July 2014 Archives

Back in February 2014 the Home Office issued a public consultation on two Codes of Practice :on undercover agents / informers and on planting bugging devices etc. (usually through legalised burglary)

Here is what Spy Blog contributed

Here are some points which need to be considered in the new Covert
Human Intelligence Source Code of Practice:


This is 2014 and somehow, yet again, there is no specific mention
of *online* CHIS activities in the Code of Practice - this is

Online "Legend" building and maintenance

It may be necessary and proportionate for a CHIS or a Relevant
Source to create fake online internet service accounts e.g. Google
Gmail, Microsoft Live ID, Twitter, Facebook, blog registrations,
online discussion forum registrations etc.

These may be used to help establish a "Legend" (does nobody else
find the use of this Soviet era KGB espionage slang by the Home
Office questionable ?)

N.B. by doing so, the CHIS or Relevant Source will almost certainly
be breaking the legal Terms and Conditions of the online service.

Since newly created social media accounts which participate in
discussions or which try to "follow" or "friend" other users, are
less trustworthy and more suspicious, a convincing online persona
requires a searchable history of online activity for it to be

Therefore any such "Legend" building (which may not yet have been
allocated to a particular Relevant Source or investigation or
operation) could take years and must also be reviewed by a senior
responsible officer and the Surveillance Commissioners, with the
same audit trails and regularity as other Relevant Sources i.e.
regular review at least annually.

Automated social media software

There are plenty of companies willing to sell or create social
media software tools and services for "marketing" or for "social
media intelligence", the use of which can help in the creation of
believable online "Legends", or allow the gathering of online
social media details about an individual or group.

Any use of such tools or services must also be clearly authorised
and audited as per Relevant Sources.

online CHIS risk of Disruption , Agents Provocateurs & Entrapment

One particular danger is the temptation for a CHIS or Relevant
Source to use automated scripts or software to easily create and
try to maintain multiple fake online personalities, often with
limited artificial intelligence to send and reply to messages, so
as to to create "buzz" or "chatter" online about a particular topic
or issue.

They are also used to try to to manipulate (up or down) the ranking
of certain keywords in web search engine queries.

These are abused by unethical businesses and by criminals to, for
example, manipulate the price (up or down) of stocks and shares
("pump and dump" or "boilerhouse" operators) or to try to hide
unfavourable or embarrassing press articles or social media
commentary (no matter how truthful) from most naive web search
engine users, who rarely progress beyond the first page or two of

Such software can also be used to "swarm" or "spam" political
discussion forums, pushing a particular viewpoint and stifling free
debate through "trolling" and "sock puppetry".

Therefore any use of such software must also be carefully
authorised like a Relevant Source and audited by the Surveillance
Commissioners. There also needs to be a clear Financial audit
trail, as there is could be a substantial cost to the public purse.

Any use of such software for the dubious purpose of "disruption" of
criminal or terrorist enterprises is also fraught with danger that
it will be used to disrupt and cause collateral damage to innocent
people e.g. those involved in political or social campaigns,
peaceful demonstrations etc.

Although popular in the USA and with repressive dictatorships, such
techniques risk creating online Agent Provocateurs and Entrapment,
which should be a legal anathema in the UK.

N.B. even a "justifiable" use of such software or techniques will
inevitably cause reputational damage to the trustworthiness of the
law enforcement agency which uses them,
when, not if, this becomes public.

This new CHIS Code of Practice must clearly forbid any use of
Agents Provocateurs or Entrapment, whether online or in person.

Typically, the Home Office has not yet published the Response to the Consultation, but they have laid Draft Statutory Instruments before Parliament and have published

The July Codes of Practice now both include an almost identical paragraph on Covert Online Activity - was this prompted just by the Spy Blog submission, or did other people also point out the glaring omission in the February versions ?

Covert Human Intelligence Source CoP;


The use of the internet may be required to gather information prior to and/ or during a CHIS operation, which may amount to directed surveillance. Alternatively the CHIS may need to communicate online, for example this may involve contacting individuals using social media websites. Whenever a public authority intends to use the internet as part of an investigation, they must first consider whether the proposed activity is likely to interfere with a person's Article 8 rights, including the effect of any collateral intrusion. Any activity likely to interfere with an individual's Article 8 rights should only be used when necessary and proportionate to meet the objectives of a specific case.Where it is considered that private information is likely to be obtained, an authorisation (combined or separate) must be sought as set out elsewhere in this Code.

Covert Surveillance and Property Interference CoP:

Online covert activity


The use of the internet may be required to gather information prior to and/or during an operation, which may amount to directed surveillance. Whenever a public authority intends to use the internet as part of an investigation they must first consider whether the proposed activity is likely to interfere with a person's Article 8 rights, including the effect of any collateral intrusion. Any activity likely to interfere with an individual's Article 8 rights should only be used when necessary and proportionate to meet the objectives of a specific case.Where it is considered that private information is likely to be obtained, an authorisation (combined or separate) must be sought as set out elsewhere in this Code. Where an investigator may need to communicate covertly online, for example contacting individuals using social media websites, a CHIS authorisation should be considered.

Spy Blog's points about the need for Authorisation and Review of the so called "legend building" process, seem to have been ignored, as was the point about Agent provocateurs.

Nevertheless, these new RIPA Codes of Practice sections on Online Covert Activity should be cited by journalists , campaigners and politicians who are inquiring into the activities of say Undercover Police infiltration of political or justice campaigns or the shady script kiddies of GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group

Why can't Home Office cite any cases which support 12 months of Data Retention ?

It was noticeable in the media spin and during the perfunctory debate in Parliament, that the DRIP proponents deliberately mixed up and confused the utility of targeted Communications Data of criminal suspects and, inevitably, a limited number of their innocent contacts,which nobody objects to, with that of blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of the entire population of the United Kingdom, for which there is no evidence that this is necessary or proportionate.

The Data retention legislation: impact assessment (.pdf)

It has also played a significant role in the investigation of a very large number of serious and widely reported crimes, including the Oxford and Rochdale child grooming cases, murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the 2007 Glasgow Airport terror attack and the murder of Rhys Jones.

The Home Office's Communications Data propaganda sheet (.pdf)

It has also played a significant role in the investigation of a very large number of serious and widely reported crimes, including the Oxford and Rochdale child grooming cases, murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, and 2007 Glasgow Airport terror attack.

N.B. for some reason this omits mention of the Rhys Jones case.

The Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner lists about 250,000 Communications Data demands a year. The number of actual investigations or successful prosecutions which this involves is, scandalously, kept secret, but it must be thousands.

Are these 5 cases really the best and only examples that the Home Office can come up with, out of the millions of Communications Data demands which have there have been since 2000 ?

2002 murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley

Spy Blog commented on the strengths and weaknesses of Communications Data in this case back in 2003:

Soham Murders, Mobile Phones and Data Protection

Soham trial timeline

4 August, 2002
Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman go missing.

8 August, 2002
The police release CCTV pictures of the two girls.

16 August, 2002
The girls parents hold a news conference aimed at helping to find their children.

17 August, 2002
The bodies of the girls are found in a ditch at Lakenheath Suffolk. Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr are arrested.


17 December, 2003
Huntley guilty of Holly and Jessica murders. Carr cleared of assisting an offender but guilty of conspiracy.

Less than 2 weeks before the murderer was arrested. Communications Data but more crucially local Cell Site signal mapping analysis did indirectly provide a tip off to detectives pointing to the murderer Huntley.

This is case is not a justification for blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of millions of innocent people's data.

2007 Rhys Jones murder by gangster Sean Mercer

Timeline: Rhys Jones investigation

22 August 2007: 1840 BST - Sean Mercer is at the home of Dean Kelly in Sword Walk, Croxteth, when he receives a telephone call from Melvin Coy.

1908 BST - A second call is made to Mercer by Gary Kays. Both calls are to tell him that rival Wayne Brady is outside the Fir Tree pub.

Mercer and Kelly leave Sword Walk, and Mercer goes to get a gun from James Yates, before riding to the Fir Tree pub on his bike, intending to shoot at Wayne Brady or his friends.

Mercer rides out from behind the pub, fires three shots, and rides off.
1928 BST - Rhys, who is crossing the pub's car park, hears the sound of the first bullet, turns, and is struck by the second.

After only 2 days of investigation, the Police already had very strong suspicions of who the murder gang were, sufficient to authorise Intrusive Surveillance:

24 August 2007: Bugging devices are placed inside the homes of suspects James Yates and boy M.

25 August 2007: Police make several arrests in connection with the inquiry. One of those is Sean Mercer, who is released pending further inquiries.


6 November: Merseyside Chief constable Bernard Hogan-Howe says he is confident his officers know the identity of the killer.

29 January 2008: Mercer is arrested on separate firearms charges and bailed 48 hours later.

16 April 2008: Six others are arrested by murder detectives.
Sean Mercer, then 17, is charged with murdering Rhys."


15 December 2008: Mercer found guilty of murder at Liverpool Crown Court.

Whilst targeted Communications Data of known criminals on the day of the murder was used, along with CCTV and public appeals and other normal investigative techniques, this case should notbe used to justify blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of millions of innocent people's data.

2007 Glasgow Airport failed terrorist attack

The failed terrorist attack on Glagow Airport

2007 Glasgow International Airport attack

was preceded by the failed car bombs in Haymarket, London

2007 London Car Bombs

Why did the Home Ofice choose a case which caused a huge political row in Australia, when the innocent cousin of one of the failed terrorists was arrested and held without trial, because of erroneous mobile phone SIM Card "evidence" ?

It does seem that Communications Data of emails and mobile phone calls may have been used to show that two of the criminals first contacted each other in February 2007 i.e. 5 months before the attacks,

However it is just as likely that this link was directly established from seized phone handsets and computers after they were arrested. Given the mass of other eye witness, CCTV, ANPR and other forensic evidence, this use of Communications Data was not vital to either the investigation or the prosecution.

This case should notbe used to justify blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of millions of innocent people's data.

Rochdale and Oxford sex gangs

It is hard to see why the Police did not conduct targeted surveillance of the criminal gangs who raped and abused children, even after some of the victims had come forward and complained to them about named or easily identifiable abusers.

The Rochdale case involved abuse in 2008 and 2009, but was not prosecuted until 2012 (i.e. more than 12 months) . Any Communications Data used must have been already in the possession of the Police as a result of their previous ongoing inquiries i.e. it was not 12 month Retained Communications Data as per the EU Directive or the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act.

The fact that the abuse in Oxford was allowed to continue from 2004 to 2012 is a scandalous indictment of the local authorities, police and the local community, not a justification for blanket Retention of Communications Data belonging to the rest of the country.

Neither case should be used be used to justify blanket Communications Data Retention for 12 months of millions of innocent people's data.

Are there "freedom moles" in the Home Office, who are being ignored by Parliament ?

Is it possible that there are allies of freedom and privacy working within the Home Office, deliberately choosing examples of cases with weak or non-existent justification for blanket, catch all, 12 month Communications Data Retention, but that this has gone unnoticed by the Parliamentarians who are supposed to be scrutinising the detail of DRIP and RIPA legislation ?

If this hypothesis is true, then we welcome attempts by honourable civil servants to weaken the Government's attempts to introduce more repressive "Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something" laws and regulations, it is a pity that Members of Parliament and Peers are missing the signals.

The alternative hypothesis is that there is no actual proportionate business case for 12 months blanket Data Retention but the Home Office legislation team latched on to some high profile cases (mostly involving children) to produce a "tabloid newspaper" propaganda justification, something which is a breach of the Civil Service Code.

Is there a flaw in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act Regulations, which have been rushed through without any public consultation ?

The The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 are potentially very wide ranging in the type of Communications Data which Telecommunications companies and Internet Service Providers and Postal Service Providers (all lumped under the term "Communications Service Providers") who have been served with a Data Retention Notice have to comply with.

N.B. the list of Communications Service Providers who have been served with such a Data Retention Notice should not be a secret, but the Home Office refuses to provide a list of them under Freedom Of Information Act requests, , in the stupid belief that somehow "bad people" can afford to manage to avoid the big Telcos , Mobile Phone Networks and ISPs and magically find a smaller, more privacy friendly provider, whose upstream traffic, purchased from from the Big Providers who are already on the list, is not already snooped on.

Since the Home Office wastes public money on compensating the CSPs affected, this is actually an illegal Government Financial Subsidy to the big incumbents in the Telco / ISP market, thereby distorting the market and stifling competition to any new potential entrants into those markets, against UK and European Union competition laws.

The new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 Act introduces the concept of "relevant communications" based on the 2009 Regulations. which are limited
to landline telephony, mobile phone telephony, internet email and internet service logon / logoff (of of limited relevance when dial up Internet access was common, but irrelevant for "always on" broadband ADSL access)meaningless

Stupidly, perhaps, the Provisional draft of the Data Retention Regulations 2014 includes a Schedule of the "relevant communications" types.

We would argue strongly that if this wording is passed (bearing in mind that with Secondary Legislation, there is no opportunity for Amendments, the small rubber stamp committee of the Commons and the one in the Lords can only Accept or Reject the text of a Statutory Instrument) there seems to be a big loophole, which would have been pointed out to the Government if they had bothered with a Public Consultation.



10. Data necessary to identify the location of mobile communication equipment

(1) The cell ID at the start of the communication.
(2) Data identifying the geographic location of cells by reference to their cell ID.

Either this is a draughting error, or the Home Office really are technologically incompetent.

Mobile Phone Call Detail Records / Charging Detail Records both the Cell ID at the Start of a communication and the Cell ID at the End of the mobile phone communication.

Some systems actually record the Start and End Cell IDs of both the Recipient of a voice call or SMS text message and that of the Sender if they are also using a mobile phone.

We think therefore, that these new Regulations make it illegal for Mobile Phone Network Operators to hand over the "Cell ID at the End of a communication", or any of the potentially dozens of Intermediate Cell ID locations which a mobile phone on the move is likely to generate between the Start and the End of the communication.

If Spy Blog worked for the Police or the Intelligence Agencies, we would be furious with the Home Office for such legislative bungling, which actually reduces the useful Communications Location data from Mobile Phones, which they have access to at present.

It is also unclear if this error applies to not only 12 month old Retained Communications Data (which the Home Office have never been able to cite a single criminal case where this led to the investigative breakthrough in identifying the criminals c.f. the previous Spy Blog article) but to any demand for Communications Location Data. even narrowly targeted, very recent or real time Location Data demands.

Perhaps the Home Office sophists will try to claim that this is all still somehow covered by the broader 2009 Regulations definitions, but these are repealed by the 2014 Regulations and the new more restricted Schedule in the Provisional Regulations (if passed) must be what "Parliament intended".

The Commons have now passed these The Data Retention Regulations statutory instrument, today, Tuesday 22nd July 2014.

The Lords have not yet announced when they will do so but they will be rubber stamping exactly the same Motion to Accept the Statutory Instrument making the DRIP Regulations as the Commons, without amendment on Tuesday 29th July 2014

N.B. currently there does not seem to be anything in the Lords' business calendar before their Recess at the end of July, so this controversial "emergency" legislation may not actually come into force until at least mid October when the Lords return.

Spy Blog is concerned with effective measures to protect our security and personal freedom, without using techniques indistinguishable from those of our enemies e.g. corrupt repressive foreign dictatorships or terrorist fanatics.

The anti-democratic "emergency" rush through of the Data Retention and Investigative Powers Act 2014, is scary, repressive, damaging to our economy and to the personal freedoms of millions of innocent people.

The DRIP Act was passed on Friday 18th July 2014 after only being announced on Thursday 10th July 2014. Even the Intelligence and Security Committee was not briefed until Tuesday 8th by the Home Office until just before the announcement.

There has been no public consultation whatsoever.

As there is no actual "emergency" which justifies this legislation, the public reputation of the Coalition Government and the Opposition with whom they stitched up a secret, backroom political deal, is further damaged - it is almost as if the hated NuLabour regime of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were still in power.

In the usual Home Office / Whitehall securocrat way, this new legislation is both subtly evil and technologically incompetent - it may have unintended collateral damage "knock on effects" and it may also not actually legally achieve all that it is claimed to do.

DRIP does not address European Court of Justice judgement, so will also be struck down again

Plenty of legal experts state the obious that the DRIP Act does not actually address the concerns of the European Court of Justice judgment which makes blanket rather than narrowly targeted Communications data Retention illegal:

There is no reason to suppose that DRIP will not also fail a legal challenge at the European Court of Justice or the different European Court of Human Rights on the same grounds of lack of proportionality.

Stupid lack of public consultation means flawed Regulations

Embargoed until after the stupid Regulations get rubber stamped by both Houses of Parliament - don't want to tip off the lazy and incompetent bureaucrats and politicians until they are "hoist by their own petard".

After years of inertia the topic of Child Abuse by those in positions of power and subsequent alleged cover ups, has provoked a hurried, face saving, "Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something" reaction from Downing Street and Whitehall.

Home Secretary Theresa May's oral statement on
Child Abuse 7 July 2014 : Column 23

"that in the 1980s the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse; and, secondly, that public bodies and other important institutions have failed to take seriously their duty of care towards children"

The short 10 week "review" of how or where the Home Office seems to have "lost" the child sex abuse allegation dossier and related documents handed in to the then Conservative government Home Secretary Leon Brittan by the late Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens , way back in the 1980's, which was announced on Monday. This is to be headed by the former Whitehall mandarin and head of the NSPCC child welfare charity Peter Wanless CB, with legal advice from the security cleared Treasury Solicitor Richard Whittam QC

Today, Tuesday, the wider ranging "public panel" Inquiry head was announced as the now 80 year old Lady Butler-Sloss, who as a Judge was in charge of the Family Court and who acted as Coroner in the Princess Diana inquest.

This Inquiry is still not yet a full Public Inquiry, although it might be converted into one under the controversial Inquiries Act 2005, which would allow it the power to summon witnesses against their will, but which would also allow the Government to censor anything too embarrassing, especially if it involves the intelligence agencies or the Police.

Unsurprisingly, it is not expected that this Inquiry will actually report before the next General Election in May next year, but their might be an interim statement.

No Stone Unturned

Prime Minister David Cameron seems to have used the phrase "no stone unturned" regarding the scope of this Inquiry and its potential access to secret documents and witnesses.

David Cameron: Abuse inquiry will leave 'no stone unturned'

In this regard, Spy Blog is reminded of almost exactly 4 years ago, when Prime Minister David Cameron announced the equally high profile Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson.

That Inquiry was announced on 6th July 2010 dithered for over a year on agreeing its Terms Of reference and only did six months work, examining documents, without taking testimony from a single witness. It cost getting on for £2 million and the unfinshed, partial, (censored) Detainee Inquiry Interim report (.pdf) was suppressed from publication until 19th December 2013.

Whistleblower and Witness protection

Given how toxic to any bureaucrat, securocrat or politician's career, any allegations of involvement with paedophilia or the cover up of paedophilia by those in power could and should be, the Butler-Sloss and even the Wanless-Whittam inquiries need to be seen to be able to have access to secret intelligence material (which they will no doubt censor before publication) and to current, or more likely, former Police and Intelligence Service and Civil Service etc. insider witnesses.

If all they do is talk to the "fully cooperative" current managers of such public agencies and departments, who then merely order trawls of their current filing systems, they are unlikely to find any evidence of, or be able to reasonably disprove the existence of any past cover ups. For that they need to be able to attract and retain the confidence and anonymity of whistleblowers and other Confidential Human Intelligence Sources, past or present.

There will be a big temptation for securocrats within the UK intelligence agencies and the police services and for civil servants and party politicians to try to get advance warning of who these Inquiries may be trying to talk to as whistleblowers.

This is also of interest to Foreign intelligence Agencies, both "allied" and hostile.

Therefore all the members of the Butler-Sloss "panel" and of the Wanless-Whittam review including all their clerical staff need to take "Top Secret" level document, computer and communications precautions.

They also need to get immunity from prosecution or withdrawal of security clearance etc. for any witnesses.

ideally they should set up secure, anonymous communications methods for insider whistleblowers to contact them , without tipping off UK or Foreign intelligence agencies or the tabloid press. e.g. SecureDrop or GlobaLeaks or even publish an email address with a PGP/GPG Public Key.

The Inquiry staff need to take at least the same precautions as The Guardian , Washington Post, New York Times and The Intercept journalists who are handling Edward Snowden NSA and GCHQ leak stories e.g. use TAILS c.f. 'Information Security for Journalists' http://www.tcij.org/resources/handbooks/infosec

Witness Immunity etc. as per Gibson Inquiry

As a bare minimum, the Butler-Sloss and Wanless-Whittam inquiries need to be able to protect insider whistleblowers to at least the same extent as the Gibson Inquiry:

  • Ideally this protection should also include protection of Security Clearances and immunity from Prosecution for coverups or negligence, for anyone who even contacts the Inquiries, not just when their evidence has been accepted by the panel.

  • Obviously this would not apply to anyone actually directly involved in paedophile crimes, who would have to sort out a Queen's Evidence deal once they have been arrested.

  • The UK intelligence agencies and the police should also be forbidden from trying to use their secret surveillance powers, especially regarding Communications Data and the use of Informants and Undercover agents to try to identify any potential or actual witnesses who try to contact the Inquiries in confidence.

  • They also need to aggressively protect the Inquiries from similar activity by any Foreign Intelligence Agencies.

There is no excuse for not taking the Gibson Inquiry "undertakings" as to immunity from prosecution or departmental discipline, as the foundation for these child abuse inquiries, as they have been released via a Spy Blog Freedom of Information Act request in 2011:

Detainee Inquiry "undertakings" by the Attorney General and the Cabinet Secretary

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 wiil use this verifiable public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels, as appropriate.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x4C7F2E878638F21F which will expire on 29th August 2019.

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