January 2009 Archives

Ralph Bendrath has an excellent summary of the struggle for privacy and data security rights in Germany during 2008:

Privacy in Germany 2008: A new fundamental right, a privacy mass movement, and the usual surveillance suspects

Those of us in the UK who oppose this inept Labour Government's mania for repressive privacy and security destroying policies, should note that other countries like Germany have similar problems, and that there is hope that we can defeat them.

The UK Government are not the only people who want to track your emails, and to try to determine who your other emails contacts are.

Email tracking is one of the snooping technologies which we try to keep an eye on, whether it is at the Communications Traffic Data logfile level, or through the use of tricks like web bug images in HTML emails, or URLS hidden in word documents or .pdf files or in active content like Flash animations or video clips etc.

An example of this sort of abuse was the use made of the Australian based ReadNotify service, which Hewlett-Packard used to try to smoke out which corporate insider whistleblowers various journalists had been in contact with.

We were therefore interested in this short piece in today's Guardian:

Obama online team hired to help fight BNP

* Matthew Taylor
* The Guardian, Monday 26 January 2009

The firm behind President Barack Obama's online election campaign have been signed up to help anti-racists take on the British National party in the European parliament elections in June.

Blue State Digital (BSD), which used the latest internet technology to mobilise millions of people behind Obama, has been employed to help create a grassroots network across the UK as part of the campaign to stop the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, becoming the far-right party's first MEP.

The firm began work last week and has already signed up thousands of supporters and donors. As part of the first stage of its campaign BSD and an anti-fascist magazine, Searchlight, has sent thousands of emails asking each recipients to forward it to five friends and make a small donation. The software means campaigners can then track who opens the emails, where they are sent and what happens when they arrive at the other end - tailoring future emails to groups and individuals


If all the tracking is done through explicit, up front, web links on the Blue State Digital web servers, then that may be acceptable, but that may rather be overselling the efficacy of their software's tracking capabilities to their campaign organisation clients.

The description in the Guardian article, together with Blue State Digital's Email Tools web page, implies at least the use of the standard but optional internet email Content Disposition header / Read Receipt, which many email recipients never see, or never manually reply to.

Blue State  Digital email tracking report

Are they also making use of ReadNotify style tricks, to also try to sneakily track and identify the email and IP address and other web browser details etc. of the friends and contacts of the people to whom the BSD software has been used to send a targeted mailshot to ?

Such secondary recipients of the emails are those who the NGO campaigners employing the Blue State Digital software do not yet know about, but who they hope to grow the grassroots activist base and get money from, regardless of whether most of the recipients of such email marketing are interested or offended by such marketing spam. Most of these secondary email recipients will not have opted in, and given their prior, informed consent for their IP address and other details to be tracked by BSD, even before they have actually decided to reply to the email or to trash it.

Political campaigns, wherever they are on the political spectrum, should not be using the same sort of tricks as email spammers and those who try to sneakily hunt down anonymous whistleblower sources and contacts, since this will betray the Sensitive Personal Data of their supporters, to some of their political enemies.

Since the Blue State Digital server infrastructure is based in the USA, with lax Data Protection and large scale snooping on foreigners (and on US citizens) by US Government agencies, who else gets to read the Communications Traffic Data of any particular group of political activists or campaign supporters who have been targeted this way ?

Blue Sky Digital were touting their "grassroots" campaign online expertise and tools, to various campaign groups and pressure groups recently.

We might perhaps support some of the aims of this campaign, but not if it uses sneaky email tracking, which contravenes the fundamental data protection principle of prior, informed consent, and which probably also contravenes the Direct Marketing industry codes of practice and European Union wide laws.

We did try to get a public comment about this on the Hope not Hate blog entry, but to no avail, so we must assume the worst.

Please forward one of Blue State Digital's tracking emails to us for analysis.

Those of you contemplating giving money to charity via the much hyped Disasters Emergency Committee DEC, might wish to reconsider.

Remember that they pressed criminal charges against Daniel Cuthbert, an IT security consultant, under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, after he had donated £30 on his credit card (obviously leaving his own name and address etc) , but then had become worried that perhaps the inept website was vulnerable to phishng attacks etc.

ZDnet reported

Cuthbert was found guilty under the CMA of gaining unauthorised access to the Tsunami appeal Web site. He claimed in court that he had made a donation and then became concerned that he'd fallen victim to a phishing scam. To check, he added ../../../ to the URL in an attempt to access the site's higher directories -- an action that triggered an alarm.

Security experts and ZDNet readers have expressed concern about the conviction. O'Neal shares this view.

"As for the conviction, it's frankly ridiculous. It highlighted how untried and untested the CMA is. The main problem is how you define unauthorised access and intent in the context of an open Web server," O'Neal said.

British Telecom's intrusion detection system raised an alarm, but DEC were callous enough to actually press charges.

If you absolutely must give money to charities who operate in war zones, arguably helping to prolong and perpetuate the conflicts, by allowing the friends and relatives of the people they give aid to, to buy weapons instead of spending their own scare resources on food and medical aid etc, then give it directly to those charities, and not through the DEC website.

There is still time to make use of WriteToThem.com, or other means of lobbying your Member of Parliament to get them to firstly actually debate, and then, hopefully reject, the sneaky Information Orders powers in the Coroners and Justice Bill, which gets its second reading today n the Commons, and will, presumably also get debate limited via a programming / guillotine motion.

Clause152 Information sharing will, unlike the rest of the Bill, affect the daily lives of millions, and perhaps even all, UK citizens.

It effectively destroys the internationally accepted fundamental Principle of Data Protection, as written into the original Data Protection Act 1998, that data gathered for one purpose, cannot be used for another, without the data subject's prior, informed consent.

The existing Data Protection Act already has huge loopholes in it regarding "national security" or "for the prevention, detection or prosecution of crime" (no matter how petty or trivial)

However, Information Orders far exceed these supposedly, strictly limited purposes:

(1) An appropriate Minister is entitled to make an information-sharing
order only if the sharing of information enabled by the order is for the purposes of--

(a) in the case of the Secretary of State, any matter with which a
department of the Secretary of State is concerned

(b) in the case of the Treasury, any matter with which the Treasury
is concerned;

(c) in the case of any other Minister in charge of a government
department, any matter with which that department is

i.e. any Minister can order the sharing of any personal data, including Sensitive Personal Data such as medical records, political or trades union affiliations, criminal records, sexuality, financial records and other vast databases such as national identity register data, passenger travel data, DVLA car and insurance data, voting registration and other electoral records etc.

This sharing could be with private companies and other Government departments, not just in the UK, but also internationally.

The Explanatory Notes for this clause 152 cite a wholly unconvincing example

692. New section 50A(3) sets out the definition of data-sharing for the purposes of this section. Sharing in this section includes both the disclosure of data between two or more persons (such as when one company provides its client list to another company for commercial purposes), as well as where a single person uses some data for a purpose other than that which it was obtained for (for example where a Government Department obtains information for the purposes of exercising one particular statutory function such as the collection of tax but then later wishes to use the same information for another statutory function such as the provision of benefits and credits).

There is already in place, since 2004, a statutory data sharing gateway, between the tax and benefits computer systems, called the DWP Longitudinal Study . brought in under data sharing powers under the Employment Act 2002.

The Information Commissioner's Office cannot even cope with their existing backlog of Data Protection and Freedom of Information Act work (which is measured in years, not in weeks) , and all of their advisory reports on Data Security or Privacy are simply ignored and never put into practice by Government Departments.

This Bill does not give the ICO any sort of veto or amendment powers over an Information Order.

The Bill provides no mechanism for a private citizen to challenge having their Sensitive Personal Data shared without their prior informed consent.

They will no longer be able to complain to the Information Commissioner, because the ICO will be bound by the newly amended Data Protection Act.

Judicial Review in the High Court in such a case is only available to the very rich, and will only apply after the data sharing collateral damage has already been done.

Note how these Information Orders sections 151 to 154 of this Coroners and Justice Bill are well down the numerical list of 162 clauses, so there is a huge danger that they will never be fully debated in the Commons, because of lack of time, after considering all the other controversial bits of the Bill, which will, no doubt, be subjected to a Programming / Guillotine motion.

Some of the other controversial bits of this Bill, which may allow the Information Orders clauses to be smuggled through without amendment.

The awful and unnecessary Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 is creeping into force, having been partially commenced by the rubber stamping of this Order:

2009 No.58 (C.6) - Prevention And Suppression Of Terrorism - The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2009

2. The following provisions of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 shall come into force on 16th February 2009--


(d) section 76 (offences relating to information about members of armed forces etc), together with Schedule 8 (offences relating to information about members of armed forces etc: supplementary provisions);

See Counter-Terrorism Bill clause 83 reminder - chilling effect on reporting or speculation about military or intelligence service or police personnel ?

The War on Photographers , and Military Historians and Biographers etc. intensifies, by making it a serious terrorist crime to "attempt to elicit" information e.g. name, address, photograph etc.,about a current or former member of the Police, Armed Forces or Intelligence Services.

It does not matter if there is a legal defence available to you in Court, it is too late for your liberty and career, once you have been tainted and blacklisted, by being arrested under a terrorism law, even if you are never charged or are found not guilty.

How soon before this law is used to threaten, harass and arrest political demonstrators or activists, who take photos of the Police etc. who are taking photos of them ?

Why are former members of these organisations covered, without exception i.e. including all those who have been kicked out for treason, espionage, corruption etc and those Walter Mitty fantasists or con artists, who exaggerate their former military careers, skills or experience, for vanity or to swindle people.?

How soon before this law is invoked by those in the Police, Military or Intelligence services who want to hide or cover up incompetence, corruption or worse from investigative journalists or other investigators ?

Why are other people who are just as much targets of terrorists e.g. Judges, juries, prison officers etc. not covered by this law ? If they are adequately covered by the pre-existing Terrorism Act section 58, then why is this new Terrorism Act section 58A needed at all ?

(j) the entries in Part 2 (disclosure of information and the intelligence services), Part 4 (financial restrictions proceedings), Part 5 (control orders) and Part 6 (pre-charge detention) of Schedule 9 (repeals and revocations).

See Counter-terrorism Bill - covert DNA sampling and analysis with no effective safeguards

Keep guard of your teacups, they may be stolen from you by official burglars or undercover agents, who want to secretly sample your DNA or fingerprints, if Home Office Minister Admiral Lord West's ideas on how this bit of the Act is going to be used are true.

N.B. the main sections 19 to 21 Disclosure of information to the intelligence services were commenced on Christmas Eve, 24th December 2008, so, perhaps "Santa" or his little helpers were really after your DNA and fingerprints rather than mince pies etc..

Vernon Coaker

Minister of State

Home Office

19th January 2009

Coaker joins a long list of Labour Home Office Ministers who have legislatively signed away the freedoms and liberties of the innocent majority, without any proportionate decrease in crime or terrorism.

Is there time to makes some Freedom of Information Act Requests to the Police and Military, or to take some Photographs etc, before February 16th 2009 ?

The promises made by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Home Secretary, about new procedures and protocols to supposedly protect the correspondence. between Members of Parliament and their constituents, following the still ongoing Damian Green scandal, appear to be utterly worthless:

See David Mery's publication of "MR SPEAKER'S PROTOCOL ON THE EXECUTION OF A SEARCH WARRANT IN THE PRECINCTS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS" - The House of Common server was not accessed by the police

House of Commons Hansard 21 Jan 2009 : Column 865 between 7.16 and 7:32pm, Wednesday 21st January 2009:

Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con):On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am extremely shocked about what I am going to say. I was about to make my speech in the debate on savers when I received a note from my office saying that there was a police officer there, demanding to see correspondence. The

21 Jan 2009 : Column 865

police were already present in my office and I went to see them after making my speech. They said that they were investigating an important case with regard to correspondence that had been sent to Ministers and wanted to see handwriting samples from people who had written to me. I am appalled that officers can behave in that way--entering a Member of Parliament's office, with no warrant, and demanding constituency correspondence. To my great embarrassment and eternal shame, I was so weak that I handed over the letter from my constituent that they demanded. I will have to live with that, but I am extremely embarrassed about it. After everything that has happened to my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green), it is disgraceful that this is happening and I urge you to investigate.

What is going on ?

The Police denial that it was a "search", as reported by the BBC, is complete nonsense.

How can anyone match handwriting samples from piles and files of office correspondence without conducting a "search", unless you abuse plain English with Orwellian newspeak ?

How can you trust that your supposedly legally privileged correspondence via post or email etc., with your elected Member of Parliament, is not regularly being rifled through by the Police or other Government officials ?

Daniel Kawczynski is a prize idiot for betraying such public trust without a fight.

It is time to bring the Wilson Doctrine up to date and put it on a statutory footing, with criminal sanctions against officious Police or other bureaucrats who break the rules.

[hat tip to Not a Sheep: Damian Green Mark II]

UPDATE Monday 26th January 2009:

It looks as if the Speaker has not dealt with the situation properly, again:

A plague on The Sun ?

| | Comments (1)

Yesterday we noticed a typical "Climate of Fear" story published "exclusively" in the tabloid newspaper The Sun, but parroted by other newspapers like the Daily Mail (without attribution) and the Daily Telegraph, and by other media around the world, without any of them bothering to do any actual investigative journalism of their own:

Deadliest weapon so far... the plague


Published: 19 Jan 2009

ANTI-TERROR bosses last night hailed their latest ally in the war on terror -- the BLACK DEATH.

At least 40 al-Qaeda fanatics died horribly after being struck down with the disease that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages.


One security source said: "This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease.


Is the anonymous "security source" implying that a biological weapon, "the deadliest weapon yet" is being used by the "authorities" in the "war against terror" ?

If these are British "anti-terror bosses", then they need to be removed from their positions of power and criminally prosecuted as soon as possible.

These mainstream media organisations have been put to shame by the excellent The Sun - Tabloid Lies group blog article by Septicisle, one the contributing editors, which de-bunks this story of an alleged plague outbreak in Algeria, and the crude attempts to imply that Al Qaida terrorists have access to viable bio-weapons.

Propaganda or just convenient dead terrorists?


It claims that up to 40 were killed by the plague, yet apparently only one body was actually found, and rather conveniently by the roadside, while the others are meant to be in mass graves in Yakouren forest. There are no photographs, and no confirmation of what type of plague the man had died from. The article claims that plague can kill in hours, but this is only true of the rarest form, pneumonic plague, which if not treated within 24 hours of symptoms developing greatly increases the chances of death. Bubonic plague, the most common, can be treated, and due to its longer incubation period of 2 to 6 days and well-known symptoms is often identified in time.


Moreover, plague is incredibly difficult to weaponise: the United States never managed it, although the Russians did. Famously, it has been used crudely in the past: first at Caffa and later by the Japanese, who dropped ceramic bombs filled with infected fleas on China in the early 1940s.


How long before former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair is paid to comment on this alleged "bubonic plague terrorist threat" ?

See Sir Ian Blair interviewed by Sir David Frost - partial transcript: more terror laws, "bubonic plague threat" and "iris scan" ID cards - partisan comments during the General Election.

Please lobby your Members of Parliament to prevent them from exempting the details of their expenses from Freedom of Information Act requests,

Specifically ask them to vote against the draft Freedom of Information (Parliament) Order 2009 (.pdf), this Thursday.

FOIA campaigner Heather Brook clearly lays out the case for full disclosure and transparency of MP's expenses, just as is routine in the Scottish Parliament. - MPs' expenses - We have until Thursday to stop this rot

As usual, the excellent people at mySociety.org have provided some online tools to make this easy for you and your friends:

mySociety blog » MPs expenses - pulling out the stops
By Tom Steinberg on Monday, January 19th, 2009

A few moments ago the team rolled out changes to our biggest and best known site, TheyWorkForYou.com meaning that every visitor to any page of the site will be greeted with a call to arms on the issue of some MPs voting this Thursday to conceal their expenses. And after the vote, we’ll be prominently publishing who voted which way - there should be a couple of million visitors at least before the next election.

Our explicit goal is to have a lot of constituents from around the country let their MPs know they won’t be impressed with a ‘yes’ vote or an abstention (the same thing in this case), and to build our Facebook group to the point where the mainstream media starts to take notice of this Net driven discontent.

Please do everything you can to get as many people as possible writing to their MPs and joining that Facebook group. We’re doing our bit - please do yours. Together we can stop the encouraging trend of more openness in our Parliament scrunching into reverse.


Astonishingly, we appear to have won, for now at least !

The Labour Government, despite imposing a 3 line whip to try to force this controversial nonsense through, appear to have retreated for now, and have withdrawn the controversial Order.

BBC:- Brown backs down in expenses row

mySociety blog:- Blimey. It looks like the Internets won

Thanks to everyone who did lobby their MPs through WriteToThem.com, or by other means.

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance".

This week saw the deaths of two men who have had a lot of influence in the seemingly never ending fight for our human rights and freedoms, namely the tv and film actor and director Patrick McGoohan and the lawyer and author Sir John Mortimer QC.

Patrick McGoohan, despite a successful Hollywood career as an actor and director, is most famous in the UK, for the stylish tv series, The Prisoner , in which he starred, and also wrote and directed many of its 17 episodes back in 1968. This featured an ex spy, "Number Six" held within the high tech surveillance and control panopticon of The Village (filmed mostly in Portmeirion, in North Wales), run by a powerful, ruthless, yet often incompetent, gang of nameless bureaucrats, under a succession of mysterious leaders, each designated as the new "Number Two".

Even under this totalitarian nightmare, of a seemingly open society, underpinned by high tech surveillance, snooping and informers and agent provocateurs, Patrick McGoohan's character still resists the evil control freaks of The Village, sometimes with the help of (often untrustworthy) fellow Prisoners and "jammers".

Apart from "Rover" (what was originally to be a robotic perimeter security vehicle, which was changed to a spookily filmed latex weather balloon, due to mechanical breakdowns) and the occasional foray into "mind swaps", all of the technology portrayed back in 1968 has been refined, developed, and deployed nowadays e.g. target tracking CCTV cameras, linked to large control room wall displays etc. Such snooping systems now cover large sections of our cities and public transport systems, providing control and surveillance for the authorities. They are supposed to give the impression that politicians are "doing something", but actually provide little or no measurable benefit for the public, and no deterrence against crime or terrorism, whilst adding to the cost and stress of living in Britain.

Various catch phrases such as "I am not a Number, I am a free man!" and "What do you want ? Information" resonate as loudly as George Orwell's "Big Brother Is Watching You" in today's nanny police database state Britain.

See The Prisoner Appreciation Society - Six of One for links.

One of the accomplished actors who played the role of "Number Two", was the late Leo McKern, who later rose to international fame in the role of Horace Rumpole, a loveable, cunning, erudite, principled and humane, jobbing defence barrister, in the tv series entitled Rumpole of the Bailey,

The creator of Rumpole was the real life barrister, author and playwright Sir John Mortimer QC, a "champagne socialist" lawyer and media luvvy, who defended in Court, several important cases involving the fundamental English (and British) human rights, notably that of freedom of expression.

Sir John Mortimer's depiction of the inner workings of the British legal establishment, is both as true to life and often as funny, as that of Government Ministers and Civil Service mandarins portrayed in the later tv series Yes, Minister.

Sir John Mortimer was recently, obviously horrified by the Labour Government's fundamental attacks on the human rights of innocent people, especially the concept of Anti Social Behavior Orders and the vast amount of complicated, repressive, Terrorism legislation.

This all chips away at, and destroys, what his character Horace Rumpole, and many lawyers (except for those in this Labour Government) still take to be the "Golden Thread of British Justice", i.e. the principle of the presumption of innocence - "innocent until proven guilty", in public, based on actual evidence and witnesses, which can be cross examined by defence lawyers, rather than secret "intelligence" allegations, made by faceless accusers or by paid informers and agent provocateurs.

"It is better to let ten guilty people go free in Court, than to wrongly convict a single innocent person".

Hopefully, although these talented men have now passed on, their warnings will still be heeded by current and future generations.

The Guardian:

[url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jan/15/sharing-personal-data-whitehall]Whitehall departments to share personal data[/url]

• Straw lifts curbs on use of private information
• Changes 'will ease public's dealings with officialdom'

* Alan Travis, home affairs editor
* The Guardian, Thursday 15 January 2009


The powers in the coroners and justice bill will reverse the fundamental data protection principle that information provided to one government agency for one purpose should not normally be used by another for a different purpose.

Straw insisted that the powers would come with "very strict controls" on who will get access to personal data and what it can be used for, but the Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties warned that the bill represented "yet another building block of the surveillance state"


There are no such "very strict controls" spelt out in the text of the Bill, it is Yet Another Enabling Bill, with all the critical details left to Ministerial Orders, which will not be scrutinised by Parliament.

See the [url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmbills/009/09009.94-99.html#j22_007aw]Coroners and Justice Bill 2009 Part 8[/url]

For example, all of the 50 or more items of data, and all of your fingerprint etc. biometric data which the compulsory National Identity Register centralised database will contain, will be able to be shared, by "any person", which "any" Government Department, ([b]not[/b] just the Home Office) decides it wants it to be shared, and declares that is "necessary to secure a relevant policy objective"

The data sharing is not limited just to other UK Government Departments, but could be to private sector companies and foreign governments.

This is far more than the existing, already far too broad, exemptions from the Data Protection Act for "national security" or for the "prevention, detection or prosecution of crime".

The weasel words "or includes personal data" mean that the protections for [b]Sensitive Personal Data[/b] will have been abolished, if the Government gets hold of such data.


(a) the racial or ethnic origin of the data subject,

(b) his political opinions,

(c) his religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature,

(d) whether he is a member of a trade union (within the meaning of the [1992 c. 52.] Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992),

(e) his physical or mental health or condition,

(f) his sexual life,

(g) the commission or alleged commission by him of any offence, or

(h) any proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed by him, the disposal of such proceedings or the sentence of any court in such proceedings.

The fact that this section of the Bill is well towards the very end, means that there will be almost no "debate" on it at all in Parliament. The available time for debate will be used up considering the controversial secret Coroner's hearings and amendments to murder defences etc.

Those will only affect a few people, but this further crippling of the Data Protection Act will affect millions of innocent people every year.

The Information Commissioner's Office has published some new Guidelines for Organisations, regarding the use of Anonymous or Pseudonymous Names by people who submit Freedom of Information Act requests:

Guidance on Valid request - name and address for correspondence (.pdf)

The name of the applicant

The use of the phrase "the name of the applicant" in section 8(1)(b) indicates that the real name of the applicant should be used when requesting information and not any other name, for example, a pseudonym.

Although one of the underlying principles of the FOIA is that the identity of the applicant is not taken into account, it can be relevant in certain circumstances. For example, when:

a request is being made by the applicant for his/her own personal data and so would be exempt under section 40(1) of the FOIA (and would comprise a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998);

  • a request is being made by the applicant for his/her own personal data and so would be exempt under section 40(1) of the FOIA (and would comprise a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998);
  • a public authority has good reason to believe a requester is using a pseudonym to shield his/her identity in order to avoid the possibility of the request being considered as vexatious or repeated; or
  • determining whether to aggregate costs for two or more requests in accordance with the Fees Regulations.

Therefore, we are of the view that it was the intention of the legislation that an applicant should provide their real name so that the request can be processed in accordance with the requirements of the FOIA.

We do not have a problem with Public Authorities refusing personal data about the FOIA request submitter (which needs to be requested via the Data Protection Act) or suspected "vexatious or repeated" requests, or when aggregating any Fees which are being charged.

When determining whether or not a request is "repeated" or "vexatious", surely the Name or Pseudonym is irrelevant, surely it is the content of the request which reveals if it is a repeat of a previous one or not ?

We do strongly object to the ICO's insistence on "real names" in all other circumstances, when it should be utterly irrelevant to the Public Authority who exactly is making the request.

The Name and Address "for correspondence" should only be to facilitate the actual delivery of the disclosed documents or information.

It is all very well for the ICO to claim that "one of the underlying principles of the FOIA is that the identity of the applicant is not taken into account", but there are no criminal penalties which apply to individual bureaucrats or organisations who abuse this principle, are there ?

There will be a chilling effect on insiders who know or suspect, that there is some information which a Government department is hiding from the public, who will not now be willing to make an Freedom of Information Act Request for it, because they fear for their careers or other consequences, if they have to provide their real names.

People who make Freedom of Information Act requests need at least as much protection from petty bureaucrats, who may be in a position of power relative to them, just as internal whistleblowers do. Public Authorities (and large private sector companies) already log the details of "complainants" into dubious databases, and share this data with other organisations.

What constitutes a real name?

We consider that a relatively informal approach is also appropriate in this context. Therefore, title and/or first name with surname satisfies the requirement for provision of a real name, as does the use by a female applicant of her maiden name. The prime consideration is whether enough of a person's full name has been provided to give a reasonable indication of that person's identity.

Mr Arthur Thomas Roberts could satisfy section 8(1)(b) of the FOIA by stating his name in a request for information as "Arthur Roberts", "A. T. Roberts", or "Mr Roberts", but not by stating his name as "Arthur" or "A.T.R."

In the case of a company, it is not necessary to provide the full registered name. It will be acceptable to provide another name which exists as a real entity, such as a trading name.
Similarly, a sole trader could provide his or her real name or trading name.

In most cases, it will be reasonable for a real name to comprise a name by which the person making the request is widely known and/or is regularly used

The only bit of good news in this new ICO Guidance is confirmation that email addresses are just as acceptable as postal addresses.

An address for correspondence
The requirement is for an address to be supplied such that it enables correspondence to reach the applicant.

Postal address
A postal address will meet this requirement. This does not have to be the applicant's own address, and it is acceptable for the applicant to provide a "care of" or PO Box address.

Email address
An email address also satisfies the requirement of section 8(1)(b) that the applicant should provide an address for correspondence. Support for this is found in the FOIA as follows:

  • a request for information can be made by email.
  • the access regime is a relatively informal one - for example the applicant does not have to state formally that the request is being made under the FOIA

Where will all this leave Freedom of Information Act request portals like MySociety.org's WhatDoTheyKnow.com or even our own Spy Blog UK FOIA Request blog ?

Given how often Government officials try to hide their own names and job titles, and especially photographs of themselves, (i.e. literally faceless, nameless bureaucrats), from the public who they are supposed to be serving, this latest Guidance by the ICO is wrong. and should be amended in our favour, as soon as possible.

This Tuesday 6th January 2009, there were some vague comments from Johnathan Evans, the Director General of MI5 the Security Service, regarding Communications Traffic Data snooping - embarrassingly, the mainstream media who were invited to the MI5 press briefing did not bother to ask any searching or detailed questions:

N.B. the above media coverage links are on the Mi5 Security Service website. They certainly appear to be measuring the newspaper column inches which they themselves generate i.e. doing media monitoring / spin, even though they allegedly do not have a Press Office, supposedly leaving that to the Home Office. The Home Office has a supposedly specialist Press website, which is never up to date, especially at weekends, and whose Press Releases do not seem to include many of the stories which Home Office spokesmen seem to feed to the press.

On Friday there was some confusing reporting by the BBC (radio, tv and web) , conflating the European Union Communications Data Retention with the still as yet unclear Interception Modernisation Programme plans to update GCHQ's infrastructure, and the even vaguer political kite flying by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith for a secret centralised data trawling database, which may or may not appear in the promised Communications Data Bill.

See The Register - Confusion reigns ahead of comms überdatabase debate.

See also our previous analysis of the EU Data Retention scheme coming into force this March, extending the existing data retention from telephones and mobile phones, to some aspects of internet connections and undefined "internet telephony" - Communications Data Retention - internet access, internet e-mail and internet telephony

Also on Friday, In contrast with his predecessor's remarks, (see Sir Ken Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions: "This database would be an unimaginable hell-house of personal private information"). the current Director of Public Prosecutions Kier Starmer, seems to be a bit evasive on this topic:

Superdatabase tracking all calls and emails legitimate, says DPP

• Controversial plan gets backing from new head of CPS
• Invasion of privacy must have purpose, he says

Afua Hirsch
Legal affairs correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 January 2009 17.11 GMT

In his first public briefing since taking over as DPP in November last year, Keir Starmer QC

As some people have emailed pointing to this story in the Sunday Times,

Police set to step up hacking of home PCs

we feel duty bound to comment on what seems to be another of bit of anonymous Whitehall briefing and spin via the well connected journalist David Leppard.

We reported on the earlier

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith - EU G6 plus USA Ministers discussing "remote searches of computer hard drives"

which looks like an attempt to policy launder a Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something About Cyber Crime plan onto the entire European Union, back on October 18th 2008:

The Register has taken up this story

Home Office denies remote snooping plan

following on from their earlier investigation of the G6 plus USA summit

Germans seduce Jacqui over remote hacking of disks - Trojanised Home Sec comes home to infect Parliament

(note that the mainstream print and broadcast media did not bother to do any such digging).

A spokesman for the Home Office told the Reg that UK police can already snoop - but these activities are governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the Surveillance Commissioner. He said changes had been proposed at the last Interior Ministers' meeting, but nothing has happened since.


A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK has agreed to a strategic approach towards tackling cyber crime on the same basis as all Member States - however, the decisions in the Council Conclusions are not legally binding and there are no agreed timescales.

"We fully support work to develop an understanding of the scale and impact of electronic crime across the EU and will work with Member States to develop the detail of the proposal."

This is a typical Home Office media spin statement, carefully avoiding the important privacy and security risks to the public. Note the New Labour weasel word "tackling" - that does not actually promise the prevention or prosecution of even a single instance of "cyber crime", it just gives the impression that they might eventually be "Doing Something".

There is not much that we want to add to The Register's comments on this Sunday Times / Whitehall kite flying / anonymous briefing story, except to remind people that the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners, which is supposed to provide some weak monitoring under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and the the Police Act 1997 Part III, is not required to be informed of Police or other Property Interference i.e. state sanctioned burglary to plant electronic bugging devices or, by extension, malicious computer snooping software at business premises i.e. company offices, or those premises of, say, internet service providers or co-location hosting computer server hosting companies, online backup companies, or financial institutions etc.

In order to be "in accordance with law", specifically Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as incorporated in the Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1

1 ."Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence,

such authorisations for Property Interference of people's homes or, following European Court of Human Rights case law precedents, people's private motor vehicles does require the cumbersome and not very effective bureaucracy of the Surveillance Commissioners to be involved. They have no real powers of sanction, only "name and shame" powers via an Annual Report to the Prime Minister and, eventually to Parliament.

They are also meant to "regulate" the use of Covert Human Intelligence sources i.e. infiltrators, undercover agents, and informers, who also might well be involved in helping to set up "remote searches of computer hard disks".

It is all very well for the Home Office to be involved in EU level policies on cyber crime cooperation, but they have done nothing to protect British sovereignty against Collateral Damage or Denial of Service by Law Enforcement. The Indymedia server seizure scandal in 2004 shows that foreign based companies, or even UK based subsidiaries of foreign owned companies can be pressurised into snooping on, or handing over your private data, or killing off your innocent website etc. even if it is physically in the UK, without any UK Court Order and without even a formal or informal request to the UK law enforcement authorities.

The Home Office should be working to prevent foreign or domestic law enforcement "collateral damage" to innocent people's data and computer systems the UK, rather than making it easier for such mistakes to happen.

The dangers of Deep Packet Inspection coupled with sponsored advertising keywords, e.g. the notorious Phorm, or just the dangers of sponsored search engine keywords coupled with the exisiting and future Communications Traffic Data retention and snooping databases, is illustrated by the inept Metropolitan Police Service Google AdWord / sponsored link campaign, currently afflicting www.google.co.uk.

If you search for the following phrases, you will get a Sponsored Link to a Metropolitan Police Service's Specialist Operations web page, which re-hashes their controversial "suspect everyone who travels or uses any modern technology", advertising campaign, promoting the supposedly confidential anti-terrorism hotline.

If your blog or website is running Google adverts and is unlucky enough to have such beeing automatically, and very fallibly classified as such, these sponsored advert banners may also appear on or around your web content.

See London's Met Police running adverts on Google, [hat tip to Iain Dale - Is There a Right Wing Extremist Under Your Bed? ]

However, although these "right wing" bloggers seem to be the first to notice this, it does not necessarily mean that only they are on some carefully chosen NuLabour political watchlist.

e.g. searching for "Left Wing Extremist" gets you a Sponsored Link entitled "Right Wing Extremist":


Results 1 - 10 of about 525,000 for Left Wing Extremist. (0.09 seconds)

Sponsored Link

1. Right Wing Extremist
www.met.police.uk Call the Anti-terrorist Hotline Your call could be vital to us.

These search engine query keywords are not being applied fairly or impartially or even logically.

No doubt there are other possible combinations and variations, and the results may vary depending on which of the multiple Google search engine boxes you are actually being served by at any particular time.

Google are probably desperately trying to fix this, and some or all of the above may not not work, but the fact that these inaccurate results came up at all (we have screen capture evidence)) indicates just how politically dangerous this technique is.

Commercial advertising can usually be ignored, but this is different, it is UK Government funded anti-terrorism propaganda and intelligence gathering. The taxpayers of London get no direct say in, or any value for money analysis of, how the Metropolitan Police Service "tackles" national security and anti-terrorism intelligence gathering and snooping, which is veiled in secrecy,

As advertising sponsors, the Metropolitan Police Service are entitled to some of Google UK's search engine log file data.

Under the current, and soon to be expanded Communications Traffic Data laws, the MPS can demand and snoop on even more web server logfile and ISP IP address record logfile data.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's weasel worded assurances that the existing European Union Communications Data Retention Directive, and her forthcoming Communications Data Bill, would not grant direct access to the "content" of a web page (i.e. interception of electronic communications, requiring a targeted warrant signed by the Home Secretary), it is clear that the state authorities would have access to a logfiles of the Results pages returned by these Google keyword searches.

Most public web search engines, including Google, tend to encode the actiual keyword search terms in the URL of the web page via the HTTP GET method, so there is no real world distinction between "communications data" and "content of communications" with respect to web search engine queries..

Search term -> resulting Google.co.uk Metropolitan Police Sponsored Link phrase:

We have a grudging respect for Tom Watson the Labour MP for West Bromwich East, now a junior Government Minister, a Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office, as he was one of the earliest Members of Parliament to dare to publish his own blog.

"As the minister in the UK government responsible for digital engagement", he appears to be impressed by a US Air Force Blog Response flowchart: and seems to think that British Civil Servants could benefit from it.

See Diagram: How the Air Force Response to Blogs

US Air Force Blog Response Flowchart - click for a larger image in a new window

Leaving aside the fact that not even the US Air Force actually follows this flow chart consistently, there are certain concepts, which are totally alien both to the British Civil Service, and to their Labour party political commissars and spin doctors, especially that of true Transparency.

The Not a sheep blog sums up their attitude, and the resentment and actual hatred which it is causing: - Labour talk tough on immigration

I am not sure which members of this Labour government I hate more: people like Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson who seem to know what they are doing and seem to take a perverse pleasure in keeping power whatever the cost to the Country, aspiring leaders like the Miliband brothers, Ed Balls and Harriet Harman who are so, so eager for ultimate power that you can see the ambition dripping from every pore of their bodies or the apparatchiks like Hazel Blears, Jacqui Smith and Geoff Hoon who would parrot any line they are being fed if instructed so to do.

What I do know is that I hate them all, I hate what they have done to this Country and what they intend to do to it.

I hate their lies, their misrule, their transgressions that go unpunished and the way that whatever goes wrong they feel they can blame the last Conservative government rather than themselves.

I hate the way that they have so politicised the public institutions of this Country that any incoming alternative Government will need more than 20 years to start to reverse the institutional bias.

I hate the way that their mistakes are covered up by the BBC; no longer an independent broadcaster but now an arm of the Labour government.

I hate the way that opponents are labelled "racist", or "nasty" or "little Englanders".

I hate the way that this Labour government have ruled as if they really are "the political wing of the British people" and as a result have trampled on all opposing opinion.

I hate the way that this Labour government have, over and over again, "played the man" rather than the argument; all but destroying dissent as a result.

I hate the way that they have split up the UK for their political advantage and destroyed many of the traditions of England along the way.

Above all I hate the way that this once great Country, a place I have lived in all my life, has been systematically turned into a place that I can no longer feel proud of, no longer love, no longer want to live in.

For all of these reasons and more, this Labour government have made me both sad and very, very angry.

Presumably this would be filtered out under the US Air Force / Tom Watson approved British Civil Service flowchart as a "Rager", when actually it is deserving of a considered response to an "Unhappy Customer".

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