July 2004 Archives

When you see a document on the Home Office website called "humanrights.pdf" you might hope that this would be something which would enhance your human rights, in accordance with their motto of "Building a safe, just and tolerant society", but, a moment's recollection of the Big Brother Awards, will banish these flights of fancy. This document is entitled "Animal Welfare - Human Rights: protecting people from animal rights extremists" which is actually Orwellian Newspeak for new legal measures which will remove some more of our human rights to peaceful protest, even in matters not at all related to animal rights demonstrations or extremism.

Tony Blair and David Blunkett seem to be indulging, yet again, in "soundbite politics", and in the run up to the General Election seem to be promising something i.e. a clampdown on animal rights extremists, which they have failed to deliver, whilst they have been in power over the last seven years.

People and politicians should ask themselves how these general amendments to laws will affect, for example the Ulster Orangemen's marcheswhich pass by people's homes in Northern Ireland, or the anti-war protests and anti- President George Bush demonstratiions (which pass by the homes of the Prime Minister or the Queen), or the Fuel Tax protests, which are not Trades Union strike pickets.

All of these could fall foul of measures which are nominally about animal rights extremists, but which , in the usual power hungry Home Office style will be applicable generally.

The Home Office press release lists three new amendments or laws:

"To make it an offence for a person to be outside a home for the purpose of representing to or persuading the resident, or anyone else, that he should not do something he is entitled to do, or that he should do something he is not obliged to do and causing harassment, alarm or distress to the resident. The new offence will not apply to conduct that is lawful under section 220 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (the right to picket a workplace peacefully). The new offence would be arrestable so that the police will be able to make an arrest where they have reasonable grounds for suspecting the offence has taken place and have reasonable grounds for suspecting the protestor is guilty of the offence. This means that the police will be able to deal with protestors after the event which will address the difficulties of having to enforce a direction at the scene of the protest. "

At what point does a peaceful protest become one where "harassment" takes place ? When the name calling and booing starts ? When people dressed in paramilitary uniforms become visible ?

So instead of having enough police able to respond quickly enough to a demonstration outside a pharmaceutical scientist's home, they propose to continue to just arrest the usual suspects, on a mere suspicion, rather than on any direct evidence. Or is the plan to use even more dodgy CCTV camera "evidence" to establish who exactly has been involved in a protest ? Unless the police are there in sufficient numbers, they cannot enforce measures such as the "anti-hunt saboteur" provisions of forcing people to remove their facial coverings so that they can be video taped.

"Amending section 42 (7) of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 to make it an offence for a person subject to a direction to return to the vicinity of the premises within three months for the purposes of representing to or persuading the resident or another that he should not do something he is entitled to do or that he should do something he is not obliged to do."

This provision is almost certainly going to be used against, for example Fuel Tax protestors, who are not involved in Trades Union strike picketing per se, rather than against animal rights extremeists.

"Amending the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Section 2 makes it a criminal offence for a person to pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which that person knows amounts to harassment of the other. To secure a conviction it needs to be proven that there is a course of conduct in which a person harassed another. The courts have applied a strict interpretation of the word "another" which has confined the application of this provision to harassment of specific individuals and thus employees of a company do not presently benefit from this provision when they have not previously themselves been harassed, even though a fellow employee has been. In order to address this problem, the Government is proposing to extend the Act to cover harassment of two or more people who are connected (e.g. employees of the same company) even if each individual is harassed on only one occasion. "

This might be a reasonable measure, except that there does not seem to be any "fast track" legal process whereby small businesses and sub-contractors can apply for protection under this law without incurring high legal costs. The Government plans do not seem to address this "one law for the rich, another for the poor" injustice.

Why are there no "animal extremist" organisations proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000 ? The list of proscribed terrorist organisations includes such ill defined groups as Al Queada, and the various pseudonyms of Northern Irish terrorists, so why is there no mention of the Animal Liberation Front etc. ?

It is astonishing that the Terrorism Act has been used against peaceful pacifist anti-arms trade demonstrators, yet it has not been used against violent animal rights activists.

There is already a whole forest of draconian legislation which exists to deal with animal extremists and other protestors. If the authorities cannot get the evidence to use the following long list of existing laws, then why should anyone believe that the new laws will be enforced any better ?

"Annex A

No2ID the umbrella group which is leading the opposition to the National Biometric Identity register and the compulsory ID Card scheme, have commented on the Home Affairs Committee report on Identity Cards:

Civil liberties groups and privacy campaigners have called upon David Blunkett to shelve his plans for a national identity card in the wake of today's damning report from the Home Affairs Select Committee.

A coalition of anti-ID card groups has pledged to defeat the proposals in Parliament should a Bill be put forward later this year. With senior Cabinet Ministers including Jack Straw and Patricia Hewitt known to be opposed to Blunkett's Plan, campaigners believe that if legislation can be held up until after the General Election, the ID cards may never see the light of day.

Mark Littlewood, national co-ordinator of the NO2ID Coalition said:

"The more people hear about ID cards, the less they like them. With opinion polls showing that around 3.5million adults would refuse to carry a card, the government needs to ask itself exactly how many more enemies it can afford to make. Proposals for national identity cards should be shelved immediately and permanently."

Dr. Ian Brown, Director of FIPR (Foundation for Information Policy Research) - a supporter of no2id - said:

"The committee has raised a whole series of very grave concerns about the scheme. ID cards won't tackle terrorism, won't cut fraud and won't reduce crime. The government's plans are an expensive and dangerous folly."

ID cards expert, Owen Blacker of internet privacy group Stand said:

"This report should cause the Home Secretary to rethink. Not only do ID cards present a very real threat to individual privacy, but they would be a technological disaster. The government's record on IT projects is truly awful. If they press ahead, people should brace themselves for this running way over budget and experiencing major malfunctions."

Home Affairs Committee report on Identity Cards


The Home Affairs Committee report on Identity Cards was planned to be online on Friday from 15.30. (Update: it now seems to have actually gone online sometime on Friday morning).

Our copy (having submitted written evidence) and the press copies were made available at lunchtime on Thursday and were embargoed until 00.01 Friday, but this did not stop the Guardian newspaper from getting a look at a copy even before that, presumably on Wednesday.

The BBC published the report as a .pdf file (volume 1 only, not the oral and written evidence in volume 2), at around half past midnight, ahead of the "official" publication of the report online . Parliament still does not consider the Internet as "official", despite the fact that it is likely that more people will read the full report online, than will read the official paper format.

Why do Parliament, Whitehall and the Press play these stupid "exclusive leak" games ?

Although the Labour dominated Home Affairs Committee report criticises, in detail, the failure of the Home Office to clarify exactly what the ID Card scheme is for, in sufficient detail for it to be costed, they still somehow claim that the scheme is right in principle.

The HAC seems to be confusing "an identity card scheme if properly run and designed could do X", with exactly what this particular Home Office scheme could do, which is not the same thing at all.

They did not recommend that non-biometric ID versions of Driving Licences and Passports should be available during the so called Voluntary phase, even whilst quoting witnesses who said that it was obviously not really voluntary.

They did call for an Independent Commisioner.

They did raise concerns about the audit trail and who would have access to it.

They did raise the huge questions over costs, and about the commercial secrecy excuse for not publishing the Office of Government Commerce Gateway reviews etc.

They highlighted the complete lack of costings for the secure biometric card readers and infrastructure that other Government departments etc would be required to install to use this system.

They claimed that other countries run ID schemes ok, but did not recognise that none of those schemes solve any of the problems of crime or terrorism or illegal working either.

They acknowledged that vulnerable and ethnic groups fear discrimination via the ID card, but this is dealt with by merely calling the on the Government to ensure that it does not happen - somehow by magic, presumably.

They did raise some concerns about address information but came to no conclusion, just asking for the Government to clarify if it is planned to be on the face of the card or only on the database, but did not come out against it being anywhere on the system at all.

The HAC admits that it has not done a very thorough job of examining the Draft ID Card Bill clause by clause e.g. they miss so many of the evil features like section 31 tinkering with the Computer Misuse Act etc.

Similarly their criticism of Clause 13 reccommends a "defence of reasonablness", against the draconian penalties which are planned to be imposed on people who, having paid upwards of ?70 for their Biometric ID card , happen to be given a faulty or damaged one, or whose legitimate card cannot be read because of equipment or infratructure failures over which they have no control.

This criticism is nowhere near strong enough for the con trick which the Bill is trying to pull on the public, namely the attempted transferral of all commercial and legal risk onto the paying customer rather than on the supplier of faulty goods and systems. It should not be a case of them having to defend themselves, it should rather be one of the Government and its sub-contractors paying them compensation for any delays or inconvenience that this causes them, and replacing the faulty card for free, instead of trying to shift all the commercial risk and blame onto the consumer, and threatening to put them in prison.

If the wording of this clause is the result of commercial lobbying by those companies or individuals who stand to make huge sums of money out of the project, then heads should roll at the Home Office, and an investigation into possible corruption should be instigated. However, the HAC did not bother to delve into such matters.

There is a minority report from David Winnick (Lab) and Bob Russell (Lib Dem), the full wording of which appears as a rejected amendment at the end.

The Conservatives voted with the Labour majority, although the "rising star" David Cameron of the "Notting Hill set" did not vote.

David Blunkett is already quoted as ignoring all the criticism, and just focussing on the political go ahead in principle which this Home Affairs Committee report gives him.

Big Brother Awards 2004 tonight

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Just a quick reminder that the
Big Brother Awards 2004 are being presented tonight at 7pm at the London School of Economics.

Hopefully this will be a chance to meet some of the regular readers of this website and to smile a little at the expense of Big Brother.

Thanks again to the new MI5 website's What's New section which also brought our attention the publication last week of the of the annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner for 2003 to the Prime Minister by the Rt.Hon Sir Swinton Thomas.

Some civil rights activists have doubted the very existence of Sir Swinton Thomas, who keeps a very low public profile, when part of his job should be to re-assure the public and to investigate their complaints of possible abuses. Hiding from the public, with well publicised methods of contacting him (unlike, for rxample the Information Commissioner or the Surveillance Commissioner, who have public websites and contact details)

Nevertheless there are some interesting points in his report e.g.

Thanks to the new MI5 website's What's New section for bringing our attention the publication last week of the of the annual

Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2003 (.pdf) to the Prime Minister by
Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood who is the Intelligence Services Commissioner under section 59(1) of the Regualtion of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

He mentions the Investigatory Powers Tribunal which is "presided over by Lord Justice Mummery with Mr. Justice Burton acting as Vice-President."

"The Tribunal received 109 new applications during 2003 and completed its investigation of 43 of these during the year as well as concluding 7 its investigation of 57 of the 67 cases carried over> from 2001/2002. 76 cases have been carried forward to 2004. On no occasion has the Tribunal concluded that there has been a contravention of RIPA or the Human Rights Act 1998."

The Sunday newspapers seem to have been briefed on the formation of a new UK Special Forces Reconnaissance and Surveillance Regiment: e.g. the Sunday Telegraph reports "Britain forms new special forces unit to fight al-Qaeda" and the Sunday Times reports "New elite force to combat Al-Qaeda"

Is this leaked announcement yet another empire building exercise between rival intelligence agencies in the UK ?

Will their intrusive surveillance operations be monitored by Sir Andrew Leggatt
and the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner
under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part II ?

Since this Regiment is not defined under the Intelligence Services Act 1994,
is the placement of this new intelligence agency under the command of the Director of Special Forces, a ploy to prevent scrutiny of their activities by
Lord Justice Simon Brown, the Intelligence Services Commissioner
and also by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament ?

If they operate on the same basis as their former members did in Northern Ireland, then will they be similarly excluded from scrutiny by Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood who is the Intelligence Services Commissioner under section 59(1) of the Regualation of Investihgatory Powers Act 2000 ?

Just how many new recruits "of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean appearance, as well as Muslims and members of ethnic minorities." are they likely to get in competition with exactly the same sort of people which MI5 is trying to recruit, for their Mobile Surveillance Group:

"starting salary at grade MS5 is �22,445 rising to �25,856 on successful completion of the training course, once shift and weekend working allowance is included."

If the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Regiment do operate in the UK, does that mean that the "military assistance to the civil power orders" which pertain to Northern Ireland now apply to the whole of the UK ?

The vital work that the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Regiment will perform must only be done under proper democratic control. The various worthy ex-Judges and Privy Councellors who are supposed to provide some sort of scrutiny of the intelligence services should insist on scrutinising the activities of the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Regiment, which will effectively be another new State Surveillance Agency.

Irish and Islamic terrorists are not the only threat we face. The Times, which needs to be treated with caution, reports as its headline story:

""?25m bounty to combat animal rights terrorists"
By Ingrid Mansell

City grandees offer cash reward for information leading to arrests

THE City is preparing a counter-attack on animal rights fanatics by offering a £25 million cash reward for information leading to the conviction of extremists.

A leading City organisation, whose members control pension funds worth ?650 billion, is assembling a ?steering committee? of six leading businessmen to prevent a repeat of the type of campaign that drove Huntingdon Life Sciences, the animal testing group, to the brink of bankruptcy and out of Britain.

The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) is expected shortly to announce the names of the six who are believed to include chief executives and bankers.

A City lawyer close to the NAPF said that the offer of a huge financial reward would ?sow the seeds of dissidence among the ranks?. He said that the City is also planning other tactics to combat the extremists. "

How can this be legal or just ?

Why will this not be used by the defence to discredit prosecution witnesses and to let any accused terrorists walk free ?

The Daily Telegraph reports "Police allowed to keep DNA of innocent people"

The full legal judgement can be read online:

Judgments - Regina v. Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police (Respondent) ex parte LS (by his mother and litigation friend JB) (FC) (Appellant)
Regina v. Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police (Respondent) ex parte Marper (FC)(Appellant) Consolidated Appeals

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (.pdf), petty criminal convictions after a suitable period of time, have to be expunged from the public record, including the Criminal Records Bureau, for good, sensible reasons.

However, the Lords have just upheld the indefinite retention of DNA samples and profiles for innocent or unconvicted people.

How can this be just ?

The UK legal system is still lagging behind advances in biochemcial and genetic technology.

Peers in the House of Lords are still having to raise, during the Second Reading of the Human Tissue Bill in the House of Lords, the obvious problems with the wording of the Bill which refers to "non-consensual DNA analysis" clause 50 and the "use for an excepted purpose" Schedule 5, when in fact , even today there are several other techniques which can yield the same or similar genetic information, but which are not regulated by that Bill e.g. RNA analysis, karyotyping i.e. chromosome analysis or protein sequencing etc.

In rejecting the test case appeals backed by Liberty, there does not seem to be any appreciation that such scientific techniques even exist, the focus was entirely on "DNA fingerprinting" and on conventional fingerprinting.

There also seems to be a naive faith in the infallibility of DNA techniques, when in fact, due to their extreme sensitivity, the potential risk of cross contamination during the specimen collection or laboratory analysis stages is by no means negligible. Similarly, it is not unknown for there to be sloppy labelling and recording of laboratory specimens.

In the USA, contrary to the impression of competence given by the popular TV series "CSI: Las Vegas" and "CSI: Miami", there are at least two police DNA labs which have a backlog of cases under appeal due to faulty laboratory procedures, the Washington State Patrol DNA labs in Seattle and the Houston Police DNA lab in Texas, which had to be shut down in 2002.

One would have thought that the current Law Lords could remember the cases in the UK, involving Irish terrorist suspects and contaminated forensic explosives analysis equipment - DNA analysis is orders of magnitude more sensitive to contamination than this.

The idea that the police need as large a DNA database as possible, and that there is no stigma associated with being innocent and being on the DNA database is wrong.

The DNA database is linked to the Police National Computer and, presumably will be linked to IMPACT and PLX intelligence sharing systems.

Why is the indefinite retention of DNA samples and profiles of innocent people so iniquitous ?

When an employer gets an Enhanced Disclosure done by the Criminal Records Bureau, instead of a "clean sheet", the system will reveal that there is some sort of record on the PNC ("we cannot tell you more details ") due to the indefinite retention of your DNA sample or profile on the system.

This will inevitably lead some employers to reject job applicants on the basis that "there is no smoke without fire" and that they are obviously "known to the police" for something or other.

Neither Liberty nor the Law Lords seemed to consider this scenario when discussing discrimination, which they restricted to consideration of "Article 14: Prohibition Of Discrimination", of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The BBC reports that the new chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee is to be William Ehrman, who, nearly in keeping with the reccommendations of the Butler Inquiry to appoint someone senior who will retire from public service after his chairmanship, so that he cannot be unduly influenced by spin doctors etc., will hold the post for a year, before going on to become the UK Ambassador in China.

"New JIC chair William Ehrman profiled

A top intelligence official, William Ehrman, has been named the new chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
He is currently director general for defence and intelligence at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and had been acting as the committee's deputy chairman since October 2002.

Mr Ehrman will also be head of the intelligence and security secretariat until a permanent appointment can be made.

Educated at Eton and Cambridge, Mr Ehrman is a China expert and a Mandarin speaker who is held in high esteem by the intelligence community.

He joined the Diplomatic Service in 1973, and has had postings in Beijing, New York, Hong Kong and was HM Ambassador to Luxembourg.

'Beyond influence'

Sometimes known as "two brains Bill", Mr Ehrman is also credited with playing a key role in ensuring Libya abandoned its weapons of mass destruction.

But he was also involved in handling the media reaction which followed the death of Iraq arms expert Dr David Kelly.

He will hold the post for one year only as he is due to become Britain's ambassador to China in 2005.

He is seen as someone with experience in dealing with senior politicians and who is "demonstrably beyond influence".

This is in line with the recommendations of the Butler report into pre-war intelligence.

Mr Ehrman is married with three daughters and one son."

For those interested in circles within circles:

William Ehrman seems to have a similar background and experience i.e. specialism in China etc. to Nigel Inkster, the alleged "in house" candidate, the deputy supposedly groomed by Sir Richard Dearlove to succeed him to the position of "C" ,the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6, but who lost out to John Scarlett, the former chairman of the JIC (who was previously a senior MI6 officer). He was the deputy chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee under John Scarlett.

This all seems to be a bit incestuous, doesn't it ? Is this really the way to counter, for example, the newly re-organised Russian intelligence services ?

Blunkett e-border and ID Card nonsense

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It is hard to decribe just how technologicaly ignorant the Home Secretary and, presumably the Prime Minister appear to be. Yet another throway soundbite this week promised "e-borders".

"Mr. James Paice (South-East Cambridgeshire) (Con):

The Home Secretary pledges in his statement to develop new electronic border controls. He says that a system of automatic tracking of travellers entering and exiting our country will provide monitoring and data. Will he explain what he is saying? Is he today announcing the re-introduction of embarkation controls? If so, of course, we welcome that adoption of Conservative policy, as an effective measure to control immigration. "

"Mr. Blunkett:

Yes, when we have got in place the electronic border surveillance, we intend to reintroduce embarkation controls, which were abandoned 10 years ago, as hon. Members know, under the former Conservative Government. However, that was understandable because, without the new electronic surveillance and computer system, such controls were a complete waste of time. If we do not know who has come in, there is no point in trying to track who goes out. If we do not have identity cards, we do not know who is here anyway, we cannot know whether they are legitimate or not in terms of drawing down on services."

The current "e-borders" plan consists of yet another experiment next year, for the voluntary pre-checking of business class passengers at Heathrow, confusingly called IRIS (Iris Recognition Immigration System)

What is the budget for "e-borders" ? It is not spelled out in the 5 year plan.

Judging by the costs of the similar but less sophisticated. US-VISIT system, which the US Government is wasting at least $10 billion dollars on, it seems that this is Yet Another Home Office Technology Project Disaster in the making, without a clear objective or a clear implementation plan or budget.

The talk of using the National Identity Registry if it ever gets built, is totally misleading. This system is not planned to be able to track European Union nationals who stay in the UK for under 3 months, so there are at least 400 million people who could be travelling to and from or through the UK without ever being on the National ID Register or having a biometric smartcard residence permit etc.

On the subject of the ID Card scheme itself:

"Mr. Mark Oaten (Winchester) (LD):

"The Home Secretary again raises ID cards in his main document. Does he not agree that the ?3 billion cost of introducing them would make our country safer much more effectively if it were spent on more police and more technology for them?"

Mr Blunkett:

"It is absolutely true that we will ask people to make a contribution towards biometric ID cards, but as I explained to the House at considerable length earlier in the year, the system will be associated with updating the security on passports, which we have to do. We will thus introduce biometrics on passports at the same time as ID cards, so it will cost an additional ?4 per person, over a 10-year period, to issue the card rather than simply having a biometric passport. We do not have to spend ?3 billion because, as people renew their passports, they will pay as they get the biometric cards. I thought that I should explain that at length so that people understand the system and realise that we are not diverting money from what we are doing elsewhere."

It is very disappointing to see the so called Opposition letting Blunkett off the hook like this. Of course he is "diverting money" from our pockets through a not so stealth poll tax, which would be better spent on other things in Government or even better, left in our pockets to spend as we wish.The Home Office has refused to publish the cost estimates for its scheme to within the nearest ?2 billion!

These estimates do not even take into account the knock on effect on other Government departments which will be forced to use the scheme and who will have to find the money for a massive infrastructure of Secure Biometric Smart Card Readers, staff training, changes to their IT systems etc. which will easily triple the Home Office cost estimates which relate only to the issuing of the ID Card and the unjustified and intrusive centralised Big Brother database at its heart.

Just to emphasise how inept and stupid the Home Officee's vague plans for Global Positioning Satellite tracking of paedophiles and wife batterers is, particularly the vain hope of enforcing "no go zones", one only has to look at the massively complicated and expensive technology that will be required for Transport Secretary Alistair Darling's plans for Road Tolls.

The Systems Architecture for this Road Toll plan (.pdf) is hugely complicated and expensive. Even with Automatic Number Plate Recognition and On Board Units in your car which respond to either roadside microwave beacons or GPS satellite signals, there is no way to guarantee the ability to track a vehicle accurately to the nearest road junction.

This puts into perspective just how much more technologically difficult would be the task of preventing paedophiles from visiting a local primary school or a wife batterer from hanging around his estranged wife and family home, as per the Home Office's vague and woolly plans for mobile electronic tagging of offenders.

The Department of Transport, or at least its advisors Delloitte, unlike the Home Office, do actually seem to have heard of the Human Rights Act and the Data protection Act. Unfortunately, their Annex G, Compliance, Enforcement
and Privacy
(.pdf) seem to be planning the usual ploy of using Primary Legislation to circumvent the privacy protections of the HRA or the DPA.

Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, the planting of a tracking device in your car requires the authorisation of a senior police officier, and is only to be contemplated when there is reasonable evidence that you might be involved in serious crime i.e. a crime for which you might expect a prison sentence of over 3 years for a first offence if you are convicted.

Alistair Darling is planning to put the entire UK road network and 30 million vehicles under an equivalent surveillance system, the likes of which the enemies of democracy would be delighted with.

If each On Board Unit toll unit contains the equivalent of a mobile phone, this will more than double the number of mobile phone handset devices attaching to the network, which will bring it grinding to a halt, unless billions of pounds of infrastructure upgrades are paid for by, presumably, the tax payer. This would constitute either an illegal subsidy or unfair competition under European Union competition rules. The number of controversial mobile phone masts dotted around the country would also have to be increased, with a detrimental effect on the visual environment and and increase in health fears amongst local communities (whether justified or not, the fears remain).

This expensive and intrusive high tech surveillance is not necessary for road pricing schemes, as is shown by the Swiss tachograph system.

Blunkett and satellite tags again

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One feature of the Blair/Blunkett 5 year plan to reduce crime seems to be a plan to increase the use of electronic tagging of offenders and of people on bail.

We have already criticised the prospect of electronic tags being used inappropriately on offenders who are highly motivated to re-offend.

We also have extreme doubts about concepts such as enforcing "no go areas" through Global Positioning Satellite technology - it simply does not work well in the the crowded narrow urban streets of the UK, which is at a northern latitude which means that the GPS satellites in geostationary orboit over the equator appear relatively low down in the sky, and therefore suffer from many reception blackspots. Just because some technology works reasonably well in the wide open desert spaces of the southern USA does not mean that it is suitable here in the UK.

Blunkett claimed in Parliament that:

"Mr. Blunkett:

Yes, the prolific offenders programme will involve electronic tagging and satellite tracking. The hon. Gentleman asked me whether that would be instead of prison sentences. No, it will be part of the new supervision programme that was passed in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, and it can really be effective as part of that programme only if we know exactly where people are and can track their movements down to the last few metres."

Even combined GPS and Cellphone technology can only achieve this sort of accuracy in the most favourable circumstances. There are literally millions of locations where this level of accuracy is simply not possible at all - mobile phone reception blackspots are a nuisance for a normal user, but are a huge security hole for a system which relies on them for monitoring. This is not good enough if an attempt is made to use it as a security measure against uncooperative or desparate people who may well resort to jamming, shielding, tampering, GPS spoofing and replay etc. How well will the parole system respond to a large number of false alarms which then mask the times when the offender actually enters the so called "no go zones" ?

Nevertheless, it seems as if the Home Office is planning to try out this mobile tagging technology this September, and plans to double the number of people being tagged to 18,000 by 2008.

The suspicion must remain that this is being seen as a cheaper alternative to building and staffing more prisons, as the plan seems to be to increase the current 75,000 inmates to only 80,000 prison places by 2008.

It is utter madness to electronically tag the people on the Violent and Sexual Offenders Register - these people should be in prison if they are at risk of re-offending. If they are not at risk of recidivism, then they should not be on the ViSOR system in the first place.

CORRECTION: - thanks to those people who have reminded us that GPS satellites are mostly not geostationary about the equator.

"GPS has poorer coverage the further you go from the equator, but the GPS satellites are NOT geostationary, they are in a 55 degree inclined orbit, which gives poorer coverage away from the equator.

There are 4 augmentation satellites (WAAS and EGNOS systems) that ARE
geostationary that can also be used for navigation, but the 24 GPS
satellites are NOT geostationary."

The Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Home Secretary David Blunkett have now published a controversial 5 year plan which will allegedly reduce crime.

The Chancellor Gordon Brown negotiated a promise of a 15% reduction in crime in thre years as acondition of the extra funding he allocated to the Home Office in the latest Treasury spending plans.

Will the Home Office stick to the way in which they collect crime data from the police and courts and from the British Crime Survey, or will they find a way to massage the figures in order to meet the arbitary 15% reduction target ?

There are iterally millions of crimes which go unreported every year, especially computer crimes.

Each email that you get which is infected with a computer virus or worm is an attempt to attack your computer in breach of the inadequate Computer Misuse Act 2003.

Every phishing email trying to con you into revealing your online bank details is a crime.

Every 419 advance fee fraud "get rich quick" scheme from Nigeria etc. is crime.

Each attempt to sell you prescription drugs like Viagra etc. is a crime.

Each attempt to sell you fake prescription drugs pretending to be Viagra etc. is a crime.

Then there are the copyright inftringing software and the pornography offers, some of which are criminal.

The list goes on, and the prospect of any of this reducing by 15% in the next 3 years must be minimal.

If the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer
were honourable men, then they would resign when their flagship policy fails to meet its arbitrary target.

Perhaps if everyone reported each and every instance of a crime such as those listed above, they might get the picture about life in the 21st century rather than harking back to the 1960s.

The Home Office's Draft ID Card Bill consultation ends today. Send your reasoned responses or just an email expressing your opposition to the specific detail of this controversial "Big Brother" legislation which will impose a compulsory poll tax and centralised biometric database on all 60 million people in the UK, will cost literally billions of pounds and which cannot hope to actually achieve any of the ever changing vague benefits which the Government keeps spinning and changing its mind on exactly what the scheme is intended to achieve. This has all the hallmarks of a major Government Information and Communications Technology project disaster.

Send an email to identitycards@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk with the words "consultation response" in the email subject heading.

Visit the www.no2id.net website for links to the many organisations which oppose this proposed fundamental shift in the trust relationship between innocent law abiding citizens
and an increasingly untrusted, out of touch and authoritarian Government, which seems to be intent on destroying our core freedoms and liberties, thereby playing into the hands of terrorists and enemies of democracy.

Visit www.stand.org.uk for one such excellent submission
and infiniteideasmachine for another.

Our clause by clause comments on the Draft ID Card Bill are substantially available at www.spy.org.uk/didcb/. None of the practical, civil liberties and privacy concerns which we highlighted in response to the original "Entitlement Card" consultation over 2 years ago, have been addressed by the Government.

Remember that it is likely that a full and hopefully amended ID Cards Bill will be presented again in the Autumn, and it is up to you to get your Members of Parliament to vote against it.

Be clear that this impractical, and wasteful ID Card scheme will be opposed at every stage of legislation and beyond.

Operation Horizon - Civil Defence

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Yesterday's civil defence exercise Operation Horizon was supposed to simulate a poison gas attack on the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) near Birmingham airport.

This venue was kept "secret" from the public, apart from the teams of selected news media "including the Arabic news channel al-Jazeera".

The most frightening aspects of the exercise were the long delays before the first of the mock victims got any treatment at all and the sight of "angry and confused" mock victims (dressed in Guantanamo Orange plastic capes) struggling to break through the cordon sanitaire enforcerd by security guards who were completely unidentifiable in their miltary issue NBC suits and gasmasks.

The fact that these people were not issued with any easily visible official ID badges or numbers, mean that any real incident could lead to looting and robbery by false "emergency workers", who could arbitarily extend the evacuation zone, with impunity. Criminals may even be tempted to create hoax CNBC incidents and "evacuations" in order to rob high value premises.

If the incident were for real and was deemed to be Biological or even Radiological in nature rather than Chemical, would these security guards have been authorised to shoot the victims to prevent them from leaving the danger zone and spreading the contamination ?

How would the proposed Civil Contingecies Bill come into play, if at all ? Surely even this exercise and the on at Bank Tube station are just too small scale to justify Emergency Powers under the Civil Contingencies Bill ?
Neither of the exercises approached the scale of those in the USA e.g. the Topoff2 exercise.

Both of these pre-scripted exercises which did not involve real evacuations of the real general public, are of only limited cosmetic value in reassuring the public that the authorities are either equipped or trained or funded to cope with real Chemical, Biological, Nuclear or Radiological attacks.

If the Government was serious about Civil Defence, there should be one of these excercises, but involving the real general public, at least once every month instead of once a year, and ideally there should be multiple drills simultaneously in several locations since the coordination and communications systems have not been tested properly at all.

Farid Hilali, who is the first person who is being extradited under the new European Arrest Warrant, actually appeared at Bow Street Magistrates Court yesterday,

This new extradition procedure should be under microscopic scrutiny by the media and others, since the reported "evidence" against Hilali seems to be vague and circumstantial, and some of it should be inadmissible under current laws.

According to various reports and Press Association reports

"Farid Hilali, 35, phoned Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, who is suspected of leading an al-Qaeda cell in Spain, a few weeks before the attacks on the US, said a prosecutor, James Lewis. He was speaking at Bow Street magistrates' court in London for the Spanish government in its effort to extradite Hilali from the UK.

The Moroccan told Yarkas "he had a month to go and that he had some important matters to do ... Everything was going to be fine He had entered into the aviation sector He had slit the throat of the bird", interpreted as code for the United States, Mr Lewis said.

Hilali allegedly spoke to Yarkas after the attacks of being "sick," code for under police surveillance, the prosecutor said. "

This is hardly smoking gun stuff, with no actual mention of anything illegal, or of a particular target. How can it actually be proven that the word "sick" did have the meaning attributed to it ?

"The arrest warrant claims Hilali is participating 'in a commando (group) that is being trained on aircrafts, a few days before the attacks of 11 September, 2001' and he directed al Qaida activities.

The court also heard of a wedding video seized in Germany, also implicating Hilali through his connection with Yarkas. "

A wedding video is unlikely to have recorded any actual illegal plotting. All that it might establish is that some people might have met each other. That is not evidence of a crime.

Judge Timothy Workman remanded the suspect in prison until a further hearing on July 29.

The extradition case is expected to be decided some time in September.

June until September does not seem to be a very "fast track" extradition procedure.

Questions which should be answered before this European Arrest Warrant Extradition is permitted:

Ongoing VeriChip evil in Mexico

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Although this weblog concentrates on UK issues, there are times when something in a foreign country, with no UK dimension as yet, is so jaw droppingly stupid that it is appropriate to comment on it.

This AP report is one of the more detailed ones describing the latest VeriChip marketing hype in Mexico: insecure electronic implants in the Attorney General and federal prosecutors and investigators !

We sincerely hope that neither the UK Home Office nor the Department for Constitutional Affairs dares to even contemplate such a thing in the United Kingdom.

"John Scarlett address" queries

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According to our web server logs, some people at both the BBC and at Reuters are busy typing in search engine queries such as "John Scarlett address" presumably, in anticipation of the publication of the
Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction report tomorrow.

Our only previous comments regarding John Scarlett were in relation to the Hutton Inquiry's inconsistent censorship of their published evidence. Will the Butler Review Committee report be censored in a similar fashion ?

Surely these professional news organisations cannot be hoping to get John Scarlett to comment on the Butler report via email, or to find his new home address (he has appeared on tv news being doorstepped by tv journalists)

One would have expected both the BBC and Reuters to have this sort of information available internally, rather than having to trawl the world wide web for it, or is such information jealously guarded by the specialist "leak" correspondents and not available to their whole organisations ?

When John Scarlett replaces Sir Richard Dearelove as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 on August 1st, who replaces John Scarlett at the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee ?

Festung Parliament concrete blocks

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The media seems to leaking details about the presumably secret MI5 report about extra physical security measures for the Palace of Westminster Parliament buildings e.g. thr BBC reports that:

"The MI5 report will be presented to the House of Commons Commission, which oversees security for Parliament.

The security service urges the replacement of large concrete blocks sited around Parliament.

Officials are said to be horrified the blocks could become "lethal projectiles" if a suicide bomber drove a car loaded with explosives into them, according to BBC political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue.

There are also said to be concerns Big Ben could topple onto the Commons chamber in the event of a terror attack."

So what happens to the glass fronted Portcullis House and the Westminster Tube station, if a truck bomb powerful enough to topple Clock Tower which houses Big Ben , is detonated in Bridge Street ? c.f. the Map of the Parliamentary Estate (.pdf)

Or is some sort of aeriel attack scenario envisaged instead ?

Could someone explain how an explosion powerful enough to launch the concrete blocks as "lethal projectiles" would not also be powerful enough to do the same to the stionework , masonry and glass of the Palace of Westminster itself ? What about the metal debris from a bomb carrying vehicle and any deliberate shrapnel contained in the device itself ?

Why are the concrete blocks seen as a problem ? They are presumbaly designed to hinder the physical approach of vehicles, although how successful they would be in stopping a large vehicle with a lot of momentum is questionable.

Was the design of this concrete block barrier actually tested before it was so hastily installed ?

The only "upgrade" that seems to have happened after the blocks were installed is that they have been "camouflaged" by painting them black. There do not seem to be any foundation anchors or netting or sandbags or water containers etc. to actually absorb or dissipate blast damage.

Is the plan to now insttall an ugly soild steel blast wall ?

It does not matter if the Palace of Westminster is destroyed or all the politicians and journalists inside it are killed - the terrorists will not have won - we will simply elect new politicians and rebuild.

Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel ?' Cain answered 'I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper ?' Genesis chapter 4, verse 9

Should your own personal DNA be used to try to prove guilt by association for a crime by one of your relatives, which occurs in a foreign country, and over which you have no control ?

Should copies of emails on your computer (which are so trivially easy to edit or forge undetectably) be the only direct "evidence" against you, even though the intercepted content of emails , whilst allowed for intelligence purposes, is forbidden to be used as evidence in court under the incredibly convoluted sections 17 and 18 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000:

"no evidence shall be adduced, question asked, assertion or disclosure made or other thing done in, for the purposes of or in connection with any legal proceedings"

Consider the very strange case of the failed British suicide bomber Omar Khan Sharif, and the accusations against his family:

Kablenet reports that the so called Citizen Information Project, the latest version of a bureaucratic dream of a comprehnsive population register, which has been ressurrected in various forms for decades, seems to have moved to another stage in the Byzantine IT procurement process so beloved of the UK Government.

The Home Secretary David Blunkett and the Home Office have their Entitlement Card consultation, their ID Card consultation and the Draft ID Card Bill, which they seem intet on steam rollering through, against all rational arguements by the opponents of such plans.

Is it more honest for the Chancellor Gordon Brown and the Treasury and Office of National Statistics not to even pretend to bother to consult the Public or Parliament about the equally controversial aspects of this Population Register such as:

  • Address information updates - will these be voluntary or mandatory ?

  • Will your private data on the CIP database be sold to commercial companies ?

  • How much of your private data on the CIP database will be handed over to foreign governments ?

  • How will the CIP database relate to the National ID Registry - will mistakes and errors from one be propagated into the other and vice versa ?

  • Where are the Privacy audits, checks, balances and systems to correct errors ?

  • How exactly will the Citizen Information Project actually benefit UK citizens directly, rather than the Government bureaucracy and outsourced IT suppliers ?

  • How exactly is it possible for private contractors to be better able to "'cleanse' the data, analyse it for errors and correct wrong address details" than the civil servants who have compiled this data over the years ? Or are all these civil servants going to be got rid of under Gordon Brown's cost saving plans ?

  • Will such "data cleansing" involve the exploitation of third world labour rather than the creation of UK based jobs ?

  • Given that the record of the Treasury is at least as bad as any other Government department with respect to Information Technology project disasters, how much is this all really going to cost us ?

Such a fundamental change in the relationship between the public and their alleged civil servants must be only undertaken after fully informed debate and consultation with the public and Parliament.

How safe is SafetyText ?


A new mobile phone service has been launched called SafetyText aimed at providing a delayed and/or cancellable SMS text message service for young people who are out on the town etc. but who do not want to notify their parents or "buddys" etc. unless they go missing.

The father of Lucie Blackman, the ex-airline stewardess who was murdered in Japan seems to be involved in this venture.

This "buddy list" technology has obvious dangers which the similar Location Based Services suppliers have been held back from exploiting in the UK through the secret Code of Conduct (email us if this is actually available to the public anywhere) which the Mobile Phone Networks seem to have agreed to.

Our worries about the service revolve around the "Personal Profile"

"Everyone who registers with SafetyText is asked to complete an optional private page, which is his or her Personal Profile. This page will contain lots of information about an individual, from their hair colour to where they hang out. They are also asked for information about contact details for their friends. You can also save a photo of yourself on the page. All this information would be available to police if you were reported missing. (NB this information held on a secure server and cannot be accessed by anyone). "

This personal profile database is a tempting target for stalkers and kidnappers - it needs the highest levels of protection available.

Where child safety is concerned, it is not enough for commercial services simply to claim that their systems are secure.

What assurance is there that the SafetyText "secure servers" are not vulnerable to SQL Injection attacks via their poorly designed web forms and database input validation scripts, like those which have been reported to us as having compromised the security of more than one of the Location Based Data service suppliers ?

There are similarities with the ChildLocate service when it was launched last September.

We criticised ChildLocate and its commercial rivals (many of which seem to be "white label" services which can be "re-branded" by various marketing companies, as can SafetyText) for not having registered under the Data Protection Act.

Search the Data Protection Register for

SafetyText Ltd
14 Belvedere Street
Ryde Isle of Wight PO33 2JW
Company Registration Number 5116628

or even for their "white label" text message supplier SendMyText Ltd

SendMyTxt UK
CAD House
68 Windmill Road
Croydon Surrey CR0 2XE
Tel +44 (0)870 141 7200
Fax +44 (0)870 141 7201
Email info@sendmytxt.co.uk

Any of these details by name, by post code etc. come up blank on the Data Protection Register search.

If these companies have registered, then they should at least be showing their temporary Data Protection registration refence number, like ChildLocate did once they had been prompted.

Any service aimed at child safety or parent reassurance should have sorted out their DPA registration before launching their service to the media and public.

We also criticised the Location Based Data service companies for giving no indication of whether or not the people with administrator access to their so called "secure servers" and infrastructure had passed even the minimal checks required for anyone with access to children through the Criminal Records Bureau

It is not good enough to claim that such checks are unecessary, it is fears and reassurance about child safety that they are using to market their services, so they should be seen to be taking every possible precaution, which they are failing to do.

Exactly the same criticisms can be made of SafetyText.

It looks like Farid Hilali has now made his Bow Street Magistrate's court appearance by video link from Belmarsh prison, as did Abu Hamza.

Considering that all the "evidence" against them seems to be entirely electronic, it seems strange that they do not even get to be brought before a "real world" court in the UK (presumably they will face these once they are extradited).

The relevant legislation seems to be the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, section 57 together with the Prison Service Order 1030

Although there are rules for prison staff to move out of earshot, but not out of sight of the defendant and his legal team, during privileged conversations, the regulations do not seem to say that any video recording (with sound) actually has to be switched off as well. How can a defendent or lawyer actually tell if this is the case ?

"Liberty and Terror" talk @ ICA July 12th 2004


Next Monday, there is a talk at the ICA which may be of interest:

Shami Chakrabarti & Conor Gearty: LIBERTY AND TERROR

"New York, Bali, Madrid - have the events for which these places are a shorthand transformed politics so radically that our traditional defences of civil liberties now need to overhaul themselves? That's the question at the heart of the 'in conversation' between Conor Gearty,(a founding member of the Matrix Chambers) one of the UK's major thinkers on civil liberties, who nevertheless feels that traditional defences don't all survive the new political environment, and Shami Chakrabarti, chair of Liberty, an organisation dedicated to the maintenance and elaboration of civil liberties. Surveillance, the right of privacy, identity cards and global security, these are - inevitably - among the issues that will be raised in this talk. "

Monday 12th July 2004, 7pm
Nash Room
Institute of Contemporary Arts
The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH

Tickets: 020 7930 3647
?8, ?7 Concs. ?6 ICA Members


Moral and Legal Dilemma

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A recent comment posting on this web log

"Immigration visa scandal whistleblower James Cameron punished by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office"

is causing us a small moral and legal dilemma.

If the accusations made in the posting regarding bribery and corruption at the British Embassy in Bucharest are even half true, then Yet Another Scandal is brewing.

Is the poster trying to be another "Whistleblower" or just trying to be malicious ?

If the allegations are not at all true, then do we censor the posting or not ? How can we tell ? Is there anyone reading this blog in Bucharest ?

How do we respond if we get an authenticated request from one of the parties mentioned ?

Do any of you fellow bloggers have any advice ?

The Press Association reports that:

"Farid Hilali, 35, was due to appear at Bow Street magistrates court in London today but prison officials failed to deliver him to court. It was understood to have been an oversight."

How is it possible to "overlook" the court appearance of an allegedly major terrorist suspect ?? Just how many Category A prisoners are there to keep track of in Belmarsh prison ?

We have no idea about whether Hilali is innocent or guilty, but we are worried about the alleged use of voice analysis and what should be inadmissable mobile phone intercepts under a European Arrest Warrant extradition procedure to Spain.

Yet Another GPS Tagging Trial


Why does this this article in The Times about Yet Another GPS Electronic Tagging Trial in the UK, manage to get even the basic facts about how the technology works completely wrong ?

"'Spy in the sky' systems to track sex offenders
By Richard Ford, Home Correspondent

SEX offenders and wife beaters will be tracked by spy in the sky satellites in test schemes to be launched by the Home Office in September "

The illustration to the article provides a better idea of how the Pro Tech technology works. It is utter nonsense to claim that:

"The satellite can tell where a person has been in a given period of time, when a person is approaching an area from where he is banned and even every move a person makes. The system works by placing an ankle bracelet on the offender which is then linked electronically to a mobile tracking device clipped to his belt. The device sends signals to the satellite allowing the offender?s movement to be monitored. "

No! The GPS satellites have no knowledge at all of the position of the tracking unit - they only transmit their synchronised time/position signals down to Earth not the other way around.

We are completely sceptical about whether this technology should ever be used to monitor dangerous criminals or those sex offenders who are highly motivated to re-offend. It has potential uses for those petty offenders on bail or parole who would not have been a risk to society in any case, with or without an electronic tag. To attempt to extend the acceptable categories to more dangerous prisoners, on the grounds of "cost savings" is complete folly.

What works in the wide open desert spaces of the southern USA, simply does not work in the crowded urban areas of the UK where either trees or buildings often obscure the direct line of sight needed to at least 4 GPS satellites in equatorial geostationary orbit, low down in our northern latitude skies.

GPS cannot be used to enforce "no go zones" indoors or inside of closed sided vehicles like vans, which have been the favourite tools of many predatory child molesters and rapists.

There are several ways in which the technology can be spoofed to provide these highly motivated people with an alibi, once it becomes more than a novelty. The reliance on mobile phone technology rather than on more traditional fixed telephone lines for the base unit to communicate with the central control system is another area of weakness which will be exploited.

Even if the technology works, there is no guarantee that the system to enforce it does.

The case of Lawrence Napper a convicted rapist, in Texas, who, despite still wearing the Pro Tech tracking technology, managed to rack up 440 "parole violations" and thrteen arrest warrants in 9 months, including returning to the supposed "no go zone" campus where he had committed the rape, and eventually was arrested for allegedly molesting a 6 year old boy.

He was not re-arrested and sent back to prison, because officials were trying to justify the "cost savings" of the tagging project, and sending too many people back to prison would have cast doubts on the cost effectiveness of the scheme, and presumably on their careers.

This sort of bureaucratic nonsense, leading to tragic consequences, is all too likely to happen in the UK as well, once the novelty and high intensity scrutiny of the pilot project has worn off.

Sir Andrew Leggatt has published his "Annual Report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2003-2004" (.pdf)

We note with interest, that although the Office of Surveillance Commissioners does not deal with the wider privacy issues of CCTV surveillance cameras per se:

"I shall continue to monitor technological developments closely, such as body scanners, facial recognition and Automatic Number Plate Recognition to ensure that their use does not transgress legislation for the protection of privacy."

We hope that the Surveillance Commissioner will double check that any deployments of the new "see through walls" or "see under your clothes" technologies which are supposed to detect hidden weapons or elosives e.g. Passive Millimetre Wave Radar imagers or Low Intensity X-Ray scanners or Ultra Wide Band devices do not breach either the Voyeurism offence of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 or are capable of "making or distributing" unclothed images of children i.e. kiddie porn. The potential to cause harassment to individuals (one's inside leg measurement or bra size is , after all, very personal data) and to entire ethnic or religous minority communities through the use of such technologies, especially if deployed in a covert manner, should not be underestimated.

The report also mentions the fact that new Guidance has had to be issued to the Police regarding the planting of CCTV and other surveillance devices in private residences or premises which are being subjected to "Repeat Burglaries". The issue is one of informed consent of other innocent visitors and residents who will not be aware that they are under CCTV surveillance, and for whom there is no surveillance warrant.

This principle should really also apply to any public CCTV surveillance system, but of course, the terms of reference for the Surveillance Commissioner are very tightly drawn and only deal with where the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act applies to public authorities. Private sector snooping is not covered or regulated at all.

EU central DNA and Biometrics database


The Sunday Telegraph, which seems to be rather favoured by the Home Office when it comes to leaks and briefings and media spin, reports that:

"Blunkett plans EU criminal database
By Patrick Hennessy, Political Editor
(Filed: 04/07/2004)

A European Union criminal database to store DNA and fingerprint records from hundreds of thousands of suspects will be proposed by the Government this week."

Hundreds of thousands of suspects ? The UK National DNA database alone has over 2 million records and counting.

Is David Blunkett going to sign away more of our national sovereignty (just like he did with the Extradition Act) by handing over access to 2 million UK records to the rest of the EU, without reciprocal access to the same proportion of records from other EU countries ? Many of these do not have a national DNA database at all.

"David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, will present the plan as a potent weapon against terrorism and organised crime when he chairs a meeting of European Union home affairs ministers in Sheffield. He envisages a central database, probably controlled by Europol but accessible by national police forces."

Who made the decision to choose Sheffield as the venue for this meeting of the these European Union nomenklatura and their associated hordes of bureaucrats and media journalists ? Who is paying for the extra security that this event will call for ?

Could the fact that David Blunkett is the Member of Parliament for the Sheffield Brightside constituency have anything to do with this strange choice of venue ? Is this an example of what in the USA is called "pork barrel" politics ?

The Home Office and David Blunkett have an appalling record when it comes to implementing national police databases, as documented in the Bichard Inquiry report, which they seem to be diverting media attention away from, by pursuing the red herring of the Humberside Police Authority and Chief Constable.

A European wide database might make sense if it replaced existing databases, but this will probably be just Yet Another Database That David Blunkett Will Not Pay For From Central Funds.

There need to be democratic checks and balances on Europol or whatever agency ends up running this central database.

Will any of the other EU countries dare to use their veto to stand up for human rights and privacy, ?

This meeting of EU ministers should set up and provide the funding for an independent European Union wide oversight agency, to which any individual can appeal, to get errors or libels investigated and corrected and records expunged where necessary, both on the central EU database and on all the national databases where copies of such errors have been propagated , due to automatic "intelligence sharing".

Will they even bother to consider measures which:

How many times have Home Secretaries stood up in Parliament and assured the public that the draconian anti-terrorist laws are "proportionate" and are only intended to be used in exceptional cases, where there are clear "intelligence led policing" grounds for suspicion ?

The official Home Office figures (.pdf) show a vastly different picture of what actually happens in practice (no figures given for Scotland and Northern Ireland)

Text of the Terrorism Act 2000

"Vehicle searches under Terrorism Act 2000 s 44(1)

2001/2002: 7804 searches leading to only 20 arrests connected with terrorism and 149 for other reasons

2002/2003: 16761 searches leading to only 11 arrests connected with terrorism and 280 for other reasons

Pedestrians searched under Terrorism Act 2000 s 44(2)

2001/2002: 946 searches leading to zero arrests connected with terrorism and 20 for other reasons

2002/2003: 4774 searches leading to only 7 arrests connected with terrorism and 79 for other reasons"

These figures are available in more detail, and show the disproportionate concentration of stops and searches involving various ethnic minorities, and the more explainable prominence of urban city police forces covering the highest population densities.

If tens of thousands of stops and searches lead to only a handful of arrests for terrorist related offences, all that this policy is doing is alienating the public, especially, young Muslims, and helping to recruit them into extremist groups. This policy is playing into the hands of the terrorists and is actually a threat to our national security and must be stopped. Has nothing been learned from Northern Ireland ?

The Farid Hilali story in the Evening Standard which we commented on yesterday seems to have been based, without attribution, on a story in The Times (unless both stories are just verbatim parroting of a briefing or leak).

Several other "newspapers" have parroted this story, but one of the few which seems to have quoted The Times as the source, is, astonishingly, the communist Chinese Xinhua news agency.

"The Times, June 30, 2004

Key 9/11 suspect held in London
By Dominic Kennedy, Richard Ford and Stewart Tendler

AN ALLEGED terrorist suspected of plotting the September 11 massacres and being an accomplice of the Madrid train bomb cell has been arrested in Britain, The Times can disclose.

Alleged links between Farid Hilali and the two biggest al-Qaeda attacks in the West make him one of the most important Islamic terrorist suspects held by Scotland Yard.

His arrest on Monday made him the first high-profile suspect detained in Britain under new European warrants designed to improve cross-border co-operation.

Mr Hilali, 35, from Morocco, is believed to be the shadowy figure, previously known as "Shakur", who telephoned the alleged chief of al-Qaeda?s Madrid cell shortly before the September 11 attacks.

In a tapped call on August 27, 2001, Mr Hilali allegedly said that he "had entered into the field of aviation" and "cut the throat of the eagle". Mr Hilali is also said to have promised that he would have something to show the Spain-based terrorist leader in about a month. The calls are reported to have been made from the New Cross or Peckham areas of southeast London.

Voice analysis and detective work led police to believe that Shakur and Mr Hilali were the same person.

Who exactly conducted this "voice analysis" ? The Spanish or the UK authorities ?

The name "Shakur" appeared alongside Osama bin Laden and 33 others on an indictment in Spain last September for allegedly using the country as a base to plot September 11.

Mr Hilali was arrested by the Metropolitan Police last September. He was not charged but was discovered to be an illegal entrant and detained at Belmarsh prison.

If he has been in Belmarsh maximum security prison since September 2003, surely that gives Hilali an alibi for the Madrid bombings in March 2004 ?

He immediately claimed political asylum but his case has yet to be processed. Well-placed sources yesterday expressed doubt about any direct involvement in September 11 but suggested that his arrest was a significant development in the war against terrorism.

We are not a "well placed source" but our doubts about the actual threat posed by Farid Hilali are growing.

Baltasar Garzon the judge leading the Spanish investigation, said last autumn that he had been unable to establish Shakur's identity. But in April he made a new order saying that police had identified him as Mr Hilali, and calling for his extradition.

Baltasar Garzón is the Spanish judge who issued an extradition warrant for General Pinochet the dictator of Chile, which caused such a headache for then Home Secretary Jack Straw, by reminding everyone of Jack Straw's own left wing political activities in Chile when he was a student.

The Metropolitan Police formally arrested Mr Hilali on Monday and brought him before Bow Street Magistrates? Court, accused of ^participation in a terrorist organisation". He was sent back to Belmarsh for seven days. The fast-track extradition procedure, introduced on January 1, should take three months.

The identity of Shakur has been a mystery since Judge Garzón first alleged that a Madrid terrorist cell prepared the September 11 attacks.

There is an alleged link between September 11 and the Madrid al-Qaeda cell blamed for the train bombings which killed 191 people in March.

Judge Garzón alleges that the 9/11 plot was finalised in 2001 at a meeting between Mohammed Atta, the leading hijacker, and Ramzi Binalshibh, a suspected al-Qaeda leader. One train bomb suspect has been charged with helping to arrange the meeting. "

The detailed USA 9/11 Commission report does not mention any Spanish links with either Mohammed Atta or Ramzi Binalshibh, and it does not mention Farid Hilali either.

Why have no "journalists" asked questions such as:

  • Is there really any proper evidence against Farid Hilali or is the UK court's interpretation of a European Arrest Warrant going to permit "fast track" extradition merely on on rumours and easily faked mobile phone "evidence" ?

  • Where did the Spanish authorities get authenticated voice samples from Farid Hilali, with which to conduct "voice analysis" comparisons with the intercepted mobile phone call allegedly made by "Shakur" in August 2001 ?

  • Were such recordings obtained by the UK authorities by bugging Hilali's legally privileged conversations with lawyers or with relatives or other inmates etc. inside Belmarsh prison ?

  • Or are we to assume that the Spanish authoritiesare conducting illegal electronic surveillance within the United Kingdom ?

  • Will the extradition hearing on July 5th actually bother to forensically examine the alleged Spanish "voice analysis" and the mobile phone intercept "evidence", something which should be illegal under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act ?

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