April 2009 Archives

The delayed and modified Home Office "consultation" on Communications Data snooping and retention.

Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment (.pdf) 690Kb

Responses, by Monday 20th July 2009 to:

Nigel Burrowes
Communications Data Consultation
Room P.5.37
Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Or by e-mail to: communicationsdataconsultation@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

What have they been working on for at least the last 7 months ? This "public consultation" should set out several, carefully costed, detailed options, but it does not bother to do so.

You are invited to provide some responses to some Questions, but, astonishingly, of the three alleged Options, this "consultation" document has already ruled out two of them !

The false choice being presented, as the only possible proposal, without any alternatives, is referred to as "A middle way" (remember Tony Blair's vague NuLabour slogan hype about a "Third Way" ? )

As we have come to expect from the Home Office,when attempting to deal with complicated technological issues, they do not give any real practical detail about exactly what they proposing to do.

See 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

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.

It seems that the Labour Government / Home Office are continuing with this patronising, arrogant "we know best, but we will not bother to to tell you the details", technologically illiterate attitude, with this latest "consultation" as well:

The "middle (or is it muddle ?) way" option:

More weasel words from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith about the harassment of innocent photographers:

20 Apr 2009 : Column 27

Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): Can I seek an assurance from my right hon. Friend that the circumstances that led to the photographs being taken in Downing street do not lead to further pressures on the rights of photographers, both professionals and amateurs, to take photographs in this country, especially as this event coincided with an incident in the past few days where somebody was allegedly challenged by a police officer for taking photographs of a bus garage? We need to learn lessons from the event and draw together the common-sense work being led by my hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing to come up with the right code of practice to ensure that photographers can do their jobs and amateurs can take photographs with freedom.

Jacqui Smith: I strongly agree with my hon. Friend, who has met the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing to discuss his concerns. I see no reason why the unfortunate events on 8 April should limit the ability of photographers to take photographs, and neither do I believe, as he knows, that some of the

20 Apr 2009 : Column 28

limits result from recent legislative changes that we have made, as has been suggested. There is more work that we can do to ensure that photographers are clear that their right to take photographs is protected in all cases where it is not causing a specific risk. That is certainly a right that my hon. Friend and I would uphold.

These weasel words from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith provide no clarity or leadership about who or what may, or may not be photographed.

What is she doing to discipline or prosecute those Police Constables, PCSOs, and private security guards etc. who harass innocent photographers and tourists ?

Spy Blog has been counting visible CCTV spy / surveillance / safety cameras, for over 10 years now ("from habit that became instinct").

We have even conducted and advised on "spot the CCTV camera tours" for the benefit of artists, academics and the media etc.

Sousveillance by the general people and by political activists, of the infrastructure of the surveillance state, is very topical now after the initial false claims about the lack of CCTV coverage of the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in the City of London.

The BBC Radio 4 iPM programme is encouraging their listeners to do a bit of CCTV camera spotting, and to send them the results.


There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinised.

George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty Four

N.B. bear in mind that just because a particular CCTV camera can be spotted in public does not automatically mean that it is

  • a real camera rather than a deliberate dummy one

  • is actually switched on

  • is actually being watched by a real live, alert, CCTV operator who us not bored , distracted or overworked.

  • is being properly maintained and the lenses kept clean and clear

  • is actually recording all the time (some only take snapshots every few seconds or minutes)

  • produces an image which is of sufficient quality to identify someone positively

  • is not simply ignored by the police, due to budget and manpower constraints

Then there are all the cameras with long range zoom lenses or enhanced infrared night vision capabilities (something beyond even George Orwell's nightmare) or the deliberately concealed ones, which may be snooping on you , but which you cannot spot easily or at all.

Remember also the current "Climate of Fear" propaganda poster campaign which misleadingly claims

"A bomb won't go off here because weeks before a shopper reported someone studying the CCTV cameras"
See Metropolitan Police terrorism fear Propaganda Poster lies about bombs, reconnaissance and CCTV cameras - updated 25th March 2009

More details on the BBC Radio 4 iPM blog:

CCTV on iPM, you see?

* Jennifer Tracey
* 21 Apr 09, 04:31 PM

If we can summon up any enthusiasm, or delude ourselves that the Home Office politicians might genuinely listen to our concerns and practical suggestions, then Spy Blog might make a formal submission to this new Public Consultation:

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: Consolidating orders and codes of practice (.pdf) (1.8 Mb)

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: Consolidating orders and codes of practice

Passed in 2000, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (called RIPA), created a regulatory framework to govern the way public authorities handle and conduct covert investigations.

This consultation takes a look at all the public agencies, offices and councils that can use investigation techniques covered by RIPA, and asks the public to consider whether or not it's appropriate for those people to be allowed to use those techniques.

In light of recent concerns, the government is particularly interested in how local authorities use RIPA to conduct investigations into local issues. Among other things, in order to ensure that RIPA powers are only used when they absolutely need to be, the government proposes to raise the rank of those in local authorities who are allowed to authorise use of RIPA techniques.

To respond to the consultation, reply by email to ripaconsultation@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

You can also reply by post to:

Tony Cooper
Home Office
Peel Building 5th Floor
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

If you need a copy of the consultation in any other format (such as Braille, large font, or audio) please write to the address above to request it.

This consultation closes 10 July 2009.

The Home Office has to re-establish public trust in the supposed "public consultation" process, which they have cynically abused in the past.


The wretched Home Office rushed through a Statutory Instrument (not debated by Parliament) which implemented the very policy being supposedly consulted about, halfway through the 12 week public consultation period, without even bothering to pretend that they had "listened" to any of the evidence being submitted !

Remember also that this is not the promised public consultation on the Communications Data Bill, and on the Home Secretary's evil idea about secretly data trawling the phone and internet records of millions of innocent people, currently kept by the private sector telecommunications and internet companies, Such a centralised government database would sneak around the current authorisation and financial audit trails and budget restraints (the authorities have to pay the private sector a small fee for each request). It would also further neuter the weak oversight and paperwork sample auditing, by the deliberately under resourced Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Intelligence Services Commissioners, established under RIPA, who can only ever hope to examine a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands requests for Communications Data made every year.

This Bill was threatened last year and the "public consultation" was supposed to gave started this January 2009, and seems to be attempting to create Yet Another Massive Secret National Database Of Innocent People, on the back of the necessary ongoing investment to keep GCHQ's capabilities at the state of the art, via the so called Interception Modernisation Programme.

The latest allegation in the Damian Green MP arrest scandal, is that, according to The Times:

From The Times
April 18, 2009
Shami Chakrabarti was target in police search

Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson

Police who arrested the Conservative frontbencher Damian Green trawled his private e-mails looking for information on Britain's leading civil liberties campaigner.

Officers from Scotland Yard's antiterror squad searched the computer seized from his parliamentary office using the key words "Shami Chakrabarti" - even though the Liberty director had nothing to do with the leaking of Home Office documents that prompted the investigation.

In an interview with The Times, Mr Green warned that his arrest and the raids on his Commons office and homes smacked of a "police state". The Tory immigration spokesman said that Ms Chakrabarti's name had been one of the keywords used to go through e-mails and computer documents going back several years.

"This feels to me like a fishing expedition on somebody who embarrasses the government of the day," he said. "That's very disturbing."


Remember how Labour party apologists claimed that it was necessary for the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command to be involved in this affair, simply because they had inherited the functions of the former Special Branch, and that they were used to dealing with complicated computer evidence etc. ? Somehow this did not apply to the "cash / loans for Honours" scandal investigation into the then Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cronies, where the investigation, included email evidence from No 10 Downing Street. This was left to a "normal" police investigation team led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates , who by an irony of fate, has now replaced the disgraced Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, who was in charge of the supposedly elite Counter Terrorism Command unit when these controversial arrests and searches were made.

If it had been a genuine criminal or national security investigation, then the investigators would have forensically copied disk images of the seized computers, or mobile device flash memory, and done any of their searches and analyses on the copies, not on the originals, which have been returned to the (wrongly arrested) suspect.

The computer forensics disk cloning software used by the Police etc. , such as enCase, also creates cryptographic checksums of each image, which can be used to detect if the computer has subsequently been tampered with or slightly modified, something which usually happens simply by switching it on again.

Any politician or journalist or blogger who has their computer equipment seized by the police during a supposed whistleblower leak investigation, should get their equipment similarly cryptographically checksummed, before switching it back on when it is (eventually) returned. Their lawyers should demand and obtain the cryptographic checksums of any forensic disk images taken by the police, for comparison, to help detect tampering or possible electronic snooping software installation when the equipment was in police custody.

This routine, standard procedure for handling computer evidence preserves the chain of evidence leading up to any possible prosecutions, and does not tip off the potential criminals about what the investigators do, or do not know about any accomplices or co-conspirators, who may not be aware that they are under suspicion. Such "tipping off" offences can carry a criminal penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

Doing anything else with the original computer or mobile phone etc. amounts to tampering with the evidence, which will make it useless in Court, and requires disciplinary action or criminal prosecution of the police or others who were involved.

A "search" for "Shami" on the original computer, could just as easily have been an attempt to plant forged incriminating evidence or to destroy or tamper with something that might establish the alibi of the accused.

If that is the way that the computer evidence in terrorist cases is handled by the supposedly elite Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Command, then they are likely to allow real terrorists to go scot free in court, if they ever catch any of them.

This sort of computer forensics incompetence or politically inspired malice, might not be a surprise in a very small Police force like the Jersey Police, (see The arrest of opposition Senator Stuart Syvret in Jersey - another Damian Green MP style scandal ?), but it is utterly inexcusable in the elite Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.

Which other prominent political opponents or critics of this creepy Labour government like Shami Chakrabarti CBE, are being snooped on by the political police or other appartachiki, under the false excuse of "national security" investigations ?

Will there actually be any worthwhile independent investigation into Damian Green's claims about this targeting of Shami Chakrabarti ?

The scandalous arrest of Damian Green MP is not the only case of an elected member of Opposition who has been arrested and snooped on by the Police and Government in the British Isles, for doing his job and raising controversial allegations from whistleblowers, actions which should be protected by Parliamentary Privilege.

Senator Stuart Syvret in Jersey, has raised, in good faith, questions about the competences of the Jersey Government authorities in regard to child care abuses and financial irregularities, based on leaks and whistleblowing and reports from members of the public i.e. for doing his job as an elected Senator of the States of Jersey (the local Parliament).

Senator Syvret has also alleged that the personal information seized during the Police raid was used, incompetently, to attempt to log in to his blog, presumably to censor it

The (Tax Haven) Bailiwick of Jersey in the Channel Islands, is supposedly part of the British Isles, but is neither technically part of the United Kingdom, not of the European Union, but it does supposedly uphold the European Convention on Human Rights.

This scandal is destroying the old image of the Channel Islands portrayed in the popular police TV series Bergerac, something that they can ill afford, if they lose business as a Tax Haven, if the G20 summit plans do actually crack down on these.


By Senator Stuart Syvret


Responding to the Assault

On Representative Democracy.

I reproduce below this posting, the proposition and report which has been tabled for the emergency meeting of the States this coming Tuesday.

Fortunately - for the good of Jersey - a number of States members have immediately recognised the very serious implications arising from my unlawful arrest and detention; the searching of my home without a search warrant - and the subsequent theft by the police of a variety of privileged information, including private communications between my constituents and I, and communications with other States members.




Lodged au Greffe on 16th April 2009 by Deputy G.P. Southern of St. Helier.


THE STATES are asked to decide whether they are of opinion −

(a) to express their concern in respect of the apparent interference in the communications between elected representatives and their constituents which arises from the arrest and detention of Senator Stuart Syvret on 6th April 2009;

(b) to further express their concern in respect of the suppressing effect of such actions upon other elected representatives, and members of the public;

(c) to further express their concern in respect of the searching of premises, without a search warrant, and the consequent taking of communications between members of the public and their elected representatives;

(d) to request the Minister for Home Affairs to make an urgent statement concerning the decisions, whether operational or political, taken by the States of Jersey Police and the Minister in relation to the arrest and detention of Senator Stuart Syvret;

(e) to request the Privileges and Procedures Committee to make an urgent statement explaining the extent of the protection offered to States members, and their constituents, by parliamentary privilege.



Emergency States Sitting.

This is an urgent proposition, dealing as it does with matters of immense gravity that go to the very heart of free, functioning democracy in Jersey.

Fascinating as the repellent Downing Street spin and defamation scandal involving Gordon Brown and his Labour party apparatchik henchmen is, it is not the only scandal to have emerged last week.

There was also the resignation of Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, who was the head of the Counter-terrorism Command of the Metropolitan Police Service. after his extraordinary breach of security, in Downing Street, which was technically a criminal offence under the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of information

Arguably, this was an even worse breach of security than that involving the Top Secret Joint Intelligence Committee briefing documents left on a commuter train scandal:

See: Official Secrets Act prosecutions and media spin - Richard Jackson has been treated more leniently than Corporal Daniel James

These high level summary reports are meant to be carefully sanitised so as not to reveal clues which might compromise a live tactical intelligence or police operation, which is exactly what Bob Quick managed to do with Operation Pathway.

Why are documents which are Protectively Marked as Secret or above, ever even printed out and carried in transit, rather than being sent on ahead to a secret briefing, electronically, protected securely through encryption ?

There have been reports in the media that this investigation was not really intending to arrest the suspects in dawn raids last Thursday morning, but that this was just an option, and that the plot , if there is one, should have been kept track of until there was some actual evidence of bomb making or weapons procurement etc.

The weekend media leaks that some or perhaps all of the Pakistani students will simply be deported,

See The Times Pakistani 'terror plot suspects' to be deported rather than charged

and today's stories that there no explosives have yet to be found, also lends credence to the view that the "must cover our backsides" precautionary bureaucratic principle played as much in the minds of those involved, as any real threat to national security did.

See The Times - Terror arrests: police granted more time for 'al-Qaeda plot' interviews

The rushed arrests last Wednesday afternoon, certainly did put innocent bystanders and passers by at much more risk than dawn raids would have:

  • Stopping a vehicle on the motorway is fraught with risk at any time, and even more so when guns are involved.

  • At least one of the people who were jumped on and threatened with guns, and made to lay on the found for over half an hour, at John Moores University in Liverpool was not even actually arrested.

One of those arrested has already been released without charge (into the hands of the immigration bureaucracy).

There are even suggestions that some of the alleged plotters were under surveillance before and after they got into the country as bogus students.

Does that mean that one or more of them is a double agent or even an agent provocateur in a US style entrapment plot ?

There are also suggestions of a lack of coordination and clear leadership between the various police forces and intelligence agencies involved, something which, if true, seems to make a mockery of the North West regional anti-terrorism offices set up by both ACPO and MI5 the Security Service.

Will this end up as another "thought crime" plot which did not actually pose as much of a threat as the authorities have been spinning to the media ?

2 Apr 2009 : Column 79WS

Written Ministerial Statements
Thursday, 2 April 2009

Prime Minister
Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Intelligence Services Commissioner

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

In accordance with Section 57 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, I have re-appointed the right hon. Sir Paul Kennedy as Interception of Communications Commissioner from 11 April 2009 to 10 April 2012.

In accordance with Section 59 of the same Act, I have also re-appointed the right hon. Sir Peter Gibson as Intelligence Services Commissioner from 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2012.

All well and good, however, neither of these former senior Judges, nor their comrades at the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners (Chief Surveillance Commissioner: Rt.Hon. Sir Christopher Rose), actually provide effective checks and balances against the one sided power of the snooper surveillance nanny police database state which is being inflicted on us.

The failings of their role as RIPA Commissioners are that they are neither empowered, nor do they have the budget, nor, it seems, even the inclination, to properly investigate individual complaints made to them in confidence, and to hold individual securocrats and politicians to account.

They are themselves intensely secretive, refusing to be made subjects of the Freedom of Information Act, in spite of their public offices fulfilling exactly the criteria for inclusion in the list of Public Bodies under Section 4 of that Act.

Their heavily censored and deliberately delayed Annual Reports, which only audit a fraction of the paperwork, do not provide a proper check or obstacle to the formulation of new repressive Government policies, neither the blatant ones, nor the ones which are side effects of "good intentions" nor of the politicians' fascination with technological magic fixes, so that they can be Seen To Be Doing Something for media spin ad propaganda purposes.

It even takes some searching to find any contact details for these RIPA Commissioners - see our UK Commissioners page.

When the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) is reformed, the role of these Commissioners must also be totally revamped, and they should be given real powers, including criminal sanctions, to protect the public from the excesses of politicians and bureaucrats.

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