June 2004 Archives

The London Evening Standard reports that :

"Scotland Yard said in a statement: "Farad Halali has been arrested on suspicion of his involvement in a terrorist organisation.

"He appeared at Bow Street Magistrates' Court on 28 June on a European arrest warrant to Spain, alleging he committed terrorist offences." He was remanded in custody at Belmarsh Prison and will appear in court again on 5 July."

"Mr Hilali was arrested by the Met last September. He was not then charged, but detained at Belmarsh after it was found he was an illegal immigrant"

Presumably a search of his home and bank accounts etc. did not produce any evidence of terrorist activities back in September 2003.

N.B. Is that spelt "Halali" or "Hilali" ? Is this a confusion with Halal meat or simply a typographical mistake ? An inaccuracy of a single letter in your surname could be the difference between being arrested as a terrorist or not. Other media sources and the rest of the Evening Standard article call him Hilali.

This probable spelling mistake will now surface in various public and private search engines, and anybody with a similar name will probably find themselves being suspected of being related to a major terrorist suspect, and will be discriminated against, harassed and subjected to extra security checks, especially if travelling on an aeroplane.

However, the Evening Standard then alleges that pretty well the only evidence against him is based on mobile phone intercepts and on voice analysis, neither of which could possibly stand up in court if he were to be charged in an English court of law.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2001 specifically forbids the use of telephone intercepts as evidence in court, a situation which may or may not change after the Home Office consultation on the renewal or modification of anti-terrorist powers currently underway, but which cannot change the law before the Hilali case is considered.

"It is alleged Mr Hilali, from Morocco, is also known as Shakur - a man previously revealed to have telephoned the chief of al-Qaeda's Madrid cell shortly before the September 11 attacks."

Is the "chief of al-Qaeda's Madrid cell" meant to be Imadeddin Eddin Barakat Yarkas, (also spelled as "Imad Eddin" in some reports) also known as Abu Dahdah, who has been in Spanish custody since November 2001 ?

"In a tapped call on 27 August 2001, Shakur said he had "entered into the field of aviation"-and "cut the throat of an eagle". Three weeks earlier the agent had called to say: "I am preparing certain things which should please you."

He gave a warning that his phone was "hot", which suggested that he realised that the conversation could be tapped.

Who exactly is leaking this level of alleged detail and why ?

The calls are reported to have been made from New Cross or Peckham. "

i.e. a mobile phone rather than a landline, for which an exact address would be known

"Voice analysis and detective work, sources claim, led police to believe that Mr Hilali and Shakur are the same person"

The computerised data manipulation needed for voice analysis also makes it impossible to prove in court that the voice sample was not convincingly faked, using a current version of Voice Morphing technology, which even 5 years ago, was possible to do in near real time from a small sample of someone's voice.

Where is the evidence linking either Hilali or any of the Madrid bombing terrorist suspects in Spain or Morocco to the September 11th 2001 suicide hijackers in the USA ? They do not appear in the 20/20 hindsight social network analysis of the links between the plotters.

If these mobile phone interecepts have not lead to other evidence such as large financial transactions or access to weapons, then Farad Hilali (or Halali) can hardly be the dangerous terrorist mastermind which some people seem to be trying to claim in the media.

It would be a massive blow to our civil liberties if anybody can be extradited under a European Arrest Warrant on terrorist or other charges simply on mobile phone intercepts, which are illegal to use as evidence in a British court of law.

Steve Moxon, the low level civil servant whose whistleblower allegations back in March regarding dubious pratcices at the Nationality and Immigration and Nationality Directorate offices in Sheffield, was due to face another disciplinary hearing today.

He reports in the media that a previous internal inquiry and report April and the claimed that his actions were not covered under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. If , as he has claimed, he did try to raise his concerns internally, and via internal email to the Minister Beverely Hughes, then this is not true.

In any case, it is not up to one's employer, in this case the Home Office, and the similar case of the British Consul in Bucharest, James Cameron, the Foreign Office, to determine what is and what is not a protected disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 that is up to an Independent Employment Tribunal

Such claims by an employer could be construed by the Tribunal as further harrassment of the whistleblower, and could add to the amount of financial compensation which they will have to pay out.

There is no question that the allegations by Steve Moxon and James Cameron have been in the publlic interest. The resignation of Beverely Hughes as Minister of State for Citizenship, Immigration, and Nationality should have been the end of the matter and both the Home Office and the Foreign Office should just get on with fixing their weak management and administration, and stop trying to "shoot the messengers".

Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee has published their 2003-2004 annual report (.pdf)

This report is the fig leaf of what passes for Parliamentary oversight of the secret intellingence agencies in the UK, and only gives brief details about their activities and expenditures. Even these are censored in the report. Other democratic countries manage to provide the tax paying public with much more detail and insight, without compromising their national security.

Nevertheless, the report mentions things which will be of some interest to students of Government technology project cock ups.

If there is one thing that the UK Government is worse at than Information Technology Projects, it is probably large office complex projects. The new GCHQ "Doughnut building" is all very well, and a much needed replacement for the sub standard pre-fab accommodation which GCHQ has squatted in for so many years.

The report highlights the various scandals involving the lack of financial control and managerial leadership at GCHQ e.g. the auditors refused to sign off the accounts for 3 years in a row!, GCHQ can only find and account for 92% of the equipment assets which we have paid for, by means of the accounting trick of ignoring anything under £10,000 value etc. - 8% of what must be billions of pounds worth of assets is a lot of public money which has been lost through incompetence or possible corruption.

It is no great surprise that the new Doughnut building is simply too small to hold all the GCHQ staff. The occupancy is alleged to be 115% , so the 1950's vintage pre-fabs remain in use, despite the fact that the site has been sold off to private sector developers, who will soon be within their rights to bulldoze these or else to milk the Government for massive financial compensation.

The Secret Service MI5 seems to have been concentrating too much on terrorism and has taken its focus off Russian and Chinese espionage.

The Secret Intelligence Service MI6 apparently managed to underspend its allocated budget, supposedly due the situation in Iraq and various unnamed project delays They too seem to have withdrawn from intelligence activities in certain parts of the world - at a guess Latin America, although they claim to have been the only agency with some spare capacity to devote to some anti-Organised Crime activities, presumably drug smuggling (although obviously with no success in Afghanistan).

The report has this curious comment:

"135. We believe that this situation mainly derives from the history of cuts in the 1990s as part of the post-Cold War budget realignment, which put the Agencies on the defensive. When international terrorism began to spread in the mid 1990s, the Agencies felt that they could not ask for additional resources, not least because they were already being accused of inventing new tasks for themselves."

Surely this is an argument for much more openness on the part of these Agencies, to demonstrate their actual worth to the taxpayer ?

The Government does not seem to have properly reviewed the Critical National Infrastructure since 2002, this remains a concern for the Committee i.e. there has been no progress since their similar comments last year:

"We were also informed that the JIC had not assessed the threat to the CNI from electronic attack since 2002. Capabilities to attack the CNI exist, and, while both NISCC and CESG sought to reassure us that they were reducing the vulnerability of the CNI to technical attack, we were not convinced.

We recommend that the threat to the UK?s Critical National Infrastructure and vulnerability to electronic and other attacks should be examined by the JIC and considered by Ministers."

There also needs to be actual real money and resources spent on things as fundamental as an audit of what exactly constitutes the UK's Critical National Infrastructure - most of it is under the control of private sector companies, not the Government.

Increasingly these private sector companies are not the handful of former state monopoly companies with which the civil service has been used to dealing with so cosily over the years, but are based overseas e.g. an attack on the Home Location Register computer of a mobile phone company in mainland Europe could easily compromise part of the UK's Mobile Phone Network.


As predicted, the Human Tissue Bill has,passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons, with no discussion or amendment of either the "Section 46 Offences relating to non-consensual analysis of DNA" or of the"coach and horses" exemptions from this section under "Schedule 5 Part 2 Use for an Excepted purpose"

The 99 amendments and the shenanigans involved witht he Labour Government's 3 line Whip to defeat an amendment calling for presumed consent for transplant organ dononation, did mean that neither of these sections was debated.

The debate revealed that the Government had not bothered to clarify previous questions about RNA as opposed to DNA. RNA can also be sequenced and analysed using similar techniques as are used for DNA, and together with a range of other genetic tests and analyseses could be used for similar purposes as DNA, all, at present, completely unregulated.

The legislation totally fails to clearly define what is meant by "DNA analysis" or to understand the similarities and differences between RNA and DNA.

What are the rules, for example, which cover tissue samples and non-consensual analysis and data handling and retention, when trying to determine genetic information about a contagous viral disease ? As viruses contain RNA but not DNA, is this whole area simply not covered by the Human Tissue Bill, and if not, why not ?

The Minister of State, Department of Health, Ms Rosie Winterton has promised to seek technical advice.

This lack of informed debate on what is a vital technological, ethical and privacy issue, would be better served in a separate Genetic Sequencing Data Protection Bill , rather than having been "nodded through" as a peripheral issue to the Human Tissue Bill.

It is now over 3 months since the Department for Work and Pensions published details of the racial profiling projects etc. which show that this is not a temporary one off exercise, as implied by the name "Longitudinal Study", but an ongoing, permanent link between the Department for Work and Pensions social security etc. and the Inland Revenue databases, which have been traditionally, and for good reason, kept separate in the past.

Supposedly , there was meant to be an Ethics Committee which would supervise the statistical studies of the combined DWP and IR Data Sets:

""Version 1 - fully identifiable, 24 year history, accessible only by those who will be linking in the Inland Revenue data;
Version 2 - anonymised, 24 year history, available to analysts for statistical and research purposes;
Version 3 - fully identifiable, 1 year history, used for operational purposes (most notably fraud and error)."

This Ethics Committeee had not been constituted (or if it had been, it was in secret) back in March 2004. 3 months later, at the end of June 2004, the Ethics Committee membership, if it exists, has still not been announced.

Does anyone know if this Ethics Committee actually exists, and if so who sits on it, what its terms of reference are, and how it can be contacted by the public ?

Our list of privacy questions about this project remains unanswered.

The Human Tissue Bill, which is due to get its Third reading in the Commons next week, is a typical "Dangerous Dogs Bill" i.e. a political "we must be seen to be doing something" response to the Alder Hey and Bristol "dead babies body parts used for research without the parents knowledge or consent" scandal and subsequent media frenzy.

In what seems to be a now a standard Parliamentary trick, the Government has smuggled in at the end of the text, a controversial section of the Human Tissue Bill, which has nothing to do with the primary purpose of the Bill, presumably so that they can guillotine any debate or amendments and get the section passed through on the nod.

This seems to be very likely given that there are a lot of Government amendments to the main text of the Bill dealing with consent for use of human tissue for medical research and organ transplants etc. which the Government has had to bring in due to massive pressure from medical research academia and industry.

This controversial section deals with DNA analysis without consent and has clauses which have nothing to do with medical research or organ transplants etc. It does not comply with the European Union Constitution Charter of Fundamental Rights:

"Article II-3:

Right to the integrity of the person

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity.

Within medicine:

2. In the fields of medicine and biology, the following must be respected in particular:

(a) the free and informed consent of the person concerned, according to the procedures laid down by law,"

That means the legal procedures for handling free and informed consent which are, by defintion absent from DNA analysis without consent

The wording of the Human Tissue Bill Schedule 5 ? Section 46: Supplementary Part 2 ? Use for an excepted purpose does not even make a distintiction between statutory public bodies e.g. the Police or the Forensic Science Service and private companies or individuals. Anybody either in the UK or the rest of the universe will be able to conduct DNA analysis for the purpose of "the prevention or detection of crime" or for "national security"

Use of wording like "ANY crime or suspected crime" is simply too broad and is not proportionate, which is meant to be a test under the Human Rights Act.

"establishing by whom, for what purpose, by what means and generally in what circumstances any crime was committed,"

Could someone please explain how DNA analysis can be used to establish the purpose of any crime ? Does this assume some sort of naive "guilt through racial profiling" ?

The Human Tissue Bill is the wrong instrument to deal with the complicated issues of the balance between security, privacy and copyright regarding non-consensual DNA analysis and the issues surrounding the retention and use of DNA profile data, not just the actual DNA tissue samples themselves.

Do you value the privacy of your personal DNA more or less than that of an email, a written letter or a phone conversation ?

For the Police or Security Services to intercept your mail, your email or your phone or computer data traffic, or to use intrusive surveillance techniques, there are well established procedures and some checks and balances under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

If Human Tissue Bill Schedule 5 ? Section 46: Supplementary Part 2 ? Use for an excepted purpose passes into law, then there will be no checks or balances at all to regulate non-consensual DNA analysis.

Non-consensual DNA analysis for law enforcement purposes should be subject to exactly the same procedures i.e. there should be reasonable grounds for suspicion of a serious crime, and a very police senior officer or the Home Secretary should give written permission, and extreme care must be taken to protect the confidentiality of the data obtained. There should be no speculative "trawling" of DNA data, because the risks of "racial profiling" are so abhorrent.

None of the powers of the Human Tissue Agency to inspect premises, to licence laboratories etc. seem to apply to DNA analysis laboratories, because non-consenual DNA analysis is to become an "excepted purpose"

DNA analysis laboratories should have minimum standards and external inspections, simply because if the sample handling and labelling procedures get lax, the extreme sensitivity of the analysis techniques mean that cross contamination with the wrong DNA sample is a real danger.

The issues surrounding DNA and the data which constitutes a DNA analysis profile like privacy, copyright, paternity, racial profiling etc. are important enough and complicated enough to warrant a separate DNA Bill of Rights, and not just a Schedule tacked on to the end of another controversial Bill in the hope that there will be insufficient Parliamentary time for it to be debated or amended.

Contact your Member of Parliament and get this Schedule 5 amended to enforce privacy safeguards regarding DNA analysis without consent.

The Home Secretary David Blunkett made a statement in Parliament about the Bichard Inquiry report, trying to shift the media attention away from the criticism of his own department and therefore of himself personally:

"We are therefore now introducing the first national police intelligence computer system?entitled "Impact". "Impact" will ensure that all forces use the same system to manage and share intelligence information. As an interim measure, we are bringing forward the nationwide introduction of the police local exchange?PLX. It will begin this autumn and be complete by next spring. It will provide an easily searchable index of all those on whom any police force holds information. Sir Michael commends this. "

So what was the point of the National Criminal Intelligence Service ? Why did this never get funded to the extent that it could provide this central clearing house for criminal intelligence ? Who was responsible for the petty empire building and lack of trust and cooperation between the "numpties" and the "elite" agencies ? Obviously the Home Office and the Home Secretary David Blunkett are responsible for this.

"Before the inquiry was established, the Data Protection Act 1998 was criticised as a contributory factor. While it is no doubt complex, it embodies important principles. Sir Michael concludes that the loss of intelligence cannot be blamed on the Act. He does not believe that radical revisions are necessary. It is crucial that rules on managing information are clearly understood. I am therefore introducing, by the end of this year, a statutory code of practice on police information handling. All 43 forces will deal with intelligence information in the same way. This will be backed up by detailed operational guidance. Effective training, management and inspection will ensure that it is fully understood and consistently applied. "

The Data Protection Act does need to be revised and the Office of the Information Commissioner needs to be funded properely, given that, as of next year, it must also deal with the whole issue of the Freedom of Information Act

"The code of practice will link closely to the police national intelligence model. This sets out how forces should collect and handle intelligence. It is already providing a more consistent structure. The code will ensure that all forces are required to make the most effective use of this structure. Those few forces still not operating this model must do so now. "

This statutory Code of Practice could have been introduced years ago, but was not - this is the fault of the Home Office, and the personal responsibility of the Home Secretary David Blunkett.

"But those recommendations apply substantially beyond policing. The report recommends that social services should routinely notify the police when a crime against a child is committed or suspected. Sir Michael concludes that that is not always the case. The social services database needs to hold details of all alleged sexual offenders involved with named children, and should be easily searchable."

Searchable by whom, exactly ? Where are the provisions for independent oversight and the ability to correct mistakes about unproven "soft intelligence" allegations ? Evidence was given to the Bichard Inquiry about the devasting effect of false allegations made about teachers and others e.g. policemen.

The "social services database" does not come under the purview of the Home Office and it will not be regulated by the new Statutory Code of Practice yet it will suffer from exactly the same issues regarding accuracy , data retention and record deletion.

"Sir Michael also calls for stronger, more consistent vetting and a new system for registering those working with children and vulnerable adults.We will therefore urgently consider his recommendation that a register be created to bring together all the relevant information

22 Jun 2004 : Column 1187

held on individuals in a way that is easily accessible. We need to consider how that fits with and enhances the service already provided by the Criminal Records Bureau."

Surely this is exactly what the Criminal Records Bureau was set up to do ? Why does there need to be Yet Another Centralised Government Database which will be out of step with all the others ? Why is the CRB not securely, easily and cheaply searchable e.g. via a public website ?

"We will also need to make the link to proposals for identity cards."

This must be rejected absolutely. Any Compulsory National ID Card and Centralised Identity Register should be just that - and not a "soft intelligence " Dossier holding unproven allegations, or even actual convictions - that is a job for other systems.

Given that the ID Card seems to be planned to last for 5 years before renewal, how can it be updated with new "soft intelligence" allegations ? How can it deal with Children, who are not even planned to be on this system until they are 16 years old ?

Despite the Home Office's obsession with ID cards, they are not a technological fix for complicated social issues, or for crime in general.

David Westwood, the Chief Constable of Humberside has been suspended and is being put under pressure to resign by the Home Secretary David Blunkett following the description of the failings in his department being decribed in the report by Sir Michael Bichard as "systemic and corporate".

Our view is that exactly the same words apply to the shoddy performance of the Home Office, and therfore of the Home Secretary David Blunkett himself.

The Bichard report finds it "astonishing" that there is no National Intelligence computer system which allows the sharing of intelligence data between the 43 English Police forces, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the 8 Scottish Police forces, Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, the UK Atomic Energy Police, the Ministry of Defence Police, the British Transport Police, and the Security Services.

Given the billions of pounds of taxpayers money which has already been spent on Police and Criminal Justice communications and information technology systems, the general public should be asking why it is necessary to introduce, in a hurry, Yet Another Centralised Computer Database System (IMPACT - Intelligence Management Prioritisation Analysis Co-ordination and Tasking) and Yet Another Interm Centralised Computer System (PLX - Police Local Exchange) as reccommended by the Bichard report, and accepted by the Home Secretary.

Who exactly will be running these new national databases ? Where are the safeguards and complaints procedures which would allow individuals (including teachers and police officers, who are often subjected to false allegations) to have any libellous or innaccurate rumours , allegations or other "soft intelligence" expunged or corrected before it is passed on to potentially thousands of civil servants and others ?

Remember that although IMPACT and PLX are being set up in a panic after a child murder case, they are not restricted to child sex allegations, they will include rumours and allegations of any "soft intelligence" nature. There are other national database plans afoot in the Children Bill possibly along the lines of the Reducing Youth Offending Generic Solution (RYOGENS) project.

What were the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) set up for if not to tackle exactly these problems ? They seem to have failed or to have been diverted into other political agenda.

If the CRB system had been designed to work properly, rather than to pump profits into the oustsourced government IT supplier, and if it had been made a priority to input and check data entered onto the Police National Computer (PNC) swiftly and accurately, then there would be no need for Sir Michael Bichard to make the dubious and impractical reccomendation about Yet Another Biometric Identity Card scheme for those people who work with children. Who exactly is going to fund the secure biometric smart card reader infratructure for every sports club , scout group, church or voluntary organisation ? The sums already do not add up for the infrastructure needed in every Gpvernment office and Police station for the compulsory National Identity Register centralised database and Biometric Smart ID Card beiing touted in the Draft ID Card Bill.

Neither the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) , nor the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) nor the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO), nor Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) nor Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulory for Scotland (HMICS) have succeeded in establishing common systems and standards, guidance and training, throughout the United Kingdom - they have neither the power nor the budget to do so.

This National, Systemic and Corporate Failure is entirely due to the budgets and priorities which have been set by the Home Secretary David Blunkett, who is more culpable than any individual Chief Constable.

By spinning the blame onto David Westwood, the Chief Constable of Humberside, presumably David Blunkett hopes that the media and the public will overlook his department's appalling record on information technology projects.

This is in addition to Home Secretary and the Home Office apparatniks mismanagment of Immigration and Asylum policies, their ineffective and counter productive policies on Terrorism, and their continual threats to civil liberties, through ever more bureaucratic red tape and badly draughted, yet incredibly complicated legislation, which seems to be a substitute for sane, technologically aware policies: Trust Us - We Know What Is Best For You.

Perhaps they should actually read the detail of the European Union Constitution Charter of Fundamental Rights

Festung Parliament


The apparently leaked plans to block off streets around the Palace of Westminster in the Times report "Trouble brews in the House over anti-terrorism plans" and yesterday's Observer report "Terror fears spark plan to seal off Parliament " seem to be very strange.

How is it possible to close Westminster Bridge, and Parliament Square, to supposedly protect against truck bombs ? If, as has been suggested, buses and taxis are still permitted , has everyone forgotten how these vehicles have been used in the past by Irish terrorists e.g. the second hand taxi cab bomb used outside the BBC White City, or stolen buses in Northern Ireland. In some cases, legitimate vehicles, with the appropriate security passes, have been used, where the driver's family has been held at gunpoint to get him to drive the bomb vehicle to the target.

Any barriers which can physically let through buses, will be wide enough to let through a heavy goods vehicle. Even police guards armed with Heckler & Koch sub machine guns are not enough to stop a lorry driven at speed from crashing through a barrier. Much heavier weapons would be needed, in which case, where exactly are the "killing zones" going to be at the edges of the blocked off streets, and how many innocent casualties would be caught up in any cross fire ? Should this "kill zone" extend up Whitehall to bring Downing Street into the cross fire ?

Any such checkpoints which only allow VIP vehicles to approach Parliament automatically become ambush points like at the edge of the "Green Zone" in Baghdad, where the leader of the interim Council was recently assasinated.

Map of Parliament Square and Whitehall

Are these "leaks" part of some hidden agenda between Government Minister Peter Hain and the Speaker of the House of Commons, both of whom have failed so miserably when it comes to the actual security of the Chamber of the House of Commons as demonstrated by the purple flour incident and the waste of moey on the "security screen", whilst still not enforcing systems which would tell if there were any people still inside the building when it is evacuated due to an alarm or a practice drill (which never seem to happen).

Should the concrete blocks outside of the Palace of Westminster be removed ? Many people feel that they are not actually a high enough obstacle - the politicians can still get out.

Is it possible for the "Westminster village" of politicians and their hangers on to cut themselves off from contact with the people of the UK any further ?

The best protection for Parliament is to re-iterate that it is pointless for terrorists or others to try to kill any or all the politiicians inside, because we will democratically replace them, and the attackers will not have won.

Ask any politician or journalist or other commentator who expresses an opinion on the European Union Constitution if they have actually read it.

A complete version with all the amendments and also some annotations, and a couple of alternative reports is available (in multiple languages) at


The legally binding Charter of Fundamental Rights includes a simplified version of Article 8 of the European Declaration of Human Rights, without the massive exemptions for law enforcement etc.

"Article II-7:
Respect for private and family life

Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.

Article II-8:
Protection of personal data

1. Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.

2. Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data which has been collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.

3. Compliance with these rules shall be subject to control by an independent authority."

These Data Protection statements could scupper the UK Government's various sneaky plans for sharing of personal data without consent e.g. the recent

Committee stage of the Children Bill regarding the controversial proposed database on all 11 million children in the UK:

""Baroness Ashton of Upholland:
24 May 2004 :Column 1075

As noble Lords will know from the early provisions of the Data Protection Act, the purpose of putting in this regulation making clause is to enable us to use the databases without having to refer to anyone each time a piece of information is shared"

These clauses may also affect the National Identity Register proposed under the Draft ID Card Bill.

There is a non-legally binding Declaration:

"Personal Data Declaration for incorporation in the Final Act re Article I-50
Rules on protection of The Conference declares that, whenever rules on protection of personal data to be adopted on the basis of Article I-50 could have direct implications for national security, due account will have to be taken of the
specific characteristics of the matter. It recalls that the legislation presently applicable (see in particular Directive 95/46/EC) includes specific derogations in this regard."

Which is a typical example of just how vague, opaque and obscure this treaty (not really a written constitution) is on anything apart from the names of the Member States and the number of Members of the European Parliament that they elect, the weighted majority voting rules and the number of European Union Commissioners.

UK Big Brother Awards 2004 - Wed July 28th



To recognise the villains and heroes of civil liberties

at 7.00 pm, Wednesday 28th July, 2004
With the Big Brother party to follow until late

Presented by Mark Thomas

Featuring the hilarious "Topping & Butch"
('Best Cabaret' winners at the London Fringe Awards)

In "The Quad" , Clare Market Building,
London School of Economics, Houghton Street, WC2

Awards will be presented for: Worst Public Servant; Most Invasive Company; Most Appalling Project; Most Heinous Government Organisation & Lifetime Menace.

RSVP to Simon Davies: simon@privacy.org
Phone 0207 955 6579

Official web page detailing the shortlists:

El Al anti-missile flares threat to Heathrow ?


The Sunday Times seems to be flying another hype kite again:

""El Al jets given missile defence over Heathrow"
Uzi Mahnaimi and Dipesh Gadher

EL AL, Israel?s national carrier, is to become the first passenger airline operating from Britain to deploy anti-missile technology on its planes to safeguard against a terrorist strike.

Israel?s security services are particularly worried about the threat of a shoulder-launched missile being fired at an El Al flight out of Heathrow, which they regard as a ?high risk? airport. In such an event the new anti-missile system will automatically trigger decoy flares to divert the path of an incoming heat-seeking rocket.

The Israeli-developed technology, called Flight Guard, is expected to be installed on all El Al jets flying to and from Britain by the start of next month.

It will also be deployed on flights operating from other sensitive European airports. However, it will not be actively deployed on El Al services to and from America, which forbids flare-based counter-measures, apparently on safety grounds. "

Why then, did two Israeli newspapers Haaretz and Israel Insider both report earlier this month that the Flight Guard system for El Al was delayed, until at least September ? The plan was, apparently to start testing the system on a single El Al cargo plane this June, and to test it for some months, before proceeding to equip 6 El Al planes by the end of the year and all of them by next year. This first test seems to have been postponed until September due to problems at the missile testing range.

In other words this system has not even been tested and approved for use in Israel, let alone at Heathrow airport.

Which contrasts somewhat with the Sunday Times story.

Just because the flares allegedly only burn for a couple of seconds, does not mean that they will always ignite on time, in the same way that cluster bomb munitions do not always detonate on impact, but end up becoming anti-personnel land mines.

Will the Home Secretary David Blunkett and Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling resign when the thermite flares are triggered accidentally and cause the risk of fire in the heavily built up urban area which surrounds Heathrow airport, or which cause acccidents on the M25, one of the busiest sections of motorway in the world, directly under the Heathrow flightpath ?

Where are the independent Civil Aviation Authority and Health & Safety Executive tests and risk assessments of this, or any similar system, for use in the UK ? The next generation systems under development involve the use of laser beams to try to jam the missiles. but a laser powerful enough to do this must also, by definition, be capable of blinding people on the ground.

There is going to be furious opposition to this "plan" by local residents around Heathrow c.f. HACAN ClearSkies

Does the Sunday Times actually know of an accelerated plan to deploy this system at Heathrow even before the testing in Israel is complete, or is this another case of the Sunday Times penchant for "intelligence sources" spin and hype ?

Who owns shares in, or takes commissions or advertising from, Israeli Military Industries, the company which is selling the technology ?

The Home Affairs Committee
transcript of the uncorrected evidence taken on the 15th June 2004
is now online.

"Dr Chris Pounder, Editor, Data Protection and Privacy Practice, and Ms Claire McNab, Vice-President, Press for Change (PFC); Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Director of Professional Activities, and Dr John Chisholm, CBE, Chairman, General Practitioners Committee, British Medical Association, and Mr Trevor Phillips, OBE, Chair, Commission for Racial Equality"

Evidence was given about the sensitivity of Address, Gender, Previous Name and Race with respect to the National Identity Register and ID card plan.

None of these are actually necessary in order to prove Identity or UK residency or work entitlement, which leads to justifiable fears by minority populations that the ID Card scheme and Register will be used, in practice, in a discriminatory way.

The Data Sharing Without Consent aspects of the scheme, which break the Principles of Data Protection, which were not in the Home Office's previous two consultation documents, but which have emerged from the text of the Draft ID Card Bill were mentioned.

Concerns over the costs and the inappropriate workload such as checking people's addresses, which such a scheme would likely dump onto already hard pressed Doctors and other healthcare workers was also expressed.

The naive idea that the medical profession could actually rely on any medical data e.g. blood group which proponents of the scheme have suggested could be stored on the ID Card or on the Central Database was debunked - it only takes a few seconds for an emergency team to determine which emergency blood supply is appropriate, and the full laboratory analysis of people's detailed blood groupings is simply not available on most of the population before they have been admitted to hospital.

No doctor could trust any statement like "no allergies" on anything but the patients actual, up to date, medical record, which is a whole massive NHS IT project in itself, unrelated to ID Cards or a National Identity Register, and which should be kept separate from it, for the normal, well established reasons of medical data privacy, which benefit the individual and society as a whole.

The disproportionate burden of Address Change Notification for those who move address frequently, such as urban populations and for minorities such as travellers and gypsies, under penalty of £1000 fine was also mentioned.

The implications for law abiding trans-gendered people of the ID card scheme were explored, together with the apparent attempt by the Home Office scheme to undermine the common law right to use multiple names provided that there is no intent to defraud e.g. actors with stage names or Ms. Cherie Booth QC who is also known as Mrs. Cherie Blair , the wife of the Prime Minister.

The Telegraph reports that "Commons speaker forgot terror measures" in the panic after last month's "purple flour" disruption of Prime Minister's Question Time.

"Michael Martin forgot to read out specific orders set out on a special card prepared for him by officials in case of a suspected chemical or biological incident while the House was sitting.

In the confusion that followed the disturbance by demonstrators, who pelted the Prime Minister with purple powder-filled condoms, Mr Martin suspended the sitting and led a hasty exodus from the Chamber."

"The procedures, drawn up after advice from counter-terrorism experts, were designed to prevent toxic agents released in the Commons from being spread outside in one of London's busiest areas.

As part of the plan, Mr Martin should have ordered MPs and staff to gather in the voting lobbies on each side of the chamber to be decontaminated.

Although the purple substance proved to be dyed flour, there was widespread criticism of the decision to allow MPs to leave the building before tests could establish whether it posed any risk to others."

We re-iterate our previous criticism of the behaviour of the Members of Parliament and the waste of public money frittered away on the so called "security screen".

"The best defence of Parliament should be to make it absolutely clear that even if terrorists or others succeed in assassinating all our leading politicians, they will not have won. We will mourn the loss of the individual people involved, but we will democratically elect replacements"

Will all the Members of Parliament, the Lords and all the Palace of Wesminster staff now actually undergo some training and practice the proper fire alarm / bomb threat / CBNR threat evacuation and decontamination procedures ?

Biometric Passport delays

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Via Cryptome:

"State Department Urges Delay in Passport Upgrade. Technological challenges thwart adoption of biometric passports"

The Department of State is urging Congress to postpone a legal deadline on the adoption of more sophisticated passports because neither international nor U.S. immigration agencies are able to meet the October 26 target. "

"We do not expect to receive large shipments of 64kb chips for use in the U.S. passport until spring, 2005. Like other governments, we expect deliveries to ramp up during 2005, but we ourselves will only be able to complete our transition to a biometric passport by the end of 2005."

"However, given the time it has taken to resolve these complex operational issues, few, if any, will be able to meet the October 26, 2004 deadline. For example, none of the larger countries - Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy or Spain -- will begin issuing passports with standardized biometrics by that deadline. The United Kingdom expects to begin in late 2005, Japan to complete transition to full production by April 2006. Others may not come on-line until well into 2006. This delay is not due to a lack of good will but due to significant scientific and technical challenges that has taken us to the cutting edge of changing technologies. "

The words "I told you so" spring to mind.

The use of "contactless chips" is a particular privacy/security risk - what happens when people with amplified/more sensitive radio equipment read people's passports or at least track and identify them as repeat visitors well away from the official passport checking desk, just like with RFID tags, but much more intrusive ?

When will the first "passport chip activated bombs" targeted at individuals or certain nationalities appear ?

www.spy.org.uk was offlne for over 12 hours last night to this morning.

This was supposedly as a result of a power failure at the webspace hosting company's new London Docklands based datacentre space provider, which is alleged to provide "world class facilities", which it obviously does not, something that we shall bear in mind for any advice we give to people regarding hosting facilities.

According to The Register:

"Harbour Exchange Square suffered a power outage on the eighth floor between 16.57 and 17.38 although many customers had to wait a lot longer before their systems were restored"

As with many such infrastucture problems, the actual power loss had a knock on effect on other systems which lasted much longer. Our website was not available until around 9 am the next day (today), even though the server responded to pings and traceroutes and even ftp requests throughout the night.

HAC oral evidence on ID Cards 8th June published


The Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has published the uncorrected transcript of the oral evidence of the 8th of June into ID Cards from:

Roger Smith, Director, JUSTICE, Peter Williamson, President, The Law Society, Shami Chakrabarti, Director, Liberty, and Simon Davies, Director, Privacy International;

Richard Thomas, Information Commissioner, and Jonathan Bamford, Assistant Commissioner

"Mr Thomas: Could I perhaps make a very short opening statement before addressing your particular question? When I came to see you last time, Chairman, I used the language of "healthy scepticism" about the government's proposals. Having looked at the detail now I have to say that that that is beginning to change to rather more "increasing alarm". I think that as we see the detail of these proposals it is now clear that we are talking not about ID cards as such. This debate is primarily about a National Identity Register and all the consequences of that."

"The point I want to make to you is that this is a very comprehensive scheme. I think it would probably be the most comprehensive and ambitious scheme anywhere in the world. Leaving aside all the technology aspects this would be an unprecedented scheme.

Q739 David Winnick: Shades of 1984?

Mr Thomas: I would rather not be drawn down emotive routes, Mr Winnick.

Q740 David Winnick: I think we will come to our own conclusions, Mr Thomas, after what you have just told us"

Will this evidence lead to a Home Affairs Select Committee Report which criticises the vague objectives, the overbroad Government powers in the Draft ID card Bill, the massive cost and the loss of civil liberties that the Compulsory Biometric Centralised Database and SmartCard ID scheme would involve, with no clearly defined benefits to society ?

On past form, the Government will simply ignore any such criticism or reccomendations, just as they did with the report by the Joint Committeee on the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill about the constitutionally dangerous Emergency Powers that the Government plans to grant itself. Will they then guillotine any debate in on the actual Bill in Parliament and force through their plans regardless ?

The Telegraph reports that "Visa whistle-blower gets final warning"

"Visa whistle-blower gets final warning
By Anthony France
(Filed: 15/06/2004)

A diplomat who exposed an immigration scandal that led to a minister's resignation was penalised last night for whistle-blowing.

James Cameron, a manager in the visa and consular section of the British embassy in Romania, was given a final warning after a four-hour Foreign Office disciplinary hearing.

He was also told he would not be promoted for three years and would receive no pay rise for a year. He was banned from returning to his post in Bucharest. Mr Cameron exposed abuses which led Beverley Hughes to quit as immigration minister."

"The Foreign Office refused to comment on the penalty imposed on Mr Cameron. But a spokesman said that he would have the right to appeal."

Why are the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Home Office (both departments jointly run the visa and immigration sections of UK consulates and embassies) persecuting this whistleblower ?

It is inconceivable that he does not have a clear Public Interest Disclosure defence as we have noted earlier, given that his revelations prompted the resignation of a Home Office Minister and the temporary suspension of Romanian and Bulgarian visa applications to the UK.

Government Ministers will no doubt claim that they do not get involved in Civil Service disciplinary matters. However they are very willing to intervene in court cases by signing Public Interest Immunity certificates.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Home Secretary David Blunkett should sign a memo to their own Civil Servants to declare the James Cameron's actiions, such as they were, are in the Public Interest and quash the farce of these disciplinary procedures, which will cost the taxpayer a huge amount of money in legal fees and compensation when James Cameron takes his case to an Employment Tribunal.

The Telegraph reports that "EU whistleblower wins a seat in Brussels"

Paul van Buitenen, the Dutch whistleblower whose revelations eventually forced mass resignations in the European Commission in 1999 has been elected to the European Parliament.

He obviously feels that the alleged reforms since 1999 supposedly spearheded by the British European Commissioner Neil Kinnock (ex leader of the Labour party), have not really changed the atmosphere of nepotism, corruption and expense fiddling.

How many of those involved in the scandals exposed in 1999 are now in jail ?

Is it any wonder that there seems to be increasing opposition to EUrope rather than to Europe per se ?

Why is it that the we allow political and bureaucratic vested interests to attempt to "shoot the messenger" when a whistleblower exposes a scandal in government ?

We ask again, is the Shadow Home Secretary David Davis's email account under communications data content interception surveillance by the UK Government ?

According to the Sunday Times, which printed the stories from Steve Moxon and James Cameron which eventually lead to the resignation of Home Office Immigration Minister Beverely Hughes earlier this year:

"Sunday Times
June 13, 2004
Migrant leak diplomat ?framed?
David Leppard

A FOREIGN OFFICE diplomat who blew the whistle on an immigration scandal says he has been framed in a ?dirty tricks? campaign by the government.
James Cameron, the British consul in Romania, has been secretly recalled to London after being accused of ?criminal misconduct? by Whitehall investigators. Friends say he has been falsely accused of taking backhanders or obtaining sexual favours in exchange for granting visas.

Cameron exposed dozens of scams including one involving a one-legged roofer given a visa to run a business in Britain. The revelations led to the resignation of a Home Office minister.

However, Cameron has now been told the Foreign Office has called in Scotland Yard?s fraud squad about his alleged ?improper dealings? with a travel agency in Moldova."

The "Big Nanny" database powers which the UK Government is trying to give itself came a step closer when the Children Bill - Clause 8 - Information Databases passed another legislative milestone last week when it went through the Committee stage of its progress through the House of Lords unamended

There is quite a lot to read in the House of Lords Committee stage debate on the Children Bill Clause 8

The peculiar procedures and conventions of the House of Lords are such, that despite the withdrawal of all the tabled amendments on Clause 8, the Government Minister Baroness Ashton of Upholland has been embarassed enough by the criticism of Clause 8 to promise some Government amendments at the Report stage of the Bill, which might allay some of our fears, and those of the people such Baroness Barker, the Earl of Northesk or Earl Howe.

"Baroness Ashton of Upholland:
24 May 2004 :Column 1075

As noble Lords will know from the early provisions of the Data Protection Act, the purpose of putting in this regulation making clause is to enable us to use the databases without having to refer to anyone each time a piece of information is shared. We do not expect to change data protection law in respect of notification. Nor is it our intention under this clause to create such an entitlement in relation to information sharing. We would have a bureaucratic nightmare if every time a piece of information was entered onto or shared through the database it had to be printed out and copies sent to the child and the parents."

Destroying the principles and the letter of the Data Protection Act simply for bureacratic convenience is not acceptable. There should be a full audit trail of all such transactions which can be inspected electronically, for free , by parents or children.

"Noble Lords will remember that I have said many times that there will be no case notes on this database"

"24 May 2004 : Column 1092

I offer a commitment that we will bring forward amendments on Report to address the comments made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the concerns of noble Lords about putting more of the detail on the face of the Bill.

We intend to table a government amendment at Report that will list the types of basic information that the databases will contain. That includes: name; date of birth; address; a unique identifying number?I will return to the issue raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Barker?name and contact details of the person with parental responsibility or in charge of day-to-day care of the child; educational setting; GP practice details and health visitor if there is one working with the child, although the inclusion of health visitors is subject to discussions about their new titles. Likewise, we are intending to put forward an amendment that will set out on the face of the Bill a list of statutory bodies and other bodies that will be required or permitted to supply information to the database. "

There is no list of statutory bodies limiting exactly who in this country and overseas, has access to this controversial database on all 11 million children and their parents or guardians in the UK.

Guilty by CCTV until proven innocent

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Thanks to the White Rose blog for bringing this Daily Telegraph article by author Alexandra Campbell, about the stress of having to prove her innocence when accused of a theft , based on CCTV "evidence".

If she had not been friends with a solicitor, and did not have witnesses who could prove that she could not have been the person allegedly identified by a private CCTV system, she could easily have been convicted of a crime she did not commit.

The voluntary procedures which were supposed to govern the use of the private CCTV system which was used as "evidence" in the allegation were flouted, but this only highlights the fact that there are no enforcable legal regulations which govern such CCTV surveillance systems in the UK.

Her fingerprints and arrest details remain on the police files, despite the police dropping the charges. Having to go to the vast expense and disruption of going to court to prove one's innocence is an injustice in itself.

The police force's interpretation of the Data Protection Act 1998 and its policy on Data Retention of fingerprints also needs to be questioned in the light of the Bichard Inquiry into the handling of "soft" and " hard" criminal intelligence records following the notorious Soham murders case. Is this Data Retention policy consistent throughout every police force in the country - almost certainly not.

The Sun "newspaper" reports:

"Cops swoop on fan's txt

and JOHN KAY, Chief Reporter

PUNK rock fan Mike Devine sent an innocent text message containing lyrics by The Clash ? and was quizzed as a terror suspect after it was INTERCEPTED.

Computer worker Mike, 35, was confronted by a Special Branch cop at his office and taken for a grilling.

He was stunned to be shown a printout of his text which contained the words ?gun? and ?jet airliner?.

Mike, who in his spare time plays bass in a Clash tribute group, had sent the lyric from the song Tommy Gun to a bandmate a month earlier.

The cop accepted his explanation and let Mike go. But last night experts said the amazing incident proved NO phone call or text was now safe from monitoring in the war on terror. Mike, of Bristol ? who works for mobile firm Orange ? admitted: ?I was bricking it.?

He told how his tribute band London Calling ? named after a Clash album ? had been struggling to remember a line in Tommy Gun. His text to singer Reg Shaw, 35, read:


Mike told how he was leaving a meeting at work last week when a Special Branch detective introduced himself.

Mike said: ?I was thinking, ?God, what have I done?? We went into a room and sat down and he asked me if I knew about Special Branch.

"I said, ?Yes? ? even though I didn?t really.

?He asked me lots of questions about my phone, such as was this my number and did I use it at the end of April. Then he produced a printout of a text and asked me if I had sent it.

?I said, ?That?s the lyrics from Tommy Gun?. I explained, ?I?m in a tribute band and was sending the lyrics to the singer.?

?The bloke said, ?Oh I see? and looked a bit embarrassed.?

The song, written in the late 1970s, is about terrorists.

Mike said: ?It hadn?t even occurred to me that it might look a bit dodgy. The man wrapped the interview up quite quickly. I was so relieved to find out that was all it was. It was quite nerve-racking for Special Branch to come looking for you at work.?

Terrorism expert Chris Dobson said: ?It is clear from this incident that the computers at the GCHQ listening operation in Cheltenham have been programmed to listen in on all vocal and textual mobile phone traffic.

?They are probably programmed to pick out key words like bomb and hostage.

?Having this kind of surveillance is the price we have to pay in a modern society to protect us from terrorists.?

Does this mean that the Home Secretary David Blunkett has signed a certificate under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 permitting GCHQ to speculatively trawl the content of every SMS text messages sent within the United Kingdom ? If not, then this alleged interception is illegal.

Why did it take from "the end of April" when the SMS text message was sent until "the end of last week" i.e. May before Special Branch got around to investigating this affair ?

The Register reports that:

" Police maintain that Devine's message went astray. They say he actually sent it to a woman in Bristol by mistake and it was she who alerted police to the content."

Which is slightly more plausible, but still does not explain the time delay in bothering to investigate an alleged "terrorism" related activity.

A web search engine query for the actual lyrics of "Tommy Gun" by The Clash, shows that they do not match with the text of the alleged message quoted by The Sun and The Register above:

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 www.pgpi.org
(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: http://ht4w.co.uk

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

WikiLeak.org - ethical and technical discussion about the WikiLeaks.org 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
PublicTechnology.net - 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 stand.org.uk have gone on to set up other online tools like WriteToThem.com. The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the stand.org 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
www.idcards-uk.info - New Alliance's ID Cards page
irefuse.org - 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

CommentOnThis.com - 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

RFIDBuzz.com 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
freetotravel.org - 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

e-nsecure.net 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 Euro-correspondent.com 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


MySecured.com - 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 http://nuclear-weapons.info

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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.com - 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 irrepressible.info 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


WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers