April 2014 Archives

This Mail on Sunday article seems suspiciously like Whitehall securocrats trying to manipulate the Press and public opinion, to spin the way for another stab at the reviled Communications Data Bill power grab.

They do not seem to have learnt anything from their previous failures to convince Parliament or the public. Why can't they cite some actual, relevant recent cases, to justify their "we must grab everything (for free, in secret), even from millions of innocent people" policies ?

This article is so full of half truths and spin, that it has provoked Spy Blog to comment on almost every section:

Spy chiefs warn PM: Internet giants including Google and Facebook are shielding terrorists and paedophiles

Cameron told internet giants have withdrawn cooperation with MI5
Some are obstructing requests for help tracking terrorists and criminals
Follows Edward Snowden's claims firms are used to snoop on Brits

By Robert Verkaik

Published: 01:01, 27 April 2014 | Updated: 01:01, 27 April 2014

David Cameron has been warned by the country's top spy chiefs that internet companies including Facebook and Google are undermining national security.

The Prime Minister was told internet giants have 'withdrawn' their cooperation and are obstructing MI5 requests for help tracking terrorists and major criminals, including paedophiles.

What evidence is there of any actual obstruction ? There is none whatsoever in this article.

It follows fugitive Edward Snowden's claims that the firms are used to snoop on British citizens, which is disputed by spy chiefs.

Before the US whistleblower's disclosures, they willingly responded to lawful requests for details of phone calls, emails, text messages and other private information.

Now the companies are said to be concerned about being seen to acquiesce too easily.

It is clear from the Oral evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill (.pdf) back in the summer of 2012, i.e. before the Snowden revelations that big US based companies Google, Facebook and Yahoo even then insisted on a clear Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty request from UK Police via US law enforcement partners, typically the FBI.

They also have 24 hour rapid response teams in place to expedite urgent requests e.g. kidnap situations where lives are immediately at risk.

So what, exactly has changed ? There is now proof via the Snowden revealed documents, that the years of goodwill and voluntary cooperation with say the UK Police, have been completely undermined by the out of control mass surveillance and actual attacks on their infrastructure by NSA and GCHQ and their 5 Eyes partners intelligence agencies.

One of the fears is that intelligence officers will lose the ability to monitor the safety threat posed by British jihadists travelling to Syria, for example Londoner Mohammed El Araj, 23, who is said to have died while fighting for militants with links to Al Qaeda.

What threat from returning fighters, exactly ?

What safety threat to the UK can someone who has died in Syria pose ? Where are the examples of any such UK fighters in Syria who have returned to the UK ? How many are there ?

How many of them are totally disenchanted by the realities of civil war ideologies like e.g. George Orwell after fighting in the Spanish Civil War ?

What about UK fighters who have actually been trying to liberate the country from the evil Assad regime ? What if they have received direct or indirect support, money or training or weapons from UK or other allied agencies ?

What about non-combatants who "only" help with food or medical relief etc. for refugees ? A few of these may actually become radicalised towards violence after what they have witnessed in Syria, but most will not.

If there really is such a threat, why have there been no arrests or convictions of returning fighters from Syria (or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Somalia or Oman etc.) ?

The intelligence agencies have access to credit card, bank account, passport, visa and travel booking data systems, none of which has anything to do with Google etc. Why does this does not reveal any travel plans of jihadists going to, or returning from Syria ?

Any wannabe terrorists stupid enough to put their travel plans on Facebook, should be trivial to track down.

How exactly are such "returning fighters" going to magically smuggle in the AK-47s and RPGs that they have been using in Syria, back into the UK ?

A security source told The Mail on Sunday: 'One of the impacts of the Snowden disclosures is that internet companies have withdrawn their willing co-operation and that has affected some operations.'

Why can't these "security source" briefings be from named, official spokesmen, on the record ? This might add some credibility and public trust in the Government's message, which is totally lacking in these sneaky "anonymous" briefings.

The fact that NSA and GCHQ were / still are, snooping on vast amounts of innocent customers data flowing between the datacentre communications links of companies like Google and Yahoo, regardless of how well they were cooperating with informal requests and formal legal demands for data, is hugely significant.

This counterproductive and easily avoidable betrayal of the companies' trust in the authorities is entirely the fault of the US and UK securocrats and politicians..

The source added that a key bone of contention was the internet service providers' unwillingness to hand over encryption keys that unlock data being sought by law enforcement agencies.

Why are law enforcement agencies seeking encryption keys from Google, Facebook, Yahoo or from "internet service providers" ?

Which "encryption keys" is this anonymous "security source" moaning about ?

Are Whitehall securocrats seriously expecting Google to hand over the private de-cryption keys of their search engine or web mail etc. web servers ?

Given the millions of innocent people who use these web servers every day, it would be completely disproportionate, even to try to decipher tens of thousands of terrorist suspects TLS encrypted web sessions and even if they could legally serve a US based company with a RIPA Part III section 49 notice.

Have any such encryption keys ever been handed over to UK law enforcement agencies in the past (no RIPA section 49 notices have been reported as such in the handful of individual cases referenced by the various RIPA Commissioners' Annual reports)

Such section 49 notices are supposed to be narrowly targeted and have the provision to demand de-ciphered plaintext, where this is available, without putting millions of other customers and users data at risk.

It would be a horrible legal precedent if Google or Facebook or Yahoo ever handed over their web servers' private keys to anyone, especially a foreign Law Enforcement Organisation like the UK police..

What then would stop repressive regimes like Iran or China or governments which are nominally democratic, but which are sliding towards authoritarianism like Turkey or Venezuela from legally demanding the same, in order to repress their political dissidents ?

Note also the careful avoidance of any mention of intelligence agencies by the anonymous Whitehall briefer - the Snowden revelations show that GCHQ and NSA have been attacking internet encryption systems, regardless of the damage to internet e-commerce etc. i.e. working against National Security (one definition of which is "the economic well being of the United Kingdom)

N.B. encrypted web or email traffic protocols currently do not hide the Communications Data / metadata of a web or email session, which gives law Enforcement a lot of intelligence to work with, even without being able to read the contents of a web session or an email in transit.

None of this helps if the suspects or political activists use an extra layer of end to end encryption e.g. by GPG encrypting the contents of their Google gmail message.

The source added: 'It is not simply about terrorism; it's about serious crime, including paedophiles and gangland crime bosses.'

Intelligence agencies are interested in paedophiles only for blackmail, not chiid protection

This same anonymous Whitehall "security source" seems to be trying to drag GCHQ & MI5 into the specialised world of online paedophile investigations (is it Charles Farr or someone else at the Home Office's Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism ?)

This is something which is not in their intelligence remit. Intelligence agencies are peripherally interested in paedophiles, but only so as to blackmail and recruit them if they are of intelligence value. According to the Snowden documents there have also been controversial amateurish attempts to "disrupt" through smearing via social media, some non-terrorist political or religious alleged supporters of terrorists' causes, against whom they have no actual evidence. None of this is for actually for child protection, unlike Police investigations..

Intelligence agency staff conducting non-criminal i.e. intelligence investigations, do not have any legal immunity from the draconian UK child porn laws which criminalise possession or copying of child porn images, They have no powers of arrest, so they might as well leave such investigations to the Police, anyway. There is a limited immunity from the Child Porn laws for Police officers who are investigating actual crimes.

if the specialised Child Porn Police units cannot cope with the cumulative psychological damage of having to view lots of such evil material, or cannot establish working relationships with their foreign counterparts, then wasting intelligence services resources in trying to duplicate this will not help

Now Mr Cameron has been briefed by Sir Iain Lobban, head of the Government's intelligence gathering operation GCHQ, and Andrew Parker, director general of MI5.

According to a report, more than 500,000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) requests for data were made to communication service companies last year.

c.f. 2013 Annual Report of the Interception of Communications
(.pdf) by Rt. Hon. Sir Anthony May

Facebook rejects a third of requests made by UK law enforcement authorities and other agencies, while Yahoo turns down a quarter.

No ! These figures are not for UK Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 interception warrants or Communications Data "requests" as outlined in deliberately obscured statistics in the report above. They are from their own, USA based voluntary Mutual Legal Aid Treaty transparency statistics.

Neither Facebook nor Yahoo are UK based major telecommunications, Internet Service or Postal companies i.e. they are not Communications Service Providers, which fall under RIPA.

That is what the controversial Draft Communications Data Bill / "Snoopers Charter" was trying to wangle, before it was shelved for now.

And despite pressure from Home Secretary Theresa May, Yahoo is moving its entire operation to Dublin, beyond the scrutiny of British surveillance laws. If others follow, it is feared the country will be left even more dangerously exposed.

Most of Yahoo'e infrastructure is in the USA. The move to Dublin of their European subsidiary is as much to do with corporation tax as with the UK surveillance laws.

The fact that millions of innocent Yahoo customers had their private webcam video chats snooped on in bulk by GCHQ is also significant and should have been avoided.

Ministers have already been told that the thousands of top-secret files stolen by Snowden and published in the Guardian, have caused massive damage to Britain's intelligence capability.

Note the weasel words ! The Guardian have not published "thousands of top-secret files", they have only published a handful of pages from a few files, all (with one minor exception) having first been vetted by the UK government.

There is no evidence of "massive damage" - top terrorists and criminals and spies were already avoiding email and mobile phones etc. The US Government did more damage by publicising the names of participants in an intercepted supposed Al Quaeda online chat conference than any of the published Snowden documents have done. Remember that Osama bin Laden did not use either mobile phones or the internet and evaded the hunt for him for years.

The source said that it is vital that internet companies help police and security services to stay one step ahead of their targets in a rapidly changing digital world.

Under existing arrangements, police and intelligence agencies use RIPA to request crucial data and wiretaps.

But requests are being rejected or sent back for further consideration, even in the case of Home Secretary-approved warrants.

So why was there no mention of these rejected "Home Secretary-approved warrants" in Rt.Hon. Sir Anthony May's report, published just before Easter this year, which specifically discusses the Snowden revelations ?

Access to data has proved essential in thwarting terrorist atrocities and organised crime.

In 2007 police and MI5 foiled an Al Qaeda plot to kidnap, torture and behead a British Muslim soldier. Telephone taps and internet surveillance played a crucial role in jailing five men.

UK telephone taps (or Communications Data / Traffic Analysis / Metadata) are important, but they have got nothing to do with Google, Facebook or Yahoo.

Even the Daily Mail reports at the time contradict that requests / demands to the "internet giants" were crucial to this case:

Al Qaeda was behind 'plot' to behead soldier

It is understood that a tip-off from a trusted informant last summer sparked the dramatic events in Birmingham when nine men suspected of being members of the terror cell were arrested in a series of raids across the city.

During a six-month, £10million surveillance operation involving 250 police officers and MI5, cameras, telephone taps and surveillance teams had been used to monitor the group's movements.

And in 2012 paedophile John Maber, 47, who shared online footage of his rape of a child, was jailed after police intercepted an internet offer he made to abuse a child over a webcam.

The article is dominated by the large image of this convicted child rapist.

Why does the Mail on Sunday deliberately choose not to mention that:

John Maber: Paedophile prison officer jailed for life

Maber, a senior prison officer,


Maber, who worked at London's Pentonville Jail, was caught after police in New Zealand intercepted an offer from him to abuse a child online.

Why couldn't the Whitehall briefers or the Mail on Sunday find a more relevant example of an online child rapist caught through voluntary or legally enforced cooperation by Google, Facebook or Yahoo ?

MP Rob Wilson said: 'It's right that internet companies take great care in how they handle their users' personal information and who has access to it

But people will clearly expect them to co-operate with the police and others when it comes to tackling matters like serious crime or the dreadful scourge of online paedophilia.

'And they will be rightly concerned if the police and intelligence agencies are facing unnecessary difficulties and delays.'

In its most recent government requests report Facebook stated: 'We respond to valid requests relating to criminal cases. Each and every request we receive is checked for legal sufficiency and we reject or require greater specificity on requests that are overly broad or vague.'

Yahoo said: 'We carefully review Government Data Requests for legal sufficiency and interpret them narrowly in an effort to produce the least amount of data necessary to comply with the request.'

Google declined to comment directly on the claims but it is understood to follow a policy of fully scrutinising every incoming request.

Rejecting overly broad or vague or illegal requests from foreign i.e. UK police agencies
is not "shielding terrorists and paedophiles"

The Internet Service Providers Association said its members were 'understandably cautious' about handing over data but that none of the companies wanted to break the law.

Google, Facebook and Yahoo also have to comply with privacy and data protection laws, at both US Federal and State level, not just with UK laws which have triggered a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty request.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'The Government is committed to ensuring that law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to investigate crime, protect the public and safeguard national security.'

That is not sufficient. One of the deliberately vague definitions of National Security is "the economic well being of the United Kingdom".

The Home Office pretends to be ignorant of the UK internet economy, but they really must not be allowed to continue to put it at risk, i.e. to put "the economic well being of the United Kingdom" at risk through their existing overbroad, disproportionate, weakly regulated, non-transparent snooping powers and definitely not by simply calling for even more mass snooping and politically expedient but impossible to enforce restrictions.

The whole complicated bureaucratic mess of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the interplay with the Intelligence Services Act needs urgent reform to make it fit for the the modern internet age.

Mata Hari and WW1 era invisible ink


Not all methods of communication used by spies and (increasingly in these times of mass surveillance by powerful Government agencies or corporations) political activists, investigative journalists or whistleblowers, involve electronic communication and / or encryption.

On their own, these methods have never been sufficient to ensure the anonymity of secret contacts or sources or the confidentiality of the contents of communications

Follow @thegrugq on Twitter for hints about OPSEC - "operational security"

One of the other ancient methods of secret communications is the use of Secret Writing, sometimes involving Invisible Ink

The best public references for the use of ancient and modern Invisble Ink are by @KristieMacrakis

Prisoners, Lovers, and Spies: The Story of Invisible Ink from Herodotus to al-Qaeda
by Kristie Macrakis

Hardcover: 392 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press (March 3, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0300179251
ISBN-13: 978-0300179255

N.B. this book is not available in UK via Amazon.co.uk until end of May 2014, but is currently available via Amazon.com

also her earlier book on East German Stasi espionage technology and techniques

Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy-Tech World
by Kristie Macrakis

Hardcover: 392 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (March 21, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 052188747X
ISBN-13: 978-0521887472

The National Archives have, at last, recently released some de-classified documents relating to some First World War era spy cases, including some details about the most (in)famous female spy, Mata Hari.

"Mata Hari" alias MCLEOD Margaretha Geertruida (Marguerite Gertrude): executed by the French in 1917 for accusations of spying for Germany. Includes newspaper cuttings dated 1918-1952 - free digital download, (36MB .zip .pdf)


There is a clue about the Invisible Ink supplied to Mata Hari by her Imperial German spymasters:


22 May 1917,

To: Colonel GOUBET


She was given 3 phials containing

1st & 3rd phials - a white liquid

2nd phial - absinthe coloured liquid

The first was for moistening paper

The second " " writing on

The third " " obliterating all signs of

On this paper she was then to write in ordinary
ink the innocent letter.

Unlike other WW1 and WW2 German spies, the Counter Intelligence investigators do not seem to have detected Mata Hari's Secret Writing communications. It appears from this document that they knew nothing about it until after she was arrested and confessed everything.

Perhaps Professor Macrakis or other historians will discover more about this Invisible Ink formula (and the developer) from the as yet still secret French archives.

Another Parliamentary Question for the Spy Blog Wilson Doctrine category archive:

Topical Questions
Oral Answers to Questions -- Cabinet Office
11:30 am 12th March 2014

HC Deb, 12 March 2014, c306

David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden, Conservative)

The Wilson doctrine is a convention whereby Government agencies do not intercept communications with Members of Parliament without explicit approval from the Prime Minister. In a letter to my hon. Friend Nick de Bois in 2012, the Minister told him that the Wilson doctrine did not apply to metadata, thereby exposing whistleblowers to risks from which parliamentary privilege should protect them. Will he review this policy, discuss it with the Prime Minister and report back to the House?

Francis Maude (The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General; Horsham, Conservative)

I absolutely understand the point that my right hon. Friend makes and I will undertake to look at this with my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister.

We will be watching for any (lack) of progress on this important issue.

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