MP3 player after body-in-bag murder case.

Quite properly and professionally, they actually did a bit of real investigative journalism, ahead of their rivals, by looking up the Land Registry records for the owners of the top floor flat at 36 Alderney Street, London and interviewing the letting agents

The name of this property company turned out to be "New Rodina". In Russian, and in other slavic languages "Rodina" means "Homeland".

Last year, The Mail on Sunday revealed that Mr Williams, a keen cyclist from Anglesey, North Wales, was involved in another 'secretive' project, developing devices that can steal data from mobile phones and laptops using wireless technology.

Is the anonymous briefing source of that unproven allegation, any more reliable than this one and vice versa ?

A close friend also revealed that Williams was training to take on a new identity when he died.

Tory MP and security expert Patrick Mercer said last night: 'The revelation that Gareth Williams was involved in investigating money- laundering throughout Eastern Europe throws new light on to his death.

'I am sure the police would want to investigate these facts as thoroughly as they have done the details of his private life.'

Neither GCHQ nor the Metropolitan police would discuss the new information.

What "new information" exactly ? Speculation from an anonymous Whitehall briefing ?

"Tory MP and security expert Patrick Mercer" is always ready to give a quote to the media, but some of the people he has been associated with are worse than unreliable - see the saga documented by Bloggerheads.

But now security sources say Williams, who was on secondment to MI6 from the Government's eavesdropping centre GCHQ, was working on equipment that tracked the flow of money from Russia to Europe.

The technology enabled MI6 agents to follow the money trails from bank accounts in Russia to criminal European gangs via internet and wire transfers, said the source.

Either this is utter rubbish, or it implies that there has been a disastrous breach of security surrounding Yet Another Intelligence Agency attempt to snoop on financial transactions e.g. on the SWIFT system of international bank transfers.

The fact is, that even legal access to SWIFT by the US Government, has failed to be used to cut off access to funds to terrorists, serious organised crime gangs or foreign spies.

We must assume that such snooping is more likely to be abused by groups and individuals to allow them to gamble on the the world's financial markets with "insider trading" fore knowledge, so as to either enrich themselves, or to build up secret, unaccountable "slush" or "reptile" funds, for bribery or secret operations, which are not audited by their own governments.

Remember the "patriotic" US military and intelligence people who created such illegal funds in the "Iran - Contra" scandal under President Ronald Reagan.?

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government politicians should be demonstrating a clear break with their technologically incompetent Labour "control freak" predecessors, who were so in thrall to the tabloid press.

This Mail on Sunday story is yet another example of why there should be named, public spokesmen for each of the UK Intelligence Agencies, who can categorically deny mainstream media and internet spin and rumour.

The old policies of "neither confirm nor deny" or "we do not comment on national security matters" are doing more harm than good, in the 24/7 mainstream media and internet news age.

Holiday reading for Spy Blog readers - reviews of a couple of books on the GCHQ and the NSA

These comprehensive reviews seem to give a good outline of a couple of books about a couple of the world's premier intelligence agencies, which deserve close study:

Spy Blog could be tempted to review

Securing the State by Sir David Omand GCB, the former éminence grise of the Cabinet Office Intelligence bureaucrac and obe of the architechts of Protint - 'protected information' data mining of personal sensitive data by intelligence agencies.

The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, who are supposed to provide the public with independent scrutiny of the secret intelligence services, has actually written two Annual reports in the last 9 months.

11 March 2010: The Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual Report for 2008-2009 was laid before Parliament today by the Prime Minister. A copy of the Report can be found here. A copy of the Government Response to the Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual Report 2008-2009 can be found here.

The Committee has issued an accompanying Press Release, which can be found here.

These Annual Reports are not an adequate mechanism for holding the secret intelligence agencies to account, either for their waste of public money, or for how well they are doing their job.


Perhaps there is some good reason for the 8 month publication delay of this supposedly Annual 2008 - 2009 report , but since nobody trusts Gordon Brown not to lie by omission, we assume that there was some sort of petty political reason for the unnecessary delay.

Dr. Kim Howell's, the outgoing Labour chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who will not be standing for re-election at the forthcoming General Election, seems a bit frustrated with the

"We also sent our Annual Report for 2009-10 to the Prime Minister on Friday 5 March 2010.
This is a shorter report, given the duration of the Parliamentary year, however it covers some
fundamental issues.


We have been assured by the Prime Minister that this Report will also be published in good time before the debate next week.

This is an opportunity for Gordon Brown to show his respect or contempt for Parliament and the British public.

We would like to be proved wrong, but we assume that Gordon Brown will break this promise to Kim Howells.

The debate on the Intelligence and Security Committee Report is scheduled for this Thursday 18th March 2010.

On past performance, we expect a few paper copies this 2009 - 2010 report to have been made available a few minutes before, or perhaps even during this debate, in the Vote Office, giving MPs and others no time to read and analyse it beforehand.

We doubt if it will be published on the web until after the debate in the Commons.

Here are a few points which stood out for Spy Blog, when reading this censored ISC report:

Those of you who keep an eye on the revolving door between Government securocrat mandarins and lucrative jobs offered by the defence and security industry vested interests, may be interested in this press release from the French owned Thales Group subsidiary Thales UK plc.

Sir David Pepper joins Thales UK advisory board

28 September 2009

Thales UK today announces the appointment of Sir David Pepper as a member of its advisory board.

Sir David retired in July 2008 after five years running the Government's signals intelligence centre, GCHQ. He is a member of the National Security Forum, and has a non-executive position on the management board of Gloucestershire County Council.

The addition of Sir David to the board reflects the growing importance of national security and resilience as a core element of Thales UK's long-term strategy.

Alex Dorrian, CEO of Thales UK, says: "We welcome Sir David to Thales. He brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to the Group, which I am sure we will find invaluable as we accelerate the growth of our national security and resilience business both in the UK and in the export market."

Sir David Pepper says: "Thales UK is a very successful British company; many of its 8,500 people work on critical security systems for the UK government. Thales UK encompasses a fascinating array of technological and engineering capabilities, and I am delighted to be joining its advisory board."

- Ends

About Thales and Thales UK

Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Space, Defence, Security and Transportation markets. In 2008 the company generated revenues of £10.2 billion, with 68,000 employees in 50 countries. With its 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, with operations around the world working with customers as local partners.

Thales UK employs 8,500 staff based at more than 40 locations. In 2008 Thales UK's revenues were over £1.4 bn.

Is it significant that this press release no longer appears on the Thales website ?

N.B. this now gives a 404 not found error., although a copy is still in the Google cache, for now.

Has it been censored ?

The observant readers of Spy Blog might also spot something familiar in the photo image used to illustrate this press release:

Resized Image used to illustrate the Thales UK press release - no copyright metadata
"Enlarged" / Original image used to illustrate the Thales UK press release - no copyright metadata
Spy Blog screen grab June 8, 2009 of Sir David Pepper KCMG from the BBC documentary Who's Watching You ? - includes copyright metatdata

See Who's Watching You ? - GCHQ's Sir David Pepper interviewed - but still too many surveillance topics in one tv documentary

William Gibson's cyberpunk science fiction story Johnny Mnemonic, which starred Keanu Reeves in the Hollywood film version, before The Matrix, featured the use of a screen grab from a television broadcast , as part of the cryptographic key used to secure some secret data which the shady "data courier" Johnny had locked inside his head.

Overall, the short BBC2 tv documentary series Who's Watching You ? was of considerable interest, but our initial criticism still stands - they tried to cover far too many "surveillance" topics, several of which need much more explanation and analysis, for the public and politicians to be properly informed about their implications.

Despite getting face to face interviews with important Surveillance Database State policy makers (or recently retired ones, at least), like the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (who was re-shuffled during the screening of the series) and Sir David Pepper KCMG, who retired as head of GCHQ in 2008 (replaced by Iain Lobban CB), they either did not ask enough questions, or, more likely, most of the interesting stuff was censored out before transmission.


We have transcribed a few lines from this TV programme below, from the good quality interviews broadcast or streamed in clear English.

This process of transcription (try it for yourself), illustrates just how time consuming and expensive and error prone this must be, for poor quality recordings, with background noises, perhaps in foreign languages or obscure dialects, perhaps using innocent sounding code phrases, done in a hurry by GCHQ or other intelligence agency or police transcribers, translators and intelligence analysts.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper, used to be seen as a Tory leaning newspaper, but recently, it seems to have become a Labour government / Whitehall bureaucracy official mouthpiece. As such, it seems to be the only mainstream media publication which carries a denial of the report by The Sunday Times and The Register, regarding the internet snooping capability upgrade investment supposedly being made at the Government Communications Head Quarters GCHQ, electronic communications spying agency.

That story was sparked off by the job advertisement which mentioned the Mastering The Internet programme, as part of the Interception Modernisation Programme


The Daily Telegraph report of the denial by the secretive GCHQ, published is without a named journalist's byline.

GCHQ - the Government's secret electronic eavesdropping agency - has denied that it was pressing ahead with plans to monitor all internet use and telephone calls in the UK.

Last Updated: 10:16PM BST 03 May 2009

However, there is actually an official GCHQ Press Release on their website:

GCHQ: our Intelligence and Security mission in the Internet age

Tony Blair and phone security


ABC News in the USA has a whistleblower story: Whistleblower: U.S. Snooped on Tony Blair, Iraqi President

Initially this whistleblower David Murfee Faulk alleged illegal snooping on the phone calls of innocent US citizens, including journalists and the families of US soldiers serving in Iraq. He has worked as a US Army Arabic language translator at the National Security Agency "Black Hall" listening post at Fort Gordon, Georgia, before becoming a local news reporter. These allegations have been taken seriously enough for a US Congressional investigation into them to have been started.

He claims that he had access to a secret database called Anchory, formerly known as the SIGINT Online Intelligence System i.e. a signald intelligence database run by the National Security Agency.

Given that the British press are following the ABC News scoop, it is sad to see them getting simple details from the original wrong:

The Daily Mail has spoiled its report of the story with the following inaccuracy and misspelling:

Mr Blair was given the code named "Anchory" as his private telephone calls were routinely listened into and recorded.

The Daily Telegraph and the Press Association reports do not make that mistake, although somehow The Guardian's headline to the syndicated PA story more accurately describes him as an "ex-Navy Operator", (see the previous ABC News report which describes him as a "former Navy Arab linguist") even though the PA story text says "US Army Arabic linguist"

Such simple errors call into question the accuracy of the rest of these stories, and of these mainstream media organisations as a whole.

These UK media reports , whilst bemoaning some alleged "unwritten rule" about not spying on allies, miss the obvious question of how it was technically possible for anyone to intercept the phone communications of a British Prime Minister, no matter who they are.

  • Is Gordon Brown's mobile phone or voicemail also being intercepted by the US National Security Agency ?

  • How much UK mobile phone and landline and internet traffic is currently being handed over in bulk to the US National Security Agency by UK Government agencies like GCHQ ?

  • Is the United Kingdom's GCHQ intercepting President Bush or President-Elect Barack Obama's mobile phones ?

  • If GCHQ and the Whitehall securocats securocrats cannot even keep information of a "personal nature" about a British Prime Minister's "private life" out of the clutches of foreign intelligence agency phone interception systems, then why should they be trusted with the massive Communications Traffic Data centralised database, which Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is planning to inflict on tens of millions of innocent British people ?

Our previous article BBC Panorama - GCHQ mobile phone interception and tracking and the Omagh bomb attack and speculations, seem to have been broadly correct.

The half hour broadcast programme itself, did not really add any extra factual details to the Sunday Telegraph article.

However, the BBC Panorama programme website does have an interesting transcript of full interview with Ray White (.pdf) (110Kb) , the former Assistant Chief Constable in charge of Crime and Special Branch for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, who features heavily in the programme.

This interview also reveals some of the other material, e.g. details of communications traffic data and intercept recordings, and other reports and transcripts which the BBC journalist John Ware seems to have been given access to.

Ray White and John Ware discuss:

  • The matrix of friends , families and associates which gets hoovered up when a particular telephone number comes under suspicion and telephone interception and communications data traffic analysis.

  • The difficulty of picking up the significance of coded phrases, which, even if intercepted might be plausible sounding construction work or taxi service related phrases.

  • The very limited phone capability of, what was then the Royal Ulster Constabulary's Special Branch, compared to GCHQ.

  • The inadmissibility of telephone intercept evidence , or even reference to it , under the Interception of Communications Act 1985, which was in force at the time.
    (N.B. the same restrictions and mindset continue today under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000).

  • The sensitivity of the possible disclosure of any cross border monitoring of communications, brought home recently by the Capenhurst Phone Tap Tower case, which reached the European Court of Human Rights, which found in favour of the human rights organisations Liberty Human Rights and their Irish equivalents, the British Irish Rights Watch and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties - see the Spy Blog article Liberty wins a minor European Court of Human Rights judgment against the UK Government over telephone and electronic data interceptions

  • The political aspect of any such disclosures with respect to the ongoing Peace Process between the United Kingdom and Irish republic governments and the factions in Northern Ireland.

  • The possible pressures which timely cell site analysis etc. might have been able to put even experienced terrorists under, during the Police interrogations, had anybody actually been arrested in the immediate aftermath of the bomb attack.

  • Mention of problems regarding data entry into the Holmes system, the major inquiry data system linked into the Police National Computer.This has ow been upgraded to Holmes 2)

  • Issues of evidential disclosure versus the protection of intelligence sources

  • The possible relaxation of the ban on the use of intercept evidence, now that so many other countries use it against Al Quaeda etc.

The forthcoming BBC Panorama television documentary Omagh - What The Police Were Never Told scheduled to be broadcast on Monday 15 September on BBC1 at 8.30pm might be of interest to regular Spy Blog readers.

The Sunday Telegraph article

The words that might have saved Omagh

Could a coded message intercepted by intelligence have prevented the biggest atrocity of the Irish Troubles, in which 29 people died? Despite two trials, and millions of pounds spent, still no one is in prison for the Omagh bombing. In a special investigation, John Ware asks why covert monitoring failed - and why this and other pieces of evidence were not passed on to police hunting the killers

By John Ware
Last Updated: 1:32PM BST 14 Sep 2008

This does ask some hard questions about the inept or deliberate lack of communications between the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Security Service MI5, and the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (called the Police Service of Northern Ireland since 2001).

The article, and presumably the documentary, does, however, include some technical nonsense about mobile phone tracking .

The article and documentary appear to publish the details of actual Intercept transcripts and some of the Communications Traffic Data details,

The article also claims that 6.4 million telephone records were trawled through by the Police. What exactly has happened to that data, almost all of which has nothing to do with the investigation ? When, if ever, was it destroyed ? Or has it already been lost or stolen on an unencrypted hard disk or other portable memory device or media ?

Will the former senior Police officers who have been talking to Panorama now be treated like other whistleblowers by this Labour Government, with criminal prosecutions under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 section 19 Offence for unauthorised disclosures. which is currently in force, or the Interception of Communications Act 1985 Schedule 2 Disclosure of messages etc., which was in force in 1998, or failing that, under the Official Secrets Act 1989 ?

A new GCHQ careers recruitment website seems to have been launched this week at


This is again, like the MI6 Officers website (see our previous blog article - Yet Another MI6 Secret Intelligence Service recruitment website), a Government website which has been outsourced to a recruitment agency, in this case to TMP Worldwide

For no good reason, this website does not bother to use a "" domain name for credibility, and it could therefore be potentially vulnerable to typo squatters and fake confidential CV phishing websites.

Again, there is a bit of Flash, but at least the job vacancy pages and the email alert subscription pages do actually seem to be run from an SSL / TLS encrypted webserver.

However, the fact that the SSL encrypted sessions are running from the"" domain, might, very reasonably, put off some IT security aware candidates from applying via this method, but, unfortunately, some of the advertised vacancies only allow online applications.

GCHQ also seems to be competing for some of the same potential recruits as the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 and the Security Service MI5.

"" is a subsidiary of StepStone Solutions, who seem to be a multi-national recruitment software company, with offices from the USA, Latin America, most of Europe and including the Russian Federation, the Middle East and Asia.

Does this mean that they have wide experience and are highly professional in online recruitment, or does it mean that copies of all the personal details and confidential CV's of key GCHQ staff will be available to foreign intelligence agencies, directly or indirectly through their international branch offices ?

Why does this website use third party, USA based Google Analytics code for tracking visitors ? Even if GCHQ cannot do a better job at analysing web site visitor data, surely they should be running such software in house, rather than leaking information to foreign companies and intelligence agencies ?

Whilst this might be reasonable for commercial recruitment, is this really how the people who will be privy to some of our most sensitive national security secrets, should be recruited ?

Why could they not run the i-grasp recruitment website software on a GCHQ managed web server, using a sub-domain name, with a matching Digital Certificate ?

The Labour Government's latest terrorism legislation got an unopposed Second Reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday 1st April 2008. The Opposition parties and the media, as we predicted when the Bill was announced, have been distracted by the extremely controversial 42 days internment without charge provisions and have, so far, ignored all the other sneaky and repressive bits of the Bill.

The text of the Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008 and the (not very) Explanatory Notes is available on the Parliament website.

Where is the Business Case and the Regulatory impact Assessment setting out why such further legislation is actually necessary, why the existing vast legal powers available under the large amount of existing Primary and Secondary legislation is somehow inadequate, how much extra this is all going to cost to enforced, and what the expected result will be in terms of the number of terrorists who will be caught, convicted or even slightly deterred. Neither the Explanatory Notes, nor any of the media spin and manipulation so far presented to the public have made any of this clear.

There appears to be a carte blanche for legally covering up any of DNA or fingerprint sample abuses "that are not held subject to existing statutory restrictions."

The Bill also provides for the use of DNA samples and for fingerprinting to be used not just for terrorism cases , not just for serious crime, not just for petty crime, but for general "identification" purposes, whether you are dead or alive.

There also seems to be another statutory attempt to destroy the Common Law Duty of Confidentiality, and probably also to circumvent the "Wilson Doctrine".

Any legislation which claims that "Nothing in that section shall be read as casting doubt on the legality of anything done by any of the intelligence services before that section came into force." only succeeds in raising precisely those sort of doubts in the mind of anyone reading it.

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