December 2003 Archives

Sky Marshals and Blacklists


The controversial way in which the use of sky marshals on British aeroplane flights has been announced by transport Minister Alastair Darling and Home Secretary David Blunkett, without proper consultation with either airline pilots or the general public, leads us to ask a few questions.

Why has this policy been implemented now, when it has not been considered necessary before ? What possible increase in the risk of hijacking can there have been since September 11th 2001 ?

Can a single sky marshal actually make a difference in foiling an armed hijack ? The endlessly repeated clips of training films shown on the TV news seem to give that impression. However we have severe doubts.

If a hijacked aeroplane lands at an airport, which implies that the hijackers, whilst deparate, may not be actually suicidal, it takes a whole special forces assault team of six to eight soldiers/policemen to board the aeroplane, armed with stun greandes and machine carbines in order to arrest or kill the hijackers. This has been demonstrated many times in the past, and there have been casualities amongst passengers and air crew as a result.

How is a single sky marshal, isolated and out of contact with either the authorities on the ground or even, it would seem, from the cabin crew and pilot, going to be able to be as effective as a six or eight man special forces assault squad ?

In the case like that of the September 11th 2001 hijackers, where there were ten or fifteen hijackers per aerioplane, what use would such a sky marshal have been even if he could have shot half a dozen of them ?

If the presence of an armed sky marshal is witheld from the cabin crew, what happens when they detect the presence of a "suspicious" person staring around from his aisle seat, obviously concealing a weapon ? Do they organise an attempt to overpower him ? Is the pilot forced to make an emergency diversion and landing ?

What is a sky marshal going to do when the cabin crew and passengers are threatened by a drunken celebrity/popstar/footballer/lager lout, something which happens hundreds of times a year. Are they going to shoot the unarmed passenger or let the cabin crew and other passengers deal with the incident as they normally do ?

How is anybody meant to trust an ID card or badge which purports to say sky marshal ? There have already been cases where people have falsely claimed to be sky marshals and have attempted to "inspect" the flight deck. This would be an ideal document for a terrorist to forge.

The British Airline Pilots' Association is right to be extremely concerned about the secret and arbitrary plans for the use of sky marshals. They should refuse to fly if the risk to passengers is considered to be so great that there is the percieved need for the presence of a sky marshal.

If there is specific intelligence about a terrorist hijack threat to a particular flight, then which civil servant allows the flight to take off in the first place, putting passengers' lives at risk ?

If there is specific intelligence about suspicious people boarding the flight, why are they not checked more thoroughly and if necessary arrested before they board the flight ? There are already huge computerised blacklists and passenger database profiling systems like CAPPS and CAPPS2 which already secretly profile passengers into risk categories.

Given the stupid inflexible bureaucracy and secrecy involved with airport security, what assurances are there that once the decision has been made to "protect" a particular flight with armed sky marshal(s), despite no arrests of suspects at the airport, that the secret database profile records of some or all the "protected" passengers will not be updated with a "guilt by association" profile score, which will cause them future hassle and embarassment ?

The whole ill thought out "policy" of sky marshals smacks of a waste of security resources, and additional costs which will be borne by the passengers, with no actual security benefit for the travelling public.

Almanacs and terrorism

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The astonishing report that the US FBI is telling 18,000 police organisations that possession of an almanac is grounds for suspicion of terrorist activity is reminscent of the old Eastern European joke:

Q: "Why do secret policeman go around in threes ?"
A: "Because there is the one who can read, the one who can write, and the one who keeps an eye on those other two intellectuals!".

For those of you laughing at the stupidity of this, then consider the United Kingdom Terrorism Act 2000 sections 57 and 58 which create the offences "possession for terrorist purposes" and of "collecting information". These sections reverse the burden of proof i.e. you have to prove that your almanac or whatever is innocent, rather than the prosecution having to prove that it is malicious (the normal standard of justice in the UK), or else face up to 10 years in jail.

Does using the Internet make you into a Thought Crime suspect ?

HAC oral evidence on ID Cards now online


Now available online is the transcript of uncorrected oral evidence from the Home Affairs Committee session on 11th December 2003, looking into the Government's vague ID Card plans.

This transcript fills in the gaps in our report of the session.

This should be useful to those of you who are preparing to submit written evidence (under 2000 words) to the Committee by the 5th of January 2004.

Home Secretary (and also former Education Secretary) David Blunkett tried to promote himself on TV by participating in an edition of the Celebrity Mastermind quiz show. Unfortunately for him, he managed to come in last place, with one of the lowest general knowledge scores in the history of the programme.

This edition of Celebrity Mastermind is due to be broadcast on Boxing Day, December 26th 2003, at 8.25pm on BBC2.

This might be some small comfort to those of us who oppose his ID Card plans, who he called "intellectual pygmies"

According the the Daily Mirror, here are the General Knowledge questions which Blunkett failed on:

1) Which town in Ireland has been noted for its crystal glassware since the 18th century?

2) Which meteorological phenomenon is known as a twister in the mid-west states of America?

3) Nineteen year old Alex Parks was the winner of which televised talent competition in 2003?

4) What was the nickname of the 12th Century Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I because of his red beard?

5) On which Mediterranean island is the ruin of the ancient city of Syracuse where St Paul stayed on his journey to Rome?

6) Members of a North Yorkshire branch of which organisation posed nude for a charity calendar in 1999?

7) Later better known for his work with young people, who became a national hero in 1900 for his 217-day defence of Mafeking during the Boer war?

8) Which gas first recognised by Antoine Lavoisier did he name azote because of its inability to support life?

9) Bos grunniens is the Latin name for the Tibetan Ox. What is the more common name?

10) In 1980 and 1984 which athlete became the only man to have won an Olympic gold medal for the 1,500 metres at consecutive games?

11) In Greek mythology, who gave Theseus the thread that enabled him to escape from the labyrinth after he slew the minotaur?

12) The won is the unit of currency in which two adjacent Asian countries?

13) Which headstrong southern belle is the heroine of the novel and film Gone with the Wind?


Air France false alarms


The forced cancellation of three Air France flights from Paris to Los Angeles is a good example of what we all have to fear from automated government "terrorist or tourist profile" systems such as CAPPS or CAPPS2 or Biometric Passports. e.g. as reported by The Independent or by MSNBC

If anti-terrorist systems can disrupt air travel simply because names which sound Arabic are booked onto a flight, then this is a victory for the terrorists.

The other scary part of the story is that extra "evidence" in the form of suspected specialised knowledge or experience i.e. holding an aeroplane pilot's license somehow constitutes an extra risk. Objectively, people who have been throough expensive pilot training and licensing are less of a risk as airline passengers, and could help to save lives during an in flight emergency. However it seems that according to the "shut the stable door after the horse has bolted" hindsight profiling, they are, illogically, considered to be more of a risk.

This sort of stupidity will lead to even more pressure to expand the crude stereotypes and pigeon hole categories used by these databases to intrude even more into innocent people's lives, without actually being effective in catching real terrorists.

This sort of "profiling" seems to be applied in a racist manner i.e. not against white Americans who hold a pilot's license or, the much higher potential risk category of all Americans with access to firearms at home.

Is it any wonder that people increasingly do not trust the UK Government with computerised personal details, especially if they are going to hand them over willy nilly, to incompetent foreign government bureaucracies who literally do not care for our civil liberties or privacy and have their own agendas ?

Law reviews


Data Protection Act was amended in 1998 with some extra provisions appearing in 200. The current media and politicians hysteria prompted by the Soham murders and the British Gas dead pensoioners debacle

Official Secrets Act

Freedom of Information Act - there is already one of these on the statute book, but cunningly, it does not come into force until 2005. There is little evidence that Government Departsments and quangos have taken th breathing space between the passing of the Act and when it comes into force to set up robust policies and systems to comply with it.

Privacy Bill ? Liberty are supposed to be campaigning for one of these.

Incompetent Bureaucratic Management Bill ?

META Group FUD on RFID tags


The META Group Inc. which sells IT industry market and technology analyses, have come up with a very poor report on RFID tags which is circulating, presumably to influential people, and who are paying no fewer than seven "analysts" for their opinions.

c.f. the RFID Privacy happenings blog:

Here are some opinions for free:

It would appear that the META Group's so called "analysts" have either not bothered to read the

"Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products"

or that there is a hidden commercial agenda behind their allegedly impartial advice. How many of META Group's customers have a vested commercial interest for or against the RFID bandwagon ?

What difference does it make if the normal read range of a consumer item level RFID tag is only sufficient to span the doorway entrance to a shop or other public place ? If, as at present, the cheap but stupid RFID tags or Smart Labels cannot be killed at the checkout, then they can be promiscuously read by doorway readers in other shops etc. Why won't the cost of readers fall as RFID tags are rolled out in their billions ?

Just because the tags do not contain your actual name, address and credit card details, they do contain a "unique" serial number, and so they could easily become the "3rd. Party cookies" secret consumer profiling tools of the "Internet of Things"

More of this report has now emerged out into the public domain:


This report does not even do justice to the proponents of the current state of the technology. The authors seem to be ignorant of the successful warehouse pallet and crate level trials of the last year, the developments in manufacturing technology such as fluidic assembly or conductive ink printed antennas, which are driving down the cost of the RFID tags, or the whole concept of an Auto-ID/EPCglobal scalable "Internet of Things"

The so called "analysts" have also ignored the real personal privacy issues associated by concentrating on the straw man of "satellite tracking", an issue which is dealt with in the Position Paper mentioned above.

They do not even mention some of the real security as opposed to privacy problems with RFID tags:

"META Group analysts Dwight Klappich, Bruce Hudson, Gene Alvarez, Tim McLaughlin, Chris Kozup, John Brand, and Jack Gold contributed to this article."

Who paid for seven "analysts" to come up with such a weak and misleading report ?

CCTV does not deter drunken street violence


CCTV surveillance in town centres does not have a deterrent effect on violent alcohol influenced street brawls according to research conducted by University Hospital of Cardiff,
published in Injury Prevention journal (the actual paper co-authored by Professor Jonathan Shepherd is not quite available online just yet, watch this link) which compares actual emergency hospital admissions with unreliable police violence statistics.
Hospital admissions in towns with and without CCTV surveillance schemes were compared over a 4 year period.

According to the BBC report CCTV 'no answer to street fights:

"Co-author Jonathan Shepherd, a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery,said: "The evidence shows you can't rely on police violence statistics as an accurate measure of violence in the community."

Professor Shepherd has previously published research on topics such as: "Predictors and severity of injury in assaults with barglasses and bottles" and "Recording of community violence by medical and police services"

The Committee of Privy Counsellors set up to review the controversial Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 have now published their review:

Download the Report (.pdf)

This contentious Act was passed in December 2001, as a response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

Instead of concentrating on specific Anti-Terrorist measures, the Act was rushed through Parliament, without the usual debate or scrutiny and contained a rag bag of controversial measures some of which had been previously rejected e.g. detention without trial, or some which were irrelevant as they are adequately covered by other laws e.g. it became a specific offence to detonate a nuclear weapon in the UK without permission.

The sneakiest aspect was the assertion that the extraordinary powers enacted for Anti-Terrrorism purposes could and would be used as part of general policing. This applies particularly to the Data Sharing provisions and especially to Part 11 Retention of Communications Data.

The Data Retention section was forced through "on the nod" without a single word of debate in the Commons when the Act was passed. It did spawn a Voluntary Scheme and Code of Practice for the Retention of Communications Data, for longer than would be needed for normal business purposes, and which would therefore be destroyed, or anonymised, to comply with the fundamental principles of the Data Protection Act.

In the 2 years since the passage of the Act, the Government has failed to agree with the Telephone or Internet industries about precisely what data is required to be retained and for how long, and how much of the extra cost involved in doing this, the Government is willing to pay for.

The vast majority of this Retained Communications Data will be that of entirely innocent people. The longer it is kept beyond when it is required for business purposes, the more likely that innocent people's privacy will be abused by faceless petty officials or by criminals. The surest safeguards are not to collect too much data in the first place, and to only keep it for the minimum time necessary, i.e. the fundamental and long established Principles of Data Protection enacted in the UK and in all civilised countries.

It is worth noting that the UK stands alone in contemplating such an Orwellian Big Brother Data Retention scheme, not even the United States sees the need for such an anti-terrorist measure.

We are very disappointed that the Committee chose to ignore (as did the Home Office during its Consultation on Data Retention) the fact that there is a whole category of data which would be of immense use in fighting terrorism, but which is currently unregulated and is very variable in quality and inconsistent in different parts of the country, namely Closed Circuit TeleVision (CCTV) Surveillance Camera Data.

We have been calling for the Regulation of CCTV Surveillance Cameras in the UK for several years now. The number of them deployed is almost literally without measure, but there are no legally enforcable minimum standards which they need to comply with.

Surely there should be a mandatory requirement to register CCTV Surveillance systems so that the authorities do not waste valuable time trying to hunt down possible CCTV systems during a post terrorist incident investigation ?

Surely the CCTV operators should retain video tapes or digital images for a common, standard period of time e.g. a week or a month ?

Why is the Regulation of CCTV Surveillance not considered to be part of the Anti-Terrorist measures of this Act ? Just because it was left out of the original Act, why should it not be considered and debated now ?

If the current informal, slapdash policy of Data Preservation of CCTV Surveillance Data is considered to be adequate for our national security, why should this principle not also apply to Communications Data ?

From the Home Secretary's response, it does not seem likely that he will take on board any of the Committee's recommendations, let alone our suggestions.

The notorious murder case of two 10 year old schoolgirls in Soham, Cambridgeshire ended today. The role played by GSM Mobile Phone Cell Location Data in casting suspicion on the murderer Ian Huntley and of breaking the false alibi given to him by his former girlfriend Maxine Carr, has been widely reported e.g.
BBC online news, Sky news, The Times

Maxine Carr's mobile phone was shown to have been calling from Grimsby when she claimed to have been with Ian Huntley in Soham on the night Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman went missing.

Jessica's prepaid Vodafone Nokia mobile phone was switched off or had run out of battery power at 18:46 BST on the Sunday when the girls disappeared, 16 minutes after their last sighting on a CCTV system at the local sports centre and only 31 minutes after she and Holly left the Wells house.

The time date stamp on the Sports Centre CCTV footage is reported as being wrong, and so the footage of the girls was initially missed by the investigators. This shows that the time date stamp "evidence" of CCTV footage needs to be scrutinised forensically, if it is to be used in a serious criminal trial, even more so it is used in a case where there is a chance that it could have been deliberately edited or tampered with.

This mobile phone connection was broken whilst it was connected to the mobile phone mast on Weirs Drove just to the west of Burwell, about 8 kilometres (5 miles) south of Soham, rather than the mast at the local Soham football field in Julius Martin Lane post code CB7 5EQ.

Apparently one of the few likely spots where the Burwell mast signal was strongest was right outside Huntley and Carr's house at 5 College Close post code CB7 5AA, about a kilometre from the Soham football field mast which lies to the north.

This sort of hotspot quirk of radio propagation illustrates why the proposed jamming of GSM mobile phones during President Bush's visit to London would have needed to have been hugely disruptive in order to be effective against mobile phone activated bombs - an area up to 70 kilometres in diameter would have had to be jammed.

It is obvious that in this case, a Mobile Phone Location service like ChildLocate MapAMobile, MapMinder etc would have been of no use at all in protecting the murdered girls. Indeed, even if a website or SMS based location search had been performed on one of the girls' mobile phones, had it actually been registered with such a service, it could easily have shown the location as being in Burwell, several miles away, rather than in Soham. Such false information would have sent any search parties to look in completely the wrong area during the critical minutes or hours after the children went missing.

Such Mobile Phone reception hotspots are liable to change with network traffic or weather conditions, and the detailed surveys covering the whole country are simply not available or up to date. It is also unclear if the last cell location to which a mobile phone has been connected, is even available at all, to the Location Data Service Resellers. We suspect that there would have been no such information available once the phone had been switched off.

Huntley's mobile phone records shown in court and on television showed that his T-Mobile phone (07986 015607) had received a call whilst it was connected to the Ely Water Tower South cell mast the next day. Ely is a nearby town, where it transpires that he changed all four tyres on his car. Why this Mobile Phone evidence was considered to be more important than the tyre garage records or witnesses is a mystery, but it fits in with the reporting of this topic.

The calls by the Mobile Phone expert witness David Bristowe to retain Mobile Phone Communications Data for 2 years or the controversial Home Office proposals under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to retain this data for 12 months after the Mobile Phone company has no legitimate business use for them are hugely intrusive and wrong.

Huntley and Carr were arrested within just 2 weeks of the girls' murders, so Mobile Phone Communications Data Retention of everyone in the UK, or of only the people in Cambridgshire, or of just the inhabitants of the village of Soham, would not have helped with the investigation and would be completely disproportionate.

The Home Secretary has announced an independent inquiry into the failures of procedure which allowed Huntley to get employment as a school caretaker, despite 10 or so previous allegations of rape, indecent assault against children and under age sex.

However, instead the Grimsby police being blamed for obeying the Data Protection Act and deleting the unproven allegations against Huntley, the fact that Huntley was never convicted of the rape case in Grimsby or even the failure to attend court on a burglary charge which did come to court are what people should focus on.

No innocent politician, celebrity, police officer, teacher etc. would be employable if records of unproven sexual allegations were kept on police file indefinitely and passed on to future employers.

Maxine Carr, guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice by providing Huntley with a false alibi, but obviously no Myra Hindley style accomplice, looks set to be released from prison and electronically tagged, although given the public hysteria, she might have to go into a witness protection scheme.

Oral Evidence on ID Cards

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The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee held their first public Oral Evidence session today as part of their scrutiny of the Home Office's ID Card plans.

The proceedings were recorded and are due to be broadcast on the BBC Parliament tv channel on Saturday 13th December 2003 at 18:00.

Given their remit (c.f. the previous weblog entry Home Affairs Committee on ID Cards) the Committee really did not get much in the way of definitive or detailed answers to fundamental questions like "How much will a Compulsory ID Card Scheme actually cost in total, to the nearest billion pounds or so ?"

Stephen Harrison (Head, Identity Card Policy Unit) grasped at the fig leaf of "commercial confidentiality", and even the Chairman John Denham, a former Labour Home Office Minister was not impressed that the published estimates, which vary between 1.3 and 3.1 billion pounds, could not be spelt out in much more detail.

John Denham did not seem to impressed with the assertions from Katherine Courtney (Director Identity Cards Programme) about the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Review process (which does not officially start until January ) with respect to this ID Card project. He noted that these were the same people who signed off on the disasterous and much less ambitious Criminal Records Bureau project.

Katherine Courtney also seemed to utter the words "literally impossible to forge" (which we will check with the transcript), which is a statement that is only ever heard from the Home Office, and not even from the most eager and enthusiastic sales people from the Biometric industry itself.

David Winnick (Labour) asked about wether there would be civil or criminal sanctions against those who choose not to register for the scheme, but again, since further legislation is required sometime in the future, the Civil Servants could pass this off as too far into the future at this stage, although they admitted that they were only expecting a very small minority of people to object to an ID Card on principle, after suitable "education" and "demonstration of the benefits".

There was a statement from Nicola Roche (Director Children, Families, Entitlement cards and Coroners) that even under the Compulsory ID card scheme there is no intention that people should be forced to carry ID cards at all times. However, a bit later on, she did agree that "mobile technology", which might allow the Police etc. to check your Biometric Identifiers against a central database without the need to have an ID Card present at all seems to be what the Home Office is hoping might be feasible.

The question of increased harrassment of racial minorities who did not have an ID Card with them under the first (voluntary) phase of the scheme was asked, but the Civil Servants again hoped that this would not be a problem due to "education and training" of the police etc.

The logistics and practical difficulties of Enrolment and Registration for the ID card were not questioned or answered in any detail. There seems to be some vague hope that the small scale Passport Office trial starting in the New Year (why was this not done during or before the Consultation Document period over 2 years ago ?) would somehow gather all the facts and practical difficulties with the still as yet unchosen Biometric Identifiers.

The claim was made that there would be "10 to 17 million" Enrolment and Registrations a year i.e. the equivalent to at least the entire population of Belgium, 10 million Biometric Identifier registrations a year equates to about 50 per second without fail for every second during the working year. The Civil Servants seem to have forgotten that by using Biometric Identifiers as opposed to traditional Passport ot Driving Licence photos, it will not be possible to achieve the same throughput of ID Card registrations because the Biometric Identifiers will need to use secure specialised equipment at a limited number of locations i.e. you will have to queue and queue and queue.

When asked how many ID Card readers were likely to be required to run the ID Card system, the Civil Servants could give no answer.

What did seem to come through (and we will check the exact wording when the transcript and the BBC TV recording are available) is that, according to Nicola Roche, there will be "rigourous background checks" on all the accompanying paper documentation. This rather implies that you will not be able to get your Biometric Identifiers securely loaded into your Smart Card whilst you are present during the Registration and Enrolment process. This means that there will need to be a secure system for transmitting these from remote locations and loading them into Smart Cards in bulk, a much more tempting and insecure target for criminals and terrorists than what people using existing Biometric Smart Card systems are used to.

Gwyn Prosser (Labour) asked about the current Biometric Asylum and Refugee card, and wether the reports that this was already being forged were true, but the Civil Servants did not know.

The Committee did not ask about wether or not your address would be on the ID Card or on the central database with onerous regular updates and change of address procedures a la Sex Offender Register, or ideally, as we would wish, not on any of these systems at all.

The Committee did not ask about how this ID card system could be used to help with ID verification for online government or commercial services - it cannot !

The Committee did not explore the International Civil Aviation Organisation's Biometric Passport standard, which is deliberatly incompatable with other government or commercial Public Key infrastructures (because the problems of Certificate Revocation and Cross Certification are just too difficult) and the effect that this will have on any combined ID Card/Passport/Driving Licence.

The Committee has a whole lot of work to do, and many more questions to ask, and get detailed answers to, before thay can congratulate themselves on having scrutinised the Home Office ID card plans properly according to their terms of reference.

Home Affairs Committee on ID Cards


The Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons is scrutinising the vague Home Office Plans for Compulsory Biometric ID cards

"The Committee will inquire into all aspects of identity cards, including the practical aspects of the Government?s proposals and of any future schemes, and will examine the Government?s draft Bill. Among the questions they will consider are:

  • the practical issues involved in the ID database and biometric identifiers;

  • the security and integrity of the proposed system;

  • the operational use of ID cards in establishing identity, accessing public services, and tackling illegal migration, crime, and terrorism;

  • issues to be addressed in the longer-term, including compulsion; and

  • the estimated cost of the system."

They are set to take some Oral Evidence on Thursday 11th December 2003 2.30pm in Room 8 of the Committee Room Corridor of Parliament from:

"Nicola Roche, Director, Children, Families, Entitlement Cards and Coroners, Katherine Courtney, Director, Identity Cards Programme, and Stephen Harrison, Head, Identity Card Policy Unit"

Will these British Civil Servants go down in history as Architects of Repression, along with Jacobus Lambertus Lentz, the Dutch Civil Servant whose ID Card system helped the Nazis round up Jews and slave workers so efficiently ? Or will they actually insist on designing the system with proper privacy safeguards, independent accountability and criminal sanctions against abuse, in spite of their political masters' wishes ?

This session will be open to the public on a first come first served basis, and a recording will be broadcast on the BBC Parliament television channel at 18:00 on Saturday 13th December.

The Committee is also collecting written evidence submissions of less than 2000 words, before January 5th 2004 ideally in Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format, by email and/or by postal mail to:

Dr Robin James
Clerk of the Committee
Home Affairs Committee,
7 Millbank,
London SW1P 3JA

Telephone 020 7219 3276
Fax 020 7219 2744

It will be interesting to see just how much of a grilling the Members of Parliament actually give the Home Office Civil Servants in charge of implementing the Government's ID card plans, and wether the Government will press ahead with them regardless of the Committee Report.

Central Biometric ID Database woes


Are Home Secretary David Blunkett's Compulsory Biometric ID Card plans actually a political sleight of hand intended to distract us from the very real privacy and other potential dangers inherent in a Central Biometric ID Register ?

The White Rose weblog is discussing U.K. to consider national biometric ID cards database

The comments in the article about Belgian ID Cards, whose designers do not see Biometrics as a mature enough technology for large scale use are valid. N.B. the population of the UK is six times larger than that of the 10 million or so people who live in Belgium. They also re-emphasise our view that the UK Compulsory Biometric ID Card scheme has made no provision for a Public Key Infrastructure to support Digital Certificates and Digital Signatures, which would
be of far more use to help to reduce the waste and bureaucracy involved with public access to Government services.

At the moment, the proposed ID Card would be of no use whatsover in authenticating a person via a telephone call centre or via the internet, which are both increasingly important methods of delivery of e-government services. You will still have to pay extra for a Digital Certificate as a small businessman or farmer to file your taxes with the Inland Revenue or to collect EU subsidies etc. online.

But is the "Entitlement Card" e-government services aspect of the Home Office plans actually just an excuse for the scary Compulsory National Biometric population Register database ? Home Secretary David Blunkett has hinted that once people have been forced to register their Biometric Identifiers (whichever these turn out to be), then the police and others would soon have access to mobile technology that could query this evil Central Database without actually requiring the ID card itself

Obviously, from a technological viewpoint, this will be much more challenging than verifying the details stored on an ID Card, and will be prone to even higher False Positive and False Negative matches, but this science fiction does seem to be what the politicians want to believe in. Unfortunately neither Members of Parliament, nor journalists seem to have picked up on this aspect of the Home Office ID Card plans.

Commons Hansard 11 Nov 2003

"Andrew Bennett (Denton and Reddish): Does my right hon. Friend accept that he is naive if he expects the Home Office to be able to introduce this card without major problems arising, given its track record? Is not he naive also in thinking that criminals will not find a way to subvert the system? Is not the fundamental problem that carrying a card must be made compulsory, and that people will have to have it with them at all times? Otherwise, it will not deliver all the benefits that he hopes for.

Mr. Blunkett: I do not accept my hon. Friend's final point?not least because it will be possible to reference the identifiers against the ID base, without using the card. That will be a technological change for the future."

The Computerworld article referenced on the White Rose weblog also glibly assumes that it would be natural for such a Central Database to contain people's home address data. This is not necessarily the case, and is not actually required to prove one's identity.

Address information was one of the features most objected to by the public when interviewed for the Home Office focus group research: Qualitative research on identity cards: research report commissioned by the Home Office (.pdf)

If it is to be of any use in catching terrorists or serious criminals, the change of address procedure would be indistinguishable from having everyone put on to the Violent and Sexual Offenders Register.

The Home Office and UK Passport Office Biometric trial has been announced.

Why did they not do this before publishing the ID/Entitlement card consultation process over 2 years ago ?

The Government obviously has no clue about wether the technology can work reliably or its likely costs.

How on earth can true costs of the ID Card project even be guesstimated when there still is no clear idea of which Biometric Identifier technology or combination of different technologies is planned to be used ? Is it to be Digital Photgraph/Facial Recognition, and/or Single/Dual Iris Scan(s) and/or Single/10 digits Fingerprint Scan(s) ? Each option varies significantly in cost, complexity, security and the effect it will have on lengthening queues.

A mere 10,000 user trial is simply not good enough to extrapolate the costs and scalability of the systems to cope with the 48 million UK Passport holders, let alone the 60 million plus ID Cards needed for every legal person in the UK.

Home Office Press release 356/2003:

"Shami Chakrabarti Online 5 Dec 2003

Shami Chakrabarti will be live online - if you've got a question or comment for Liberty's Director, do not miss this opportunity!

This forum will be open for posting between 2pm -3pm on Friday 5 December 2003 - access to this forum will be unrestricted"

ISP problems - lost comments


Unfortunately we are suffering from a so called "upgrade and migration" of the webserver which hosts this blog.

Consequently we have (hopefully only temporarily) lost a couple of days of entries and comments.

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