July 2012 Archives

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government has been a bit more respectful to the public than the previous Labour government was, with respect to the publication of the the Annual Reports by the Commissioners, set up under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. They seem to be publishing them all at the same time in the July following the year calendar year to which they apply. Labour managed, on occasion, to delay publication of these Reports (which are in any case already censored of any interesting details) for nearly 2 years after the statutory deadline for publication.

The entirely separate yet equally content free Annual Report of the Intelligence and Security Committee has also been published in the same week as the RIPA Commissioners' reports.
(see later blog posting)

This year all of these reports have undergone an update to their design and layout, with a few more graphs etc. but none of them fulfils the claims by the Government that they somehow provide Reassurance to Parliament and the Public, that either the extensive snooping powers of the State are not being abused or that the secretive Intelligence Agencies are not wasting huge amounts of public money and committing various crimes, which can be justified in a few exceptional "national security" cases.

That hypothesis may perhaps be true, but the inadequate mechanism of censored annual reports, from legally toothless Commissioners or Committees, who do their best not to investigate individual complaints from the public, fails to inspire any confidence.

A few bits which caught our attention:

Why is it that two former High Court judges and all of the Home Office / Cabinet Office securocrats and mainstream media journalists have failed to spot the misleading tables in both the Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Intelligence Services Commissioner's reports with respect to RIPA Part III The Investigation electronic data
protected by encryption
. ?

2011 Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner

page 6

Which section of RIPA ?What is the power?When can this power be used?Who can use this power?Who authorises use of this power?Who oversees the responsible use of power?
Pt. IIIThe investigation of electronic data protected by encryptionInterests of national security

Prevention / detection of crime

Interest of economic well being of United Kingdom; or

For the purpose of securing the effective exercise or proper performance by any public public authority of any identified statutory power or statutory duty.

Any public authority Authorisation is most frequently by a Judge Oversight is conducted by the Interception of Communications, Intelligence Services and Surveillance Commissioners except where authorised by a judge

Intelligence Services Commissioner 2011 Annual Report

Annex B

Page 42

Which section of RIPA ?What is the power?What is a typical use of this power?When can this power be used?Who can use this power?Who authorises and who oversees the responsible use of power?
Pt. 3 The investigation of electronic data protected by encryption Request for encryption password or key pertaining to criminal suspects's computer
  • Interests of national security
  • Prevention/ detection of crime
  • Interest of economic well being of United Kingdom; or For the purpose of securing the effective exercise or proper performance by any public public authority of any identified statutory power or statutory duty
Any public authority Authorisation is most frequently by a Judge

Except when authorised by a judicial authority, oversight is conducted by the Interception of Communications, Intelligence Services and Surveillance Commissioners

These misleading tables give the impression that any public authority has powers to compel the handover of de-cryption keys or de-crypted plain text, when it clearly only the Police, SOCA, SCDEA, HMRC and the Intelligence Agencies who can do so.

Neither the IOC nor the ISC mentions if they have dealt with any Section 49 notices at all - were they kept out of the loop ? Only the Chief Surveillance Commissioner's report gives any details about encrypted information requests.

The "authorisation" of Section 49 notices is not actually by Judges or by "judicial oversight", it is by Police Constables (at or above the rank of Superintendent) and by NTAC (National Technical Assistance Centre now part of GCHQ).

Chief Surveillance Commissioner Annual Report for 2011-2012

Home Office support

3.13. The Home Secretary is required by the Police Act 1997 to provide me with the support necessary to fulfil my responsibilities. The support I receive continues to be, in some respects, inadequate. In particular, information technology for many years has failed to meet the demands of remote, secure and mobile working which is an integral part of the inspection process. Promises of improvement are not fulfilled and there appears little urgency to resolve recurring problems. Similarly, I have to rely on archaic facsimile machines which repeatedly malfunction.

That just about sums up the effectiveness and esteem in which the (technologically incompetent) Home Office holds the RIPA Commissioners

Section 49 - encryption

4.10. During the period to which this report relates, NTAC granted 57 approvals from 57 applications. Permission was not sought in three cases after NTAC approval. From the remainder, 33 had permission granted by a Circuit Judge, of which 20 have so far been served. Of these nine were complied with and 15 were not (this includes orders obtained in the last reporting year but not progressed at the time of the last report); the remainder are still being processed. It was decided not to proceed with five of the 14 people were charged with an offence. So far, in the period of this report, NTAC has been informed that there have been two convictions with other cases still in progress.

4.11. One conviction related to the importation of controlled substances, the other related to a fraud offence. Other offences include: domestic extremism, possession of indecent images of children, insider dealing, fraud, evasion of excise duty, drug trafficking and drug possession with intent to supply.

4.12. These statistics are provided by NTAC who are able to be accurate regarding the number of approvals granted. However, unless informed by the case team, the statistics cannot properly reflect the snapshot at the time of this report. However, it appears that there has been delay in serving some notices after approval has been granted and information regarding the progress of the cases although requested is not as prompt as it should be. Notices, one [sic] approved, should be served without delay and the information supplied to NTAC as soon as possible

57 requests and only 2 criminal cases which led to convictions (possibly on the basis of the other evidence presented, not the De-crypted material) is a very poor justification for the Section 49 snooping powers, which have done so much damage to the reputation of the United Kingdom as a good place from which to run an internet e-commerce related business.

Neither of these convictions involved any national security i.e. terrorism or espionage cases

National security does not feature in the vague list of "other offences" either.

It is unacceptable that these muddled figures appear to show that RIPA section 49 notices are being served without Judicial permission

Digital investigation and data sharing

5.16. The Data Protection Act is not within my remit but the ease with which data can be shared is of interest to me, particularly when the data being shared is the result of covert surveillance. First, there must be adequate protection of sources, techniques and product and this is not always apparent when there is no human in the loop to challenge the need to know. Secondly, I do not detect much effort by some authorising officers to make adequate arrangements for the destruction of product which was the result of collateral intrusion or not of value to the investigation or not properly authorised. The default solution appears to be in favour of retention. The necessity and proportionality of retaining data, which may later be shared in a different context, is as important as the necessity and proportionality of obtaining it in the first place.

5.17. A frequent response to my Inspectors' enquiries regarding a reduction in directed
surveillance is that 'overt' investigations using the Internet suffice. My Commissioners have expressed concern that some research using the Internet may meet the criteria of directed surveillance. This is particularly true if a profile is built by processing data about a specific individual or group of individuals without their knowledge.

5.18. There is a fine line between general observation, systematic observation and
research and it is unwise to rely on a perception of a person's reasonable expectations or their ability to control their personal data. Like ANPR and CCTV, the Internet is a useful investigative tool but they each operate in domains which are public and private. As with ANPR and CCTV, it is inappropriate to define surveillance solely by reference to the device used; the act of surveillance is the primary consideration and this is defined by RIPA section 48(2-4) (monitoring, observing, listening and recording by or with the assistance of a surveillance device). The Internet is a surveillance device as defined by RIPA section 48(1). Surveillance is covert "if, and only if, it is conducted in a manner that is calculated to ensure that persons who are subject to the surveillance are unaware that it is, or may be taking place." Knowing that something is capable of happening is not the same as an awareness that it is or may be taking place. The ease with which an activity meets the legislative threshold demands improved supervision.

The Internet is a surveillance device as defined by RIPA section 48(1).

implies that there should be specific Direct Surveillance authorisations before investigators
are allowed to use, say, Social Media data mining tools and then only for narrowly targeted investigations, not for "data trawling" or "fishing expeditions"

Automated Number Plate Recognition

5.19. The Commissioners invited ACPO representatives to present the case for continued
operation of the ANPR system when legislation demands authorisation. It was accepted that ANPR cameras can be used for an overt and covert purpose. The Commissioners were not persuaded to alter their guidance. I am pleased that ACPO has decided to improve its national guidance and to incorporate the advice of my office.

5.20. I am less happy to discover that the proper ANPR authorisation process can be circumvented using the Police National Computer. I do not desire to prevent the use of this very useful tool, but the ease with which ANPR can be used for directed surveillance demands that authorisation processes should not be circumvented.

5.21. The Commissioners believe that the use of privately owned ANPR systems for a covert purpose should be subject to authorisation if it is to be used for the benefit of a public authority operation or investigation.

5.20. I am less happy to discover that the proper ANPR authorisation process can be circumvented using the Police National Computer.

How many times has this happened ? Who are the culprits ?

Interception of Communications Commissioner 2011 Annual Report

As usual, the Interception of Communications Commissioner's report fails to provide enough of a detailed breakdown of the figures which it presents to be meaningful

The examples of the types of errors, caused by human mistakes when entering telephone numbers or email addresses or physical addresses etc. into computer systems or authorisation paperwork show how true to life Terry Gilliam's film Brazil, where the innocent character "Buttle" is arrested and tortured in place of the terrorist called "Tuttle" has proved to be:

page 31

...Unfortunately in two separate cases where a CSP disclosed the incorrect data, the mistakes were not realised and action was taken by the police forces on the data received. Regrettably, these errors had very significant consequences for two members of the public who were wrongly detained / accused of crimes as a result of the errors. I cannot say more about these two instances at this time as investigations are ongoing....

This is no error correcting mechanism within this system of RIPA regulation which forces the authorities to make public apologies and to pay financial compensation and to wipe out the erroneous data from all of their database and paperwork systems.

Astonishingly, the IOC has not bothered to, or has not felt able to, actually contact the victims of these mistakes or their lawyers directly and it must be assumed that the reason for their false arrests has been kept secret from them.

page 32

Under the Code of Practice I have the power to direct a public authority to provide information to an individual who has been adversely affected by any wilful or reckless exercise of or failure to exercise its powers under the Act. So far it has not been necessary for me to use this power but there is no room for complacency, and each public authority understands that it must strive to achieve the highest possible standards.

So even when people have been falsely arrested as a result of Communications Data mistakes, the IOC has not directed the police etc. to inform the individuals or to apologise.

Even if the Police etc. did so of their own volition, exercising one of the few legal powers which the Interception of Communications Commissioner actually has and "naming and shaming" the culprits, could have sent a useful message to the other public authorities and communications service providers.

There are some graphs etc. in the new report format template which give a few crumbs of evidence to inform the debate over the controversial Draft Communications Data Bill

There really needs to be a far more detailed breakdown, by each requesting public authority
for there to be a meaningful debate. This would not affect any operational security aspects of any ongoing or future investigations.

page 29

Figure 5 - Breakdown of Communications Data Authorisations/Notices by Type

Subscriber Data: 52%
Traffic Data: 25%
Service Use Data: 6%
Combination: 17%

Intelligence Services Commissioner 2011 Annual Report

As usual, there is almost not useful public content in the Intelligence Services Commissioner report.

Since there is no direct mechanism or budget for the secretive Intelligence Services Commissioner to deal with complaints from the public (who are usually not be aware of possible abuses by the intelligence services, due to the overwhelming blanket of secrecy), it is hard to see what Reassurance to the Public or Parliament the role of Intelligence Services Commissioner actually provides.

In the same way in which the Interception of Communications Commissioner inspects the justifiable snooping on the phone calls in Prisons, without this actually being part of the RIPA legislation, the Intelligence Services Commissioner is now involved in doing some vague, non-statutory oversight of:

page 28 onwards


i.e. the use of or knowledge of torture .

Now that the Detainee Inquiry (conducted by the previous Intelligence Services Commissioner, Sir Peter Gibson) has been nobbled, this is as close to any independent oversight of potential torture practices by the UK military and intelligence services that there is i.e. not very much.

As Spy Blog readers will have come to expect, the ISC has found no wrongdoing:

Based on the information provided to me, and to the extent set out in my remit, I am not aware of any failure by a military or intelligence officer to comply with the Consolidated Guidance in the period between 1st January and December 31st 2011. I have received assurances from the relevant departments and intelligence agencies that they have disclosed fully relevant information about cases within the detainee grid. I am also assured that I have been given full access to both information and officers to discuss particular cases both in the UK and during Station visits. I therefore have no reason to doubt that the guidance is being complied with based on the information that has been provided to me in 2011.

The private sector near monopolies which operate within the UK government regulated telecommunications / internet service provider market are inherently not to be trusted to look after the Privacy and Anonymity requirements of their captive customers.

For example, when registering a Vodafone Sure Signal device, which plugs in to your domestic or business broadband internet connection and acts as a short range 3G mobile phone signal booster femtocell.


Despite the fact that purchasers of such devices are doing them a huge commercial favour, saving them lots of money in otherwise necessary improvements to their 3G mobile phone network infrastructure, Vodafone have a cheeky / creepy "help" pop up on their Clear Signal device registration page.

Not content with demanding your Post Code and street address (but not your actual house / office number within the street), you have to give the Clear Signal device a Name, which is presumably available to their network engineers and other snoopers.



Stuck for a name? Try using your surname and the year you were born.

Under the controversial Government proposals in the Communications Data Bill, if you were foolish enough to betray your Surname and Date of Birth in this way, which is not necessary for the proper functioning of the mobile phone network, then the information in this data field would undoubtedly be seized without a warrant as Communications Data and probably also fed into spamming / marketing databases as well, even though it is clearly "content" which should require an Interception Warrant. (not, unfortunately, actually one signed by an independent Judge)

It is likely that the Sure Signal Name will find its way into Call Detail Record (CDR) and other logfiles associated with each individual 3G mobile phone voice , SMS text or data call, which will be passed on to people or organisations who would not routinely have access to the Registration database or other Subscriber Data.

It is already a scandal that your financial bank and credit card details which you used to purchase a subscription, contract or phone handset with, are at risk of being snooped on or abused by people and organisations, who are only supposed to be doing simple "reverse telephone directory" lookups of who a particular phone or internet or email account is registered to.

Follow the latest Communications Data Capabilities Programme (CCDP) snooping news on Twitter via the #CCDP hashtag.

The prime critic of the Draft Communications Data Bill, Dr. Julian Huppert (Liberal Democrat) had to miss some of the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill 's first Oral Evidence session from:

Charles Farr OBE, Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, Richard Alcock, Director of Communications Capability Directorate, and Peter Hill, Head of Unit for Pursue Policy and Strategy Unit, Home Office

"the surveillance state éminence grise of repressive surveillance policies Charles Farr (why is he still in a position of influence under the Coalition after his disastrous New Labour policies ?)" dominated the Home Office evidence.


[Charles Farr centre of Home Office panel, gesturing) with Professor Ross Anderson sitting just behind him]


We await the full transcript of the session, which is still available online (requires Microsoft Silverlight on Windows) at:


Here are a couple of important points to watch out for:

circa 15:52

Charles Farr (CF):

(Home Office survey) figures for Communications Data for which applications are made and which is obtained:

27% drugs related
15% propert offences - arson, armed robbery, theft
12% financial offences
10% sexual offences
6% homicide
5% / 5.65% for missing persons
5.7% for harrassment
4% for offences against ther person
4 / 5% for explosives ???

speeding is not mentioned

Interception of Communications Commissioner's Annual report due out next week / published this Friday 13th.

Anonymisation will "cease to be a significant problem."


if you have the data, provided for in this legislation, then you can resolve, increasingly, anonymous communications, which are a feature of, the communications environment in which we live.

Put it another way, if you have the right kind of data, issues of anonymisation, cease to be a significant problem.


Well, err, if people choose to take greater efforts at anonymisation, that is not necessarily a problem for this Bill. errm, If they are engaged in a criminal activity, which we are investigating, then of course, in theory it may become a problem.

I am satisified that with the techiques which are being developed, and which will be, err,
facilitated, by retention, of a kind envisaged in this legislation, errm, many workarounds
can be defeated.

However, there will be cases, where people can find, of course, perhaps temporarily, workarounds to, to, some of what is envisaged here. But I emphasise, we still envisage, that by 2018, we can stem the capability gap, and restore coverage to something 85% of what we need.

Black boxes / DPI only on UK networks for traffic from overseas ISPs who do not play ball

N.B. nothing to stop these being used on UK only traffic or on fioreign traffic in transit to and from other countries via the UK

[more transcript on black boxes, later, perhaps]

David Maclean , Lord Blencathra (LB), the chairman of the Committee made some welcome comments:

RIPA & CDB public authorities: "was I lied to then or are we being conned now ?"



Some of us, who have around a long time, have heard almost those exact words
whilst serving on the RIPA committee in 2000, where the, where we were dealing with the big 4 on the face of the Bill, I think, and then the Minister let slip that there were some other public authorities that could be added as well

Under questioning, he then produced a letter to the whole committee, which showed that when the Bill was completed, there about 32 public authorities added. 12 months later we ended with 500 and we've got 650 So I wonder, was I lied to then or are we being conned now ?

Historical data on claimed benefits of Communications Data

Quantitative figures are something which should have been in every Interception of Communications Commissioner's Report, but which has been kept secret



Before I ask some other colleagues to participate, could I stress that the Committee would like a paper, for them
to get historical data, how many lives saved, err, children safeguarded, money recovered, which would help us come to
a conclusion on whether the extrapolated data, or the, the, plans for the next 10 years are optimistic, or not,

No criminal sanctions in the Bill, why not ?

One warning note of potential disagreement emerged from Nick Brown, the former Labour Chief Whip.

Nick Brown (NB) asked about penalties for misuse, however he did not agree with the Chair that Criminal Sanctions would work.

We will be watching out to see if he manages to influence the final Committee Report to water down this vital point.


... on the face of this Bill, to reassure the public, that any abuse of powers, by a police officer, or any other, designated person, will be treated very seriously. Why not put some criminal sanctions in the Bill ?

CF: We can certainly, take that away

Charles Farr did not sound very enthusuastic about that

LB: ...it just seemed to me, that sanctions in those were, a bit more training, a bit more advice, whereas if there was a possibility of a criminal
penalty there, whether or not it was used, might ewassure the public

NB: I am quite happy to leave it there for now, but I think that we should return to this, and there is doubt in my mind as to whether
criminal sanctions actually work.

LB: If you have any further advice to give us about criminal sanctions, we will happily recieve a paper on it.

Parliament's Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill has now published its official Call for Evidence: (.pdf 83 KB)

It is interesting that there are 26 Questions, far more than normal for the Parliamentary rubber stamping process that is usual for a Draft Bill:

Most Spy Blog readers will have their own opinions about these "26 Questions (but a bitch ain't one)" and the ones which are missing from this list.

Here are a few points which spring to mind which might stimulate your own Evidence Submissions to the Joint Committee,

N.B. remember to take some precautions (c.f. ht4w.co.uk) if you are an "insider" and do not want to risk tipping off the vested interests who are promoting this Bill, who have the self-authorised power to snoop, in secret, on your Communications Data and that of the Joint Committee, without a warrant, c.f. the immediately previous Spy Blog article


Below are specific questions about the details of the draft Bill. The Joint Committee would appreciate written submissions on any of these questions on which you have evidence to contribute It is not necessary to address every question. The Joint Committee will also welcome other comments related to the draft Bill, even if not directly addressing the questions below.


1. Has the Home Office made it clear what it hopes to achieve through the draft Bill?

The evasive media propaganda from the Home Office , including Theresa May the Home Secretary and the surveillance state éminence grise of repressive surveillance policies Charles Farr (why is he still in a position of influence under the Coalition after his disastrous New Labour policies ?), has contained no technical details whatsoever, so it is certainly not clear exactly what the scheme will or will not apply to.

2. Has the Government made a convincing case for the need for the new powers proposed in the draft Bill?


They are in "Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something (No Matter How Expensive Or Stupid)" mode.

3. How do the proposals in the draft Bill fit within the wider landscape on intrusion into individuals' privacy?

More snooping, no effective counterbalances to prevent abuse by bureaucratic public agencies.

No specific abuse of Communications Data related criminal sanctions, to deter corrupt or evil individuals within such agencies.

4. What lessons can be learnt from the approach of other countries to the collection of communications data?

Plenty of other countries happily work with Judicial warrants for Communications Data, rather than the UK "self-authorisation" approach.

5. Are there any alternative proposals with regard to the technique and cost of obtaining
communications data that the Government could consider?

Data Preservation for specific, narrowly targeted investigations, restricted to Serious Crimes only, rather than massive Data Retention of almost entirely innocent data.

There should be no access to, say, Location Data, whatsoever for petty "general crime" investigations, especially not by non-Police or non-Intelligence agencies.

If, say, a Tax Investigation is serious enough to require Communications Data, then it is serious enough for a joint investigation with the Police i.e. no HMRC staff should have access on their own, like they do now.

6. The draft Bill sits alongside the Data Retention Regulations. How will these two pieces of legislation interrelate? Would it be preferable to have one overarching piece of legislation that governs the retention of communications data?

Please do not try to "policy launder" the repressive UK proposals and inflict them on the other 400 million innocent people throughout the European Union! The EU Data Retention Directive was originally proposed by the then Labour Home Secretary Charles Clarke when the UK held the revolving Chair of the European Commission and then the Government pretended that they had been forced to comply with it, because the EU told them to do so.

7. If it is concluded that the provisions of the draft Bill are essential, are there any other measures that could be scrapped as a quid pro quo to rebalance civil liberties?

They are certainly not essential.

There is a vast amount of repressive legislation brought in mostly by the previous Labour government (but with some old Conservative stuff as well) which must be repealed, regardless of this Communications Data Bill to "rebalance civil liberties".

Almost none of these repeals are in the much delayed and rather weak Protection of Freedoms Bill.

8. Will the proposals in the draft Bill pose a risk that communications service providers see the UK as a less attractive base. What might be the effect on business?

Increased prices to consumers

Vodafone etc. already minimise the tax they pay by not being wholly based in the UK.

This Bill will undermine the efforts of the Treasury and the BIS to attract them to invest in the UK.


9. Is the estimated cost of £1.8bn over 10 years realistic?

Where did this mythical figure come from ?

Draft Communications Data Bill impact assessment (PDF file - 309kb)

Since when has the Home Office, or any Government Department, ever been able to accurately predict costs 10 years into the future ?

Where is the detailed independent Impact Assessment ? The Home Office's Impact Assessment is just deluded wishful thinking.

The Home Office is literally financially innumerate and cannot be trusted
even to supply correct figures for its own accounts
, let alone to make reliable estimates for any major IT project whatsoever.

Look at their appalling inability to even guesstimate to the nearest billion pounds, anything to do with their, thankfully defeated, centralised National Identity Database Scheme.

Can anyone actually point to an example of a major IT system which the Home Office has been involved in, which has not been late, over budget and which has actually had a positive outcome on reducing crime etc. rather than just being "Seen To Be Doing Something" as part of the pretence to be "tackling" or "addressing" a problem ?

10.The Home Office suggests the benefits that could be delivered by the enactment of the draft Bill could be worth between £5-6bn. Is this figure realistic?

No !

Where is the detailed independent Impact Assessment ?

The Draft Communications Data Bill privacy impact assessment (PDF file - 516kb) is not detailed and is full of airy fairy hand waving wishful thinking about the alleged "benefits" of the proposals.

The Home Office regularly lies about the alleged financial benefits of its policies.

They really have no clue at all - Serious Crime is still being estimated
as costing the UK economy "between £20 billion to £40 billion a year" a figure which was used to justify the Serious Organised crime Agency and which is exactly the same wildly imprecise one which is being used to justify the replacement for SOCA, the National Crime Agency.

Not only do they lie about such estimates, they wage propaganda smear campaigns against even well researched academic studies which do try to estimate the cost / benefits of their policies (from ID Cards to Drug Policy etc.)

The cost justifications include "tax revenue" (something which the Home Office has no expertise in) and "criminal assets seizures" - something which the Home Office has utterly failed in. Why did the (criminal) Assets Recovery Agency set up by the Home Office have to be disbanded ? Because it was costing more to run and administer than the paltry amount of money that was being seized. How can this be a justification for alleged billions of pounds of "benefits" of the Communications Data Bill ?


11.Are the definitions of communications data and communications service provider appropriate? Do they sensibly define the scope of the powers in the draft Bill?


When the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000 was "debated" (it was not properly scrutinised by Parliament) the politicians were told that Communications Data was "itemised telephone bill" information.

Over the years the deliberately vague RIPA wording was abused, without further Parliamentary debate, to include new forms of Communications Data especially Location Based Services mobile phone data.

Communications Data must be legally defined in the Bill / Act to clearly differentiate between:

a) Subscriber Data for landline telephone, mobile phones and internet service provider accounts - the only sort of Communications Data which, say, Local Authority Trading Standards departments should be allowed to request on their own - anything more serious which might need other Communications Data should involve the Police.

b) Mobile Phone Location Data has 4 levels of intrusiveness
- historical Locations Data where a voice call, SMS text message or internet data was sent or received from

- real time (or near real time) Locations Data where a voice call, SMS text message or internet data was sent or received from

- historical Location Data of the automatic handshakes between a mobile phone handset or other device and the network, typically every 10 minutes or so or when a phone is switched on or off - such data is not instigated by a human, but is automatic collected.

- real time (or near real time) Location Data of the automatic handshakes between a mobile phone handset or other device and the network, typically every 10 minutes or so or when a phone is switched on or off. - such data is not instigated by a human, but is automatically collected.

e.g. The Fire and Rescue or Ambulance services should have real-time mobile phone Location Data access when a 999 call is made for emergencies so that they can respond quickly and can try to detect fake 999 calls. They should not be allowed to see the historical Location Data History of a mobile phone (and very likely that of its owner). There are no conceivable circumstances for them to have access to the real time (or near real time) tracking of a mobile phone device which is not making or receiving a voice or SMS text or internet data call.

The forthcoming European Union eCall plan to put a mobile phone device in every
new vehicle sold in the European Union, which is activated when an airbag goes off in an accident is an example of something which must be covered by this Bill i.e. 999 call responders should have Location Data access when there is an accident, but even the Police should not have immediate real time access to the resultant automatic mobile phone device vehicle location tracking history, without an independent judicial warrant..

Unlike in 2000, when RIPA was "debated", an increasing number od SmartPhones and other devices now include Global Positioning System (GPS) chips within them. These are not necessary for the transmissionor reception of voice, SMS text or internet data calls. However the GPS latitude, longitude, elevation and location tracking history may be periodically upload automatically, with or without the knowledge or active intervention of the user.

The Communications Data Bill should make it absolutely clear as to whether such GPS data is forbidden from being collected, stored and "Filtered" as Communications Data or not, something which it is unclear at the moment.

12.Which public authorities should be able to access communications data under the draft Bill? Should it be possible for the Secretary of State to vary this list by Order?

When RIPA 2000 was first introduced, the number of public bodies was small i.e. mostly the Police and Intelligence Agencies.

There was a vast expansion later on, via Secondary legislation, by Order which , as always, Parliament failed to scrutinise properly. This lead to such stupidities as the Egg Marketing Board being given RIPA powers.

It also lead to the abuses (through ignorance and petty bureaucratic tendencies) by Local Authorities, leading to scandals like the Poole Council using RIPA directed surveillance powers to snoop on innocent families suspected of being school catchment area cheats.
There is every reason to suppose that similar abuses involve disproportionate use of Communications Data powers, but, the Interception of Communications Commisioner's Annual Reports are so censored of any meaningful detail that we cannot be sure.

There must be no Order making powers at all in the Communications Data Bill.

There is a Home Office / Ministry of Justice legislation slot in every Queen's Speech,
so any absolutely necessary amendments (usually involving the renaming of Agencies or Departments) can easily be accomplished through Primary Legislation, with a chance for proper debate and scrutiny and amendment by Parliament, something which almost never happens with hated Secondary Legislation by Order.

13.How robust are the plans to place requirements on communications service providers based overseas? How realistic is it that overseas providers could be pursued for breach of duty?

Completely unrealistic.

A few large US companies with subsidiaries in the UK may "voluntarily" comply, provided that there is a competitive "level playing field" i.e. provided that their main rivals also comply.

But why should any Chinese or Russian or Iranian etc. ISPs ever comply ?


14.Are the circumstances under which communications data can be accessed appropriate and proportional? What kind of crimes should communications data be used to detect?

Make it the same as the RIPA section 1 definition for Interception i.e. Serious Crime only, defined as likely to attract a prison sentence of at least 3 years in prison for a first time offence if convicted.

There are many occasions where access to Communications Data, especially Location Data about a communication is actually more intrusive than the Interception of the contents of the communication, which may be very brief and / or harmless (or coded).

If as is not really clear at the moment, the plan is to use Deep Packet Inspection and Digital Certificate man-in-the-middle attacks on world wide web connections, then since , effectively, Interception is involved, the collection of Communications Data should be treated as such.

15.Is the proposed 12 month period for the retention of data too long or too short?

Far too long.

All the Mobile Phone Communications Data cases which , say, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner cited e.g. the Soham murders, did not require 12 months of Communications Data, only a couple of weeks worth.

The recent murders in Toulouse, France where 4 murders were carried out by a terrorist / petty criminal motorbike assassin, who was tracked down through his Communications Traffic analysis of web server log files of an advert for a motorbike placed by one of his victims also did not require months of Communications Data Retention, only a few days.

That case illustrated the problems with the vast amount of such data. The 576 IP addresses from the web advert log files is not very many, but it took the Police far too long to analyse the data they already had immediate access to, allowing the serial killer, who had already been on their list of possible terrorist suspects for years, to strike again.

This will not be improved in the UK by the Communications Data Bill - automatic Filtering devices will not magically produce actual investigative break throughs without sufficient trained human resources - "finding a needle in a haystack by adding more haystacks" is a strategy which is bound to fail.


16.Applications for accessing communications data will be subject to a series of safeguards including approval by a designated senior officer within the public authority making the request. How should "designated senior officer" be defined? Is this system satisfactory? Are there concerns about compliance with Article 8 ECHR?

The "self authorisation" approach provides no transparency or public accountability tfor Communications Data access.

Keep and improve the idea of a Single Point of Contact with the technical and legal experience to reject disproportionate or multiply repeated or vexatious requests for Communications Data. Have this SPoC pass on the request to an independent Judge for a a proper, narrowly defined Warrant.

Publish this request and / or warrant automatically online as soon as the the need for immediate operational secrecy has expired i.e. as soon as an arrest has been made.

17.Would a warrant system be more appropriate? If you favour a warrant system should this apply to all public authorities including law enforcement agencies? Should a warrant be necessary in all circumstances? And what would the resource implications be?

Yes a warrant signed by an independent Judge (not one signed by the Home Secretary or any other politician or senior Whitehall bureaucrat) which can be challenged in Court if necessary should be required for all Communications Data snooping, including the Police and Intelligence Agencies.

Remember that snooping on Communications Data can be as intrusive or even more intrusive than the actual Interception of the contents of the same Communication.

18.Is the role of the Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Information
Commissioner sensible?


They do not provide any proper reassurance to the public with their existing budgets, under resourced budgets, and non-existent or heavily constrained criminal sanctions and a far too cosy relationship with the bureaucratic Whitehall Departments and Agencies and large companies they are supposed to be keeping an eye on.

They fail to do a proper job of in their existing roles, how can adding extra Communications Data Bill roles improve their performance at all ?

Scrap them both and start again with a proper Privacy Commission Department with ample technical and financial resources to deal with lots of individual cases directly affecting the public.


19.Are the arrangements for parliamentary oversight of the powers within the draft Bill satisfactory?

No !

Parliament has proved itself to be useless at scrutinising Secondary Legislation by Order. This is almost never rejected and can never be amended even slightly, so all kinds of evil is smuggled in by the the Executive, without any proper detailed scrutiny or even a cursory basic sanity checking second opinion.

Given the years or so that it took for all of the the Codes of Practice under RIPA to be published, Parliament should insist that any such Codes of Practice be published within a year of the passing of the Bill.

All of the Communications Data Bill should come into force at once, there should be no leeway for the Home Office to dither an not bring bits of it into force for months or years afterwards like they did , much to their discredit, with the Regulation of Investigatory powers Act 2000. If legal powers are not need now, then they should not be in the Bill.

There should be an automatic sunshine clause which repeals any of the parts of the Bill which have not been brought into force after say a year or two at the most.

There will always be a Home Office / Ministry of Justice Primary Legislation every year if minor amendments have to be made but the Internet and Telecommunications are such critical parts of our society and economy, that any further necessary changes in this area deserve their own specific Primary Legislation.


20.Are the penalties appropriate for those communications service providers who fail to comply with with the requirements of the draft Bill?


Why should the Communications Service Providers be penalised for the inevitable technical failings of the mysterious and obsolete even before thay have come into service "Filtering" black box single points of failure ?

Read the small print of your contact with your telecommunications or internet provider - they cannot be reasonably be held to be responsible for Acts of God,, adverse weather , power failures, faulty software upgrades by third party software suppliers etc. etc. for the services they provide. Why should they face penalties under the Communications Data Bill for exactly the same failures which affect the collection of Communications Data snooping ?

21.Are the penalties appropriate for those public authorities that inappropriately request access to communications data? Should failure to adhere to the Code of Practice which is provided for in the draft Bill amount to an offence?

That is the wrong question !

The existing Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 section 1 on Interception provides for criminal penalties of up to 2 years in prison for unlawful Interception of the content of communications.

There are no criminal sanctions at all for the unlawful collection or access to the possibly equally intrusive Communications Data.

The Communications Data Bill should be amended to include such criminal penalties specifically aimed at Communications data abuse by individuals either within Communications Service Providers or within the Authorised Public Bodies i.e. the Police, Intelligence agencies.

Unlike RIPA section 1 there must be no secrecy provision i.e. up to 2 years in prison for revealing the mere existence of an Intercept warrant.

All Communications Data requests (but obviously not the resultant Communications Data itself) should be published on the web immediately and automatically after the Communications Data is no longer needed for a specific investigation i.e. once an arrest has been made when there is no longer any need for operational secrecy.

That should result in far fewer frivolous requests, less chance of authorised insiders using the system for personal or celebrity stalking or corruption and will highlight attempts at disproportionate mass surveillance "data trawling" and fishing expeditions.

Perhaps then there might be same restoration in public confidence in the Home Office, the Police and Intelligence Agencies etc., all of whom have betrayed the high standards which the public rightly expects of them.


22.Does the technology exist to enable communications service providers to capture communications data reliably, store it safely and separate it from communications content?

Hopefully not - this is a hugely difficult technical problem.

We do not want a Deep Packet Inspection Great Firewall of Britain, which could provide the infrastructure for current or future political repression.

23.How safely can communications data be stored?

Technically, quite safely using strong encryption, which is something which is not mandated in the current Code of Practice.

Code of practice for the acquisition and disclosure of communications data (PDF file - 970kb)

In practice, given the incompetence and corruption which has been shown by individual authorised insiders, even those with the highest security clearances, there is no chance that all such Communications Data will be stored securely, all of the time. There will be leaks and data breaches, in proportion to the amount of the data collected.

24.Are the proposals for the filtering arrangements clear, appropriate and technically feasible?

Until the Home Office clearly publishes a detailed technical specification of exactly which systems e.g. Web email, Twitter, FaceBook, Skype, Voice over IP, Peer to Peer Filesharing, Tor etc. and exactly which security encrypted protocols it is hoping to circumvent through Man-In-The-Middle attacks etc. ist is not possible to definitively answer such a Question.

All our experience with previous complicated Home Office IT systems makes us assume that this will be complete cock up, which will probably introduce previously exploitable vulnerabilities into our Critical National Infrastructure which will be abused by foreign intelligence agencies and criminals.

25.How easy will it be for individuals or organisations to circumvent the measures in the draft Bill ?

Until it is clear exactly which systems and protocols the Communications Data Bill will be applied to, that cannot be answered fully either.

It is not trivial to legally circumvent Communications Data snooping entirely, but it is possible right now, especially if you are a criminal and use stolen credit cards, stolen mobile phones etc.

See also ht4w.co.uk Spy Blog's Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc., who are forced to use some of the same techniques used by political dissidents living under dictatorships and by criminals.

26.Are there concerns about the consequences of decryption?

Strange Question. Decryption by whom, of what ?

Decryption by the Government of the encrypted Communications Data that the black box snooping Filters will collect ?

Decryption by the Government of Intermediate or Root Certificate Authority Digital Certificates to snoop on https:// by default services like Twitter or Google Gmail web email ?

The Deep Packet Inspection infrastructure which can do that can also be used by corrupt insiders to steal money flowing through e-commerce or internet banking or City of London financial trading systems and to snoop on and harass stalking victims etc. Is that really what the Government wants to create ?

You need not address all these questions.

"address" is not the the same as "Fully Answer" or "Solve the Problem"

Hopefully these 26 Questions and our brief notes will inspire you to write your own Evidence Submission to the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill.

We will see if their eventual Report is nobbled by the former Whips and politicians with too comfy a relationship with the Intelligence Agencies who are on this Committee.

Here are some notes on the Membership of the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill

Please lobby these people with your opposition to the Draft Communications Data Bill.

N.B. Just as with the now suppressed Detainee Inquiry (whose second anniversary of doing not very much at all comes up this Friday 6th July 2012) into allegations of complicity in torture, the Intelligence Agencies and the Police and private sector Defence contractors will be intensely interested in identifying potential witnesses and especially potential whistleblowers who might wish to give Evidence to this Committee, so that they can prepare their own positions if and when they are called to give evidence and to nobble any "security risks" within their own ranks.

The Wilson Doctrine only forbids the interception of the telephones, faxes, emails, tweets and SMS text messages of Members of Parliament the House of Commons and of Peers in the House of Lords.

It does allow for the (self authorised) collection of Communications Traffic Data, the very subject of this Bill, about anybody who contacts this Joint Committee to give them a political message or to provide Evidence to them.

If you intend to contact the Committee (which is about to make its formal call for evidence soon) , then please take some precautions, either to protect your own whistleblower anonymity, or as a matter of principle, to demonstrate what a waste of money and a blow to the UK economy, these expensive proposals will be.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers etc.

Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for
Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists,
Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Unlike the faceless bureaucrats and lobbyists who are proposing this Bill, here are some images (from the Parliament.uk website) and some brief opinions of the runners and riders on this Committee, which is supposed to scrutinise this controversial legislation.

Will they be swayed by principled civil liberties or technological arguments ? Or will they cut backroom political deals with the vested interests and lobbyists for more surveillance snooping powers and budgets ?

Rt Hon Nicholas Brown - Labour

Former Minister and New Labour Chief Whip. Gordon Brown's political "enforcer"
Very experienced in secret backroom political wheeling and dealing

It will be astonishing if he champions anything but more snooping powers.

Michael Ellis - Conservative

new MP in 2010
Former barrister

Dr Julian Huppert - Liberal Democrat

new MP in 2010
Academic computational biochemist

So far the lone voice of opposition to the dafter aspects of the Bill, but will he be pressured by the devious former Whips into political compromises ?

Stephen Mosley - Conservative

new MP in 2010
Had a career in IT before becoming an MP, but before the vast increase in internet usage.

"Degree in Chemistry from Nottingham University, Stephen worked for IBM for four years before setting up his own IT Consultancy in 1997."

Craig Whittaker - Conservative

new MP in 2010
Former Retail Manager

David Wright - Labour

Former Labour government and opposition Whip
Junior to Nick Brown, but with an equally untrustworthy voting record.

Lord Armstrong of Ilminster Cross Bench

Former Cabinet Secretary

The actual Whitehall Sir Humprey who coined the phrase "economical with the truth" during the MI5 Spycatcher book publication censorship affair.

Will be perceived to be biased in favour of more snooping by the Intelligence Agencies.

Lord Blencathra - Conservative

David Maclean the former Tory Chief Whip who masterminded the sneaky attempt in the Commons to exclude the the House of Commons (and as an afterthought, the House of Lords) from the Freedom of Information Act, just as the MPs expenses scandal was breaking.

Currently a lobbyist for the government of the Cayman Islands tax haven.

Not a champion of free speech, transparency or liberty.

Apparently he is set to be Chairman of the Joint Committee

Baroness Cohen of Pimlico - Labour

A former solicitor and writer of crime fiction novels

Lord Faulks - Conservative

Former barrister and Queen's Counsel

Lord Jones (N.B. Parliament.uk website URL say Stephen Jones, but points to Barry Jones) - Labour

He is a former MP who has also served on the useless Intelligence and Security Committee from 1994-97 so he cannot be trusted to stand up for the general public's rights and freedoms.

Lord Strasburger - Liberal Democrat

Property developer, businessman, party donor

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