Results tagged “Wilson Doctrine” from Spy Blog -

Another Parliamentary Question for the Spy Blog Wilson Doctrine category archive:

Topical Questions
Oral Answers to Questions -- Cabinet Office
11:30 am 12th March 2014

HC Deb, 12 March 2014, c306

David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden, Conservative)

The Wilson doctrine is a convention whereby Government agencies do not intercept communications with Members of Parliament without explicit approval from the Prime Minister. In a letter to my hon. Friend Nick de Bois in 2012, the Minister told him that the Wilson doctrine did not apply to metadata, thereby exposing whistleblowers to risks from which parliamentary privilege should protect them. Will he review this policy, discuss it with the Prime Minister and report back to the House?

Francis Maude (The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General; Horsham, Conservative)

I absolutely understand the point that my right hon. Friend makes and I will undertake to look at this with my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister.

We will be watching for any (lack) of progress on this important issue.

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.

HC Deb, 24 January 2011, c35

Members: Surveillance
Prime Minister
Written answers and statements, 24 January 2011

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Plaid Cymru)

To ask the Prime Minister whether there have been any changes to the Wilson doctrine since May 2010.

David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative)


Technically this one word answer is a re-affirmation of the Wilson Doctrine, espoused by the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1966, that no Member of Parliament's telephone shall be tapped, unless there is a major national emergency, and that any changes to this policy will be reported by the Prime Minister to Parliament.

No doubt some Downing Street apparatchik thought that he was being clever by draughting this one word "No" Parliamentary Answer, but the political effect is to make David Cameron appear as arrogant and uncaring about our freedoms and liberties, as his control freak Labour predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Back in 1966, most people did not have direct dial international phone lines, let alone facsimile machines or mobile phones or the internet.

The Wilson Doctrine has been re--affirmed by every Prime Minister since Harold Wilson, and has been extended to cover Peers of the House of Lords as well as Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. It is also meant to cover mobile phones and computer telecommunications.

There is no reason why it could not or should not be extended to cover the elected Members of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the European Parliament.

All of these are democratically elected by the same British electorate who lend their power to the Parliament in Westminster.

The Wilson Doctrine is not meant to help financially or morally corrupt or treacherous politicians hide their crimes and scandals, but it is vital to give the right signals to the electorate, that their communications with their elected representatives will not be snooped on by the Government, especially when they are complaining about Government policies or are whistleblowing and exposing the incompetence or wrongdoings of Government bureaucrats.

Interestingly, it was left to a Welsh Nationalist MP to ask this important question about the Wilson Doctrine.

It is unsurprising that the authoritarian and incompetent Labour party. the so called Official Opposition", could not be bothered to ask any Questions about the Wilson Doctrine and the safeguarding of the communications of their constituents, presumably because of their own appalling record in creating the current, out of control, database surveillance snooper state.

Instead, there are several disgraced or disgraceful Labour figures who seem more concerned about the News of the World voice mailbox interception scandal.

Why did they not raise such anti-Rupert Murdoch claims when they were Government Ministers ?

If these Labour politicians were so inept with basic mobile phone security (i.e. changing the default voicemailbox pass code and not leaving any sensitive voicemail messages whatsoever) with their private mobile phones, then how many Government secrets have they betrayed to foreign intelligence agencies and criminal gangs etc.via their official Government issue mobile phones ?

Has the Wilson Doctrine now been broken or abandoned ?

We find it impossible to believe that there can have been any MI5 Security Service espionage investigation into the activities of the Russian Ekaterina "Katia" Zatuliveter, the former Parliamentary researcher / assistant to Mike Hancock, the Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, without any demands for telephone or email Interception or for Communications Data Traffic Analysis.

The fact that she had access to the MP's Parliamentary email and telephones, means that there is a grave danger of "collateral damage" snooping on the correspondence between the MP and his Constituents.

Given how little information the Ministry of Defence actually provides to Members of Parliament and the public, there should have been no risk of any secrets being handed over to Russian intelligence services, even in regard to his work as a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee.

This MP's constituency encompasses Portsmouth, so he may well be in supposedly private correspondence with the families of Royal Navy personnel suffering from hardship or Ministry of Defence bureaucracy, or with whistleblowers exposing incompetence within the the Navy or MoD. This is may actually be of more of interest to Russian intelligence agencies than any public, on the record, Parliamentary Questions or Select Committee on Defence questions he may have asked about the UK nuclear deterrent etc.

Prime Minister David Cameron has still not made any statement re-affirming and ideally extending the Wilson Doctrine, against the "tapping of telephones", internet connectivity etc.of Members of the House of Commons and Peers of the House of Lords.

According to this "unwritten constitution" convention, the Prime Minister David Cameron is supposed to inform the House of Commons and the public, if there have been changes to the Wilson Doctrine.

Even his control freak Labour predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown reluctantly and with bad grace did so, in response to Parliamentary Questions from the then Opposition. They slowly expanded the original Wilson Doctrine to cover all electronic communications used by MPs (most of which like fax, email or mobile phones had not been invented back in 1966 when the then Labour Prime Minister promulgated the Wilson Doctrine)

It is a measure of the ongoing betrayal of our civil liberties and freedoms by the Labour party, even now that they are out of power and are pretending to have changed the incompetence, control freakery, corruption, spin and lies, which lost them the election, that they have not bothered, or perhaps have not dared, to to ask any Questions about the Wilson Doctrine.

Liberal Democrat MPs did used to ask about the Wilson Doctrine, but the likes of Norman Baker and Vince Cable are now Government Ministers and are avoiding this issue.

The new Intelligence and Security Committee cannot be trusted to investigate this matter, since despite our warnings, it now includes the authoritarian Labour apparatchik, the expenses scandal disgraced Hazel Blears, who has proven that she cannot be trusted with secret information. If a civil servant had been as lax as Hazel Blears,they could have been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of Information, not just once, but twice.

The House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee is supposedly investigating the the latest attempts to re-open the old News of the World tabloid mobile phone voicemail "blagging" scandal, in so far as it may have affected some MPs. However, given the fact that the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service are not proceeding with any new charges, this Committee of very obscure backbench MPs, will probably dither and do nothing.

If they had any proper sense of public duty, they would be loudly demanding a re-statement of the Wilson Doctrine from the Prime Minister, in order to ensure the privacy and anonymity of communications between elected Parliamentary representatives and their Constituents, but they have so far failed to do so.

Lack of any espionage charges against Zatuliveter.

It seems unlikely that there is any hard evidence against Ekaterina Zatuliveter, since she was not arrested and held in a high security prison back in August when she was stopped at Gatwick Airport.

As an "agent of influence", she is obviously not in the same league as any number of Russian or former Soviet empire billionaires with links to the Kremlin, who have had socoal and business contacst with British politicians of all parties.

She was arrested only in early December and held for a week in the notorious, but low security, Yarl's Wood Immigration Detention Centre, before being allowed bail.

That sort of administrative detention without charge implies almost no actual hard evidence against her whatsoever

She has not been charged with Espionage or even under the Official Secrets Act or under any of the catch all Terrorism "thought crime " laws.
Tit for tat expulsion of Russian and British diplomats

However, supposedly on an unrelated matter, at almost the same time as Zatuliveter was being arrested, the British Government expelled a Russian diplomat from the Russian Embassy in London on 6th December 2010.

The Russians have taken their time and have also expelled a British diplomat from Moscow on 16th December 2010 in reprisal.

HC Deb, 21 December 2010, c165WS

UK/Russia Embassies
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Written answers and statements, 21 December 2010

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)

On 10 December we requested that the Russian embassy in London withdraw a member of their staff from the UK. This was in response to clear evidence of activities by the Russian intelligence services against UK interests.

Russia responded on 16 December by requesting the removal of a member of our embassy staff in Moscow. We reject any basis for this action.

Both staff members have now been withdrawn.

We remain open to a more productive relationship with Russia, as with any other country, on the basis of respect for our laws.

Both sides claim that there is no link with the Ekaterina Zatuliveter, case, but then both sides are professional liars and media spinners, so it it is hard to believe them.

6th December 2010 London Diplomatic List for the Russsian Embassy in London

London Diplomatic List published on 6th December 2010 (.pdf) lists the following Russian diplomats in London:

Parliament adjourns for a long summer break in less than 2 weeks. just over 3 weeks, from 27th July until 6th September 2010.

By that time, we are promised, the Identity Cards Act 2006 will have been repealed, all well and good. We will celebrate properly when the National Identity Register data is securely destroyed.

However, there are several things of interest to Spy Blog readers, which this Conservative / Liberal democrat coalition government has not yet done as they should have.

By convention, since 1966, each Prime Minister has re-affirmed the Wilson Doctrine, regarding the supposed ban on telephone and other interception of communications of Members of Parliament, especially with their constituents.

Sometimes they have hinted at slight changes in policy, in their short, bland, detail avoiding statements, which need heavy analysis by Downing Street kremlinologists.

Prime Minister David Cameron has not yet made any such statement.

If he does not want to appear just like his hated predecessor, then he will announce next week, a wider application of the Wilson Doctrine, as we wrote back in 2008:

The Wilson Doctrine should not be abolished, it should be clarified and extended

The Wilson Doctrine should be extended to cover not just Members of the House of Commons, and the Peers of the House of Lords, but also to the other equally democratically elected Parliaments and Assemblies, to the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, to the UK Members of the European Parliament, and probably to all foreign Members of the European Parliament as well.

In principle, the Constituency Communications of elected Local Authority Councillors should also be protected by the Wilson Doctrine.

The Wilson Doctrine is not about rights and privileges of elected politicians, it is about protecting the privacy of their communications with their constituents, who may very well be complaining or whistleblowing about the very Government departments and agencies and other tentacles of the State, who try to snoop on such communications.

Back in 1966, when the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced his policy, there were no direct dial international phone calls , let alone fax machines, mobile phones or internet email or WiFi communications etc.

See "Wilson Doctrine" - Prime Minister Harold Wilson answers Oral Questions in the House of Commons 17th November 1966 - transcript

The Wilson Doctrine should be extended to cover not just the interception of communications i..e. listening to phone calls or reading emails etc., but to the collection or analysis of Communications Traffic Data - who called or emailed who, when and where from etc.

It should also apply to all of the postal mail, public internet connections, private computer networks, email accounts, computers, fax machines and mobile phones etc. used by the elected representative or his office staff, provided that these are used for communications to and from the elected representatives constituents.

Given the scandal over the electronic bugging of an MP and his constituent in prison, who has not been charged with any crime in the UK, the Wilson Doctrine should also be made to cover face to face meetings with constituents. It should ban directed and intrusive surveillance of such face to face meetings and it should also ban the use of Confidential Human Intelligence Source informers to infiltrate an MP or other elected representatives offices.

Obviously where there are actual national security or serious crime investigations in progress, the Wilson Doctrine allows these to proceed, but this should be strictly limited and should require a formal warrant, not any kind of self authorisation by the investigating agency.

There must be no repeat of the appalling mess which the former Speaker of the House of Commons created over the police raid without a warrant of MPs offices.

The Wilson Doctrine should be made to apply not just to the three main UK intelligence agencies GCHQ, MI5 and SIS/MI6, but to any Police or Military units with the legal or technical capability e.g. Military Special Forces units, Association of Chief Police Officers units like NETCU and to any "quid pro quo" arrangements with Foreign Governments or agencies and also to any private sector companies or other non--governmental organisations as well.

If you cannot trust that your written or electronic communications or face to face meetings with your MP etc. is not being snooped on by state bureaucrats or private sector snoopers, then there is no elected democracy in the UK any more.

If the Government really means to restore public trust in the tainted institution of Parliament, then they should re-affirm and extend the Wilson Doctrine, something which will not even cost them any public money to do.

It is a measure of how inept the hated Labour party is in Opposition, that they have not bothered to table any Parliamentary Questions about the Wilson Doctrine, not even simply in order to put the current Government under political pressure, like a proper Opposition should.

Is it because the few Labour MPs who cared about democratic accountability of the powerful organs of the state, have retired or have not been re-elected, leaving behind only the creepy control freaks and apparatchiks ?

The Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs who used to care about these issues are now on the Government side, but they should not let that stop them from raising Questions fundamental issues of liberty and democracy either.

Buried amongst the flurry of Government publications on the last day before the deliberately extended Parliamentary Summer to Autumn Recess, was Prime Minister Gordon Brown's latest utterance on the Wilson Doctrine.

UPDATE: there were, by our count, an astonishing 1463 Parliamentary Written Answers published on this Last Day Before the Summer Recess. Are we seriously meant to believe that none of these Answers were ready for publication in the days and weeks beforehand ?

HC Deb, 21 July 2009, c1166W

Members: Surveillance

Prime Minister

Written answers and statements, 21 July 2009

David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden, Conservative)

To ask the Prime Minister whether any hon. Member has been subject to (a) official surveillance and (b) interception of communications in the last two years.

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

The Wilson doctrine continues to apply to all forms of surveillance and interception that are subject to authorisation by Secretary of State warrant.

Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson's original Wilson Doctrine covered all telephone interception / phone tapping / bugging of Members of Parliament.

The Sadiq Khan MP / Babar Ahmad electronic bugging in Prison affair saw Gordon Brown's henchmen Jack Straw (Justice) and Jacqui Smith (Home Office) slither around the Wilson Doctrine, because, under the Police Act 1997 Part III, there is no need for a Warrant signed by a Secretary State. The self -authorisation for such intrusive surveillance is done at the Superintendent / Deputy Chief Constable level. - see: "Report on two visits by Sadiq Khan MP to Babar Ahmad at HM Prison Woodhill" - Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose finds no illegality

Since all Government statements about the "Wilson Doctrine" are deliberately vague and evasive, you have to read them as if they came from the Soviet Politburo, and see what they do not explicitly say or mention.

"all forms of surveillance and interception that are subject to authorisation by Secretary of State warrant" only applies to:

  1. Interception of Communications (electronic or postal) under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part 1 Chapter 1., which requires a Warrant or a Certificate signed by a Secretary of State (either the Home Secretary or the Foreign Secretary, usually)

  2. A property interference and / or interference with wireless telegraphy warrant under the Intelligence Services Act 1994 sections 5 to 7

The "Wilson Doctrine" is important, not because it might allow a minority of Members of Parliament should be able to hide any shady business dealings or scandalous private lives, but because it should prevent the over powerful tentacles of the Government and State bureaucracy from snooping on their political opponents (within their own political party and the opposition parties) and breaking the anonymity and confidentiality of meetings, correspondence and electronic communications between a Member of Parliament and his or her Constituents, or other members of the public, who they are elected to serve, and champion against the Government and the bureaucracy etc. if necessary.

However, by restricting it to the two legal requirements listed above, it does mean that Members of Parliament and their constituents have may have been snooped on by:

  • GCHQ or any other public body authorised to intercept electronic communications, not via a Warrant but via a more general Certificate (e.g. for snooping, in bulk, on transatlantic fibre optic cables or satellite communications)

  • Police units using the Police Act 1997 Part III powers

    • Property Interference i.e. authorised breaking and entering into homes or vehicles, usually to plant electronic bugging or tracking devices.

  • Police or intelligence agency units using the rest of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 for: the various kinds of Surveillance:

    • Directed Surveillance

    • Covert Surveillance

    • Intrusive Surveillance

    • The use of Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) - informants and infiltrators
    • Seizure of cryptographic keys and / or de-crypted plaintext.

    • Communications Data:

      • Subscriber Details - Name and Address of land line or registered mobile phones<

      • Location Based Services Data (instantaneous and historical tracking of mobile phone handsets)

      • Communications Traffic Data (itemised phone bills, who called who and when "friendship trees", email server logfiles, internet access log files etc.

The Police or Military covert surveillance units (but not the Intelligence Agencies, without a Warrant) could also use the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 section 18 Material not subject to existing statutory restrictions

  • DNA or fingerprint samples obtained in secret, through Property Interference or by Confidential Human Intelligence Sources

There are "official surveillance" techniques and Databases which are not covered by RIPA e.g.

  • Automatic Number Plate Recognition (the Metropolitan Police have access to all of the Transport for London Congestion Charge ANPR data "in bulk, in real time", exempt from the Data Protection Act).

  • Passenger Name Records, credit card and email details data slurped from Airline, Train and Ferry Booking Systems

  • Transport for London Oyster Travel Smart Card data

  • The planned National Identity Register / ID Card scheme

  • Literally millions of CCTV surveillance cameras and recording devices

There are also other Government Departments which have granted themselves snooping powers, which fall outside of the RIPA or Intelligence Services legal frameworks:

None of the above, apart from items 1 and 2, "are subject to authorisation by Secretary of State warrant"

The Guardian has a follow up article giving some details of the mechanics of the unsuccessful "Hotmail plot" by the anti-Gordon Brown faction of Labour Members of Parliament

Why plot to oust Gordon Brown failed

The rebels switched from email to texts on a disposable mobile but bid to oust PM was doomed

* Allegra Stratton, political correspondent
*, Wednesday 10 June 2009 21.48 BST

At 3pm on Monday 8 June, 15 people met in an MP's office in the House of Commons to agree that, for the time being at least, the Hotmail Plot had failed.


"The difference between getting 50 and the necessary 70 will be the disloyalty factor," one told the Guardian when the plot was in full swing. The Hotmail Plot -- so called because of the email address,, which MPs were asked to sign up to, calling for Brown to go, remained undetected for days until the Guardian revealed it at noon, shortly after Blears had resigned.

By Wednesday evening, the covert tactic unravelled as thousands of emails arrived. Apart from the odd one from genuinely sympathetic MPs, spoofs, foreign emails, and junk emails flowed in.

Exactly as predicted in the Spy Blog article - The Email Address Most Likely To Be Snooped On ? - Labour in crisis: the Hotmail conspiracy

One rebel said: "We got one email from [the email address of the chief whip]. It might be that they were hoping we'd publish a list and not notice his name was in it and then he could show all the names were ridiculous."

Did they check the full email headers to see if it was sent from the parliamentary email servers e.g., etc. and the outsourced anti-spam and anti-virus email service run by , or was it simply a trivially spoofed email return address ?


Instead, the rebels adopted a tactic favoured by organised criminals and bought an untraceable pay as you go mobile, encouraging sympathetic colleagues to get in touch that way. It became a text message plot.

The use of SMS text messages was suggested in the previous Spy Blog article above.

It is wrong to imply that only organised criminals have a need for an "untraceable pay as you go mobile" - there was nothing illegal in this anti-Gordon Brown faction's attempt to gather support, and certainly no justification for any police or intelligence agency snooping, but. since knowledge is power, the temptation to do so without proper authorisation,or on some flimsy excuse invoking "national security" or "the prevention, detection or prosecution of crime", might be too great, and we the public, have no way of checking up on this.

Why did the anti-Gordon Brown faction not use SMS text messages right from the start, before the Hotmail email idea ?

Each of the core "plotters", should have obtained at least one such mobile phone.

Did these MPs claim the cost of these mobile phones from their office expenses ?

Perhaps they should read our Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc. (and anti- Gordon Brown factions in the Labour party)

One cabinet minister due to meet a rebel for dinner had their meeting cancelled - there simply wasn't a restaurant in London discreet enough.

That simply is not true, unless the Cabinet Minister's police protection team cannot be trusted not to blab.

Does the anti-Brown faction believe that they were/are under surveillance ?

Instead, that evening they would have the first of three phone calls. The cabinet minister was interested in the nature of names, irrespective of whether they had arrived by email, text or carrier pigeon.

Remember that the Wilson Doctrine regarding the Interception of the phone calls of Members of Parliament, does not seem to apply to Communications Traffic Data snooping on mobile phones or landlines i.e. who called or sent SMS text messages to whom, and when, which would reveal most of what is of interest in this scheme, to people within the Downing Street bunker, or those who might be trying to curry favour and influence there.


On Monday at 3pm the rebels met. All their info was collated on a five-page spreadsheet across which names, mobile phone numbers, "other telephone numbers" and personal non-parliamentary email addresses were set out horizontally along with the initials of the rebel MP who had brought them on board and vouched for them.

Zealots who wanted Brown out were given the number zero and those newly persuaded the number one. Zero zealots made up most of the first page; ones extended onto the second and together they came to 54. Short of the 71 crucial figure but over the 50 they had briefed journalists would trigger publication.


But there were other categories on that spreadsheet. Number four indicated friends of Brown and category three were people whose opinions were not known.

The category that was by far the longest, stretching to about 120 was number two (yesterday one rebel rang to say: "I've just seen that two of our number twos have got jobs with the government. Patronage is a big problem for plots".) The number two denoted: "Possibles, if..."

Zero Zealots ?

Who would be likely to use such a logical computer programming style, yet utterly inhuman, numbering system starting from 0, to categorise the people on the list ? Charles Clarke has a degree in Mathematics and Economics, but that does not necessarily signify much.

Another way to snoop indirectly on these Zero Zealots, would be to target The Guardian
journalists who have been given access to these details.

The Metropolitan Police Service appears to be trying to get hold of email correspondence between Members of Parliament, without first getting a warrant.

2 Feb 2009 : Column 590

Points of Order

4.11 pm


2 Feb 2009 : Column 591

David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek further clarification because my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) has been approached by the Metropolitan police and asked for access to e-mails between him and me as Front Benchers of Her Majesty's loyal Opposition. Has the Serjeant at Arms been notified of this, and does it come under your ruling that such requests will require a warrant and will be referred to you for your personal decision?

Mr. Speaker: Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that, since the occasion on which the office of the hon. Member for Ashford (Damian Green) was searched, approaches have been made to the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman to release certain information?

David Davis: That is exactly correct. I understand that a request has been made for electronic communications--e-mails--between me and my hon. Friend, presumably relating to the time when he worked under me on the Front Bench of the loyal Opposition.

Mr. Speaker: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for bringing this matter to my attention. This is news to me, and I will investigate whether the proper protocol and the procedures that I have laid down for situations without a warrant have been gone through. I will report back to the right hon. Gentleman and, indeed, the House.

Have the Metropolitan Police Service already been given access to the Communications Traffic Data logfiles regarding this , and other email correspondence by these two MPs , by the Parliamentary IT systems people, or by their upstream Internet Service Provider Colt Telecom and/or their anti-spam and anti-virus rmail subcontractor Message Labs ?

Have the Metropolitan Police been trawling through all of the Communications Traffic Data of MPs and their constituents and others, since they are allowed to self authorise themselves to do this, and do not require any "warrant signed by the Home Secretary", let alone a search warrant signed by an independent Judge, in order to do this ?

Will the Speaker of the House of Commons and MPs as whole finally make clear, to the public and to the police, the extent and limits of the supposed protection of Parliamentary Privilege, with regard to the contents of landline telephone conversations , mobile telephone conversations, SMS text messages, facsimile transmissions, emails, instant message chats etc.?

Will they do the same for the collection and access to any Communications Traffic Data, relating to any of the above, or similar, methods of electronic communication ?

Remember the point of Parliamentary Privilege and of the Wilson Doctrine, is to allow Members of Parliament to conduct their democratic duties properly, and to scrutinise and challenge the Executive branch of Government, .This certainly requires that communications between MPs and their Constituents, or communications between themselves and other MPs, which may well be critical of or politically embarrassing to the Government or the Police or any of the other tentacles of the State or any other powerful lobbies and interests outside of Parliament, must be protected from being snooped on.

The Police or intelligence agencies or any other public bodies simply must not be allowed
trawl through Parliamentary emails without a warrant.

There is no point in Parliamentary Privilege applying to just to direct correspondence between an MP and a constituent, or other member of the public, if it does not also protect any later quotation or forwarding of some or all of the original correspondence, especially the identifying Communications Traffic Data, which may very well be enough to betray the identity or location of a whistleblower or complainant.

If members of the public feel inhibited from corresponding freely and confidentially with Members of Parliament, because of disproportionate or political snooping by the Government or the supposedly politically neutral police or intelligence agencies, or foreign government or criminals, then we no longer live in a free, democratic society, and the terrorists will have won.

A couple of technical suggestions:

  • Members of Parliament should publish, and use, their own PGP Public Encryption keys to help to protect the confidentiality of their electronic correspondence with their constituents, and with whistleblowers.

  • The Parliamentary email systems should be re-configured to allow the use of the standard STARTLS opportunistic email encryption to and from, other email systems which support it.

The promises made by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Home Secretary, about new procedures and protocols to supposedly protect the correspondence. between Members of Parliament and their constituents, following the still ongoing Damian Green scandal, appear to be utterly worthless:

See David Mery's publication of "MR SPEAKER'S PROTOCOL ON THE EXECUTION OF A SEARCH WARRANT IN THE PRECINCTS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS" - The House of Common server was not accessed by the police

House of Commons Hansard 21 Jan 2009 : Column 865 between 7.16 and 7:32pm, Wednesday 21st January 2009:

Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con):On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am extremely shocked about what I am going to say. I was about to make my speech in the debate on savers when I received a note from my office saying that there was a police officer there, demanding to see correspondence. The

21 Jan 2009 : Column 865

police were already present in my office and I went to see them after making my speech. They said that they were investigating an important case with regard to correspondence that had been sent to Ministers and wanted to see handwriting samples from people who had written to me. I am appalled that officers can behave in that way--entering a Member of Parliament's office, with no warrant, and demanding constituency correspondence. To my great embarrassment and eternal shame, I was so weak that I handed over the letter from my constituent that they demanded. I will have to live with that, but I am extremely embarrassed about it. After everything that has happened to my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green), it is disgraceful that this is happening and I urge you to investigate.

What is going on ?

The Police denial that it was a "search", as reported by the BBC, is complete nonsense.

How can anyone match handwriting samples from piles and files of office correspondence without conducting a "search", unless you abuse plain English with Orwellian newspeak ?

How can you trust that your supposedly legally privileged correspondence via post or email etc., with your elected Member of Parliament, is not regularly being rifled through by the Police or other Government officials ?

Daniel Kawczynski is a prize idiot for betraying such public trust without a fight.

It is time to bring the Wilson Doctrine up to date and put it on a statutory footing, with criminal sanctions against officious Police or other bureaucrats who break the rules.

[hat tip to Not a Sheep: Damian Green Mark II]

UPDATE Monday 26th January 2009:

It looks as if the Speaker has not dealt with the situation properly, again:

The Government has managed to neuter the inquiry promised by the Speaker of the House of Commons last week into the search of the offices and emails etc. of opposition Conservative frontbench spokesman on Immigration, Damian Green.

This was supposed to be an immediate Parliamentary Committee of 7 experienced MPs, with the power to call everyone involved in Government to report, in public, "as soon as possible", ,the Police and the House of Commons bureaucracy as witnesses.

Instead, what the Labour party whips have got through, is a Committee with an inbuilt Government majority, with a very limited remit, which will convene to elect a chairman and then immediately adjourn, until some vague time in the future, when all possible Police enquiries or legal proceedings (including appeals) are concluded.

This will months or years into the future.

So much for Gordon Brown's lies about making the Executive more accountable to Parliament.

Will the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties actually boycott this sham of an inquiry, as they indicated they might ?

There was some mention e.g. by the former Labour Minister Frank Dobson, that the Privileges of the House of Commons and the Wilson Doctrine, should be clarified and spelled out explicitly in an Act of Parliament,


If we are serious about parliamentary privilege, we need to clarify what we mean by it. We should turn it into statute law to show that we take it seriously and that anyone who breaches it will be dealt with seriously. I would also include in such a law the Wilson doctrine that prohibits our phones being tapped. It was not very long ago that the previous Prime Minister was going to undermine that doctrine, and he was only prevented from doing so by a Cabinet revolt. Conventions cannot be set aside at the behest of a Prime Minister or any individual, which is why we need to shift the rules on parliamentary privilege to statute law.

However, this long overdue idea was ignored the Labour Government control freaks and placemen.

During the debate, Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House, who used to be a civil liberties lawyer, but who has obviously now been turned to the dark side, refused to give any sort of assurance to her opposite number the Conservative Teresa May, that the seizure of documents etc. in the Palace of Westminster did not also include far more than just items relating to Damian Green MP. She kept silent when directly asked to if this could also have included shared (Microsoft Exchange) email server and computer network drive computer resources, containing emails and documents from many other Members of Parliament, their constituents and other potential whistleblowers.

[Hansard URL available tomorrow morning]:

House of Commons debates, Monday, 8 December 2008, Business of the House,
Speaker's Committee on the Search of Offices on the Parliamentary Estate - 8 Dec 2008 : Column 261

Mr. Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con): I should like to mention one of the reasons why it is important that the Committee should be able to do its work. My right hon. Friend and I asked the Leader of the House a question at business questions last week, but it has not been adequately answered. We asked whether last week the police were granted access to data belonging to other hon. Members. That has not been properly answered. [Interruption.] No, it has not been properly answered, and the Leader of the House needs to answer it properly for the House.

Mrs. May: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The Leader of the House referred to the fact that Mr. Speaker said that the issue would be looked into, but--I am very happy for the Leader of the House to intervene on me and confirm this--she did not confirm that the police had not had access to the shared drive or the servers. If they had, they would have had the ability to access every Member's correspondence and e-mails. I invite the Leader of the House to intervene on me and confirm that that was not the case. Her silence suggests either that she does not know, or that she is not able to give the House the assurance that it requires, and that is of concern to each and every Member of the House.

If you have contacted your constituency MP via email in the last 2 years or so, your private correspondence could well have been trawled through by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.

Please risk another email (or a fax or letter) to your MP, e.g. via, simply asking them if, as a result of the Damian Green Police raid on Parliament, copies of your confidential email or fax correspondence with your MP, have been seized or rifled through by the Police.

Business of the House: Government Information (Unauthorised Release) (4 Dec 2008)

Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab):: A little while ago I had a hand in getting the Prime Minister to reaffirm the Wilson doctrine, and he extended it to modern electronic surveillance. On the face of it, it would appear that the Wilson doctrine has been abrogated by the police in this case. Clearly, the e-mails of the hon. Member for Ashford (Damian Green) were looked at. I venture to suggest that he was listened in to, and...

4 Dec 2008 : Column 143

Jacqui Smith: I am sorry my hon. Friend has not received the reply to the letter, which I sent him yesterday and in which I made it clear that the Wilson doctrine as outlined by the Prime Minister has not been abrogated.


Mr. Parmjit Dhanda (Gloucester) (Lab) The Home Secretary has been clear and unambiguous today. Will she go further on the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) about the Wilson doctrine? Can she reassure all hon. Members that our home numbers, work mobiles and the phones that we use in this House are covered by the Wilson doctrine, as well as our e-mail accounts?

Jacqui Smith: As I have suggested, the Wilson doctrine applies, and it applies as outlined by the Prime Minister.

4 Dec 2008 : Column 151

Remember that the Wilson Doctrine is interpreted very narrowly by this Labour Government - the "seizure of evidence" by the Police, when they grab someone's computer is not "interception of emails" in transit, although the end result in terms of betraying confidential information can be the same.

Since the whistleblower leak inquiry covers the last couple of years or so, what exactly were the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command granted access to, with respect to the Parliamentary email system ?

  • Were the Police granted access to all of the emails sent and received via Damian Green's Parliamentary email account ?
  • Were these emails restricted to only the ones sent to or from the Home Office whistleblower Christopher Galley (if , indeed, any such emails actually exist at all) , or were other emails from or to constituents, or correspondents of Damian Green, also scooped up in the data trawl ?
  • Were the Police granted access to the entire Microsoft Exchange server or shared folders containing correspondence from more than one MP and their constituents ?
  • Were they granted access to archives or backups, going back 2 or more years ?

There are separate questions about any content of any such emails i.e. Interception (which is supposedly covered by the Wilson Doctrine) and any email server logfiles which potentially betray the identities of other whistleblowers or other confidential journalistic contacts i.e. Communications Traffic Data. The latter is not covered by the Wilson Doctrine, but it should be.

It appears that Damian Green's Parliamentary email account was suspended on the Thursday of his arrest.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin appeared to be clueless and not in command of any facts about exactly what privacy, confidentiality and privilege breaches there had, or had not been, regarding the Parliamentary email system.

Another Wilson Doctrine Parliamentary Question and an evasive Answer:by the Ministry of Justice:

21 July 2008 : Column 910W

Prisons: Electronic Surveillance

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 9 June 2008, Official Report, column 104W, on prisons: electronic surveillance, how many covert surveillance operations relating to hon. Members were authorised by the Home Secretary in 1999; what the Government's policy was in 1999 on the surveillance of hon. Members meeting their constituents in prison; and if he will make a statement. [220619]

Mr. Straw: It is our policy to neither confirm nor deny covert surveillance operations in prisons. I refer the hon. Member to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair's written answer to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 4 December 1997, Official Report, column 321W, which 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. Visits by MPs to prisoners in prisons were not excluded from this policy.

Remember that the scandal involving the electronic surveillance in Woodhill prison of Sadiq Khan MP when visiting his constituent Babar Ahmad, reported on by the Chief Surveillance Commissioner Sir Christopher Rose, did not involve

"the three security and intelligence agencies"

nor even the Prisons Service, but rather the Thames Valley Police and the Metropolitan Police Service.This makes a mockery of the Wilson Doctrine.

See: "Report on two visits by Sadiq Khan MP to Babar Ahmad (who does not face any criminal charges in the United Kingdom, but is facing extradition to the USA, for activities allegedly conducted in London) at HM Prison Woodhill" - Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose finds no illegality

Where are the amended Statutory Codes of Practice, promised by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on 24th February 2008 ?

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's statement on the Wilson Doctrine

Without extending the Wilson Doctrine, she did make a promise to amend the existing Statutory Codes of Practice regarding Covert Surveillance, extending these to cover Members of the European Parliament and the Welsh Assembly (not Northern Ireland or Scotland where these are Devolved Matters). The policy regarding unelected Members of the House of Lords is now unclear.

Another Parliamentary Question and deliberately evasive and non-transparent non-Answer regarding the Wilson Doctrine:

14 July 2008 : Column 20W

Members: Electronic Surveillance

Mr. Maude: To ask the Prime Minister whether communications traffic data on telephone calls made (a) by and (b) to hon. Members is covered by the Wilson Doctrine. [217354]

The Prime Minister: I set out the position on the Wilson Doctrine on 12 September 2007, Official Report, column 2103W.

This "Answer", presumably means that Communications Traffic Data on telephone calls by Members of Parliament (and the Lords) can be snooped on, including what should be legally privileged telephone communications to and from MP's constituents.

The Question does not ask about Communications Traffic Data regrading the log files generated by internet web browsing, email or instant messenger communications, or facsimile transmissions or postal mail communications.

We clearly remember Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's statement, back in February, . during the debate on the report by the Chief Surveillance Commissioner Rt.Hon. Sir Christopher Rose, regarding the Sadiq Khan MP / Babar Ahmad bugging in Woodhill Prison scandal, with its implications for the Wilson Doctrne:

21 Feb 2008 : Column 546

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): Given that foreign intelligence agencies fall outside the Wilson doctrine and existing and future codes of conduct, will the Home Secretary give the House an assurance that during the past 10 years, no British Minister, especially in the Ministry of Defence, has been bugged by a foreign intelligence agency--particularly the French intelligence agency--in relation to Ministry of Defence procurement contracts?

Jacqui Smith: It is illegal for foreign intelligence agencies to operate in this country.

We commented at the time:

Somehow, that does not actually stop them from doing so !

See - Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's statement on the Wilson Doctrine

However, yesterday, this firm assurance, made to Parliament by the current Home Secretary Jacqui Smith seems to have been contradicted by her subordinate Home Office Minister Tony "not fit for purpose" McNulty, in this Commons Written Answer to a Question by Michael Ancram, the Conservative MP for Devizes:

18 Jun 2008 : Column 967W

Intelligence Services:

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what active operations members of security forces of foreign states are permitted to undertake in the UK; and what restrictions apply to them. [202113]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 28 April 2008]: Any activity is permitted as long as it is in accordance with law.

The statement "It is illegal for foreign intelligence agencies to operate in this country." is contradicted by "Any activity is permitted as long as it is in accordance with law."

Which one of these Labour politicians is misleading Parliament and the public, and should clarify and apologise, or resign ? Or is it both of them ?

A couple of mainstream media journalists blogs, such as Ben Brogan of the Daily Mail and Sam Coates of The Times, are speculating about former Home Office and now Culture Minister Andy Burnham's interview with the NuLabour Progress magazine.

They quote Andy Burnham as saying:

'To people who get seduced by Tory talk of how liberal they are, I find something very curious in the man who was, and still is I believe, an exponent of capital punishment having late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls with Shami Chakrabarti.'

Andy Burnham is a former spin doctor, and an experienced politician, so we assume that his weasel words were carefully selected.

The journalists have picked up on the obvious hint of sexual impropriety between the married David Davis, and the married Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the human rights organisation Liberty.

That interpretation might not have been Andy Burnham's intention, but he does have previous form for smearing civil liberties opponents of his Labour Government's repressive legislation.

He was one of the Home Office Ministers who were trying to discredit, both within Parliament using Parliamentary privilege, and in media interviews outside of Parliament, both Simon Davies of Privacy International and the London School of Economics and their Identity Project Report, which contradicted the Government's Identity Card scheme cost estimates, during the passage of the controversial Identity Cards Act 2005.

See LSE visiting fellow threatens Blair with legal action

However, our interpretation of Andy Burnham's remarks is different, and more sinister.

How does Andy Burnham appear to know that David Davis and Shami Chakrabarti are in telephonic contact at all ?

How does he know that such phone calls are "late night" ones ?

Are Labour Ministers being briefed by the the Security Service, GCHQ, the Police or by other snoopers, about the telephone calling patterns and perhaps the content of intercepted phone conversations of either Rt. Hon. David Davis, or of Shami Chakrabarti, or of both of them ?

Is such information being supplied by Covert Human Intelligence sources i.e. informers ?

When David Davis was raising the case of the British Consul to Romania, James Cameron, in March 2004, we asked: Is the Shadow Home Secretary's email being monitored ?

Since the spirit, if not the letter, of the vague Wilson Doctrine has been flouted in the case of the Labour MP Sadiq Khan and his constituent Babar Ahmad, and since the Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay feels himself to be under Government surveillance, we would not be surprised by such snooping on political opponents.

Communications Traffic Data i.e.who calls whom and when and where they do this, does not appear to be covered by the Wilson Doctrine, and so might be passed on by apparatchiks, eager to curry favour with their Labour political masters.

Has Andrew MacKinlay, the sometimes rebellious Labour MP for Thurrock, been snooped on by the secret intelligence agencies and by Labour Ministers ? Have his conversations with his constituents and others bee snooped on as well, in contravention of the Wilson Doctrine ?

One of his constituents is Michael John Smith, who was convicted of passing aerospace secrets to the Russian KGB, but who is now trying to get his case reviewed.

Andrew MacKinlay recently asked a Parliamentary Question of Jack Straw if he had been snooped on whilst visiting Michael John Smith in prison. It also seems that a Government Minister has admitted that this MP's meetings with a "Russian Envoy" in the Palace of Westminster itself, were also being snooped on.

Are there hidden microphones or cameras, or a network of human informers sneaking about within Parliament ?

e-petitions for the House of Commons by 2010 ?


The Procedure Committee of the House of Commons has now published their Report about the possibility of introducing an e-petitions to the House of Commons, perhaps by 2010, based mostly on the on the experience of the No. 10 Downing Street e-petitions to the Prime Minister and the Scottish Parliament e-petitions systems.

See: Select Committee on Procedure First Report on e-petitions printed 19 March 2008.

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


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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