December 2005 Archives

For those people wondering what the practical effect of making all offences into arrestable ones, as of midnight tonight, will be, the experience of the State of Texas in the USA is a worrying one. The ever informative Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast writes:

Bad idea from Texas exported to Britain: Arresting litterers and seat belt violators


So to any English readers out there, let me fill you in on what you're in for, since we've been living with this situation in Texas for awhile now: Soon your local jails will be completely full of low-level arrestees at a huge cost to the taxpayers and with little benefit to public safety

Welcome to the Texas criminal justice model. Enjoy

The Statistics Commission which is

an independent non-departmental public body. It was set up in June 2000 to help ensure that official statistics are trustworthy and responsive to public needs. It operates independently of both Ministers and the producers of statistics;

has published its Crime Statistics User Perspectives interim report December 2005 (13 page .pdf)

This report confirms our impression that the two major sources of Crime Statistics, the British Crime Survey and the number of Crimes Recorded by the Police are being regularly manipulated by the Home Office for political ends, with the consequence that neither the media nor the public trusts them.

However our impression is that, faced with a sceptical and at times antagonistic press, the Home Office and other official bodies have sought to contain the flow of statistical messages – prescribing the frequency and form in which statistics are released, and making sure that policy responses are issued at the earliest possible moment, sometimes ahead of the figures themselves.

This leads to dangerous "policy setting via self fulfilling prophecy" e.g. "Sir Stephen Lander, SOCA, setting priorities via tabloid column inches"

Our previous posting now seems to be a bit redundant 8-(

The Office of Public Sector Information has finally, on the evening of Thursday 29th December published:

Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 3495 (C. 146)

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitory Provision) Order 2005

Made 18th December 2005


(m) sections 110 and 111 (powers of arrest) and Schedule 7 (powers of arrest: supplementary);

i.e. 11 days after the SI was signed

So much for the OPSI claim

The aim is to publish all UK Statutory Instruments on the Internet simultaneously with or, at least within 24 hours of their publication in printed form.

The news media are busy parroting, almost word for word, the UK Government Press Release regarding this Sunday 1st January 2006 commencement of the controversial Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 110 Powers of arrest

When these powers come into force, a Police Constable will be able to arrest you without a warrant, for any offence, for vague "catch all" reasons such as Section 110 (5) (e):

"(e) to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question;

This power of arrest is subject only to his or her "reasonable grounds for suspecting", something which must inevitably lead to inconsistent and arbitrary justice.

Remember that in the UK, any arrest nowadays involves fingerprinting, photography and DNA samples, which are taken and retained indefinately, no matter whether you are ever charged with any crime, and even if you are found not guilty.

However, we suspect "Yet Another Home Office Error" might make all Arrests under Section 110 illegal, simply because Section 110 of the Act has still not yet been brought into force by Order or Statutory Instrument.

Please correct us if we are wrong in our reasoning below:

UPDATE: The "missing" Statutory Instrument 3495 turned up on the Office of Public Sector Information website late on Thursday 29th December 2005 i.e. 11 days after the SI was signed. It is unclear if the delay was at OPSI, who claim to try to publish online within 24 hours, or at the Home Office.

Defence Advisory (DA) Notice website censored ?


There is "Yet Another Foreign Media Have Allegedly Named Someone At One Of Our Embassies As The MI6 Station Chief" type storm in a teacup. This time it is regarding allegations of British official complicity in torture / mistreatment of terrorist suspects in Greece, according to the Greek newspaper Proto Thema.

Some UK media reports are talking about "D notices" (even though they have been called DA Notices for several years now. since 1993).

"A Government "D" notice requests British newspapers not to name MI6 officers, even if they are identified abroad."

How does trying to hide the alleged name of an MI6 agent abroad, from the UK public and media, add any extra operational danger once the foreign media and inernet sources have published it ?

For those of you who were wondering whether such a specfic DA Notice has really been issued, or to learn exactly what the voluntary. and, with respect to the internet, increasingly obsolete, Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system is all about, you are out of luck.

Today is a Bank Holiday and the website of the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee i.e., seems to have either lost all its web content or it has been censored from public view, even though the webserver is still up and running and connected to the internet.

The DA Notice website is hosted by the bit of the former Defence Establishment Resereach Agency which remains in UK Government hands as the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory which was not privatised to form Qinetiq in 2001.

See the Google cache for an idea of what the website should look like.

Given the propaganda nature of "cyberterrorism" or amateur "cybervandalism" etc. is it really too much for us to expect and demand , that websites run by the UK MInistry of Defence should all have proper IT security and failsafe disaster recovery plans, which actually work over weekends and Bank Holidays ?

Are our military defences similarly ineffective at weekends and on Bank Holidays ?

UPDATED with a relevant recent Parliamentary Answer to A Parliamentary Question by Ben Wallace the Conservative MP for Lancaster & Wyre, a former Scots Guards officer and an ex-director of Qinetiq,

The House of Lords Committee stage of the Terrorism Bill 2005 finished on Tuesday 20th December 2005, the last day of Parliament before the Christmas and New Year break.

The Report stage is scheduled for Tuesday 17th January 2006 and Wednesday 25th January 2006.

As is usual, all the amendments which were called for debate ended up being withdrawn:

  • Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws brought up the Terrorism Act 2000 section 44 stop and search powers, the use of which have been vastly expanded beyond what was promised when they were granted in 2000.

  • Lord Elton also withdrew his amendment of Clause 30 (now renumbered as Clause 31), which is another modification of the Intelligence Services Act 1994, after querying the concept of a "senior official".

  • However neither he nor anyone else uttered a word about Clause 31 (now renumbered as Clause 32 Interception warrants , which went through on the nod. This also delegates powers for the renewal of Intercept Warrants under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, from the Home Secretary to secret, unaccountable senior officials. If signing Intercept Warrant renewals is too much for Home Secretary Charles Clarke, he should be delegating this to an independent Judge, not to a faceless bureaucrat.

  • Baroness Cox continued to raise the issue of the alleged security risk of a couple of security companies with Government and Blue Chip company contracts and access to critical national infrastructure being owned by a Saudi Arabian / Sudanese businessman who also invested in the pharmaceutical / alleged chemical weapons factory near Khartoum which was hit by a cruise missile strike by order of President Clinton.

The Independent has a few more details about the astonishing plan to create a centralised Automatic Number Plate Recognition Database, which will attempt to monitor every vehicle movement on the United Kingdom from next year.

Britain will be first country to monitor every car journey

From 2006 Britain will be the first country where every journey by every car will be monitored
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 22 December 2005

Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.

Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.

This plan seems to get more and more ambitious with every report.

Where was the Public Consultation or the Parliamentary Scrutiny of this invasion of the privacy of millions of innocent road users, not just the movements of suspected criminals ?

We have already tried to warn about the implications of this plan before.

Perhaps the viewers of popular TV programmes like Top Gear and Fifth Gear will start to take some notice of this evil plan.

The final day of the House of Lords Committee stage of the Identity Cards Bill 2005, unsurprisingly did not pass any amendments .

The Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland of Asthal failed to convince anyone that the National Identity Scheme Commissioner's limited powers were at all sufficient or that the cumbersome complaints procedure used by the Passport Service was somehow acceptable since there were so few members of the public who succeeded in complaining, and should therefore form the basis for dealing with members of the public who experience problems with the much bigger and more controversial planned National Identity Register..
The appalling "Clause 31 Tampering with the Register etc". has, yet again been passed unamended without scrutiny, despite its potential to criminalise innocent Civil Servants and IT workers, with a penalty of up to ten years in prison and/or a fine, anywhere in the world, whether you are a British Citizen or not, simply for doing your job with faulty software or hardware outside of your control or by taking what would otherwise be perfectly legal industrial action such as a work to rule or going on strike.

This point was accepted by Baroness Scotland during the Lords Second Reading of the identical clause in the previous version of the Bill back in March, but nothing has been done by either the Government, by the House of Commons or now by the House of Lords to change it.

Baroness Scotland also claimed that, unlike unpaid taxes, there was no chance of anyone who has a civil penalty inflicted on them under this Bill, of actually going to prison, and that somehow these penalties were not intended as a "punishment".

The Lords tried and failed, yet again, to get any more detailed cost breakdown or estimates, even to the nearest £ billion or so.

Baroness Scotland resumed her stupid criticism of the London School of Economics Identity Project Report over the USA's Mexican Border Visa Card database, which none of the Home Office publications mentioned either.

The Report stage is probably timetabled for mid January 2006.

Thanks to Robert Longstaff for posting a a link to the European Parliament votes on the controversial Communications Traffic Data Retention Directive.

The vote on the final resolution(.pdf) was adopted by 378 votes in favour to 197 against, with 30 abstentions.

Since this document is structured according to the multinational European Parliament political groupings, mostly just by Surname, with no indication of UK Political Parties or Constituencies, we have tried to decode this vote to see which United Kingdom Members of Parliament cannot be trusted with our freedom and liberty, and should therfore be punished at the next election.

There seems to have been a backroom deal between the Party of the European Socialists (PES), which includes the UK Labour party, and the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats (EPP-ED) groups, which includes the UK Conservative party - the two largest groups in the European Parliament, who mostly voted for the Directive. Although the Liberal Democrats voted Against, their political grouping the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) was split.

Of the UK political parties, only the Conservatives were split, with 9 rebels voting Against.

Of the 78 United Kingdom Members of Parliament, only 66 of them voted on the Directive, with none of them actually recorded as abstaining.

35 UK MEPs voted Against:

10 Conservative
10 Liberal Democrats
1 Greens
1 Sinn Féin
8 UK Independence Party
1 Democratic Unionist Party
3 Independents
1 Scottish National Party

12 UK MEPs who Did Not Vote - presumably they were away from the Plenary session as they are not recorded as having abstained:

3 Conservative
2 Labour
2 Liberal Democrats
1 Greens
1 Plaid Cymru
1 Scottish National Party
2 UK Independence Party - N.B. both of these voted Against on the previous vote on the modified text i.e a full complement of UKIP MEPs voted

5 of these UK MEPs (2 Labour, 1 Conservative, 1 Liberal Democrat and 1 Green) were part of the European Parliament delegation to the World Trade Organisation talks in Hong Kong i.e. a reasonable excuse for absence.

31 UK MEPs voted For the directive, and should be punished via the ballot box accordingly.

13 Conservative
17 Labour
1 Ulster Unionist Party

Most people have little clue who their Members of the European Parliament are. You can find their contact details on the UK Office of the European Parliament website, which, astonishingly, provides no easy links to the voting record of any individual UK MEP. Alternatively you can use WriteToThem to let them know your opinion about how they voted on this fundamental reduction in our freedom and liberty, which will have no demonstrable effect on terrorists or serious criminals, but will cost the public more money for telecommunications and internet services, and make Europe less competitive in global markets.

Some lowlights of the fifth day of the House of Lords Committee stage debate on the Identity Cards Bill 2005 on Wednesday 14th December 2005:

The European Parliament has passed the controversial Communications Traffic Data Retention directive.

Results of votes on Wednesday 14 December Data retention Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the retention of data processed in connection with the provision of public electronic communication services and amending Directive 2002/58/EC (A6-0365/2005) Rapporteur: Alexander Nuno Alvaro (ALDE, DE) Parliament adopted a package of compromise amendments after agreement had been reached with the Council. The amendments were approved by 387 votes in favour to 204 against with 29. The final resolution was adopted by 378 votes in favour to 197 against with 30 abstentions.

We await the full breakdown of exactly which of our Members of the European Parliament have betrayed the privacy and security of 450 million innocent European Union citizens, whilst adding unecessary costs to their telecommunications and internet providers, thereby making the EU less competitive in a world market, all for no demonstrable benefit in the fight against terrorism and serious crime.

None of the Communications Data Traffic used to identify the Madrid or London bombers was months or years old retained data on millions of innocent people - it was current and near real time data, focussed on suspects under investigation, which was of use to the law enforcement authorities, and it will always be so in the future.

Consulting with representatives of the telecomms and internet industries is not an adequate substitute for consulting with the wider European Union public at large on such fundamental privacy and security issues.

It is hard to decide which is more annoying and disheartening when following debates in Parliament on controversial repressive legislation: the House of Commons or the House of Lords ?

The answer to this rhetorical question is - whichever one of them happens to be "debating" the legislation at any given time.

Monday's Committee stage of the controversial Identity Cards Bill 2005 in the House of Lords showed that some of the Opposition Peers did ask important questions concerning, for example, the whole question of "Names" and whether the name on a Passport would effectively become your "official name" or not. They also debated the hugely important difference between "may" and "must" in the wording of the Bill as potentially applied to the information to be recorded on the proposed National Identity Register Audit Trail.

However despite bringing two amendments to a vote, both of them were lost, and all the other amendments were withdrawn
One vote was on an amendment which tried to give some leeway to an individual , so that they would not be forced to attend an enrolment centre at a particular location and time, simply to suit the convenience and budgets of the bureaucrats or the profits of any outsourced private sector partners. The other amendment which was voted on
was about the role of of the National Identity Commissioner in the dubious "voluntary" stage of the plan.

The is feeble opposition to the Government's plans in the Lords. Our feeling of betrayal by the politicians is growing.

The Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland of Asthal managed not to email her 30 page letter to the Peers, on Friday, thereby ensuring, , that an important Government document which would have had a direct bearing on the debate was unread by most of the Lords, and only partially read by some of them during the actual debate itself.

The Governemnt Minister Lord Bassam of Brighton added to our worries about the security of the proposed scheme, by yet again pretending that there would be some magically secure way to update name and address details without using all the expensive, complicated and intrusive biometric technology which the Government has claimed is so essential to prevent fraud and impersonation and "identity theft".

If such a secure method exists, remembering that the proposed scheme does not include Digital Certificates for online use (which other countries such as Sweden or Belgium are including in their smart ID card systems), then why waste billions of pounds on biometrics ? If not, then there will be no more security than with existing systems, so, again. why bother ?

Today, accordingto the United Nations is Human Righst Day.

Forgive us for not having noticed any recent general improvement in Human Rights issues worldwide, and for our fears that our Human Rights (and yours) are being eroded bit by bit here in the United Kingdom.

There seems to be a lot of blog and media noise and confusion about "torture" together with words like "evidence"., especially following the Judgement of the Law Lords(.pdf) published on Thursday 8th December 2005.

Be clear when the Home Secretary states that the UK does not condone torture and does not now and has not in the past made use of evidence obtained through torture, in, for example, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, he is speaking the literal truth.

However, such wesel words attempt to hide the truth.

"Evidence" is something that you are allowed to present in court for it to be tested forensically and cross examined or challenged in court. Presenting a physically or psytortured victim in Court went out of fashion, even amonst dictatorships after Stalin's show trials during the purges and pogroms before World War 2.

One area which the comentators on the recent Law Lords ruling against the use of evidence obtained through torture which does not seem to have been explored is the concept of a tainted chain of evidence.

In the USA, under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, against illegal searches, if the authorities conduct an illgeal search of a person or vehicle or premises, then any "evidence" which is found becomes "tainted" and inadmissable in court.

In theory similar rules apply in the United Kingdom under the Police and Criminal Evidence statutory codes of practice

What are the rules of acceptable behavior by our intelligence agencies, our police forces, our politicians and civil servants and our legal system ?
Is every "intellifence" tip off from a country which practices torture automatically suspect and tainted ?

What if you only "officially" discover that an intelligence source or tip off inolved "torture" after you have already acted onthe information ?

The Department for Education and Science has announced how much money it is budgetting for to create the controversial centralised database on all 12 million or so Children in England and Wales (and on all their parents or guardians as well), under section 12 of the Children Act 2004.

1. Section 12 of the Children Act 2004 gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations to require the establishment and operation of IS Index. Regulations and guidance will set out the detail of how the index will operate.

There are widespread fears about this massive Centralised Database, which, amonst other things will destroy the confidentiality of professional medical, social worker or legal advisors to Children:

(11) Regulations under subsection (5) may also provide that anything which may be done under regulations under subsection (6)(c) to (e) or (9) may be done notwithstanding any rule of common law which prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information.

There is, as yet, no sign of any of the proposed safeguards which the
disgraced ex-Home Office Minister Beverly Hughes and her predecessors have promised.

2. One-off implementation costs will be £224m over the next 3 years – centrally funded. It also includes the cost of ensuring the original data supplied to the index is accurate, that there are robust systems in place to ensure security, and that staff are trained to use the index properly.

3. Operating costs, thereafter, will be £41m per year. Most of these costs will fund the additional staff needed to ensure the on-going security, accuracy and audit of the index.

4. In 2006 there will be further development and building of the technical solution and data trials to test the accuracy of existing data sources. Testing and piloting of the index will start in 2007 with roll-out completed during 2008.

The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill currently in the House of Lords, is typical of a Home Office Bill these days, hugely complicated and containing some evil clauses which try to grab even more unchecked power for the Home Secretary.

For instance:

53 Deprivation of citizenship

(1) For section 40(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 (c. 61) (deprivation of citizenship: prejudicing UK interests) substitute—

“(2) The Secretary of State may by order deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good.

This carte blanche power (which would apply to absolutely anybody - "a person") exceeds that used by the Nazis in their infamous Nuremberg Laws of 1935 (which only applied to Jews)!

It would apply to even British borne UK Citizens, not just those who have been granted British Citizenship through naturalisation. Even in these cases deprivation of British Citizenship should require a conviction for treason (e.g. for for being involved in armed conflict against British military forces) or espionage, by a proper Court, and not just "by order" on the whim of the Home Secretary.

N.B. neither the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal nor the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. are proper courts with juries, full access to the alleged "evidence" against the accused etc. They are effectively Kafakauesque "Star Chambers" where much of the proceedings are arbitararily complicated and secret, designed to favour the power of the State over that of the individual.

How can any politician ever be trusted to to decide, in their own opinion, what is "conducive to the public good" ?

Instead of increasing the power of a NuLabour or future extremist politician Home Secretary, this Bill should be implementing more safeguards and checks and balances on such power.

So far, there have been no amendments tabled on this clause in the House of Lords.

The BBC now reports on the trial of Abu Baker Mansha. (other reports now spell this as Abu Bakr Mansha)

Why is he being tried on terrorism charges at all ?

Threatening to kill or harm a single British soldier is obviously illegal, but it is not an act of terrorism which could influence or terrorise the British public or Government.

From the press reports so far, it seems that there is no evidence of a viable threat to anyone - no weapons, no up to date intelligence about a target, no other co-conspirators etc.

Why have the old investigative principles of Means, Opportunity and Motive been forgotten ?

Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 19:31 GMT

Suspect 'planned to harm soldier'

A terror suspect planned to hunt down and kill or injure a British soldier honoured for a charge against Iraqi insurgents, a court has heard.

Abu Baker Mansha, 21, faces a charge under the Terrorism Act for having the soldier's name and address.

Corporal Mark Byles had been given the military cross for leading an attack on a trench which killed five insurgents and left eight captured.

Mr Mansha, from Thamesmead in south London, denies the charge.

A police raid on his flat found a blank-firing gun, which someone was trying to convert to fire live rounds, and

Presumably no actual ammunition was found, and the blank-firing gun had not actually yet been converted into a real weapon, otherwise firearms charges would have been brought.

Another blow for free speech, for no "security" benefit whatsoever:

Maya Evans convicted under section 132 of SOCPA - given a conditional discharge

Since the Court has now set a legal precedent by ruling that a Ceremony of Remebrance is a "demonstration" according to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, this will have a serious knock on effect on other more traditional Ceremonies.

If the SOCPA law is applied equally and fairly to every other Ceremony held within the Designated Area, then it must also affect the organisers and participants in the next Poppy Day Remebrance Sunday in Whitehall, the next Trooping of the Colour Ceremony in Horseguards Parade, the next State Opening of Parliament, the next Wedding or Funeral in Westminster Abbey or in the the Central Methodist Hall etc.

Most of these public events involve Processions, which are exempt from SOCPA, but which have their own restrictions. However, they all end up in "public places" and so they do fall foul of this bad law.

(b) "public place" means any highway or any place to which at the material time the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission,

Who is going to be brave enough to arrest Her Majesty the Queen or the Archbishop of Canterbury ?

Yesterday's Committee Stage debate on the Terrorism Bill 2005 saw the promise of a Government concession, to extend to say, book retailers or libraries, the same defence available to the telecomms or internet industries, with regard to publishing terrorist statements etc. without actually knowing about them or supporting them.

Since the Government are still refusing, at the moment, to include the concept of "intent" in the "indirect incitement and glorification" offences, Baroness Scotland's promise needs to be looked at sceptically until an actual amendment is passed.

Privacy International and many other civil and digital rights organsisations have published an Open Letter to the European Parliament on Data Retention

You can contact your United Kingdom Members of the European Parliament (remember you have more than one of the due to the party list system) via WriteToThem or their contact details can be found on the European Parliament UK Office website. Please lobby your Members of the European Parliament before the plenary session in Strasbourg starting on the 12th of December.

EU Council Data Retention 2nd December 2005

| | Comments (3)

Statewatch have the text of a draft DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the retention of data processed in connection with the provision of public electronic communication services and amending Directive 2002/58/EC (.pdf) which seems to have been agreed at the meeting in Brussels of the European Union Justice and Home Affairs ministers, chaired by the UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke.

According to Statewatch:

Press reports suggest that the European Commission will accept these changes to its draft Directive. To work though the European Parliament has to adopt exactly the same amendments at its plenary session 12-15 December - the deadline for amendments is 7 December

Remember to remind your Member of the European Parliament and your Member of the UK Parliament that voting against Data Retention will not hinder any investigation into terrorist or serious organised crime. The highly publicised case of the terrorist suspect who fled to Rome from London after the July 21st incidents, and who was tracked via the mobile phones he used, made no use whatsoever of any retained data, only current and near real time data.

The vague list of categories of innocent people's data which is planned to be retained for at least between 6 months and two years (or three years like the Irish Government is still pressing for) is extremely intrusive because of the fantasy that criminals will never lie about their names and addresses and because of Cell ID Location Based Data.

Given the usual policy laundering and "gold plating" of EU Directives, this Directive would provide the excuse to attack the current freedom in the United Kingdom for innocent consumers to purchase and use an unregistered pre-paid mobile telephone and/or SIM card. It will do nothing to stop criminals continuing to use "untracebale" mobile phones, and it ignores the reality of the increasing use of "alwats on" internet connections.

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