February 2008 Archives

Why is the Government wasting public money on this High Court Appeal, which they must surely lose, and then be forced to comply with the rulings of both the Information Commissioner and of the Information Tribunal, to fully disclose to the public, the now out of date Home Office Identity Cards Programme early Gateway Reviews ?

All the possible legal arguments were gone into in exhaustive detail, by the barristers and FOIA legal professors, during the 4 day Information Tribunal hearing back in March 2007, which ruled in favour of full disclosure.

The Office of Government Commerce have emailed to say that the High Court date for their appeal against the decision of the Information Tribunal ordering the full publication of the Home Office Identity Cards Programme early Gateway Review reports, has now been brought forward by a day, and is set to start a 3 day hearing this coming for Monday 3rd March 2008 at 10:00am, at the Royal Courts of Justice, in the Strand, (Court number still to be decided).

Our initial Freedom of Information Act 2000 request for this information was made in January 2005, when the Act came fully into force i.e. over 3 years and 2 months ago ! See the history of this deliberate delay and lack of transparency, on a topic of huge public interest at our OGC Gateway Reviews FOIA request archive

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith made a statement about the report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner Sir Christopher Rose on the bugging scandal in HMP Woodhill, involving Sadiq Khan MP, Babar Ahmad (see the previous blog article) and also on the Wilson Doctrine and Legally Privileged conversations etc.

Without extending the Wilson Doctrine, she did make a promise to amend the existing Statutory Codes of Practice regarding Covert Surveillance, extending these to cover Members of the European Parliament and the Welsh Assembly (not Northern Ireland or Scotland where these are Devolved Matters). The policy regarding unelected Members of the House of Lords is now unclear.

See Commons Hansard 21 Feb 2008 : Column 536

The House will be aware that the 2000 Act also covers the interception of communications. That is a power that can only ever be used for limited purposes, and requires in each case the explicit prior authorisation of a Secretary of State. It is to interception, and to other surveillance requiring the approval of a Secretary of State, that the Wilson doctrine applies. Sir Christopher makes it clear that
“the surveillance which I am investigating does not appear to me to be within the Wilson Doctrine, because it does not give rise to interception as defined by the legislation, nor would it require authorisation by the Secretary of State.”

This is in line with the Government’s stated position on the doctrine. As the facts set out in Sir Christopher’s report make clear, it is not relevant in this case.

However she went on to say

I referred earlier to the Wilson doctrine. Although that does not apply in this case, Sir Christopher does suggest that there is some scope for confusion as to the correct interrelationship between the Wilson doctrine and the legislation. The Government do not propose to amend the Wilson doctrine, but accept that current codes of practice do not fully clarify the extent to which reviewing officers and authorising officers should pay special attention to conversations involving or potentially involving a Member of Parliament. I am therefore announcing today that the Government will review the statutory codes of practice, and in particular that we intend to clarify that, as regards covert surveillance, conversations between Members of Parliament doing their constituency business and their constituents should be considered as “confidential information”, and treated in the same way as other confidential information, such as conversations between a person and their lawyer or minister of religion. That will more clearly give such conversations additional protection.

We think that this "confidential information" also applies to medical conversations between a doctor and patient, and if it does not, then it should.

What about confidential journalistic information and sources, of which there is some mention in the Codes of Practice ? That must also be clarified in any review.

Presumably the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith intends to amend this Statutory Code of Practice: Covert Surveillance - Code of Practice, Pursuant to section 71 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (.pdf 58 pages), particularly "Chapter 3 Special rules on authorisations" and "Annex A Authorisation levels when knowledge of confidential information is likely to be acquired". This Code of Practice also applies to the Police Act 1997 Part III

What about the Codes of Practice for Communications Traffic Data (RIPA Part I Chapter II) and for access to Encryption Keys and Data (RIPA Part III) ? These can also impinge on confidential constituency business.

A few annotations on the debate about this Statement, during which Jacqui Smith made further promises:

Today saw the publication of :

Report on two visits by Sadiq Khan MP to Babar Ahmad at HM Prison Woodhill - Report of Investigation by the Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose, Chief Surveillance Commissioner (.pdf - 15 pages)

See the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners website for more details about role and powers of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and also under the Police Act 1997.

The Home Secretary Rt. Hon. Jacqui Smith MP, also made a statement in the House of Commons about this Report, and the Wilson Doctrine (no changes, no proper clarification). She did promise to make changes the already complicated and bureaucratic Statutory Codes of Practice under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) - see more about this in a future blog article.

Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose's Report essentially finds nothing wrong at all with the paperwork which properly and legally authorised both intrusive surveillance and directed surveillance against Babar Ahmad at HMP Woodhill. This is hardly surprising, as it is his own Office of Surveillance Commissioners, albeit under his predecessor Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew Leggatt, during the relevant time period, during which Sir Christopher himself was an ordinary Surveillance Commissioner.

He mentions the unsurprising ignorance of the Wilson Doctrine by junior police officers, and the astonishing ignorance of the senior ones, such as the controversial retired Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Andy Hayman.

Sir Christopher also points out the obvious need for clarification of the inter-action between the Wilson Doctrine and the RIPA and Police Act surveillance legislation.

Some quotes and notes:

We will comment more fully on the statement by the Home SecretaryJacqui Smith regarding the report by the Rt. Ho. Sir Christopher Rose into the Sadiq Khan Mp / babar Ahmad prison bugging affair, when the transcript becomes available in a few hours.

As anticipated, no illegality or wrongdoing has been discovered by the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, but he did not actually speak with the ex-Police Officer who did the actual bugging. No lawyers priviliged conversations apear to have been bugged, something which is patently at odds with several media reports.

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith seems to be willing to clarify and extend the Statutory Code of Practice covering Police Intrusice and Directed surveillance, to treat MP's constituency conversations on the same basis as other legally priviliged conversations, i.e. like those involving a solicitor or other legal advisor or a ministers of religion

She also said that this would apply to Members of the European Parliament and the Welshj Assembly, but that Northern Ireland and Scotland would need to be handled by their devolved administrations.

This is< strong> not an extension of the Wilson Doctrine, which was mentioned, as not applying , technically, to the Woodhill Prison bugging affair.

Meanwhile, you can enjoy the rubber stamping of the Order to renewe the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, i.e. the controversial Control Order legislation.

It looks as if there are even fewer MPs "debating" the Order than there were last year.

It looks as if the interesting and controversial, Wikileaks website, which promises "anonymous, untraceable, uncensorable" publication of leaked documents from whistleblowers, and which recently published the devastating No2ID Campaign annotated leaked UK National Identity Scheme document , is weathering some technical hitches and legal litigation attacks.

It seems that there has been a fire in an Uninterruptible Power Supply, which took the WikiLeaks web servers offline for much of Saturday, at their Swedish co-location hosting company, PRQ Inet, which has experience of attempts at censorship, through their former hosting of the peer to peer filesharing and political phenomenon, The Pirate Bay.

More seriously and for the longer term, the brand name of WikiLeakS.org is no longer online, due to a Temporary Restraining Order issued by the California Northern District Court in San Francisco, aimed at a Domain Name Registrar, rather than just the actual publishers of controversial material, who happen to be outside of US legal jurisdiction..

See this partial public list of Wikileaks Cover Names for alternative URLs which have not yet been censored.

Hat tip to Rob Lewis from accountingweb.co.uk who reminds us that "HMRC gets bugging powers" which commence today 15th February 2008.

These are under amendments to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), brought in by under the Serious Crime Act 2007 Schedule 12, and brought into force through the The Serious Crime Act 2007 (Commencement No.1) Order 2008 No. 219 (C. 5)

As Rob writes

HMRC has stated that all surveillance will be conducted in compliance with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the Wilson Doctrine, and subject to checks by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners and the Interception of Communication Commissioners Office. However, the department will not need to seek external authorisation for any of its surveillance activities.

The move flies in the face of assurances given when the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise merged in 2005 that integration would not necessitate an alignment of powers. Professional bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales will be further disappointed that HMRC has yet to draw up its own code of conduct regarding the new powers.

We expressed our worries last January: Is SOCA so useless, that HM Revenue & Customs really needs "bugging and phone-tap powers" ?

We have still seen no coherent justification for the extension of the snooping powers of the former Customs & Excise side, to infect the former Inland Revenue side of the HM Revenue & Customs mongrel Department.

If tax investigations (not drug smuggling) are on a scale and seriousness, so as to justify telephone intercepts and intrusive surveillance (i.e. legalised burglary into homes and offices to plant bugging devices), or to recruit Covert Human Intelligence informers, then surely the Serious Organised Crime Agency should be involved in a joint operation, and they can authorise and audit the necessary surveillance under RIPA ?

How can the Labour government justify allowing tens of thousands more faceless HMRC bureaucrats, to have access to our most sensitive personal data, through the most intrusive snooping powers, when they still have not restored any public confidence and trust following their appalling betrayal after the Child Benefit database scandal and other failed IT management and training privacy and security disasters ?

Remember that the Poynter Review and the Hannigan Review etc. etc. are being used as an excuse not to do anything effective about these scandals until after the May 1st 2008 Local Elections.

Incredibly, the Spanish authorities, appear to have done exactly what we suspected they might from the press reports last Friday, they have deliberately ignored the Judgment of the UK House of Lords, and charged Farid Hilali with "belonging to a terrorist organisation’", the very offence which the Law Lords explicitly forbad him to be extradited on !

See Farid Hilali finally extradited to Spain - are the Spanish authorities flouting the UK House of Lords judgment ?

The Law Lords' Judgments - In re Hilali (Respondent) (application for a writ of Habeas Corpus) clearly state that:


28. Participation in a terrorist organisation is not conduct that falls within the list of offences in article 2(2) of the Framework Decision: see section 64(2) of and Schedule 2 to the 2003 Act.


It follows that this is not an offence for which the respondent can be extradited.



I would affirm the decision by the senior district judge to order the respondent’s extradition to Spain. I would do so on the ground that the offences of conspiracy to commit the offence of murder of persons in the United States and of destroying, damaging or endangering the safety of aircraft, contrary to section 2 of the Aviation Security Act 1982, are the only offences in respect of which he is to be extradited.


What steps did the British government take to ensure that the Judgment of the Law Lords was carried out properly ?

Extradition is still the responsibility of the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, not the Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who is, however, supposed to be in charge of the UK Courts system. Will either of them bother to make a Statement about this affair ?

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has been commenting on the Guantanamo Bay military tribunal announced yesterday. Will any mainstream journalists bother to ask him about Farid Hilali ?

Will the Spanish Ambassador be summoned to the Foreign Office to explain this insult to the British legal system of justice ?

Will the Law Lords issue some form of Contempt of Court or Contempt of Parliament ruling ?

Could they demand that one or more Spanish officials be prosecuted in the UK and therefore face their own European Arrest Warrant "rapid extradition without any prima facie evidence" proceedings, to be extradited to the UK , to face the wrath of the Law Lords ?

If the Spanish Government supports their officious bureaucrats in pressing ahead with this charge, in contempt of the Law Lords, then the Home Secretary must amend, by Order, the controversial Extradition Act 2003, and remove Spain from the Part 1 category of European Arrest Warrant compatible countries.

The Home Office has refused our Freedom of Information Act request for geographical and duration details of the Terrorism Act 2000 Section 44 and 46 Authorisation Notifications

The Home Office is trying to argue that the Section 44 powers are a deterrent but that even the geographical extent of the Authorisations should be secret.

How effective can a secret deterrent be ?

These exceptional powers for Section 44 stop and search were specifically time and location limited by Parliament, and are not general , any time, any place, Police powers, but that is what the Home Office appears to be treating them as.

Are are they acting in excess of their legal powers - is this ultra vires ?

We argue that transparency would create a far more effective counter terrorism measure, by alerting the public to be extra vigilant in a particular place, at a particular time.

Better use of Police resources and less hassle for the law abiding public could be achieved, by publishing details of Section 44 Authorisations, perhaps on a map on the Home Office website. Law abiding members of the public could then avoid locations or times, where and when a temporary Section 44 Authorisation is in force, especially if they are carrying or transporting legal, but potentially suspicious items like shotguns, paintball guns, or ammonium nitrate based fertiliser etc.

When will the Labour database surveillance state scandals ever end ?

The Daily Telegraph has published some more whistleblower revelations , which claim that the abuse of of supposedly confidential client lawyer privilege, through the secret electronic eavesdropping in Prisons, is far more widespread than the Sadiq Khan MP / Babar Ahmad scandal.

Hundreds of lawyers 'bugged on prison visits'

By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor

The full scale of a nationwide policy to bug British jails can be disclosed today after a whistleblower revealed that hundreds of lawyers and prison visitors had been secretly recorded.

Why should anyone believe that these lawyers were only bugged when visiting their clients in prison ? Have they also been subjected to the full panoply of state bugging and interception surveillance techniques ?

Is this how the alleged Mobile Phone Intercept Voice Identification of Farid Hilali as the supposed "Shakur" was done, by sending the Spanish intelligence agency Centro Nacional de Inteligencia a copy of a legally priviliged conversation between him and his lawyers, obtained whilst he was at HMP Belmarsh or HMP Woodhill ?


Serious criminals, including the Soham murderer Ian Huntley and the letter bomber Miles Cooper, are also thought to have been targeted by the alleged secret bugging

What possible "national security" justification is there for bugging the legal conversations of a notorious child murderer, whose only peripheral accomplice is already in a protected witness scheme ?

Was this bugging actually due to corruption, with those involved hoping to sell sensational tidbits to the tabloid media ?

It appears that Farid Hilali, who faces terrorism charges based almost entirely on mobile phone Intercept Evidence and Voice Identification, has at last been extradited to Spain, according to The Daily Telegraph:

Hilali, 39, was arrested in June 2004 and was flown out of RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Friday.

CNN's Madrid bureau report publishes a photo of a clean shaven Farid Hilali after arriving in Spain, in the distinctive British yellow and green prison coveralls. Presumably nobody is ever extradited to Brazil wearing these colours.

However the CNN report says:

But the court source said it may now be difficult to press charges against Hilali for conspiracy in the 9/11 attacks, given that Spanish courts have acquitted at trial or on appeal three other suspected co-conspirators, including Yarkas.

But Hilali also faces a potential charge of membership in a terrorist group, which may be easier to uphold in court, the source said.

If Hilali is charged with belonging to Al Quaeda, and is not charged with the conspiracy to murder and endangering the safety of airliners charges, then there deserves to be a huge diplomatic row between the United Kingdom and Spain, as that would be directly the opposite of what the House of Lords, the highest Court in the United Kingdom, actually ordered in th their Judgement in this case.

It could well destroy future supposedly fast track European Arrest Warrant extraditions to Spain, and possibly to the rest of the European Union as well.

See the Law Lords' Judgement: Judgements - In re Hilali (Respondent) (application for a writ of Habeas Corpus)

Lord Hope of Craighead's Opinion, with which all his colleagues agreed:

The Government has now published the Privy Council Review of intercept as evidence: report to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary (.pdf 64 pages - censored) produced under Rt. Hon, Sir John Chilcot GCB.

This review makes the recommendation. that Intercept Evidence should, vaguely, at some undermined time in the future, be permitted in Courts in England and Wales (but not in Scotland or in Northern Ireland), for terrorism and serious crime cases , but not for Civil cases,. It is unclear if the recommendation for "terrorism" cases also include other national security cases such as espionage.

The tone of this Privy Council Review, gives Prime Minister Gordon Brown the opportunity to Pretend To Have Done Something and to spin some soundbites about "accepting the use of intercept evidence" in some, but not all Courts in the UK, and not for all the cases where it could be used.

There is no guarantee whatsoever, that the ban on Intercept Evidence will actually be rescinded in the foreseeable future.

Some impressions on reading the Review:

Tom Griffin has published the further results of his FOIA request regarding the planned UK e-Borders data rape of personal information which is far in excess of what should be collected to travel across what is supposedly a Passport free border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.


Therefore these checks will also have to be applied, effectively, to internal travel within the supposedly United Kingdom, by aeroplane or by ferry, between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

If they are allowed to get away with this, Soviet / Apartheid style internal travel bureaucracy, they try it on all other international travel and function creep and extend it to internal flights or trains or ferries in the entire UK.

We have no problem with the Police or intelligence agencies requesting such information for specific, narrowly targeted terrorist, espionage or drug or smuggling etc. investigations.

It is absolutely intolerable that such data is handed over, routinely, and automatically, in bulk, on the millions of innocent people who travel every year. Data Trawling through millions of innocent people's personal records is an expensive, ineffective and dangerous way of trying to protect our borders, and an unjustifiable abuse of our freedoms and liberties.

BBC News 24 reports that the Privy Council Review of Intercept evidence headed by Rt. Hon.Sir John Chilcot, is due to report that such evidence should be allowed in terrorism cases, which is currently forbidden by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Section 17 Exclusion of matters from legal proceedings

What the caveats and provisos are, and whether they recommend that this will apply to other categories of crimes as well, we will have to wait until tomorrow, when Prime Minister Gordon Brown is set to make a Statement, which may not necessarily, of course, accept any of the recommendations of the Review.

Jack Straw made a statement in the House of Commons regarding the apparent breach of the Wilson Doctrine, involving the electronic eavesdropping on conversations which should have been protected by Constituent / Member of Parliament privilege and, perhaps also of client / lawyer privilege which seems to have occurred at Woodhill prison near Milton Keynes.

It announced Yet Another Inquiry, this time by Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose, the current Chief Surveillance Commissioner, but with very limited terms of reference, and no power to compel testimony from the key witnesses.

Jack Straw did not clarify the details of the Wilson Doctrine, and ruled out an investigation of the bugging or interception of supposedly privileged client / lawyer conversations.

4 Feb 2008 : Column 660

HMP Woodhill (Inquiry)

3.34 pm

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement. As the House will be aware, there appeared in The Sunday Times yesterday allegations that conversations between my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Khan) and a constituent of his, Mr. Babar Ahmad, detained in prison on an extradition warrant, had been subject to covert recording when my hon. Friend visited Mr. Ahmad on two occasions in 2005 and 2006 at Her Majesty’s prison Woodhill.

I was made aware of the burden of these allegations on Saturday afternoon. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I discussed the matter and we agreed that an immediate inquiry should be established. In a statement to The Sunday Times issued on my behalf early on Saturday evening I announced this, and expressed my concerns about the allegations, if true.

Somehow, as a former Home Secretary and former Foreign Secretary and now Minister of Justice / Lord Chancellor in charge of Prisons, Jack Straw has managed to elbow Home Secretary Jacqui Smith out of the limelight - she is supposed to be the Cabinet Minister who is politically accountable for the Police and the the counter-terrorism agencies, but she obviously is not up to the task, and she does not seem to have uttered a word in public about the scandal.

Some of the reaction in the UK political blogosphere and by extremist media pundits, to the electronic bugging of a Member of Parliament's privileged conversations with one of his constituents, rather misses the point about the Wilson Doctrine.

The "MPs are sleazy, so they should all be under surveillance, like the rest of us" attitude is predictable, but wrong.

The BBC's Security Correspondent Gordon Correra, for example, is mentioning on BBC News 24, the line that somehow the Wilson Doctrine should only apply to the targeting of MPs for surveillance for political purposes, and then only by secret government agencies. This narrow interpretation is not how we understand the Wilson Doctrine, after having read almost every very carefully worded Government statement about it over the years.

MPs are not exempt from investigations into any criminal activities which they may be engaged in their private lives, or in breach of election laws.

Some people are calling for the abolition of the Privilege of Members of Parliament to be outside the reach of some of the laws which apply to the rest of us, but they are wrong.

If you destroy the confidentiality of MP's communications with their Constituents, especially those whose lives are being made hell by the Government bureaucracy, then you will suppress the activities of legitimate whistleblowers who expose corruption. incompetence or illegality in the Government machine, to the detriment of society as a whole.

Such whistleblowers need all the protection they can get,, given the powerful technologies and bureaucracies ranged against them - see our updated Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers article.

Here are some thoughts to help stimulate debate on this important issue:

The Sunday Times leads with an interesting scoop, involving two topics about which we have written about here on Spy Blog, namely the Wilson Doctrine executive administrative prohibition on tapping or bugging the communications of Members of Parliament, and the controversial attempt by the US government to extradite British Muslim IT technician Babar Ahmad to the USA, without presenting any prima facie evidence to a British Court.

From The Sunday Times February 3, 2008 Police bugged Muslim MP Sadiq Khan

Insight: Michael Gillard and Jonathan Calvert

SCOTLAND YARD’S anti-terrorist squad secretly bugged a high-profile Labour Muslim MP during private meetings with one of his constituents.

Sadiq Khan, now a government whip, was recorded by an electronic listening device hidden in a table during visits to the constituent in prison.

Sadiq Khan MP for Tooting has an almost perfect record of supporting and voting in the most repressive Labour legislation e.g. Terrorism, Extradition, and ID Cards etc.

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 offer this verifiable GPG / PGP public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) as one possible method to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, if it suits their Threat Model or Risk Appetite, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels e.g. encrypted Signal Messenger via burner devices,or face to face meetings, postal mail or dead drops etc. as appropriate.

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

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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


Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

WikiLeak.org - ethical and technical discussion about the WikiLeaks.org project for anonymous mass leaking of documents etc.

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

International Civil Aviation Organisation - Machine Readable Travel Documents standards for Biometric Passports etc.
Anti National ID Japan - controversial and insecure Jukinet National ID registry in Japan
UK Biometrics Working Group run by CESG/GCHQ experts etc. the UK Government on Biometrics issues feasability
Citizen Information Project feasability study population register plans by the Treasury and Office of National Statistics

CommentOnThis.com - comments and links to each paragraph of the Home Office's "Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme".

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward


The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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


Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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


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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia


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

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

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at http://nuclear-weapons.info

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

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

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

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

Open Rights Group

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

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

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

Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


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


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


WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers