February 2009 Archives

Convention on Modern Liberty video streams

| | Comments (4)

The Convention on Modern Liberty sessions in London seems to have sold out - at least one thousand attendees are expected. Extra capacity seems to have been laid on for the Glasgow satellite session.

If you cannot get to London or to any of the regional events also being held today in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester , then you might get a flavour of what is happening by watching the web cast video streams of the Keynote Speeches etc.

See the Convention on Modern Liberty Streaming Video web page

A couple of reminders:

Liberal Democrats - Freedom Bill 2009

| | Comments (3)

The Liberal Democrat's Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne has launched a rough, work in progress Freedom Bill 2009: http://freedom.libdems.org.uk/

This picks 20 of the repressive NuLabour (and a few Conservative) bits of legislation to repeal, or rights and freedoms to restore.

Whatever happened to Nick Clegg's Great Repeal Act, launched in 2006 before he became the Liberal Democrat party leader ? The domain name URL www.greatrepealact.com is no longer active, and the campaign now no longer appears on the Liberal Democrat party website.

Spy Blog welcomes the proposed repeal of the Identity Cards Act 2006 etc., but some sections of this "Freedom Bill 2009" need a lot more work, notably the section on re-establishing a Public Interest Defence for Whistleblowers .

The aim of this section is clear enough, but simply importing the wording of the Official Secrets Act 1911, into the text of their prototype Bill is utterly wrong.

Apart from mention of "His Majesty", surely the Liberal Democrats are not really advocating a return to " imprisonment with or without hard labour" ?

Spy Blog has left a couple of constructive comments about whistleblower protection, on the blog page discussing this section, which will be reproduced here, if they are not published.

The Freedom Bill 2009 sections, all of which seem reasonable enough, so far as they go:

  1. Reduction of period of detention of terrorist suspects 9back down to 1 days detention without charge)

  2. Repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (i.e. Control Orders)

  3. Removal of the United States of America from part 2 territories (the unfair, unequal Extradition treaty with the USA needs to be sorted out)

  4. Repeal of the Identity cards 2006

  5. Amendment of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (independent magistrates warrants rather than self authorisation by officials or rubber stamping by politicians)

  6. Restrictions on the retention of fingerprints and samples (including DNA tissue samples and profiles of innocent people)

  7. Royal Commission to recommend on the use and regulation of CCTV (20 years too late, but welcome, nevertheless)

  8. Repeal of offences restricting the right to protest in the vicinity of Parliament (SOCPA sections 132 -138 Designated Area around Parliament Square and way beyond)

  9. Extension to the number of people constituting a public assembly (currently limited to just 2 people, with some doubt as to whether or not pregnant women are allowed out in public on their own or not !)

  10. Repeal of offences of trespassing on designated site (SOCPA section 128)

  11. Repeal of provisions which restrict the right to silence

  12. Repeal of provisions to allow for fraud cases to be conducted without a jury

  13. Restoration of the public interest defence for whistleblowers

  14. Repeal of provisions which allow evidence of a defendant's bad character

  15. Reduction in the number of cases that may be retried (i.e. double jeopardy)

  16. Repeal of provisions which allow bailiffs to use force

  17. Substantial prejudice in freedom of information (should make it harder for Government Departments to conceal policy advice from the public, but there are plebtyof other FOIA exemptions which need to be curtailed as well)

  18. Repeal of ministerial ability to veto Information Tribunal decisions (which currently makes a mockery of the whole Freedom of Information Act appeals process)

  19. Repeal of provisions to allow for the establishment of children's databases

  20. Regulations to govern parental consent for taking children's biometric samples (KiddyPrinting - brainwashing of children to accept that treating everyone like criminals is somehow normal)

If, somehow, all of these repeals were passed immediately, the country would not be any more at risk, as there is still plenty of other existing legislation to deal with serious criminality or terrorism, a lot of public money would be saved, and we would feel a little less under the cosh of the authoritarian snoopers currently in power.

Will the Liberal Democrats actually try to push this Bill through Parliament, or is it just another press and media spin opportunity ?

Perhaps because of the media interest in the Convention on Modern Liberty, both The Guardian and the Press Association via the The Independent newspapers, have quoted from a discussion paper published over 2 weeks ago by the NuLabour "think tank" lobbyists at the Institute for Public Policy Research, through which several Labour party surveillance nanny police state policies have been "market tested", to see if they can be slipped through past the public and Parliament, without too much vocal opposition.

IPPR seem to have funded and have now published, "A discussion paper for the ippr Commission on National Security for the 21st Century" by Sir David Omand. an eminent retired Whitehall security and intelligence insider, on whose watch under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, many of the most repressive Labour laws and policies were trotted out.

The Commission brings together leading experts from the fields of security, defence, intelligence and development.

Commission panel members are:

* Lord Paddy Ashdown, Co-Chair, former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and former High Representative for Bosnia.
* Lord George Robertson, Co-Chair, former Secretary of State for Defence and former Secretary General of NATO.
* Dr Ian Kearns, Deputy Chair, ippr.
* Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Director of the Ditchley Foundation and former British Ambassador to the United Nations.
* Sir David Omand, former security and intelligence coordinator in the Cabinet Office and former Permanent Secretary in the Home Office.
* Lord Charles Guthrie, former Chief of the Defence Staff.
* Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
* Sir Chris Fox, former Chief Constable of Northamptonshire and former President of the Association of Chief Police Officers.
* Professor Michael Clarke, Director, Royal United Services Institute, and Professor of Defence Studies at King's College London.
* Professor Tariq Modood, Director of the Leverhulme Programme on Migration and Citizenship, Bristol University.
* Constanze Stelzenmüller, Director of the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund.
* Professor Jim Norton, former chief executive of the Radio Communications Agency and now at the Institute of Directors.
* Ian Taylor MP, Chair of the Conservative Party Policy Task-force on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton and former minister for Science and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Who pays for this, apart from the UK taxpayer ?

ippr would like to thank EDS, Raytheon Systems Ltd, De La Rue and Booz Allen Hamilton for their generous support of the Commission's activities. For more information on the work of the Commission please go to www.ippr.org/security

i.e. what are known in the USA as "Beltway Bandits": military / security / intelligence sub-contractors and consultants, who have a vested financial interest in selling expensive , complicated systems, to technologically inept politicians and and Whitehall mandarins, in search of technological magic fixes to social and political problems.

The views in this paper are those of the author alone and are being published here in the hope of advancing public debate. They do not represent the views of the Commission panel or the views of any sponsoring organisation.

We welcome this new found idea of "advancing public debate".

It is a pity that Sir David Omand and his Whitehall securocrat colleagues are not speaking at the Convention on Modern Liberty - they should be invited to future events.

The National Security Strategy: Implications for the UK intelligence community


Author: Sir David Omand GCB, Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King's College, London
Price: Free
Publication Date: 09 February 2009

http://www.ippr.org/members/download.asp?f=%2Fecomm%2Ffiles%2FNational+Security+Strategy%2Epdf (.pdf)

Sir David introduces us to a new acronym 'protected information', or Protint, which seems to be the very essence of the Database / Surveillance / Nanny / Police State dystopian nightmare which this Labour Government has created the foundations for:

Apart from an open mind, there are several things which you can bring along to the Convention on Modern Liberty - Bloggers Summit on Saturday. The list of speakers is interesting enough, but the real benefit of such events is the chance to meet and interact with like minded people, face to face, and to to establish a foundation of trust in future online communications.

"You can't save the world via e-mail."

The organisers of the event, quite reasonably, hope that it will spark off further political campaigning and pressure to help to change the counterproductive repressive policies of the current Labour Government.

It seems that even formerly passive middle class people are now expected to "cause trouble" according to "Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan police's public order branch" quoted in The Guardian: Britain faces summer of rage - police - Middle-class anger at economic crisis could erupt into violence on streets

What is to stop the new Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) , set up by the increasingly unaccountable and politicised Association of Chief Police Officers, ( Secret police unit set up to spy on British 'domestic extremists' according to the Daily Mail) from snooping on the Convention on Modern Liberty attendees and speakers and organisers ?

It is always easier for the secret police to expand their bureaucratic empires, by snooping on or harassing peaceful middle class protestors and political activists . Real extremists are much harder to infiltrate, and they pose less of a political threat to the apparatchiki currently in positions of power and influence.

What can attendees of the Convention on Modern Liberty do to resist this ?

It is all very well for Spy Blog to point bloggers and others at some practical advice online, to help you and your contacts resist some of the political or commercial or bureaucratic snooping and dirty tricks, which those of you brave enough to have signed up to attend the Convention on Modern Liberty, might face in the near future.

e.g. Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc. by Spy Blog http://ht4w.co.uk

Naturally this is a Work in Progress, which would benefit from your suggestions, but it should provide at least a couple of valuable hints, even to experienced bloggers and journalists and activists.

However, since you can read this online at your leisure, what else can you do, to help to defy, frustrate and oppose the machinations of the Surveillance Snooper Stalker Nanny Secret Police State and Bureaucracy, and some of the other, powerful non-Government vested interests who are also after your personal details, especially if they guess that you may now be actively , rather than passively opposed to them ?

Obviously attendees of the Convention on Modern Liberty should join and financially support some of the campaign groups like the NO2ID Campaign or the the Open Rights Group etc. , who welcome people from across the political spectrum. No doubt you can sign up to these at the event on Saturday, as well as online.

However, there are some things that you can only do face to face, with like minded people, physically at the Convention on Modern Liberties:

Modern Liberty swap shop

Here are a few ideas for stuff to bring along to the Convention on Modern Liberty this Saturday, and to physically swap or sell to some of the thousand or so people who you might meet face to face at this event.

Even if you never personally actually make regular use these Swapped Items, you will have increased the entropy and freedom of others, and will have helped to frustrate the control freaks somewhat.

"Anonymity Loves Company"

If you do swap or privately sell (for a nominal cost covering fee, for example, to reimburse stored monetary value or unused credit) things at the Modern Liberty swap shop, you should hopefully be out of sight of CCTV spy cameras and you will be hidden amongst a large crowd of equally, or more suspicious looking, political dissidents and opponents of the Surveillance Police State:

The House of Commons Library now has a copy of the Privy Council Intercept as Evidence Advisory Group interim progress report 9th February 2009 (.pdf image scan only)

As predicted in our previous blog article, Chilcot Advisory Group on Intercept Evidence (lack of) Progress Report, there has been little tangible progress in the last year..

Note the emphasis on

Preventing successful defence "fishing expeditions"

bur there are no effective safeguards against prosecution "fishing expeditions", are there ?

Key stakeholders, such as Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have been engaged, in order to ensure that their legitimate concerns are identified and reflected at an appropriately early stage.

"Communications Service Providers" i.e. telecommunications and internet service provider companies have their own commercial agenda, which do not usually coincide with the privacy and security interests of their business and individual customers, neither of which seem to be represented as "stakeholders" in this Intercept as Evidence review.

If there had been anybody with some internet and telecommunications industry Consumer Privacy and Digital Rights experience on the Advisory Group, they might have been able to highlight the entirely negative consumer experience and collateral damage, where the commercial interests of CSPs conflict with those of their customers. Why shouldn't members of the public or businesses, who have suffered as a result of Phorm style deep packet inspection and interception, be able to call for Intercept Evidence in Court in civil cases ?

This Advisory Group does not appear to be considering an important aspect of current, let alone future technology and practice, which has already been misused in foreign terrorism trials involving mobile phone intercept evidence, such as those in Spain, namely the black art of supposedly expert "Voice Matching" technology. This is especially important where no clearly incriminating words have been uttered in the intercepted phone call.

See our Questions about the case of the first person to be served with a European Arrest Warrant in the UK, Farid Hilali, who was extradited to Spain, where he is facing

The whole European Union and other Mutual Legal Assistance legal aspects of United Kingdom "Intercept as Evidence" do not appear to be under consideration by this Advisory Group.

In order to help Spy Blog readers and future students of this creepy Surveillance Society / Police State, we have OCR / copy edited this image scan into a more web search engine friendly text based format below:

The Information Tribunal, re-constituted after the previous one was overruled by the High Court, on the grounds of Parliamentary Privilege, has yet again ruled in favour of the publication of the the by now very out of date, but still important, Office of Government Commerce Gateway Reviews into the early stages of the Home Office's controversial ID Cards Programme which became the compulsory centralised biometric database National Identity Register scheme.

Information Tribunal Appeal Number: EA/2006/0068 & EA/2006/0080 Information Commissioner's Ref: FS50070196 & FS50132936 (.pdf)


The Tribunal upholds the Decision of the Information Commissioner in his Decision Notice dated 31 July 2006 and orders the disclosure of the two Gateway Reports there set out save that the names of all other parties to the said Reports, both interviewees and reviewers, be redacted and/or deleted, the said disclosure to take place within 28 days of the promulgation of this Decision.

i.e. publication by the 19th March 2009.

If the OGC does not appeal against this Judgment again, thereby wasting even more public money, given the forensic detail in which the legal issues have been examined, multiple times now,, it will be over 4 years since the initial Freedom of Information Act request.

N.B. it is what is not included in these reports, which may prove to be as interesting as what they actually do say.

See the Spy Blog UK FOIA requests category archive OGC Gateway Reviews of the Identity Cards Programme, for other blog postings on this long running saga, which has the Government has spent at least £120,000 on legal fees alone, in order to try to stifle transparency and freedom of information, on a matter of immense public interest.

The Daily Telegraph (followed by the rest of the mainstream media and plenty of blog commentators) have reported the comments of the former Director General of MI5 the Security Service, Dame Stella Rimington, about her unease with the the current Labour Government's legislative assault on our civil liberties.

Spy chief: We risk a police state

Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, has warned that the fear of terrorism is being exploited by the Government to erode civil liberties and risks creating a police state.

By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Last Updated: 10:42PM GMT 16 Feb 2009


"Since I have retired I feel more at liberty to be against certain decisions of the Government, especially the attempt to pass laws which interfere with people's privacy," Dame Stella said in an interview with a Spanish newspaper.

"It would be better that the Government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism: that we live in fear and under a police state," she said.

Dame Stella, 73, added: "The US has gone too far with Guantánamo and the tortures. MI5 does not do that. Furthermore it has achieved the opposite effect: there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater justification." She said the British secret services were "no angels" but insisted they did not kill people.


We like to read original sources and to check evidence for ourselves, so here is a link to the original interview in the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, which was published over two weeks ago.

The first part of the interview (omitted below) deals with how realistic spy novels and films are, compared with her real life experience, and with her own successful career as a spy thriller novellist.

Stella Rimington, ex directora de los servicios secretos británicos (MI5) y novelista

"La prensa me calificó deamade casa superespía"

IMA SANCHÍS - 04/02/2009


¿Alguna vez ha estado en desacuerdo con medidas antiterroristas?

Desde que me he jubilado me siento con mayor libertad para estar en contra de ciertas decisiones del Gobierno, especialmente el intento de aprobar leyes que se inmiscuyen en la intimidad de las personas.


Sería mejor que el Gobierno reconociera que existen riesgos en lugar de atemorizar a la gente para poder aprobar leyes que restringen las libertades, precisamente uno de los objetivos del terrorismo: que vivamos atemorizados y bajo un Estado policial.

Tras el 11-S, ¿hay servicios secretos de ciertos países que se han extralimitado?

Sí. EE. UU. ha ido demasiado lejos con Guantánamo y las torturas, eso el MI5 no lo hace, y además ha conseguido el efecto contrario: cada vez hay más terroristas suicidas que encuentran una mayor justificación.

¿Cuál ha sido su decisión más difícil?

Muchísimas, pero quizá, al finalizar la guerra fría, decidir si debíamos ayudar a los servicios de inteligencia de los países del Este en la transición democrática o no, porque habían sido nuestros enemigos y además continuaban espiándonos. Los ayudamos.


You can get an idea of how well the Daily Telegraph translated this via online translation tools, e.g. Babelfish

Spy Blog was trying to be fair to the Home Office Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security Vernon Coaker, who was quoted on the topic of Communications Traffic Data retention, access and snooping, in this article in the Daily Telegraph, last Thursday

Councils to be given power to snoop on calls and emails

Councils and public bodies are to be able to access all email, telephone and internet records, sparking new fears over the surveillance state.

By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Last Updated: 8:37PM GMT 11 Feb 2009


Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said: "It is the Government's priority to protect public safety and national security. That is why we are completing the implementation of this directive, which will bring the UK in line with our European counter parts.

"Communications data is the what, where and when of the communication and plays a vital part in a wide range of criminal investigations, and prevention of terrorists attacks as well as contributing to public safety more generally. Without communications data resolving crimes such as the Rhys Jones murder would be very difficult if not impossible.

"Access to communications data is governed by Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which ensures that effective safeguards are in place and that the data can only be accessed when it is necessary and proportionate to do so".

This article relate to the Statutory Instrument bringing into force the second phase of the European Union Directive mandatory Communications Data Retention scheme (which this Labour Government was one of the prime "policy launderers" behind the scenes at the EU level)

See the Spy Blog article: Home Office response to Consultation on second phase of EU Comms Data Retention Regulations (internet email, internet telephony etc.) coming into force on 6th April 2009

Our reaction to this is the same as that of UK Liberty, who points out

OK, he either does not know what he is talking about or he is deliberately conflating intrusive surveillance (e.g. bugs) - which aided the convictions in the Rhys Jones case - with mass surveillance (e.g. recording everyone’s telecoms), i.e. lying.

If it ever takes the Police 12 months (the new Data Retention period) to start to use Communications Traffic Data to investigate the the murder of a child in public, then heads should roll, starting with the Home Office Ministers.

Keeping millions of innocent people's Communications Traffic Data for 12 months would have done nothing to speed up or assist the investigation and prosecution of the Rhys Jones murder case, as this relied on targeted Communications Traffic Data requests and narrowly targeted i.e. electronic bugging devices placed secretly in one of the suspect's homes..

Naturally, we wanted to check if The Telegraph was somehow misquoting Vernon Coaker, so we wanted to see the Press Release or speech etc. on the Home Office Press website http://press.homeoffice.gov.uk


However, even today, Monday 16th February 2008, this official Home Office dedicated press release website is still only displaying a measly 5 press releases published last week, with no mention of Vernon Coaker's remarks.

It is now over a year since Spy Blog commented on:

Privy Council Chilcot Review report on Intercept Evidence - more ***

in which we noted the lack of any technical telecomms or internet or computing expertise amongst the group of Privy Counsellors who conducted it.

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has now issued a Written Statement:

12 Feb 2009 : Column 89WS

Written Ministerial Statements
Thursday, 12 February 2009

Home Department

Intercept as Evidence (Progress Report)


I am pleased to be able to report on progress. I am also having placed in the House Libraries copies of a progress report to my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister on behalf of the Advisory Group of Privy counsellors, comprising the Right Honourable Sir John Chilcot, the Right Honourable Sir Alan Beith MP, the Right Honourable Michael Howard QC MP, and my noble Friend the Right Honourable Lord Archer of Sandwell


We look forward to reading this report on "progress", eventually - if, as a Westminster insider, you already have access to a copy from the House of Commons Library, please forward it, or a URL pointer of a copy, to Spy Blog via email, or in the comments below.

So, another year has elapsed, and now the Eighth report or review on the subject has been produced (in secret), and we are still no further forward with the practicalities and safeguards regarding the introduction of Intercept Evidence into even the most highly restricted Court proceedings.

However, we have now reached the end of the programme's first phase, with work to design in detail the model recommended by the Privy Council Review, now largely complete. Work is now in hand to flesh out the detailed guidance required in advance of testing the practicalities of the model.

Surely for this second phase of producing actual "detailed guidance" involving "practicalities", the current Advisory Group comprised of a couple of lawyer - politicians, another politician and a civil service mandarin, should be strengthened by the appointment of someone with some actual technical and commercial knowledge and experience of telecommunications and computing, who will not be bamboozled by GCHQ and various securocrat claims about the uniqueness of their "methods and sources", compared with those practiced by other law enforcement, intelligence agencies, telecomms and internet companies around the rest of the world ?

Before publishing such images is banned under the Terrorism Act section 58A which comes into force on Monday, (they might still be banned retrospectively), here are a couple of photos of some Metropolitan Police motorcycle outriders, delaying ordinary traffic, in favour of possibly Gordon Brown or someone else who thinks that they are important, traveling in a two car convoy, turning from Holborn into Kingsway in central London, yesterday.




Who are those innocent looking mobile phone wielding onlookers ? Will they all have their Communications Traffic Data snooped on, "just in case" ?

See: Mass photography protest - 11 am Monday 16th February 2009, Metropolitan Police HQ, New Scotland Yard

The Home Office has now published its responses to the Consultation on

Consultation: Transposition of Directive 2006/24/EC

which closed back in October 2008.

This is the extension of mandatory Communications Traffic Data Retention, beyond what would be otherwise permitted under the Principles of Data Protection i.e. another end run around the protections of the weak Data Protection Act 1998, applied to internet access, internet email, and internet telephony.

This was set to be implemented on 15th March this year, 18 months after it was applied to landline and mobile phone telephony, but now the Draft Regulations state that they will come into force on 6th April 2009.

The Summary of the Responses to the Consultation does not include any reassurance for the public, or even anything to indicate that this was anything more than a "going through the motions" consultation exercise.

Responses to the consultation on transposition of directive 2006/24/EC (.pdf 493Kb)

5. A total of 54 responses were received and the respondents are listed
below. The general reception of the draft Regulations from public communications providers was positive. In particular, there was continued support for the Home Office's pragmatic approach to implementing the Directive in the UK


Many responses were from members of the public opposed to the Directive on principle (24 out of 54 responses). These responses did not distinguish between the Directive and the draft Regulations on which we were consulting

Nonsense - we certainly distinguished between the two.

As is usual with Home Office consultations, they deliberately Ask The Wrong Questions, assuming that the entire policy is going to be implemented, one way or another, when what they should be consulting on is whether aspects of the policy should be rejected altogether as a matter of principle or as a matter of technical complexity and cost to the public.

This Government Response is limited to issues which can be addressed in the Regulations. We would advise respondents whose comments are not directly addressed here to contribute to the forthcoming consultation exercise on how the Government can maintain its communications data capability generally

There is no indication of when the supposed Consultation on the Communications Data Bill, which it is rumoured, will go far, far beyond this EU mandatory Data Retention and snooping, will appear. It was promised "by the end of January 2009", but it is now mid February.

Question 2: Is the data required to be retained specified clearly in the draft regulations? If not, why not and can the specification be clearer?

9. The majority of respondents who had a view on this question considered there was a need for meaning to be given to certain terms and in particular "internet email" and "internet telephony". However, the DRD makes clear in Article 2(1) that the definitions in Directive 95/46/EC, in Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive), and in Directive 2002/58/EC (Privacy and Electronic Communications) shall apply. For example the term "email" has the same meaning as "electronic mail" which is given meaning within the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, transposing Directive 2002/58/EC into UK law. Both terms therefore refer to:

    "any text, voice, sound or image message sent over a public electronic communications network which can be stored in the network or in the recipient's terminal equipment until it is collected by the recipient and includes messages sent using a short message service".

10. Some respondents suggested that more technical detail should be provided within the draft Regulations. However, the Government's experience of working with public communications providers under the ATCSA voluntary code of practice and the first phase implementation of the DRD suggests that it is unhelpful to provide a high level of technical detail in the legislation as terms that might be meaningful to one business area, may be completely inappropriate for another or may already be given meaning within other legislation.

To whom, precisely, is specific technical detail "unhelpful" ? Not to the industry, and not to the public.

It is the Home Office's job to state clearly and precisely what technical details are required and which ones are exempt from the regulations.

Unless and until they do state in detail, what exactly is, and what is not to be logged and retained, then all their "cost estimates" in the Impact Assessment are fiction.

This response from the Government is not acceptable.

11. The Home Office therefore proposes to continue the practice, initiated through the ATCSA voluntary code, of developing meaningful detail through bilateral consultation and specific agreements with individual public communications providers (in cases where the public communications provider's own business practices do not already meet Government's public protection requirements).

Note the utter lack of any involvement by members of of the public, citizens, taxpayers or customers in this cosy, secretive "bilateral consultation".

Sir James Crosby's resignation as Deputy head of the Financial Services Authority quango yesterday occupied much of the political news agenda yesterday.

One point which stood out during Prime Minister's Questions, was when Gordon Brown was squirming and tried to dissociate himself from the resignation, by attempting to downplay the closeness of Sir James as an economic advisor to Gordon Brown himself.

Gordon Brown showed his authoritarian control freak mindset about the Review which he had commissioned from Sir James Crosby, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he described it as a report on "security issues", rather than what it actually was, namely a wider Review of economic and social success criteria for any modern national identity scheme, which authoritatively disagreed with the flawed Labour National Identity Register centralised biometric database scheme.

11 Feb 2009 : Column 1361

Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Oral Answers to Questions -- Prime Minister

11:30 am

Gordon Brown (Prime Minister; Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, Labour)

Sir James Crosby did two reports: one for the Chancellor on mortgages, and one for me, when I was Chancellor, on security issues. He has completed these reports. He is no longer an economic adviser to the Government--[Hon. Members: "Ah!"] And he has only been so in the context of doing two reports.


Not only was this not a Review of Security, but a Review of Identity Assurance, in its wider economic and cultural impact, but Gordon Brown delayed publication of it for over a year after it was completed.

HM Treasury website has a copy of Sir James Crosby's Review: Challenges and opportunities in identity assurance (.pdf 226Kb)

The main conclusion of this Review was that

The potential of any mass ID system such as ID Cards therefore lies in the extent to which it is created by consumers for consumers.


The future of identity lies in putting the consumers first. For many organisations that calls for radical new thinking.



Identity is "the new money"


As a matter of principle, the amount of data stored should be minimised


To engage consumers' hearts and minds on the scale required, enrolment and any  tokens should be provided free of charge.

Such conclusions are diametrically opposed to the Labour government's current bureaucratic, centralised, intrusive, monopolistic, massively expensive, police and security services orientated National Identity Register scheme, which offers no benefits to consumers at all, especially over the internet or over the phone.

See the cross political party NO2ID Campaign website for more details about how you can help to legally resist the "database state".

The fact that, in Gordon Brown's mind this topic is all about "security" and not about actually providing anything directly useful or desirable to individual consumers and citizens, reveals his creepy authoritarianism and yet again shows why he is not to be trusted as our unelected Prime Minister.

Our fears about the wretched Serious Crime Act 2007, and its likely use to chill political dissent and free speech appear to have been borne out.

See our previous article: Serious Crime Act 2007 - proof of how useless the Opposition is to Labour's repressive legal fantasies

The Register reports the chilling news that:

Police bail sysadmin in animal rights extremism probe - Colo contract prompts Serious Crime Act arrest

By Chris Williams

Posted in Law, 10th February 2009 15:01 GMT

A Sheffield man has been released on police bail after being questioned in connection with comments posted to the activist news website Indymedia, which included the personal details of a prominent High Court judge.

Note that the controversial new Terrorism Act 2000 section 58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc., brought in by the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 section 76, does not apply to Judges, juries or prison officers who might be at risk from terrorists or serious criminals.

The man, in his 40s and thought to work as a systems administrator, was arrested on Monday and questioned for about eight hours. He has been bailed without charge to appear at a police station in May. His home was searched and computer equipment and paperwork seized.

The comments at the centre of the investigation were critical of Mr Justice Neil Butterfield for the landmark blackmail sentences he handed down to seven animal rights extremists last month. One posting encouraged other Indymedia users to use the personal information to contact Butterfield and "to let this friend of [animal testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences] know exactly what you think about him".

Indymedia administrators deleted the personal information soon after it was posted, but they were contacted by Kent Police the following day requesting the IP addresses of the posters. The Kent force carried out the original investigation that resulted in the blackmail sentences handed down by Butterfield.

Indymedia told Kent Police it does not record IP addresses. The same day the force seized a server belonging to Indymedia and hosted at Manchester-based colocation provider UK Grid.

The Register understands that the man arrested was not responsible for either of the comments and is not an Indymedia activist or administrator. Rather the server was hosted by UK Grid under a contract in his name, along with several others on behalf of unrelated clients.

He was arrested under sections 44-46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007, which came into force on October 1 last year. The relevant sections criminalise "intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence", "encouraging or assisting an offence believing it will be committed" and "encouraging or assisting offences believing one or more will be committed".

A spokeswoman for Kent Police confirmed the man was arrested on "suspicion of incitement" under the Serious Crime Act.

Indymedia has a long-standing policy of not retaining IP address logs to preserve anonymity, and the hard drive of the server taken from UK Grid was encrypted, as were the drives taken from the man's home. It's understood police did not use Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) powers to demand he turn over any encryption keys.

Refusing to provide encryption keys is an offence under section 49 of RIPA and carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

Who now doubts that we are living in a Police state under this unpopular and increasingly hated repressive Labour government ?

What happened to freedom of speech on the internet or even in the mainstream media ?

Who will be next ?

If the mainstream media and the UK political blogosphere and the UK telecomms and Internet Service Provider industries do not kick up a huge fuss about this case, then the terrorists will have won, by provoking this morally weak Government into
destroying our fundamental human right of free speech.

UPDATE Sunday 15th February 2009

Some more details about this shocking case, which threatens not just our personal freedoms, but which could also to destroy important sections of the United Kingdom economy, are to be found in this blog posting by Katabasis, a friend of the arrested person:

Help wanted - A chilling landmark for civil liberties in the UK

It will be interesting to see if the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson reacts to this protest against the stupid and repressive Labour Government's terrorism laws, and the inept way in which some of his officers interpret them:

Monday, 9th February 2009

Photographers snap into action over new law

Comedian Mark Thomas is to join with NUJ members in an event to highlight the threat of a new UK law that could be used against press photographers taking pictures of the police.

The Counter Terrorism Act allows for the arrest and imprisonment of anyone whose pictures are "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

The union is joining with campaigners to organise a mass picture taking session outside London's police HQ on Monday 16 February - the day the act becomes law.

Mark - who uses his comedy act to expose state and corporate wrongdoing - will be joined outside New Scotland Yard by renowned documentary-maker Chris Atkins, NUJ vice-president Pete Murray and a bevy of photographers.

Photojournalist and NUJ member Marc Vallée said: "The plan is simple, turn up with your camera and exercise your democratic right to take a photograph in a public place."

There have already been cases of photographers stopped from working by police quoting anti-terror laws.

John Toner, the NUJ's organiser who looks after freelance photographers, said: "Police officers are in news pictures at all sorts of events - football matches, carnivals, state processions - so the union wants to make it clear that taking their pictures is not the act of a criminal.

"Our members are photographers - not terrorists."

Roy Mincoff, NUJ Legal Officer, said: "Photographers do not want to endanger the health and safety of the police or the public - but it is important in a democracy that they can do their jobs properly without facing unnecessary legal restrictions."

The photo taking will start at 11am outside New Scotland Yard on Broadway, London.

Monday 16rh February 2009, from 11am

Location Map - Broadway, London, SW1

Nearest Tube Station is St. James's Park

Remember, that, very sneakily, New Scotland Yard is just within the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 ss 132 -138 Designated Area around Parliament Square (see the ParliamentProtest.org.uk blog for details), and so the Metroplitan Police may attempt to arrest people, or to impose arbitrary Conditions etc.

See also:

See our previous blog articles for background links:

The Sunday Telegraph has two stories about Foreign Spies in the United Kingdom, which, if true, raises serious Questions about the current performance of MI5 the Security Service., claiming that the traditional espionage threat against the UK is not being dealt with because of the resources diverted to anti-terrorism investigations.

Just as seriously, the Sunday Telegraph seems to be claiming that a Foreign Intelligence agency, the CIA is actively snooping on, and recruiting informers and "intelligence assets" here on the streets of the United Kingdom, outside of the direct control of the British intelligence agencies and outside of the legal powers and protections under which they are supposed to work.

  • Is MI5 the Security Service lobbying for more money and resources i.e."British Jobs for British Spies"

  • Why has the CIA been allowed to spy on British citizens, directly here in the United Kingdom, independently of the British intelligence agencies ?

  • What happened to British Sovereignty ?

  • How can we be sure that they are not using their usual tactics of entrapment or perhaps torture, here on British soil, things which we are supposed to believe that UK intelligence agencies do not indulge in, but which US ones certainly do when operating outside of the United States ?

  • How can we be sure that the US agents, especially if "they don't tell us the names of all their sources" are not wastefully duplicating the work already done by the British agencies ?

  • How can we be sure that both British and US agents are not being played off against each other by their informers and "intelligence assets" ?

  • What guarantee is there that the US agents are all really targeting Al Quaeda etc. in the UK, and are not also indulging in their own economic and political espionage and insider trading etc ?

  • Has Home Secretary Jacqui Smith illegally conspired to evade the provisions of the various Acts of Parliament which are supposed to regulate British intelligence agency operations, by allowing the CIA to operate illegally here in the UK ?

  • Will the Intelligence and Security Committee under their new chairman Kim Howells bother to investigate this dire situation, or will they just publish Yet Another Anodyne Censored Annual Report ?

Britain under attack from 20 foreign spy agencies including France and Germany

Spies from 20 foreign intelligence agencies, including Nato allies such as France and Germany, are attempting to steal Britain's most sensitive secrets.

By Sean Rayment, Security Correspondent
Last Updated: 9:05PM GMT 07 Feb 2009

Russia and China have been identified as having the most active spy networks operating in the UK but it is understood that some European countries are also involved in espionage attacks against Britain.

Details of the spy plots were revealed in a government security document obtained by The Sunday Telegraph which states that Britain is "high priority espionage target" for 20 foreign intelligence agencies.

House of Lords Constitution Committee 2008-2009 session - Second Report: Surveillance: Citizens and the State

This report is important, bur we fear that the usual Labour Government combination of technological fantasist ignorance, together with their "nanny police state knows best" political arrogance and media spin, will try to cherry pick it, and will ignore its most important recommendations.

There is a good summary of this report published by the Open Rights Group:

Lords Constitution Committee report on surveillance and privacy

The Constitution Committee recommends

* Encryption of personal data should be mandatory in some circumstances
* Fines on data controllers for deliberately or recklessly breaching the data protection principles
* Remove people who are not convicted from the National DNA Database
* Tidy up the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act
* Oversight for surveillance carried out by public authorities
* Changes in organisational cultures, leadership, accountability, transparency, training and awareness
* Appropriate use of encryption throughout the public and private sectors
* An independent review of the proclaimed but largely unproven benefits of CCTV

The two areas missing from the report are comments on the government's current plans for a new national database containing the electronic communications data of the entire population and the powers for unrestrained information sharing granted in Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, currently being debated in Commons Committee.

What happens next? The Government will provide a written response to the report within the next two months. After that, a debate will be scheduled in the House. The more pressure we can bring to bear on Government, the better. The subject of the report is enormously important. Privacy is essential to a free society. Without it, the state is all-powerful.

The NO2ID Campaign press release One piece missing from Lords surveillance report sums up our reaction:

Phil Booth, NO2ID's National Coordinator said:

`The report screams - Stop! Stop unwarranted surveillance. Stop abusing, misusing and losing citizens' information. Stop building the database state.

`But the government has just stamped on the accelerator. It is not listening.'

CHAPTER 9: Recommendations:

The House of Commons, collectively, and, the Speaker of the Commons in particular, is failing to make clear to the public, exactly what correspondence and communications , including electronic communications, between a Member of Parliament and his or her Constituents, or other MPs or whistleblowers, is protected under Parliamentary Privilege.

The latest Statement by the Speaker and the subsequent Points of Order on Thursday 5th February 2009, seem to show that Speaker Michael Martin has, failed yet again, to bother ask an MP for his side of the story in private, before issuing a public statement, which seems to take the side of the Police and the Executive branch of Government.

The Speaker of the House of Commons and his staff should be protecting the rights of MP's Constituents from the Executive branch of Government and its attempts to cover up up various politically embarrassing whistleblower revelations, and not aiding and abetting them.

Why has none of this been referred to the Standards and Privileges Committee ?

See the House of Commons Hansard transcripts below:

Lord Norton, one of The Lords of the Blog, writes:

Surveillance: citizens and the state


The Lords Constitution Committee has spent over a year undertaking an inquiry into the impact of government surveillance and data collection and the effect it has on the privacy of individuals and their relationship with the state.

The report, Surveillance: Citizens and the State, is a substantial one, both quantitatively and qualitatively. It draws on extensive evidence, runs to 495-paragraphs and makes over forty recommendations. It is being published tomorrow. The chairman, Lord Goodlad, and I will be doing various interviews to explain its contents. I will provide further information, and a link, once it is published.

Spy Blog will have a few comments to make on this report when it is available online.


A version of the report is now available on the web:

House of Lords Constitution Committee - Second Report: Surveillance: Citizens and the State

The Metropolitan Police Service appears to be trying to get hold of email correspondence between Members of Parliament, without first getting a warrant.

2 Feb 2009 : Column 590

Points of Order

4.11 pm


2 Feb 2009 : Column 591

David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek further clarification because my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) has been approached by the Metropolitan police and asked for access to e-mails between him and me as Front Benchers of Her Majesty's loyal Opposition. Has the Serjeant at Arms been notified of this, and does it come under your ruling that such requests will require a warrant and will be referred to you for your personal decision?

Mr. Speaker: Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that, since the occasion on which the office of the hon. Member for Ashford (Damian Green) was searched, approaches have been made to the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman to release certain information?

David Davis: That is exactly correct. I understand that a request has been made for electronic communications--e-mails--between me and my hon. Friend, presumably relating to the time when he worked under me on the Front Bench of the loyal Opposition.

Mr. Speaker: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for bringing this matter to my attention. This is news to me, and I will investigate whether the proper protocol and the procedures that I have laid down for situations without a warrant have been gone through. I will report back to the right hon. Gentleman and, indeed, the House.

Have the Metropolitan Police Service already been given access to the Communications Traffic Data logfiles regarding this , and other email correspondence by these two MPs , by the Parliamentary IT systems people, or by their upstream Internet Service Provider Colt Telecom and/or their anti-spam and anti-virus rmail subcontractor Message Labs ?

Have the Metropolitan Police been trawling through all of the Communications Traffic Data of MPs and their constituents and others, since they are allowed to self authorise themselves to do this, and do not require any "warrant signed by the Home Secretary", let alone a search warrant signed by an independent Judge, in order to do this ?

Will the Speaker of the House of Commons and MPs as whole finally make clear, to the public and to the police, the extent and limits of the supposed protection of Parliamentary Privilege, with regard to the contents of landline telephone conversations , mobile telephone conversations, SMS text messages, facsimile transmissions, emails, instant message chats etc.?

Will they do the same for the collection and access to any Communications Traffic Data, relating to any of the above, or similar, methods of electronic communication ?

Remember the point of Parliamentary Privilege and of the Wilson Doctrine, is to allow Members of Parliament to conduct their democratic duties properly, and to scrutinise and challenge the Executive branch of Government, .This certainly requires that communications between MPs and their Constituents, or communications between themselves and other MPs, which may well be critical of or politically embarrassing to the Government or the Police or any of the other tentacles of the State or any other powerful lobbies and interests outside of Parliament, must be protected from being snooped on.

The Police or intelligence agencies or any other public bodies simply must not be allowed
trawl through Parliamentary emails without a warrant.

There is no point in Parliamentary Privilege applying to just to direct correspondence between an MP and a constituent, or other member of the public, if it does not also protect any later quotation or forwarding of some or all of the original correspondence, especially the identifying Communications Traffic Data, which may very well be enough to betray the identity or location of a whistleblower or complainant.

If members of the public feel inhibited from corresponding freely and confidentially with Members of Parliament, because of disproportionate or political snooping by the Government or the supposedly politically neutral police or intelligence agencies, or foreign government or criminals, then we no longer live in a free, democratic society, and the terrorists will have won.

A couple of technical suggestions:

  • Members of Parliament should publish, and use, their own PGP Public Encryption keys to help to protect the confidentiality of their electronic correspondence with their constituents, and with whistleblowers.

  • The Parliamentary email systems should be re-configured to allow the use of the standard STARTLS opportunistic email encryption to and from, other email systems which support it.

The current illegal bureaucratic "War on Photographers" is being debated tomorrow by the London Calling Photographers group:

See their wiki page for this meeting tomorrow Wednesday 4th February 2009:

London Calling Photographers' Meeting 4th february 2009

Know your rights: Facing the police crackdown on public photography

London Calling Photographers are proud to announce the first debate.

We are proud to announce the presence of Olivier Laurent, News Editor of the British Journal of Photography, Superintendent David Hartshorn, of Metropolitan Police Public Order Branch and Jeff Moore, Chairman of the British Press Photographers' Association.

Digital Photography School will also be giving away a "Press Photography Lowepro camera bag" on the night.


Please note that this agenda is provisional and subject to the presence of all our guests.

7:35 - Welcome speech from the London Calling Photographers

7:45 - "Know your rights: Facing the police crackdown on public photography" - Speech by Olivier Laurent, News Editor of the BJP

8:15 - "Title to be confirmed" - Speech by the Superintendent David Hartshorn of the London Metropolitan Police

8:45 - Open debate and QA Session - Moderated by Jeff Moore, Chairman of the BPPA

9:15 - Open discussion and free session

Please keep in mind that not all the guests have confirmed their availability for the evening and the agenda is subject to modifications. If you feel that the agenda need something more, please feel free to propose any modification to carlo[at]londoncallingphotographers.org.


For any information please contact:

* Carlo Nicora (carlo[at]londoncallingphotographers.org - [...])
* Simon Pollock (simon[at]londoncallingphotographers.org - [...])


Wednesday 4th February 2009 @ 19:00


Simon Pollock will blog the event for Digital Photography School and the event will be taped for a Podcast/Videocast.



The Distillers - Smithfield - In our own upstairs room

66 West Smithfields





See also the recent Spy Blog articles:

Participants in this debate may also be interested in our relevant Freedom of Information Act requests:

  • MoJ - Prohibited Place - Official Secrets Act 1911

    Many of the Private Finance Initiative lease back / tax dodge Government Buildings, in and around Whitehall are no longer "Prohibited Places" including HM Treasury, the Home Office , the Ministry of Defence etc.

    The relevant power of arrest under this Act was one of the few that were repealed by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

  • HO Terrorism Act 2000 s44 Authorisations

    The Home Office is attempting to keep secret from the public, the approximate actual geographical extentt and validity time period of the supposedly extraordinary , temporary, strictly limited Terrorism Act section 44 stop and search without reasonable cause powers.

    This secrecy is counterproductive to these powers being as a deterrent to real terrorists.

    This secrecy also unnecessarily wastes lots Police and public time and resources, by stopping and searching innocent people, who would otherwise have been informed not to be carrying or transporting potentially "suspicious" dual use items (e.g. ammonium nitrate fertiliser) in temporary Section 44 powers areas.

    [hat tip to Rob in the Spy Blog comments ]


    David Mery has reported some of the remarks by Superintendent David Hartshorn, of the Metropolitan Police Public Order Branch, made during this debate, regarding hostile reconnaissance, the scale of the Metropolitan Police's public order events operations, and some tips on how to complain: Hostile reconnaissance - no conviction yet but trials coming

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

Syndicate this site (XML):

Follow Spy Blog on Twitter

For those of you who find it convenient, there is now a Twitter feed to alert you to new Spy Blog postings.


Please bear in mind the many recent, serious security vulnerabilities which have compromised the Twitter infrastructure and many user accounts, and Twitter's inevitable plans to make money out of you somehow, probably by selling your Communications Traffic Data to commercial and government interests.

https://twitter.com/SpyBlog (same window)

Recent Comments

  • wtwu: NetIDMe seems to be in process of being wound up read more
  • wtwu: The House of Lords have approved the Regulations, without a read more
  • wtwu: Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill Government Note on the read more
  • wtwu: The former Customs Officer and the others involved in dealing read more
  • wtwu: BBC reports the password was $ur4ht4ub4h8 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25745989 When Hussain was read more
  • wtwu: "only" an extra 4 months in prison for failing to read more
  • wtwu: Although not confirmed as part of the Wilson Doctrine per read more
  • wtwu: For now (just before Christmas 2013) it appears that the read more
  • wtwu: As expected, the ISC did not give the intelligence agency read more
  • wtwu: N.B. the Intelligence & Security Committee is now legally consituted read more


Monthly Archives

August 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

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