March 2005 Archives

There has been some comment online regarding the privacy and security risks of the forthcoming United States Biometric Passports, and the Department for Homeland Security's plans for Federal Employee Smart ID Cards, as outlined by this Wired article and the RFID Kills website.

However it should be remembered that the United Kingdom Passport Service is planning to issue very similar Biometric Passports, to the same International Civil Aviation Organisation standards for Machine Readable Travel Documents at almost the same time as the United States.

"The UKPS is planning to implement a facial recognition image biometric in the British Passport book from late 2005/early 2006."

"In line with ICAO recommendations, the UKPS will deploy contactless integrated circuit media (i.e. a computer chip) of sufficient capacity to facilitate storage of the facial image and at least one additional biometric identifier. A contactless chip includes an aerial to allow close proximity readings, i.e. without being swiped through a reader. Modern contactless chips are paper-thin and therefore particularly suited to being incorporated in passport books or passport identity cards."

Privacy International have published an analysis of the Passport Service's 5 year plan and the confusion with the controversial National Identity Register and ID Card scheme.

There should be no question that the privacy and security of medical records is essential, not just to protect an individual's human rights, but to protect the health of the whole country from the under reporting of infectious diseases and other general health hazards.

The National Health Service "data spine" has been controversial amongst medical practioners, most of whom do not feel that they have been adequately consulted. There has been no consultation whatsover with the vast majority of National Health Service patients, i.e. most of the population of the country

The BBC reports:

Reuters report (widely copied word for word by other news media e.g. the BBC and the Press Association):

"Anti-terrorism police hold man in soldier probe
Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:23 PM GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - A man has been charged under anti-terrorism legislation for allegedly being in possession of the name and address of a British soldier, police say.

Abu Baker Mansha, 21, from east London, was accused of having "a document, namely a piece of paper, containing the name and home address of a UK soldier -- information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

A police spokeswoman said the charge related to just one British soldier but could not say who this individual was or what rank they held.

No other details were available, she said.

Mansha was arrested by anti-terrorist officers last Thursday"

According to the BBC, this was in Thamesmead, South East London i.e. presumably within sight of Her Majesty's Prison Belmarsh

and was due to appear at London's Bow Street magistrates on Tuesday.

Britain has arrested more than 700 people under anti-terrorist laws since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Of these, 17 have been convicted of terrorist offences, about 120 have been charged under anti-terrorism legislation and 135 have been charged under other legislation."

Presumably this means that Terrorism Act 2000. section 58 Collection of Information, one of the most catch all "soviet" style bits of legislation on the statute books, which by providing a defence of "having a reasonable excuse" for possession of such information, reverses the burden of proof for the defendant i.e. he has to prove himself innocent, rather than the prosecution having to prove him guilty.

Which politician, in the run up to the forthcoming General Election, will promise to reform this frighteningly draconian legislation ?

Is Abu Baker Mansha a British citizen ? Will he be subjected to a Control Order under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 if this Terrorism Act charge fails to convict him ?

If this "information" was something like a secret VIP travel plan itinerary, or the detailed plans of part of the Critical National Infrastructure, then that would be one thing, but simply the "Name and Home Address" of a single soldier (rank irrelevant) is really grasping at straws and is disproportionate

If such Name and Address information really is of use to terrorists then it totally undermines the Nu Labour Government's dubious plans for a compulsory National Identity Register and ID card, which will have everyone's Name and Home Address, and previous Names and Addresses, both in the UK and Overseas.

All our Names and Addresses should be protected equally and there is no excuse for treating any soldier, whatever their rank or secret duties, or politician etc. any differently from any other UK Citizen under the law.

The David Blunkett is an Arse blog is also similarly puzzled and worried about this case.

Is Nu Labour bugging the Tories ?


The Sun tabloid newspaper alleges that:

"Tories sweep HQ for bugs By DAVID WOODING Whitehall Editor

TORIES have swept their London HQ for BUGS as they gear up for the nastiest election campaign in history.

They fear that Labour spies have infiltrated the party and are eavesdropping on officials.

A security firm was called to search the building hours after deputy chairman Howard Flight was sacked. He had been secretly taped telling a private meeting of planned Tory "cuts"."

This alleged incident did not happen at the Conservative party offices at 25 Victoria Street, London, above a branch of the Starbucks chain of coffee shops, but, according to The Times, at a meeting of the Thatcherite "Conservative Way Forward group" held at the "Whitehall club in Adam Street" last Wednesday.

"Officials are convinced Mr Flight was the victim of a Labour dirty tricks campaign codenamed Operation Black Watch. He is the THIRD senior Tory to have been covertly taped."

"Operation Blackwatch" - is that a Tory or Nu Labour choice of codename ?

"Chairman Liam Fox was recorded telling a Commons meeting that tougher asylum laws would woo back deserting voters. And shadow defence minister Gerald Howarth's private dinner chat on political correctness was later made public.

Three workers who suddenly quit after the 2001 election are now feared to have been spies.

And Tory bigwigs fear Labour has had "sleepers" in place for two years. Two suspects were caught trying to join as volunteer workers for the Tories last month but their credentials did not check out.

Then a man claiming he was denied NHS treatment asked for Michael Howard to take up his case — but scarpered when Tory staff tried to call an ambulance.

Staff say the campaign has the hallmarks of former Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell.

An insider at the Tories' Victoria Street offices said: "It's very much an atmosphere of 'the walls have ears' after the events of the past few days.""

The Guido Fawkes blog surmises that Nu Labour "election strategist" Fraser Kemp MP for Houghton & Washington East is responsible for these tape recordings, and for monitoring political opposition weblogs.

There were similar allegations of Nu Labour dirty tricks and even of "hacking in to Tory party bank accounts", during the Michael Ashcroft foreign donations affair in 1999, with Michael Ancram and Tim Collins both claiming that they had called in the Police to investigate the alleged "hacking". However, no prosecutions were ever proceeded with.

Will there actually be a real police investigation into these claims that communications have been intercepted, which is an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000?

Is every customer sitting in the 27 Victoria Street Starbucks café with their laptop computers or PDA devices, now to be suspected of WiFi or Bluetooth sniffing of the Tory party offices above ?

Even though the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, is not yet law, The Times announces, Monday 28th March 2005

"Secret agents join fight against organised crime By Stewart Tendler, Crime Correspondent BRITAIN'S new organised crime-fighting agency has recruited intelligence and security experts for special operations against underworld bosses.

David Bolt, who worked in MI5, and Paul Evans, a former MI6 officer, will have key posts in the Serious Organised Crime Agency. The idea is to bring the skills and training of the intelligence world into frontline policing. Plans for the agency were announced last year after concerns in Downing Street at the failure to curb the drugs trade. It was believed that the fight against organised crime needed new people and new thinking. Sir Stephen Lander, a former director-general of MI5, was appointed to head the board overseeing the agency's creation.

Mr Bolt and Mr West have worked in crime-fighting units after years of work in the intelligence community."

Who is Mr West ?

"Other senior officers may follow them. Mr Bolt, who will be in charge of intelligence operations, headed strategic intelligence operations at the National Criminal Intelligence Service. Mr Evans, who will be "director intervention" at the new agency, was the first outsider to be Chief Investigation Officer at Customs."

So these people are not being recruited from the "intelligence" agencies directly, and should have, in theory, already brought their "skills and training" to play at NCSIS and HMCE ? If these were such a success, then why is there a need for the Serious Organised Crime Agency in the first place ?

The Times headline implies that there is some sort of "brain drain" from the "intellgence" services into SOCA, but this is not necessarily true.

Hopefully the Government will drop the controversial extension of Police powers in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, so as to preserve the powers to set up SOCA, during the "wash up" process when the Election is announced soon.

Even the Police Federation and the Police Superintendents' Association have reservations about the plans remove the traditional independence of police officers who transfer to SOCA, under the direct political control of the Home Secretary.

It will be a scandal if the House of Lords nods through the entire Bill without challenge.

Is the United Kingdom really set to have Yet Another National Police Database ?

Automatic Number Plate Recognition seems to be a rapidlly expanding technology amongst the 43 or so UK Police Forces, according to a press release from the Association of Chief Police Officers

John Lettice has a good article in The Register which cites a Police Information Technology Organisation web page which lists the history of ANPR schemes.

Given the 25 to 30 million vehicles on the roads, it makes sense to use this sort of technology to try to clamp down on stolen or untaxed vehicles.

The use of mobile or fixed CCTV camera systems combined with a roadside police intercept team to conduct legal "stops and searches" of vehicles, where the grounds of "reasonable suspicion" have been provided by the ANPR lookup on the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency and Police Intelligence databases, should be a proportionate use of the technology and is to be welcomed.

However, we really do have serious concerns about using ANPR for "intelligence" rather than for "reasonable suspicion" stops and searches.

"Key points from the Strategy include:
  • Development of a national infrastructure of ANPR enabled cameras and readers to cover strategic sites

  • Developing a National ANPR Data Centre to analyse intelligence from ANPR readers from across the country"

Will this be a new infrastructure of roadside cameras, or will existing systems be hijacked ? Either these existing cameras are not properly justified and are under utilised, or the ANPR tasks will compete with the primary function e.g. traffic queue management

Who exactly pays for this national infrastructure ? The local council tax payers ?

Will the private sector Trafficmaster system be used or will the controversial National Roads Teleccomunications Services Project ?

  • "All police forces in England and Wales having at least one dedicated ANPR intercept team by October 2005, with more to follow"

According to thus report in The Guardian, the Police Federation are worried about the decrease in Traffic Police numbers:

"He feels the new officers will be an excuse to whittle down the already dwindling ranks of traffic police, which dropped in manpower from 7,500 to 6,200 between 1998 and 2002"

whose duties, powers and training, especially for "stop and search", cannot be substituted by lower paid civilian auxilaries employed by the Highways Agency.

More ANPR camera technology is unjustifiable if there are even fewer actual Traffic Police patrols on the road.

  • "Using hypothecated income from Fixed Penalty Notices resulting from ANPR activity to fund further ANPR development"
  • Hypothecated taxes ? No ! As John Lettice points out, this looks to be as controversial as Speed Cameras or Privatised Car Clamping, where there is plenty of evidence of abuses caused by financial income targets.

    • "Using ANPR data within force intelligence and investigative strategies"

    The PITO webpage also includes the chilling phrase:

    "In addition, PITO’s Central Customer is identifying future ANPR requirements, such as the development of a national database to store all ANPR ‘reads’ and analytical tools to mine this."

    This implies collecting and collating ANPR time and location data on millions of innocent vehicles, which are not on any "wanted list".

    All the same questions we asked (and failed to get answers about) in our London Congestion Charge Concerns such as Data Retention and other Data Privacy policies comes to mind.

    We have extreme privacy concerns about these hidden "intelligence" uses for a national mass surveillance system.

    This needs to be invesigated by the Information Commissioner needs to investigate probable breaches of the Data Protection Act, as does the Surveillance Commissioner, for disproportionate use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, before the specifications for the system are finalised.

    We have now been sent the OGC internal review of our Freedom of Information Act request for the Gateway Reviews of the Home Office ID Card Programme

    As feared, this has not elicited any more information about the Identity Cards Programme.

    Has this FOIA request been deliberately delayed by the politicians and spin doctors, for the full statutory 20 working days, followed by a further 15 working days for "public interest balancing", followed by another month of "internal review", simply to avoid producing any answers which might have informed the debates during the various stages of the controversial Identity Cards Bill ?

    How can it be that the high level details of actual project objectivesa and risks, for the Identity Cards Programme, a multi-billion pound project, with massive implications for the whole relationship between the State and the Citizen will not emerge until the project disaster that many people fear, has already wasted our money, and compromised both our civil liberties and national security ?

    Why doesn't the Government publish these so called Gateway Reviews, without personally identifying any of the civil servants and consultants, only their conclusions and recommendations ?

    Having exhausted the internal appeal process, only now is it possible to submit this FOIA request to the Information Commissioner for a ruling.

    Presumably the "Department for Constitutional Affairs Clearing House for Freedom of Information Act enquiries" mentioned in this reply, is the "secret spin unit" which this article in The Independent refers to ?

    Thanks to an email from one of our readers for pointing us to this detailed article in the Nottingham Evening Post about a worrying aspect of the recently concluded high profile murder case. The case of Peter Williams, convicted as the accomplice, in the shooting murder robbery of Marian Bates, the jewellery business owner who tried to defend her daughter, reveals a whole catalogue of blunders involving electronic tagging.

    An interesting detail caught our attention:

    "Estimates suggest sending someone to prison for a year costs a minimumof £24,000 but tagging an offender costs just £2,000. Current tags only allow supervisors to know if an offender is where they are supposed to be. An alarm is triggered if they move a certain distance from a monitor at home.

    The monitor is connected to a central control room by telephone line - or if there is no phone line - as in the Williams case - is checked by a touring detector van"

    Why are people released from custody to an address which does not have a phone line ?

    Why do the authotities not install and pay for a dedicated phone line as part of the monitoring cost ?

    How on earth is a system like this supposed to be secure or reliable enough to keep track of Violent ot Sexual Offenders, or of Terrorist Suspects subject to Control Orders ?

    The controversial Identity Cards Bill has now had its Second Reading in the House of Lords, and now moved to the Lords Committee stage, the timing of which depends on whether or not the Prime Minister Tony Blair calls a General Election for the 5th May as widely expected.

    The debate was poorly attended, and rather short, giving the impression that the Government is just "going through the motions"

    The Government's "justifications" for the Bill still make dismal reading, as do the perorations of some Labour Peers.

    The London School of Economics report The Identity Project: an assessment of the UK Identity Cards Bill and its implications (.pdf) seems to have had an impact on the debate, such as it was, and there was an extraordinary attack on the NO2ID Campaign from the Labour Baroness Gibson, who finds the use of a Post Office box on a "glossy and extremely well produced" leaflet is somehow evidence that NO2ID is a "sinister" organisation.

    Since this Second Reading has not been extensively reported by the mainstream media or by other bloggers, here are some thoughts on the debate:

    For those people who somehow think that surveillance technology is a magic solution to social problems, this BBC3 tv programme looks to be of interest: 3 Investigates: Tagging Criminals will be broadcast on BBC Three on Monday 21 March at 2000 GMT

    "Electronic tagging investigated

    There is no evidence the electronic monitoring of criminals reduces re-conviction rates, the Home Office has admitted.

    BBC Three's Raphael Rowe meets criminals with electronic tags, and investigates the companies that are supposed to be keeping a close eye on them"

    We were a bit puzzled why the disgraced former Home Secretary David Blunkett did not, as we feared, witter on about ID Cards in his much hyped "political comeback" "English identity" speech to the Nu Labour Institiute for Public Policy Research (.pdf) on the 14th of March 2005.

    The Guido Fawkes blog points to a possible reason for this, namely the fact that David Blunkett now seems to be a paid advisor to a firm of lobbyists called Indepen Consulting Ltd, some of whose clents will no doubt be weighing the prospect of multi-billion pind Government IT contracts, against the reputational risk to their brand images of being associated with a repressive , "Big Brother" IT project disaster in the making.

    The Register of Members' Interests entry (updated 28th January 2005) confirms this:

    "2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc... Adviser to Indepen Consulting Limited, giving seminars on relationship between government and business. (£5,001-£10,000)"

    It also raises the obvious question of why, for example, a senior Civil Servant is forbidden from being employed in such a way for at least a year, but a disgraced former Cabinet Minister can get on the gravy train after only a month out of office ?

    Will the House of Lords vote down the Identity Cards Bill on its Second Reading this afternnoon, or will they nod it through to the Committee stage ?

    Will this Bill be smuggled through , without being properly debated in the end of Parliament political horsetrading and back room dealing, during the undemocratic so called "wash up" process ?

    If you want to read an interim detailed academic study of the Bill, the London School of Economics has published: The Identity Project: an assessment of the UK Identity Cards Bill and its implications (.pdf)

    This serious report demolishes most of the assumptions upon which the Bill is allegedly based.

    Particularly interesting is the demolition of the "need" for Biometric Identifiers in order to meet international passport standards.

    Despite this, the interom report slightly glosses over a few of the details which we have been harping on about
    e.g.Identity Cards Bill - 184 tabled Amendments - but nothing about Section 31 "10 years in prison for going on strike or making an IT mistake near the National Identity Register" or the oft repeated Government claim that "up to 35% of terrorists/organised criminals use false/multiple/forged identities" (British false identities ?) etc.

    Will their noble Lordships take this report, and all the other principled and practical objections into account, (e.g. the NO2ID Campaign) in a way which the House of Commons collectively refused to do, and vote against this Bill ?

    The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), enacted into UK law through the Human Rights Act 1998, and which is to be a legally binding part of the European Union Constitution, is by no means perfect.

    In many areas, which were not prevalant in society 50 or so years ago when the ECHR was written, such as Genetics or Data Protection it needs to be strengthened so as to address these explicitly.

    Why then are the Conservative Opposition under Michael Howard, attacking the whole Human Rights Act, threatening to repeal it altogether, if they win the next General Election ?

    The Conservative Party advert in several Sunday newspapers today:

    The international anti-terrorist exercise Atlantic Blue seems to be back on again, according to the Home Office, despite the rumour in December 2004 that the UK part of the exercise was to be cancelled.

    The individual exercises are known as "Atlantic Blue" in the UK, "TopOff3" ("Top Officials") in the USA and "Triple Play" in Caanada have

    "been designed to test simultaneous responses to internationally linked terrorist incidents."

    However, unlike the USA end of the exercise, where there will be tens of thousands of security and emergency service people involved, the UK end is much more modest:

    "There will be no visible ‘on the ground’ activity within the UK exercise, allowing players to focus at a strategic level on communication issues across international borders."

    Were the planned dates of the week of the 4th to the 8th of April problematic for the UK Government in pre- General Election Announcement and Royal Wedding mode ?

    Can it be that there are not enough resources for the UK to run a realistic "on the ground" counter terrorist exercise ?

    Are the Civil Service digging their heels in, so as not to be seen to be contrbuting to the Nu Labour "Climate of Fear" spin and disinfomation before a General Election where National Security has been reduced to a political ping pong ball ?

    Perhaps that is why "Atlantic Blue" seems to have been downgraded to an unrealistic Metropolitan Police "wargame", rather than anything on the scale of the previous USA TopOff2 exercise, or even the inadequate Civil Defence "exercises" conducted at the Bank Tube Station in London and at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, which were notable for the absence of members of the general public.

    Some of the impetus for the UK Government's compulsory biometric National Identity Register and ID Card is supposed to be to help combat terrorist or serious organised crime money laundering and finance.

    The Joint Money Laundering Steering Group of the British Bankers Association, has published a Consultation document which is open for comments from the financial industry and the public until 30th June 2005.

    The financial industry seems to be slowly waking up to the increasing cost and bureacracy imposed by the current approach to Money Laundering , which on the one hand penalises the vast majority of their innocent customers with timewasting "identity checks", involving easily forged utitlity bills etc. On the other hand, it relies on systems which use various official Government financial blacklists as their raw "Garbage In, Garbage Out" data, dressed up as Know Your Customer or Anti-Money Laundering databases and software.

    The aim of the Consultation seems to be to see if the industry can move over to a more intelligent risk based approach to Money Laundering Regulations, instead of the lip service and backside covering, which the current system seems to operate on.

    Those of us who are interested in personal privacy issues, should take the time to contribute to this consultation, to remind the financial industry and its regulators of the public's Privacy and Data Protection fears and mistrust of this failed bureacratic form filling approach to combatting terrorism.

    In order to protect themselves from possible legal action under the Proceeds of Crimes Act 2002, banks and financial institutions have been investing in increasingly complicated and expensive Know Your Customer database systems, against which they are supposed to check whether they are about to do business with someone who is on an official Government blacklist

    To see just how useless these financial blacklists are, in actually catching anybody involved in terrorist or drug smuggling related money laundering, you only have to examine a typical one, e.g. published by the Bank of England:

    Where are the Control Orders for the "100 to 200" (according to Sir John Stevens) or "several hundred" (according to Tony Blair) "British bin-Laden trained terrorist suspects", which were being hyped up as an immediate threat to the whole fabric of life of the United Kingdom, only last week, before the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 ?

    The only people who seem to have been served with Control Orders seem to be the foreign ex-Belmarsh, Woodside and Broadmoor detainees.

    Why are the "Westminster village" politicians and journalists not asking this question ? Perhaps, the late Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson quote "a week is a long time in politics" applies, or perhaps the "Westminster village" really does only have the political attention span of a goldfish.

    What are the actual terms of the restrictions invoked by these Control Orders (without, of course, personal details) ? Why are they not available for available for public viewing ? How can they be a deterrent if they are kept secret ?

    How do they differ from the previous Bail Conditions ? Were they modified by the Judge in the same way as the Home Office bail conditions fax mentioned above was ?

    As expected the High Court seems to have applied an Anonymity Order/Injunction, but why this should have to be an optional, separate, legal process is just another example of how badly drafted the "Prevention from Terrorism Act" is.

    Why were the arrangements for these Belmarsh detainees / subjects of Control Orders, apparently so chaotic, and poorly thought out ? It is as if nothing was done in the way of planning until the last minute, and the end result could have been written by Franz Kafka or Jaroslav Hasek.

    Disgraced former Home Secretary David Blunkett is being hyped as returning to high political office, starting with this speech on Monday 14th March:

    "But he is back and we can expect a Blunkett blitz on the airwaves: his return to public life begins with the launch of a pamphlet and a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research on the vexed question of identity."

    On his previous record, we expect this speech and pamphlet to contain spurious "statistics" and claims, in support of his discredited plans for a compulsory centralised biometric National Identity Register and ID Card.

    Will it be the "identity fraud costs £1.3 billion a year" rubbish or the "up to 35% of terrorists/organised criminals use false/multiple/forged identities" slogan, or "biometrics are unforgeable" or some other fiction that he and his fellow Nu Labour politicians have been repeating over and over ?

    The Prevention of Terrorism Act has now been passed into law with immediate effect.

    The traditional process of recording the Bill as an Act of Parliament on the Statute Book, and obtaining Royal Assent, is a procedure of astonishing ritual and tradition:

    Despite the political compromise which led to the passing of the Bill, it is still bad law, and yet another defeat for our democratic values.

    The terrorists are still laughing at us, as they look forward to recrutiing more British citizens who feel victimised by the Government, partly as a result of this Act.

    The politicians on both sides who allowed this Bill to pass are deluding themselves if they think that they will now be able to escape blame for any terrorist atrocity in the near future, by claiming that they were not being "weak" on terrorism.

    The prospect of Yet More Anti-Terrorism Legislation after the General Election is not a something that we look forward to. Surely there are far too many draconian powers available already ? What is there left to make illegal ?

    When, not if, the inevitable miscarriages of justice and the abuses of human rights of innocent people that will flow from this Act, come to light, these same politicians from both sides should take the honourable course of action, and resign.

    The bail conditions imposed on one of the people who have been held without trial in Belmarsh prison, and who are now being released, gives a glimpse of what the Home Office obviously has in mind with its plans for allegedly "non derogating" Control Orders.

    It is striking just how many of the Home Office's list of demanded bail conditions were modified by the senior Judge, upon application from the defence lawyers, not in respect of the bailed suspect himself, but regarding the "collateral damage" that the bail conditions would have done to to the rights and privacy of family members and other people that the bailed suspect would be likely to come into contact with.

    The Guardian reports:

    "Everyday life for the gagged and tagged

    Conditions Bail judge expects similar limits in control orders

    Alan Travis, home affairs editor
    Friday March 11, 2005
    The Guardian

    The details of what life will be like as one of the "gagged and tagged" terror suspects being placed under partial house arrest emerged yesterday as the bail conditions were set for those who are being released from Belmarsh high security prison.

    Mr Justice Ouseley set down 11 separate conditions agreed yesterday between the home secretary and the detainees' lawyers.

    The judge said last night that he expected the terms of the new control orders to be very similar."

    Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations has given a Keynote Speech at the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security currently being held in Madrid, Spain, which commemorates the 11th March anniversary of the terrorist bomb attacks there last year.

    "The Panel asked me to promote a principled, comprehensive strategy. I intend to do that. This seems to me a fitting occasion to set out the main elements of that strategy, and the role of the United Nations in it.

    There are five elements, and I shall call them the “five D’s”. They are:

    • first, to dissuade disaffected groups from choosing terrorism as a tactic to achieve their goals;

    • second, to deny terrorists the means to carry out their attacks;

    • third, to deter states from supporting terrorists;

    • fourth, to develop state capacity to prevent terrorism;

    • and fifth, to defend human rights in the struggle against terrorism."

    Which States could Kofi Annan be referring to below ?

    "Last, but far from least, the fifth D — we must defend human rights.
    • I regret to say that international human rights experts, including those of the UN system, are unanimous in finding that many measures which States are currently adopting to counter terrorism infringe on human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    • Human rights law makes ample provision for strong counter-terrorist action, even in the most exceptional circumstances. But compromising human rights cannot serve the struggle against terrorism. On the contrary, it facilitates achievement of the terrorist’s objective — by ceding to him the moral high ground, and provoking tension, hatred and mistrust of government among precisely those parts of the population where he is most likely to find recruits.

    • Upholding human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element in it."

    How far can the unelected House of Lords preserve our liberties and freedoms before the presumed date of the General Election in May ?

    Just in case you think that the only evil legislation that has reached them is the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, do not forget the others:

    According to the highly respected and IT literate Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allan (who is not planning to stand for re-election), the dreadul Identity Cards Bill could still sneak through onto the statute books at the end of the Parliamentary session, via the undemocratic "wash up" process, if the Conservatives do a backroom deal with the Labour Government.

    Also scheduled to be considered is the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which includes:

    • The controversial "religous hatred" offences.

    • Restrictions on demonstrations within 1 kilometre of Parliament Square, which, astonishingly, have been prompted by a single individual protestor.

    • Making all offences arrestable by a constable. This means that your fingerprints and DNA will be taken for even the most trivial offences which you may be accused of, and which will be retained forever even if you are innocent ?

    • It will also be possible to force you to provide shoeprint impressions.

    • It will also be possible to fingerprint you "out in the field" using mobile equipment, before you have been charged in the Police station.. In theory these "identification fingerprints" are meant to be destroyed after use. You can see how this new power would slot in nicely with the National Identity Register that would be set up by the Identity Cards Bill.

    • It will also be possible to perform a compulsory drug test on you, also "out in the field" with new equipment, again without you actually being charged.

    Liberty Human Rights have a briefing paper (.pdf) for the Lords Second Reading of this Bill.

    Potentially this Bill could also end up being passed without further debate or amendment, in the undemocratic "wash up" process as well.

    Prevention of Terrorism Bill - ping pong


    The House of Lords is now debating and voting on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, which has come back from the House of Commons, which to their shame, removed all the substantive Amendments that the Lords had voted in e.g. the "sunset clause" and the "standard of proof" and the having the same judicial process for the "non-derogating" Control Orders as for the "derogating" ("House Arrest") ones. The Lords seem to have re-introduced some of these Amendments, and the Bill is due to be sent back to the Commons.

    How long will this Parliamentary "ping pong" continue for ? Potentially this could go on untill midnight tonight, but what then ? Will further time be taken out of the Parliamentary timetable which could affect other controversial Bills such as the Identity Cards Bill or the repressive clauses in the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Police Bill (e.g. making all offences arrestable which means that your fingerprints and DNA will be taken for even the most trivial offences which you may be accused of, and which will be retained forever even if you are innocent ?

    Since the Parliamentary website cannot seem to keep up with publishing all the detailed amendments online, so that the public can see exactly what is being voted on at any one time e.g. it is completely unclear if the Lords amendment to remove the power of the Secretary of State to create arbitarary "non-derogating" Control Orders which are not spelled out on the face of the Bill, has been removed, or reinstated.

    We therefore have to guess, that none of the points we have raised earlier have been discussed e.g. the effect of Control Orders on Children or on Criminal Records.

    We question the whole concept of the practical effectiveness of "non-derogating" Control Orders.

    How are we meant to be any safer if a supposed terrorist suspect is prohibited from using his own mobile phone ? What is to stop him or her from using their friend's phone or a public call box ? In order to ensure compliance such an order, he or she would need to be under constant 24/7 surveillance, as would all his friends and the whole area in which he or she happens to be in at any particular time.

    Surely such scarce surveillance resources are better devoted to lawfully authorised covert surveillance of suspects, for intelligence purposes to find their accomplices and any weapons, explosives, illegal money , documents etc ? What possible intelligence can be derived from even a "guilty" terrorist suspect who has been "tipped off" by the fact that they have been served with a Control Order ?

    Peter Hain, the Leader of the Commons has been wittering on about how the Prevention of Terrorism Bill would somehow be a protection from "suicide terrorists". Any people that our security services have identified as being actively involved in such a plot should never be served with Control Orders at all.

    They should either be under constant 24/7 covert surveillance up to the point that say, explosives evidence can be found, and then they should be prosecuted in the normal way. If there is any prospect of any immediate danger, than the use of deadly force by the Anti-Terrorist Police or SAS etc. may be justified.

    The Prime Minister has also uttered a spurious warning that somehow the "sunset clause" would encourage terrorists because the "temporary" nature of the legislation would be seen a being "weak".

    Why this should have any influence whatsover on the hate filled death cults who threaten us, is a mystery.

    Even if the terrorists attempt an atrocity in the UK during the Election Campaign, we hope that the British electorate will not believe that any of the democratic political parties are "weak on terrorism".

    Hansard and the Parliament's website seem to have found it impossible to keep up to date with the slime mould that is the legislative progress of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill.

    We suspect that almost nobody actually completely understands exactly what the House of Commons and the House of Lords have actually been voting for or against.

    Whilst there have been several Opposition Amendments voted through in the House of Lords, so have a few alleged "concessions" and Government amendments which, through a mixture of incompetence and contempt for Parliament, the Nu Labour politruks (political commissars) failed to let even their own supporters have sight of, for proper scrutiny in the House of Commons.

    As a result several of the points we raised on first reading the proposed legislation have still not been discussed or addressed, points which should worry even supporters of the Bill. e.g.

    • What about Control Orders applied to Children ? Where is the provision for parents or guardians to be present with legal advisors throughout all stages of the hugely complicated legal proceedings ? What about the anonymity of Children under these circumstances ?

    • What about Criminal Records Bureau Enhanced Disclosures and Police Intelligence sharing databases e.g. I-PLX or IMPACT with respect to people who have not been convicted of any crime ? Should a future employer be able to see if someone was subjected to a Control Order in the past ? If a Control Order is quashed on appeal, and the conviction for breaking the illegal or disproportionate Control Order falls, what happens to the Criminal Record and to the fingerprints, DNA samples etc. of those people who have been arrested ? What happens if the person is arrested for 48 hours, fingerprinted, DNA sampled , photographed, pending the serving of a Control Order, and the Home Secretary decides not to serve it at that time ? What happens to the Criminal Records etc ?

    • What about Anonymity when the Finger of the State has been pointed at you , branding you a Terrorist Suspect ? It is not just demonstrations from suppporters of those under say, House Arrest that needs to be considered, but lynch mobs, vigilantes and the Press Pack harrassment of family, neighbours and the local community, which needs to be guarded against. Waiting for a court date to apply for an Anonymity Order is all very well for someone already safely in custody, but is unfair on people served with a Control Order who are not in custody, especialy when a mistake has been made,

    • The new Government "concession" amendment regarding an immediate power of police arrest for up to 48 hours (extensible for another 48 hours) for someone who is to be served a "derogating" "House Arrest" type Control Order is not on the same footing as the other powers for serving a "non-derogating" Control Order, where there is a power to use force to enter without a warrant, any premises in search of a person to serve a Control Order on. There are still no provisions for arranging a reasonable time, contacting the actual lanlord or keyholders of premises or for paying compensation for any damage or loss of business.

    Now that the Bill is back in the House of Commons. This afternoon, the House of Commons will only have time to accept or reject the Lords Amendments, and presumably the promised further "concessions" from the Government, and will, presumably, not bother to even consider any of the points raised above.

    Home Secretary Charles Clarke has been wittering on about the need to be able to inflict Control Orders on someone "in an emergency" where there is a risk of them fleeing. This is utter rubbish. The size and cost of the 24/7 surveillance team needed to keep an eye on any dangerous terrorist suspect even confined to "House Arrest" is virtually the same as required to keep them under covert survellance. Anything less than "House Arrest" e.g. electronic tagging, is ridiculous, if there is a risk that the suspect might flee.

    If people are suspected of being an immediate danger, then the existing Terrorism Act 2000 allows arrest without trial for up to 14 days already, so what is the need for "Emergency Control Orders" at all ?

    Passing this Bad Legislation, even in this amended form, is wrong, and will simply cause injustices which will be exploited by terrorist recruiters, without actually making us any safer.

    The Nu Labour Government seems to be more concerned with pretending to be "tough" on terrorism, and trying to pretend that its opponents are somehow "weak" on the issue, ahead of the forthcoming General Election. Surely this is too transparent a political ploy to influence the Electorate ?

    Bradford Council's public CCTV surveillance cameras schemes appear to have be used increasingly for directed surveillance by the Police and by Customs & Excise, according to this Freedom of Information Act request based report in the local newspaper, the Bradford Telegraph & Argus

    Directed Surveillance requires authorisation under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and is used for police surveillaance, familiar from TV and film as a "stakeout", or following suspects on foot or in a vehicle, with or without tracking devices etc.

    However, RIPA only authorises the a list of public bodies such as the Police or Customs & Excise to snoop on people being investigated for a "serious" crime. defined as one which would be likley to attract at least a 3 year prison sentence for a first time offender, if convicted.

    It does not authorise Local Authorities to snoop on people in this way.

    It might be different if the CCTV surveillance camera scheme was actually run or operated by the Police in cooperation with the Local Authority, but this is rarely the case.

    It is important to note that this CCTV surveillance is not by the Local Authority in respect of any of its statutory functions e.g. preventing fly tipping, etc., or health or trading standards offences, for which it might have a legitimate Data Purpose such as

    "Crime prevention and detection and the apprehension and prosecution of offender"

    registered under the Data Protection Act 1998, and supervised by the Information Commissioner Richard Thomas.

    It is not proportionate for a Local Council to be involved directly in surveillance involving serious crime investigations.

    As the Bradford councillor states in the article below, the Police and Customs & Excise have their own camera surveillance equipment for such "directed surveillance".

    It also raises the question of if the Local Council run CCTV cameras are being concentrated on the "directed surveillance" targets, then they are not doing their proper job of "protecting" the rest of their field of view, as they were designed and paid for to do.

    The Surveillance Commissioner, Sir Andrew Leggatt needs to investigate if, how and by whom, this "directed surveillance" was "authorised", and what happens to the CCTV data on innocent people, how long it is retained for etc. both in Bradford, and in other Local Councils.

    Read the Braford Telegraph & Argus article:

    Farid Hilali appeared in court again today, according to Reuters.

    His case is of general interest because he is the first person in the United Kingdom who faces being extradited , in this case to Spain, under the new , allegedly more speedy, European Arrest Warrant.

    This European Arrest Warrant extradition procedure has certainly lasted longer than the three months which it is supposed to take, as the original request from the Spanish authorities was issued in April 2004. His next hearing has been adjourned until April 21st 2005.

    The case is also notable in that it seems to be entirely reliant on mobile phone communications data and intercept evidence in an alleged terrorism case.

    The "Westminster village" of politicians and journalists have hardly managed to understand these types of technological "intelligence" or "evidence", what will they make of the fact that Hilali is claiming that it is a case of mistaken identity, and that the Spanish authorities are somehow "magically" relying on some unknown, unchallenged "voice analysis/comparison" technology to claim that he is the person who uttered some innocent/code phrase during a phone conversation with a senior Al-Queada suspeect in Spain, before the September 11th 2001 attacks ?

    How exactly did the Spanish authorities get hold of voice samples of Farid Hilali in order to compare with their intercepted phone call recordings ? Were his conversations in Belmarsh recorded and handed over tot the Spanish authorities ?

    For those of you using a search engine to look up "Farid Hilali" , note the number of other websites which spread the disinformation that since Hilali is wanted by Spanish authorities on terrorism charges, therfore he must somwhow be connected with the Madrid bomb attacks of 11th March 2004. However, since he was arrested on immigration charges in September 2003, and has been in custody in Belmarsh high security prison ever since, one would have thought that he had a cast iron alibi for the Madrid attacks, which appear to have been planned in January / February 2004.

    The Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has published an 11 page Memorandum to the Education and Skills Select Committee (.pdf) which criticises the Government's plans for a massive database on all children and their parents in the UK, under the controversial powers the Government granted to itself in the Children Act 2004 section 12 Information databases and section 29 Information databases: Wales, which destroys the Common Law duty of professional advisor / client confidentiality.

    The memorandum mentions in passing the Identity Cards scheme and the Citizen Information Project. thememorandum also gives examples which have come before the Information Commissioner of the dangers of function creep, and of overzealous, "box ticking" petty officials, who fail to record changes and amendments as promptly as they record "cover your backside" rumours, hearsay and "intelligence".

    In his opinion keeping tabs on 11 or 12 million Children, when the justification for the database is only the 3 or 4 mil;lion who are in someway "at risk", is "not proportionate" and would fail to pass the test of both the Data Protection Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights Article 8 the right to privacy etc. established in the Human Rights Act 1998

    The same chain of logic and concerns must also apply to the proposed National Identity Register

    Action on Rights for Children still need to raise some money to help with legal costs and witness travel costs in their forthcoming legal challenge to the Children Act 2004

    The recently retired Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir John Stevens now seems to be paid to write a "hard hitting" column (presumably designed to raise circulation through sensationalism) in the Rupert Murdoch controlled News of the World tabloid Sunday newspaper.

    He seems to be set on adding "column inches" multiplied by the undoubted "weighting factor" of the News of the World's large circulation into the Home Office's vicious circle "media feeback loop", which apparently is used to justify and prioritise their anti-crime policies and budgets.

    Is it a mere coincidence that his controversial column which appears on the same day as both the Conservative and Liberal Democrats have party conferences, and right in the middle of the guillotined debate in the House of Lords on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill ?

    This certainly looks like a continuation of the "climate of fear" spin and disinformation which he did nothing to deny whilst in office.

    It is important that this political spin is deconstructed, so here goes:

    "News of the World Sunday March 6, 2005 page 13

    Forget Human Rights.. Kick Out The Fanatics
    by Sir John Stevens
    Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner

    As you read this there are at least 100 Osama Bin Laden-trained terrorists walking Britain's streets.

    The number is probably nearer 200... the cunning of al-Qaeda means we can't be exact."

    So where are these figures from ? Are these meant to be actual terrorists or just "fellow travellers", sympathisers or just friends and aquaintances of actual terrorist suspects ?

    Are they all Al Quaeda ? The recent arrests in say, Coventry have been apparently against Kashmiri independence terrorists.

    "But they would all commit devastating terror attacks against us if they could, even those born and brought up here."

    So why did the British born "shoe bombers" Richard Reid and Saajit Badat not attempt to blow up an aircraft in UK airspace ? Reid flew to Paris and Badat planned to fly to Amsterdam and attack transatlantic flights (not British carriers) heading for the USA.

    The first of the recent British "suicide bombers" Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Mohammed Hanif, who actually detonated a device and attacked Israel, not the United Kingdom.

    Could it be that even fanatical Islamic extremists often do obey the Koran and do not consider it worthy or polite to attack the society in which they and their families actually live and were brought up in ?

    "Thankfully, even larger numbers of undercover agents, moles and special deep-cover surveillance teams risk their lives daily to track and monitor the evil in our midst.
    There seems to be a lot of media hype in reports from: BBC, from, from The Independent, from The Register, from Evening Standard, from The Times etc. about so called "Identity Fraud". All these reports are based on extrapolations from a Which? survey. and make the claim that:

    "One of the fastest growing crimes in the UK, identity fraud, costs the country an estimated £1.3 billion a year."

    This is of course, utter rubbish.

    When Charles Clarke took up the baton from David Blunkett, his first propaganda piece in The Times, of 20th December 2004, which he recited almost word for word as his Second Reading "justification" for the Identity Cards Bill contained a similar claim, also made by David Blunkett, Des Browne and Peter Hain.

    "It will reduce identity fraud, which now costs the UK more than £1.3 billion every year.

    Here we go again. Identity Fraud - a study" (241Kb .pdf) was a Cabinet Office report published in July 2002. It did not reccomend that ID Cards were a solution to fraud. However, the Home Office keeps on trotting out the unscientific guesstimate published in Annex B of this report. These figures are literally finger in the air guesses, but they are being portrayed by the Home Office as hard facts.

    Just to make this clear, here are the "estimates" from Annex B:

     Total cost of identity fraud
       TOTAL  £1364m  
     Organisation    Costs (£m)  Notes
     Customs  VAT  215  Total MTIC fraud £1.7 – £2.6bn
    (midpoint £2.15bn). Assumes ID
    fraud is 10% of this
       Money laundering  395  Based on £490m over 18 months;
    consistent with £200m in c. London
     DFES     No figures
     DH  Health Authorities  0.75  Study done in 2 HAs only – no
    broader extrapolation permitted
    2816 multiple registrations
     IR  WFTC/DPTC    No figures
       Tax repayment    No figures
     DSA   Driving tests    1200 not allowed to take theory
    test; 3231 not allowed to take
    practical. Costs are non-financial
    (unqualified drivers).
    DWP  Instrument of Payment    No figures
       No figures
       Child Benefit
       No figures
       Pensions & overseas
       No figures
       Welfare fraud  35  C 1% of all welfare fraud (£2–5bn)
     LCD  Legal aid
       No figures
     Passports    1484 Fraudulent applications
     Driving licences    No figures
         247 suspicious applications for,
    theft of and fraudulent uses of birth
    and death certificates
         About 25 suspicious applications
    for, theft of and fraudulent uses of
    birth and death certificates.
     Police forces
     Unpaid speeding/
    parking tickets
       No figures
     Credit cards  370  Includes use of counterfeit,
    lost/stolen cards and card not
    present fraud – 2001 estimate
     Insurance companies
       250  Based on £1 bn total; 50% premeditated;
    50% of this being direct
    ID fraud
     CIFAS    62.5  Value of false ID/victim of
    impersonation fraud (by number
    of frauds reported)

    Neither the Home Office nor the Cabinet Office has bothered to repeat even this inadequate research in 2003 or 2004, so there is not even a guess available to see if the changes in various security measures such as passport delivery via allegedly secure courier rather than by postal mail, or credit card "Chip and PIN" has made any difference to this figure or not.

    There is no such single crime or offence as "Identity Fraud". It is not the same as an occasional fraudulent credit card transaction, for instance, most of which happen online via the Internet, which is an area, where the choice of a Biometric ID card, is a bad one, as biometrics are useless over the Internet - nobody can trust them !

    The Home Office does not even bother to collate "Identity Fraud" or "Identity Theft" crime statistics, either from the Police, or from the British Crime Survey.

    How can they even tell if the situation gets better or worse with the introduction of ID Cards ?

    How can they honestly base a multi-billion pound project on such a wobbly foundation ?

    The Which? survey is also a one off event, and can provide no evidence of an increase in "Identity Fraud". The £1.3 billion a year figure might as well refer to the weight in tonnes of the criminals involved, the figure on its own is just as meaningless. N.B. this is not the only scandalously innaccurate figure being hyped to the media, upin which a major Government policy is founded on c.f. SOCA spin - How much does Serious and Organised Crime cost the UK ? £40 billion or £20 billion ? Where are the figures for the actual number of frauds and the number of criminals involved ? What is the average size of the financial loss involved in ID Fraud ? How much effort does it take to correct all the records involved with a "stolen identity" ? How can people seriously claim that "One of the fastest growing crimes in the UK, identity fraud, costs the country an estimated £1.3 billion a year." ? Given the extraordinary parroting of this false claim by the media, one has to ask if the "number of column inches", devoted to this will be fed back into the "climate of fear" media feedback loop, which apparently influences Home Office crime prevention strategy.

    Provisionally, it looks like the 1st Reading of the Identity Cards Bill in the House of Lords is set down on the Order Papers as being due on Monday 21st March 2005

    The Lords do not normally consider more than one stage of a Bill in a single day under Standing Orders, but they did so for the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, so it may be that the Identity Cards Bill gets it's Second Reading debate on Monday 21st or later that week.

    Please lobby any Lords you know before then !

    Join the cross party campaign group NO2ID for help with lobbying against this Bill.

    Babar Ahmad, the first British person to face extradition to the USA under the new fast track regime, was in court again today.

    However, so, far, little has been revealed which answers any of the questions we have asked about this case before.

    Remember, that back in 1997, neither the Taleban in Afghanistan nor the rebels in Chechnya were proscribed terrorist organisations in the United Kingdom. Astonishingly, even today, the so called Islamic Army of the Caucasus led by Shamil Basayev, supposedly behind the Beslan atrocity, or any other Chechen rebel group, is still not a proscibed terrorist organisation in the UK

    The BBC report does mention:

    "Under the act there is no requirement for the US authorities to present a prima facie case, although UK authorities must do so in seeking extraditions from the US.

    The Home Office has said the case against Mr Ahmad is based on hard evidence being presented to the court.

    "The act confers full and effective safeguards to defendants and we consider the US to be a trusted extradition partner," a spokeswoman said."

    Perhaps the "Home Office spokesperson" or any other reader can point out exactly which section of the Extradition Act 2003, because we seem to have missed those alleged safeguards whilst re-reading the legislation.

    Does anybody have any news of the Morroccan detainee Farid Hilali, due to be the first person in the UK to be extradited under the new European Arrest Warrant to Spain ?

    About this blog

    This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

    The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to supress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

    We know that there are decent, honest, trustworthy individual politicians, civil servants, law enforcement, intelligence agency personnel and broadcast, print and internet journalists etc., who often feel powerless or trapped in the system. They need the assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.

    Email & PGP Contact

    Please feel free to email your views about this blog, or news about the issues it tries to comment on.


    Our PGP public encryption key is available for those correspondents who wish to send us news or information in confidence, and also for those of you who value your privacy, even if you have got nothing to hide.

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

    Current PGP Key ID: 0x1DBD6A9F0FACAD30 which will expire on 29th August 2021.

    You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from
    (available for most of the common computer operating systems, and also in various Open Source versions like GPG)

    We look forward to the day when UK Government Legislation, Press Releases and Emails etc. are Digitally Signed so that we can be assured that they are not fakes. Trusting that the digitally signed content makes any sense, is another matter entirely.

    Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

    Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link:

    BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

    Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

    Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

    Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

    Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

    A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

    Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)


    Watching Them, Watching Us

    London 2600

    Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog - ethical and technical discussion about the project for anonymous mass leaking of documents etc.

    Privacy and Security

    Privacy International
    United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

    Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

    Identity Project report by the London School of Economics
    Surveillance & Society the fully peer-reviewed transdisciplinary online surveillance studies journal

    Statewatch - monitoring the state and civil liberties in the European Union

    The Policy Laundering Project - attempts by Governments to pretend their repressive surveillance systems, have to be introduced to comply with international agreements, which they themselves have pushed for in the first place

    International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

    ARCH Action Rights for Children in Education - worried about the planned Children's Bill Database, Connexions Card, fingerprinting of children, CCTV spy cameras in schools etc.

    Foundation for Information Policy Research
    UK Crypto - UK Cryptography Policy Discussion Group email list

    Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

    European Digital Rights

    Open Rights Group - a UK version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a clearinghouse to raise digital rights and civil liberties issues with the media and to influence Governments.

    Digital Rights Ireland - legal case against mandatory EU Comms Data Retention etc.

    Blindside - "What’s going to go wrong in our e-enabled world? " blog and wiki and Quarterly Report will supposedly be read by the Cabinet Office Central Sponsor for Information Assurance. Whether the rest of the Government bureaucracy and the Politicians actually listen to the CSIA, is another matter.

    Biometrics in schools - 'A concerned parent who doesn't want her children to live in "1984" type society.'

    Human Rights

    Liberty Human Rights campaigners

    British Institute of Human Rights
    Amnesty International

    Prevent Genocide International

    asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

    Front Line Defenders - Irish charity - Defenders of Human Rights Defenders

    Internet Censorship

    OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

    Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

    Reporters without Borders internet section - news of internet related censorship and repression of journalists, bloggers and dissidents etc.

    Judicial Links

    British and Irish Legal Information Institute - publishes the full text of major case Judgments

    Her Majesty's Courts Service - publishes forthcoming High Court etc. cases (but only in the next few days !)

    House of Lords - The Law Lords are currently the supreme court in the UK - will be moved to the new Supreme Court in October 2009.

    Information Tribunal - deals with appeals under FOIA, DPA both for and against the Information Commissioner

    Investigatory Powers Tribunal - deals with complaints about interception and snooping under RIPA - has almost never ruled in favour of a complainant.

    Parliamentary Opposition

    The incompetent yet authoritarian Labour party have not apologised for their time in Government. They are still not providing any proper Opposition to the current Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government, on any freedom or civil liberties or privacy or surveillance issues.

    UK Government

    Home Office - "Not fit for purpose. It is inadequate in terms of its scope, it is inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management systems and processes" - Home Secretary John Reid. 23rd May 2006. Not quite the fount of all evil legislation in the UK, but close.

    No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

    Public Bills before Parliament

    United Kingdom Parliament
    Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons.

    House of Commons "Question Book"

    UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

    FaxYourMP - identify and then fax your Member of Parliament
    WriteToThem - identify and then contact your Local Councillors, members of devolved assemblies, Member of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament etc.
    They Work For You - House of Commons Hansard made more accessible ? UK Members of the European Parliament

    Read The Bills Act - USA proposal to force politicians to actually read the legislation that they are voting for, something which is badly needed in the UK Parliament.

    Bichard Inquiry delving into criminal records and "soft intelligence" policies highlighted by the Soham murders. (taken offline by the Home Office)

    ACPO - Association of Chief Police Officers - England, Wales and Northern Ireland
    ACPOS Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland

    Online Media

    Boing Boing

    Need To Know [now defunct]

    The Register

    NewsNow Encryption and Security aggregate news feed
    KableNet - UK Government IT project news - UK eGovernment and public sector IT news
    eGov Monitor

    Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

    NIR and ID cards

    Stand - email and fax campaign on ID Cards etc. [Now defunct]. The people who supported have gone on to set up other online tools like The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the website to the Home Office public consultation on Entitlement Cards is one of the factors which later led directly to the formation of the the NO2ID Campaign who have been marshalling cross party opposition to Labour's dreadful National Identity Register compulsory centralised national biometric database and ID Card plans, at the expense of simpler, cheaper, less repressive, more effective, nore secure and more privacy friendly alternative identity schemes.

    NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
    NO2ID bulletin board discussion forum

    Home Office Identity Cards website
    No compulsory national Identity Cards (ID Cards) BBC iCan campaign site
    UK ID Cards blog
    NO2ID press clippings blog
    CASNIC - Campaign to STOP the National Identity Card.
    Defy-ID active meetings and protests in Glasgow - New Alliance's ID Cards page - total rejection of any UK ID Card

    International Civil Aviation Organisation - Machine Readable Travel Documents standards for Biometric Passports etc.
    Anti National ID Japan - controversial and insecure Jukinet National ID registry in Japan
    UK Biometrics Working Group run by CESG/GCHQ experts etc. the UK Government on Biometrics issues feasability
    Citizen Information Project feasability study population register plans by the Treasury and Office of National Statistics - comments and links to each paragraph of the Home Office's "Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme".

    De-Materialised ID - "The voluntary alternative to material ID cards, A Proposal by David Moss of Business Consultancy Services Ltd (BCSL)" - well researched analysis of the current Home Office scheme, and a potentially viable alternative.

    Surveillance Infrastructures

    National Roads Telecommunications Services project - infrastruture for various mass surveillance systems, CCTV, ANPR, PMMR imaging etc.

    CameraWatch - independent UK CCTV industry lobby group - like us, they also want more regulation of CCTV surveillance systems.

    Every Step You Take a documentary about CCTV surveillance in the Uk by Austrian film maker Nino Leitner.

    Transport for London an attempt at a technological panopticon - London Congestion Charge, London Low-Emission Zone, Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, tens of thousands of CCTV cameras on buses, thousands of CCTV cameras on London Underground, realtime road traffic CCTV, Iyster smart cards - all handed over to the Metropolitan Police for "national security" purposes, in real time, in bulk, without any public accountibility, for secret data mining, exempt from even the usual weak protections of the Data Protection Act 1998.

    RFID Links

    RFID tag privacy concerns - our own original article updated with photos

    NoTags - campaign against individual item RFID tags
    Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products has been endorsed by a large number of privacy and human rights organisations.
    RFID Privacy Happenings at MIT
    Surpriv: RFID Surveillance and Privacy
    RFID Scanner blog
    RFID Gazette
    The Sorting Door Project blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

    Genetic Links

    DNA Profiles - analysis by Paul Nutteing
    GeneWatch UK monitors genetic privacy and other issues
    Postnote February 2006 Number 258 - National DNA Database (.pdf) - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

    The National DNA Database Annual Report 2004/5 (.pdf) - published by the NDNAD Board and ACPO.

    Eeclaim Your DNA from Britain's National DNA Database - model letters and advice on how to have your DNA samples and profiles removed from the National DNA Database,in spite of all of the nureacratic obstacles which try to prevent this, even if you are innocent.

    Miscellanous Links

    Michael Field - Pacific Island news - no longer a paradise - John Gilmore versus USA internal flight passports and passenger profiling etc.

    The BUPA Seven - whistleblowers badly let down by the system.

    Tax Credit Overpayment - the near suicidal despair inflicted on poor, vulnerable people by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown's disasterous Inland Revenue IT system.

    Fassit UK - resources and help for those abused by the Social Services Childrens Care bureaucracy

    Former Spies

    MI6 v Tomlinson - Richard Tomlinson - still being harassed by his former employer MI6

    Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

    Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

    The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

    Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

    Blog Links blog - Comments on IT security and Privacy or the lack thereof.
    Rat's Blog -The Reverend Rat writes about London street life and technology
    Duncan Drury - wired adventures in Tanzania & London
    Dr. K's blog - Hacker, Author, Musician, Philosopher

    David Mery - falsely arrested on the London Tube - you could be next.

    James Hammerton
    White Rose - a thorn in the side of Big Brother
    Big Blunkett
    Into The Machine - formerly "David Blunkett is an Arse" by Charlie Williams and Scribe
    infinite ideas machine - Phil Booth
    Louise Ferguson - City of Bits
    Chris Lightfoot
    Oblomovka - Danny O'Brien

    Liberty Central

    dropsafe - Alec Muffett
    The Identity Corner - Stefan Brands
    Kim Cameron - Microsoft's Identity Architect
    Schneier on Security - Bruce Schneier
    Politics of Privacy Blog - Andreas Busch
    solarider blog

    Richard Allan - former Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam
    Boris Johnson Conservative MP for Henley
    Craig Murray - former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, "outsourced torture" whistleblower

    Howard Rheingold - SmartMobs
    Global Guerrillas - John Robb
    Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends

    Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

    Nick Leaton - Random Ramblings
    The Periscope - Companion weblog to journalist network.
    The Practical Nomad Blog Edward Hasbrouck on Privacy and Travel
    Policeman's Blog
    World Weary Detective

    Martin Stabe
    B2fxxx - Ray Corrigan
    Matt Sellers
    Grits for Breakfast - Scott Henson in Texas
    The Green Ribbon - Tom Griffin
    Guido Fawkes blog - Parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy.
    The Last Ditch - Tom Paine
    The (e)State of Tim - Tim Hicks
    Ilkley Against CCTV
    Tim Worstall
    Bill's Comment Page - Bill Cameron
    The Society of Qualified Archivists
    The Streeb-Greebling Diaries - Bob Mottram

    Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke - Freedom off Information campaigning journalist

    Ministry of Truth _ Unity's V for Vendetta styled blog.

    Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

    W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security et al.
    EUrophobia - Nosemonkey

    Blogzilla - Ian Brown

    BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

    dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

    Informaticopia - Rod Ward


    The Musings of Harry

    Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

    The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

    Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

    Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

    Rob Wilton's esoterica

    panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

    Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

    Database Masterclass - frequently asked questions and answers about the several centralised national databases of children in the UK.


    Moving On

    Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

    Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

    Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

    rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

    Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

    Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

    Brit Watch - Public Surveillance in the UK - Web - Email - Databases - CCTV - Telephony - RFID - Banking - DNA

    BLOGDIAL - smart mobile phone forensics, information security, computer security and digital forensics by a couple of Australian researchers

    Ralph Bendrath

    Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

    UK Liberty - A blog on issues relating to liberty in the UK

    Big Brother State - "a small act of resistance" to the "sustained and systematic attack on our personal freedom, privacy and legal system"

    HosReport - "Crisis. Conspiraciones. Enigmas. Conflictos. Espionaje." - Carlos Eduardo Hos (in Spanish)

    "Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

    Corruption-free Anguilla - Good Governance and Corruption in Public Office Issues in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the West Indies - Don Mitchell CBE QC

    geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

    PJC Journal - I am not a number, I am a free Man - The Prisoner

    Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

    The Caucus House - blog of the Chicago International Model United Nations

    Famous for 15 Megapixels

    Postman Patel

    The 4th Bomb: Tavistock Sq Daniel's 7:7 Revelations - Daniel Obachike

    OurKingdom - part of OpenDemocracy - " will discuss Britain’s nations, institutions, constitution, administration, liberties, justice, peoples and media and their principles, identity and character"

    Beau Bo D'Or blog by an increasingly famous digital political cartoonist.

    Between Both Worlds - "Thoughts & Ideas that Reflect the Concerns of Our Conscious Evolution" - Kingsley Dennis

    Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair - the rich Uzbek businessman and his shyster lawyers Schillings really made a huge counterproductive error in trying to censor the blogs of Tim Ireland, of all people.

    Matt Wardman political blog analysis

    Henry Porter on Liberty - a leading mainstream media commentator and opinion former who is doing more than most to help preserve our freedom and liberty.

    HMRC is shite - "dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of the HMRC, who have to endure the monumental shambles that is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)."

    Head of Legal - Carl Gardner a former legal advisor to the Government

    The Landed Underclass - Voice of the Banana Republic of Great Britain

    Henrik Alexandersson - Swedish blogger threatened with censorship by the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishement, their equivalent of the UK GCHQ or the US NSA.

    World's First Fascist Democracy - blog with link to a Google map - "This map is an attempt to take a UK wide, geographical view, of both the public and the personal effect of State sponsored fear and distrust as seen through the twisted technological lens of petty officials and would be bureaucrats nationwide."

    Blogoir - Charles Crawford - former UK Ambassodor to Poland etc.

    No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

    Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

    Lords of the Blog - group blog by half a dozen or so Peers sitting in the House of Lords.

    notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society - blog by Dr. David Murakami Wood, editor of the online academic journal Surveillance and Society

    Justin Wylie's political blog

    Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

    Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

    Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

    Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

    Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

    FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

    Other Links

    Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

    Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
    Mayor of London Blog
    London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

    Cool Britannia


    Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

    Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

    Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at

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    UK Legislation

    The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

    The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

    Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

    UK Legislation Links

    UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

    UK Commissioners

    UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

    UK Intelligence Agencies

    Intelligence and Security Committee - the supposedly independent Parliamentary watchdog which issues an annual, heavily censored Report every year or so. Currently chaired by the Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Why should either the intelligence agencies or the public trust this committee, when the untrustworthy ex-Labour Minister Hazel Blears is a member ?

    Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

    MI5 Security Service
    MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

    syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
    Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

    cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
    Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

    SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
    Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

    Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

    National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

    Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

    Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

    It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

    For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

    Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

    Campaign Button Links

    Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
    UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

    NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
    NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

    Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
    Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

    FreeFarid_150.jpg - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

    Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
    Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

    Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
    Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

    Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
    Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

    Open Rights Group

    The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

    Tor - the onion routing network
    Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

    Tor - the onion routing network
    Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

    Amnesty International's campaign

    BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

    NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

    Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

    Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

    Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

    Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

    No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


    I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


    Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


    Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."


    Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

    wblogocrop_150.jpg - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers