Results tagged “Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy” from Spy Blog -

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

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

Communications Service Providers

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

Hoist by their own petard !

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

Communications Data Statistics

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

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

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

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

2008 - 504,073

2009 - 525,130

2010 - 552,550

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong Numbers

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

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

Case Study 2

Lancashire Constabulary - Operation Lace

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

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

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

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

Two in court over Blackburn double fatal house fire

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

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

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


Blackburn fire murder charges dropped for two men

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

4 murderers were actually convicted:

Gang Jailed For Murder Of 'Wrong' Couple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assistance to the Tribunal

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

Determinations made by the Tribunal in favour of complainants

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

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

Another year, another brief Annual Report by a RIPA Commissioner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

National Technical Assistance Centre snooping infrastructure down for 3 days

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

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

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

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

No Interception of Communications Commissioner involvement with Encryption, again ?

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

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

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

Mobile phones in Prisons

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

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

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

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

No mention of the Wilson Doctrine

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



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

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

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

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

There are couple of positive bits of this report:

Why has the Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy, the current Interception of Communications Commissioner appointed under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, allowed himself to be embroiled in the disgraceful MPs' expenses political scandal ?

The BBC reports:

18:28 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

MPs 'can appeal against expenses repayments'


Auditor Sir Thomas Legg sent out letters to MPs with his initial recommendations that they repay money, or provide more details, in October and they have been responding to him.

Appeal court judge

His final letters to MPs will go out next week, on 7 December.

It is up to the Members Estimate Committee to decide what to do about Sir Thomas's final recommendations, expected in early 2010.

It has asked former Court of Appeal judge Sir Paul Kennedy - who was also the government's Interception of Communications Commissioner - to consider written submissions by some MPs.

It says they must show "cause why there are special reasons ... that it would not be fair and equitable to require repayment either at all, or at the level recommended".

The appeals process is expected to be completed by 15 January 2010, after which MPs will be asked to vote on the committee's recommendation that they pay back the sums requested.

Sir Paul Kennedy is a former Appeal Court Judge, but surely there are plenty other such retired Judges available ?

There has been a vast increase in state snooping on Electronic Communications (thousands of warrants a year) and on Communications Data (hundreds of thousands of requests per year), which the Interception of Communications Commissioner is supposed to oversee, so where does he find the time to spare, to devote to MPs' expense claims ?

Will this mean that the Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner is even shorter, and less detailed than usual ? Will it be, as in previous years, delayed beyond the statutory maximum of one calendar year after the data to which it refers ?

What was the point of appointing Sir Thomas Legg, and then later appointing Sir Paul Kennedy someone to potentially overturn his supposedly independent decisions ? Why was this process not set out fully and transparently in the first place ?

To the furious general public, this appointment by the Members Estimate Committee, looks like an "establishment coverup", since this retired Judge has no legal powers to punish errant MPs.

We also note that there obviously is not much work being done by Sir John Chilcot's "working group" on the admissibility of intercepted communications as evidence in court (currently forbidden by RIPA), since he is now busy with the Iraq war inquiry / coverup.

RIPA Commissioners Annual Reports for 2008


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

Interception of Communications Commissioner:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

We respectfully disagree.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intelligence Services Commissioner

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

Part III of RIPA.

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


Omagh Bombing

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

Investigatory Powers Tribunal

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

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


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

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


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

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

Chief Surveillance Commissioner:

Section 49 - Encryption

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

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

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

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

Interception of Communications Commissioner

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

See our reasonably lengthy comments on this report below:

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 wiil use this verifiable public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels, 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