Recently in Encryption Category

Unsurprisingly for the self confesses "I am not technical" former Home Secretary, Theresa May has used her Statement following the London Bridge
and Borough Market attacks, to renew her nonsense about alleged "Safe Spaces" for islamist extremism
on the Internet and at Home.

8 minutes video clip of Theresam May's statement:

PM statement following London terror attack: 4 June 2017

Last night, our country fell victim to a brutal terrorist attack once again. As a result I have just chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee and I want to update you with the latest information about the attack.

Shortly before 10:10 yesterday evening, the Metropolitan Police received reports that a white van had struck pedestrians on London Bridge. It continued to drive from London Bridge to Borough Market, where 3 terrorists left the van and attacked innocent and unarmed civilians with blades and knives.

All 3 were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests, but the police have established that this clothing was fake and worn only to spread panic and fear.

As so often in such serious situations, the police responded with great courage and great speed. Armed officers from the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police arrived at Borough Market within moments, and shot and killed the 3 suspects. The terrorists were confronted and shot by armed officers within 8 minutes of the police receiving the first emergency call.

8 minutes is the length of Theresa May's statement. Ignore all the gun nuts who pretend that arming individual policemen would have killed the attackers any quicker.

Seven people have died as a result of the attack, in addition to the 3 suspects shot dead by the police. Forty-eight people are being treated in several hospitals across London. Many have life-threatening conditions.

On behalf of the people of London, and on behalf of the whole country, I want to thank and pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the police and the emergency services - and the courage of members of the public who defended themselves and others from the attackers. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their friends, families and loved ones.

This is, as we all know, the third terrorist attack Britain has experienced in the last 3 months. In March, a similar attack took place, just around the corner on Westminster Bridge. Two weeks ago, the Manchester Arena was attacked by a suicide bomber. And now London has been struck once more.

And at the same time, the security and intelligence agencies and police have disrupted 5 credible plots since the Westminster attack in March.

In terms of their planning and execution, the recent attacks are not connected. But we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face, as terrorism breeds terrorism, and perpetrators are inspired to attack not only on the basis of carefully-constructed plots after years of planning and training - and not even as lone attackers radicalised online - but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack.

That must mean that the terrorist suspects have been identified between Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis Cressida Dick's statement earlier today that she
and Theresa May's statement, or is this just political licence with the facts ?

We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change, and they need to change in 4 important ways.

First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism. It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.

Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skilful its leaders and practitioners. It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence - and make them understand that our values - pluralistic, British values - are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.

All very true, exactly what previous Prime Ministers e.g. Tony Blair have said time and time again

Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet - and the big companies that provide internet-based services - provide. We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.

We need Safe Spaces for Internet Free Speech and to do Digital Commerce, free from snooping by evil governments, corporations, criminals and terrorists.

Trying to clamp down on foreign internet companies providing End To End Encrypted services wil not stop terrorist extremists from recruiting or planning. It will destroy Freedom of Speech and the UK Digital Economy, which needs all the help it can get to survive the #Brexit disaster.

Is the UK Government really willing to hand over intelligence watchlists of terrorist sympathiser unconvicted *suspects* to foreign internet companies like FaceBook or Twitter so that they can pro-actively censor their social media ?

That seems unlikely.

Third, while we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world. Yes, that means taking military action to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home. While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is - to be frank - far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.

So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out - across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism - and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities but as one truly United Kingdom.

Where exactly are these mythical "Safe Spaces" for islamist extremism in the Public Sector or in British Society ??

What precisely does she mean by "embarassing conversations", with whom ?

Fourth, we have a robust counter-terrorism strategy that has proved successful over many years. But as the nature of the threat we face becomes more complex, more fragmented, more hidden, especially online, the strategy needs to keep up. So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.

We already have the most intrusive anti-terrorism legal powers in the world, including all encompassing Thought Crime laws, what more can they actually enforce properly ?

And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do.

If there is little or no difference in the penalty for "serious" and "less serious" crimes, this will make it easier for terrorist recruiters to convert peripheral supporters into active terrorist atttackers - "in for a penny, in for a pound".

Again, this all sounds tediously familiar, just like previous Tory and labour governemts e.g. Tony Blair's ratcheting up of repressive terrorism laws.
Will the excerable Jeremy Corbyn and the current Labour control freaks also support this ?

Since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism, our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public. But it is time to say enough is enough. Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values. But when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change.

As a mark of respect the 2 political parties have suspended our national campaigns for today. But violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process. So those campaigns will resume in full tomorrow. And the general election will go ahead as planned on Thursday.

How is standing outside 10 Downing Street with maximum media coverage, announcing new policies, "suspending campaigning" ??

Few people will believe that this is a genuine mark of respect, it is more likely an excuse for the politicians (in all political parties)
to avoid embarassing questions about their failed / lack of coherent policies regarding terrorism.

Allowing the terrorists to disrupt the General Election in any way, is a victory for the the ideology that the Prime Minister so rightly condemned above.

As a country, our response must be as it has always been when we have been confronted by violence. We must come together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and defeat our enemies.

The legal challenge in the (mostly secret) Investigatory Powers Tribunal by several civil liberties groups against the mass surveillance schemes such as GCHQ's Tempora has led to a witness statement by Charles Farr at the Home office.

UK intelligence forced to reveal secret policy for mass surveillance of residents' Facebook and Google use

Unfortunately the copy of Charles Farr's witness statement, which needs to be analysed carefully, is only available as a non-accessible image scanned (.pdf) file.

Therefore, with the help of Optical Character Recognition, Spy Blog has produced a text / html version of this important historical document for the benefit of the public and search engines.

If we have time we will try to clear up the inevitable formatting errors and spelling mistakes, but you should get the gist and be able to search for key words:

Down load our text file

or read it here below:

Extraordinarily, there has not, so far as Spy Blog has noticed, until now been a conviction under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part III Investigation of electronic data protected by encryption which has invoked "national security".

The mere utterance of "national security" or "child indecency" raises the potential maximum prison sentence (N.B. a fine can also be levied in addition) from 2 years to 5 years, for failing to comply with a RIPA section 49 Notice, regardless of whether there is anything incriminating in the encrypted data or not.

The case of Syed Hussain, appears to Spy Blog, to be be the first such conviction involving "national security", in spite of the large numbers of USB memory devices and computers which have been seized as evidence in terrorism (or the handful of espionage) investigations over the years .

The Luton on Sunday / Luton & Dunstable Express @LutonOnSunday reports:

Terrorist who plotted attack on Luton Territorial Army centre faces an extra five years in jail for refusing to hand over computer password


Published: 14/01/2014 18:00 - Updated: 14/01/2014 17:27

A TERRORIST who plotted an attack on a Territorial Army centre is facing an extra five years in jail for refusing to hand over his computer password.

Syed Hussain, 22, was part of a Luton-based cell which discussed attacking MI5, the US Air Force, the English Defence League and their local shopping centre.

He was jailed for five years and three months at Woolwich Crown Court last April.

Hussain failed to meet a deadline to reveal the key to an encrypted USB stick found at his home during the police investigation.

He was today convicted by a jury of failing to comply with a disclosure order after a short trial at the Old Bailey.

The jury took just 19 minutes to reach its guilty verdict.

Prosecutor Alex Chalk said the files contain evidence that he carried out a possible fraud and that Hussain deliberately withheld the key for 20 months.

He said: 'This is a case about a USB stick that was seized by police as part of an investigation into terrorism.

'It is alleged that Mr Hussain failed to comply with a deadline to reveal the password to that device.

'He pleaded guilty to the terrorism which forms the context to this case and he has been sentenced for that.

'This is about his failure to reveal the password.

'We say that he always knew the password and only disclosed it, as he recently did in December a year or so after the notice, because he thought it would be in his interests to do so.'

Hussain will be sentenced tomorrow (weds) at 10am. The maximum penalty for the offence is five years imprisonment.

Last March he admitted conspiring to send a remote-controlled toy car carrying a home-made bomb under the gates of a Territorial Army centre in Luton.

N.B. there was no actual bomb ever constructed by the terrorist plotters, nor did they even have a remote controlled toy car.

They were convicted on the basis of a surveillance recording of one of them punting this idea to his co-conspirators.

Luton terror plot: four jailed over plan to bomb army centre

N.B. the reliance by the prosecution and the deluded plotters on the on the dubious, possible intelligence agency honeypot, Inspire magazine.

c.f. MI5 / MI6 / GCHQ / CTIRU should positively deny any involvement in "Operation Cupcake" alleged cyber attack on "Inspire" magazine

It is unlikely that a radio controlled toy car could carry a pipe bomb using matches or firework gunpowder (there are no kitchen recipes for high explosives in the Inspire magazine article) powerful enough to seriously damage a car or building. Seemingly these plotters were too cowardly contemplate simply throwing a pipe bomb (if they had one) over the (not very high) fence, something which used to be very common in Northern Ireland.

They seem to have had evil terrorist intent, but these plotters, without the money, access to explosives or weapons or the know how to cause mass casualties, cannot be claimed to have posed a real threat to national security. The "lone wolf" Ukranian murderer and bomber Pavlo Lapshyn posed more of a threat on his own, than this whole gang.

Police searched his home in March 2011 as part of an investigation into the terrorist offences.

Officers found a USB stick and external memory drive which were both encrypted with a password.

Which encryption software was used e.g. TrueCrypt ?

Hussain refused to hand over the passwords and claimed the hardware was not working. The devices were sent away to NTAC (National Technical Assistance Centre) and both passwords were revealed to be the same phrase from the Koran, the court heard.

'The police examined the contents of the items,' Mr Chalk said.

'On the external hard drive police discovered large volumes of material glorifying jihad and practical guidance on carrying out acts of terrorism.

In April 2012 officers searched Hussain's address and found another encrypted USB stick.
When questioned by police he said he could not remember the password because he was 'stressed'.

Not being able to remember a de-cryption pass phrase is a sort of defence under RIPA Part III. The evil "reverse burden of proof" is changed so that the prosecution now does have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant did actually remember / still have access to the encrypted data.

This is only a defence in Court i.e. only after you have been arrested, photographed , fingerprinted and DNA sampled and blacklisted on travel and financial databases as a terrorist suspect.

Hussain only revealed the password in December 2013 after officers informed him that they wanted to question him over the alleged fraud.

The password turned out to be the same phrase from the Koran that he had used before.

The USB was decrypted and police found material linking the defendant to an alleged fraud,' Mr Chalk said.

Why did the Police not try the same passphrase, especially from the Koran, which the National Technical Assistance Centre had already discovered (presumably through a dictionary attack) which unlocked the first two encrypted devices?

The suspicion must be that they did in fact do so and that they abused the RIPA section 49 Notice system simply, to add to Hussain's existing prison sentence.

If they did not do so, then the investigators need to be punished for negligence or incompetence.

'He was interviewed on suspicion of fraud and asked about the decrypted material.

'Those investigations remain live.

'The defendant maintained for 20 months he could not remember the password.
'Just months before this trial and when he was told he would be interviewed on suspicion of fraud he said he remembered.'

Hussain, of Cornel Close, Luton, admitted one count of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism between 1 January 2011 and 25 April 2012.

He denied failing to comply with a disclosure order. Hussain has not been charged with fraud.

Presumably there is little or no other evidence e,g, from credit card or bank records that ties Hussain into any such alleged fraud, apart from what is alluded to on this decrypted USB memory device.

Either Hussain is stupid or trying to martyr himself deliberately, or his defence lawyers are incompetent - "evidence of a possible fraud", for which he has not in fact been charged, implies that whatever incriminating evidence there may be would not have been likely to attract a prison sentence of 5 years, so

This summer, the Australian government passed the contoversial Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 into law. This introduces some modest (by UK standards) mandatory Data Retention powers.

If only we had something so restricted in the United Kingdom instead of the Orwellian policies championed by Charles Farr, the Labour appartachik at the Home Office who has somehow been allowed to continue to peddle his repressive policies to the Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government.

Nevertheless, some enlightened Australian activists piclked up on some tweets by @Asher_Wolf, in Melbourne and the #CryptoParty Twitter hashtag was born.

This now worldwide meme is essentially about provoking the technologically able minority to spread some of their knowledge and experience about basic Cryptographic and Anonymity enhancing tools such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP / GPG ) and TrueCrypt encryption software, Tor anonymity cloud proxies and the Off-the-Record (OTR) add ons to internet chat software, not just amongst their friends and peers, but to less experienced, less technical users, such as investigative journalists, whistleblowers and political activists, who may actually need to use them much more urgently, even in this supposed Western liberal democracy here in the United Kingdom

This has led to CryptoParty events springing up spontaneously in Australia, USA and mainland Europe and even in Cairo Egypt, with plans / interest in Asia etc.

Notable by their absence, perhaps due to language difficulties or local repression are any planned CryptoParties in say, Moscow or Beijing, even though the pro Putin Kremlin funded is one of the few major international news outlets to have picked up on the meme. - Ain't no party like a cryptoparty: privacy goes viral .

The first CryptoParty has already happened in the UK, in Cardiff on Saturday 22nd September 2012, with expressions of interest in Manchester, Sheffield and Swansea.

CryptoParty London

CryptoParty London. with about 100 people already registered to attend is set for next Saturday 29th September 2012, starting at 6pm..

The Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ) where this is due to happen is actually "in the belly of the beast" kindly hosted for free by Google Campus in London.

Google Campus: Ground Floor
4-5 Bonhill Street
London EC2A 4BX

(between Old Street and Moorgate Tube stations, just off the City Road)

(free) Registration for CryptoParty London is via Eventbrite

Please register and come along if you are an investigative journalist or blogger or elected politician with whistleblowers, confidential sources or consituents' private business to protect or if you simply want to protect your sensitive data from criminals.

CryptoParty London is not commercially or politically aligned with any company or faction[ and everyone is welcome.

Obviously Google is both one of the potential commercial snoopers on people's privacy and communications, but say, an offshore email accoujnt and its Chrome browser, with SSL website pinning, could also cause big technical problems for Charles Farr's evil Draft Communications Data Bill plans.

Hopefully the process of exposing techies (who know how to download, verify, configure and use such software tools, but who often have very little to actually hide when using them) to real world computer literate but much less technical journalists and political campaigners (who lack the technical knowledge, but who really should be protecting their communications and confidential contacts) will spur the improvement of the the often jargon filled and unfriendly User Interfaces which Cryptographic software such as PGP or GPG have currently avaialble.

Normal people should not have to make impossible choices about Cryptographic alogrithms or Hash functions.

Neither should they be forced to switch from their familair Windows or Macintosh or Android or Apple IOS smartphone environments, to install Linux etc. simply to communicate confidentially and relatively anonymously.

As you may have guessed by now, Spy Blog is heavily involved in the London CryptoParty and will be trying to spread some knowledge and experience about practical, common sense Anonymity techniques and perhaps an overview of UK Surveillance legislation threats, leaving the topics of PGP, TrueCrypt, OTR and Tor to other able experts.

It is impossible to properly debate the forthcoming Draft Communications Data Bill, without having an appreciation or firsthand knowledge of such widely available software tools and techniques, which will render it a huge waste of public money and simply an infringement on the civil iberties of millions of innocent people, for little or no appreciable gain against spies, terrorists or serious organised criminals.

Will this CryptoParty meme spawn a new generation of CypherPunks, who will influence the all too often technologically inept Whitehall civil servants and politicians, in a positive way ?

Spy Blog and others, try to be vigilant about UK Government, schemes involving technological systems and infrastructures which, if not operated honestly, transparently and under strict control, could easily be abused to betray our freedoms and liberties, either now or in the future.

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government appear to be, for no good reason, persisting with the stupid web censorship plans championed by the authoritarian, former hardline Communist, former Labour Home Secretary John "not fit for purpose" Reid (who is now a paid consultant to multi-national private security companies bidding of public sector contracts e.g. EU Plans for Internet Censorship

According to this misspelled Home Office press release web page, there is now a secretive, unaccountable Web Censorship quango, with a web form for allegedly "anonymous" denunciations:

Challenge online terrorism and extremism

Thursday, 07 Apr 2011

Information leaflets and posters have been sent to every police force in the UK advising the public on how to identify and report offensive or illegal content.

"Information leaflets and posters", to promote a world wide web based campaign - surely this is not the correct media communications strategy ?

  • How many leaflets and posters have been distributed ?
  • Have the spelling mistakes in this Press release web page also found their way into the printed material ?
  • How much public money has this cost ?

It promotes an online tool - which can be found on the Directgov website (new window) - that allows people to report material anonymously.

Challenge and report

Security minister, Baroness Neville-Jones, said that it's vital that online extremisim is taken seriously: 'I want to encourage those who come across extremist websites as part of their work to challenge it and report it through the DirectGov webpage.

'By forging relationships with the internet industry and working with the public in this way, we can ensure that terrorist use of the internet does not go unchallenged.'

"extremisim" [sic] should presumably be spelled "extremism"

Why not use the existing MI5 Security Service or the Metropolitan Police secure online web forms then ?

Websites reported to Directgov via its online form are referred to the national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit.

The specialist team of police experts work with industry and partners in the UK and abroad to investigate and take down illegal or offensive material if neccessary.

"neccessary." [sic] Does the Home Office Press Office really have no access to spell checkers ? Surely all Civil Servants should be able to spell "necessary", something which some of them, clearly, are not ? Presumably "national" should also start with a capital letter.

    Who exactly are the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit ? It seems to have been set up by the unaccountable private company the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office's secretive Office for Security and Counter Terrorism,

  • Who is the person in charge ?
  • Who exactly are these "partners in the UK and abroad" ?
  • How can they be contacted by the public, apart from via this allegedly "anonymous" web form ?
  • How is their effectiveness and value for money assessed and by whom ?
  • What are the mechanisms for detecting and correcting the mistakes and "collateral damage" that they will inevitably make ?
  • How is this website reporting and takedown mechanism compatible with the stated European Union policies on the topic, which stress that they must not damage the fundamental human rights of freedom of speech and association etc. ?

Past successes

In the last year, reporting through Directgov has helped the government remove content which has included beheading videos, terrorist training manuals and calls for racial or religious violence.

Successes include:

* removing a number of videos encouraging martyrdom operations that had been uploaded to a UK-based website
* shutting down a website that provided detailed video instructions on bomb making
* removing a number of videos encouraging acts of terrorism from a social networking site

To report content visit the Directgov website (new window) .

Have any of these "successes" actually involved websites physically hosted in the United Kingdom ?

Have any of them involved invoking the "takedown notice" legal powers under the controversial Terrorism Act 2006 sections 1 to 4, Encouragement etc. of terrorism ?

Is this web form really "anonymous" ?

Has the Marsham Street kremlin learned anything about running an anonymous whistleblower website submission form, from the likes of and its couple of other emulators ?

The actual web form is at


It claims:

This website is intended for the public to report any illegal terrorist or violent extremist information, pictures or videos found online. The report only takes a few minutes to complete, and all reports received are anonymous and reviewed by specialist police officers.

Weaknesses which could have been avoided:

Is the web form "secure" ? Probably, but it is not configured as professionally as it should be.

SSL Digital Certificate

Incredibly, for a system which involves national security intelligence gathering reports, the SSL / TLS encryption is misconfigured on the webserver.

It only rates a C: [52] rating from SSLLabs


It is unprofessional to configure any public web server with a Digital Certificate, without disabling the weak 40 bit and 56 bit cipher options, which can easily be broken in real time by today's personal computers.

There is no excuse for not disabling the deprecated SSL 2.0 protocol either.

Certificate Information
Common name
Alternative names -
Prefix handling Not required for subdomains
Valid from Wed Jan 27 00:00:00 UTC 2010
Valid until Fri Jan 27 23:59:59 UTC 2012 (expires in 9 months and 25 days)
Key RSA / 1024 bits
Signature algorithm SHA1withRSA
Server Gated Cryptography Netscape Step-Up
Weak key (Debian) No
Issuer Ref. LIABILITY LTD.(c)97 VeriSign (OU)
Next Issuer Class 3 Public Primary Certification Authority (OU) TRUSTED
Chain length (size) 2 (2221 bytes)
Chain issues None
Validation type Not sure
Revocation Information CRL, OCSP
Revocation Status Good (not revoked)
Trusted Yes

TLS 1.2 No
TLS 1.1 No
TLS 1.0 Yes
SSL 3.0 Yes
SSL 2.0+ Upgrade Support Yes

Cipher Suites (sorted by strength; server has no preference)
TLS_RC4_128_EXPORT40_WITH_MD5 (0x20080) WEAK 40
TLS_RC2_128_CBC_EXPORT40_WITH_MD5 (0x40080) WEAK 40
TLS_DHE_RSA_EXPORT_WITH_DES40_CBC_SHA (0x14) DH 512 bits (p: 64, g: 1, Ys: 64) WEAK 40
TLS_DES_64_CBC_WITH_MD5 (0x60040) WEAK 56

TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_DES_CBC_SHA (0x15) DH 1024 bits (p: 128, g: 1, Ys: 128) WEAK 56
TLS_RC4_128_WITH_MD5 (0x10080) 128
TLS_RC2_128_CBC_WITH_MD5 (0x30080) 128
TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_MD5 (0x4) 128
TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA (0x5) 128
TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (0x2f) 128
TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (0x33) DH 1024 bits (p: 128, g: 1, Ys: 128) 128
TLS_DES_192_EDE3_CBC_WITH_MD5 (0x700c0) 168
TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA (0x16) DH 1024 bits (p: 128, g: 1, Ys: 128) 168
TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (0x35) 256
TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (0x39) DH 1024 bits (p: 128, g: 1, Ys: 128) 256



Server signature Apache/2.2.3 (Red Hat)
Server hostname
Session resumption Yes
Renegotiation Secure Renegotiation Supported
Strict Transport Security No
TLS Version Tolerance 0x0304: 0x301; 0x0399: 0x301; 0x0499: fail
PCI compliant No
FIPS-ready No
Ephemeral DH 512 bits (p: 64, g: 1, Ys: 64) WEAK

The other two web forms which solicit national security or crime related information e.g.

MI5 the Security Service, get a much better rating of: A [85]


as does the Metropolitan Police's online crime reporting web form, which also gets a rating of A: [85]

Most modern web browsers will usually connect with this web server using strong encryption (at least 128bit encryption). However the deprecated SSL 2.0 protocol could be used in combination with a man-in-the-middle attack (e.g. invoking a rogue wireless access point) to force the use of weak 40bit or 56bit encryption, which can be easily broken in real time , on today's computer hardware.

Why is there only space for a URL ?

What exactly do they hope to gather which Google has not already indexed ?

Even if you believe that it is a good idea to simply collect suspicious web URLs, it should be obvious from previous convictions, let alone ongoing investigations, that most criminal content available via the world wide web will be on password protected private web forums etc..

There is nowhere on this Report form to supply a username and password to such private areas, something which prevents Google or other search engines from already having accessed and indexed these.

There is no way of adding any comments or context or background information.

Using Google Re-Captcha for this form is wrong !

It is reasonable to use a Captcha system, running from the UK based servers, to reduce the amount of script driven spam which this web form will attract.

Instead, the web form uses the Google operated Re-Captcha running from servers in the USA.

This is totally wrong for a United Kingdom based terrorism intelligence gathering system from the perspective of public trust and the promises made about "anonymity" !

Why should Google, a foreign based company (and therefore the US government) be handed over the internet address and web browser details of every supposedly "anonymous" terrorism information related report ?

Every time the Reporting form is loaded, the Google Re-Captcha web and application servers will log your IP Address and web browser details as the graphical images are pulled across from the USA.

Google will also have log file details every time the Re-Captcha codes are filled in and submitted i.e. they will be easily able to tell which visitors to the web form have actually submitted something.

If you are planning to use this web form "anonymously" as promised, then you need to:take precautions before accessing

  1. Make sure that you are not logged in to any Google products e.g. gmail or , on your Android smart phone, Google Latitude etc.

  2. Delete any Google cookies

  3. Use Tor or other methods of hiding your traceable IP address.

otherwise you will risk your "anonymity", which could have serious consequences for you, either from the terrorists or extremists you are reporting on, or from the bureaucratic police and intelligence agencies you are reporting to.

N.B. There is history of this sort of failure to to protect the anonymity of potential informants via the internet within the Whitehall securocrat establishment. See the Spy Blog category archive: MI5 email subscriptions

How is this intelligence data being transmitted from the web server to the CTIRU ?

  • Can we be sure that the "report form" data is not being kept unencrypted on the webserver ?
  • Is it being emailed in a plaintext, unencrypted format ?
  • Is it available for download through unencrypted protocols like FTP ?

There is no public promise that proper encryption techniques are being used, so we must assume that they are not.

Are there any good points about this form at all ?

Feedback Reference Code

A major failing of the MI5 Security Service SSL encrypted national security / terrorism "reporting suspected threats" form, is that there is never any acknowledgement that the information you supply has actually been received, let alone read, let alone acted upon.The form is a one way, information "black hole", which discourages everyone from ever using it more than once.

This web form does at least have a supposedly random reference ID code which can be used to bookmark the web page for you to come back later, and perhaps get some idea of any further action that the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit may have got around to.


This promises:

Thanks for your referral. It is currently
being assessed Please check back at this page
for further updates in four to six days.

It is too early to tell if they will actually give people who have reported a URL, any meaningful feedback, but there is always hope.


This supposedly secure and "anonymous" terrorist related reporting system has been allowed to go live to the public, without these basic security and anonymity flaws being noticed and corrected.

Home Office politicians and senior officials, Police and Intelligence Agency officials etc. appear to have learned nothing from their past failures under the Labour government.

Why were the GCHQ / CESG ("The National Technical Authority for Information Assurance") people not involved in checking this web form and web server, before it was allowed to go public ?

N.B. we do not totally blame the American internet consultant, who appears to have

Designed, built and launched site for SO15's Counter Terrorist Internet Referral Unit, which allows reporting of websites in breach of the Terrorism Acts; defended the site against a wave of hacker attacks after the site was Slashdotted

[We have omitted details of his name, email addresses, mobile telephone number, personal web site and probable home address in London]

The Senior Responsible Owner of this government project, should take public responsibility for its failings.

Is there actually one person in charge, or is decision making evaded somewhere between ACPO, the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office ?

This also reflects badly on the level of internet expertise within the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit.

If they cannot instantly recognise weaknesses in their own web form, what use will they be against anything but the simplest of terrorist or extremist websites ?

Our fear is, that through ignorance, they will then cause "collateral damage" to innocent websites or IP addresses, through over-broad Terrorism Act 2006 section 3 "takedown orders" , or through the physical seizure of computer hardware which hosts innocent people's websites or through the legal intimidation of domain name registrars.

The Home Office press office should get a spell checker for their web page press releases.

UPDATE: 1st May 2011:

Spy Blog is glad to note that the Digital Certificate problems with

seems to have been fixed i.e no more deprecated SSL 2.0 protocol and no more weak cipher suites.

This now gets an A [85] rating from the SSLabs test page:

There are still problems with the use of Google's Recaptcha in the USA at all and also the Digital Certificate for the link to the Recaptcha code

This Digital Certificate expired nearly a year also and also seems to suffer from SSL 2.0 and weak cipher suites etc.

Perhaps this should be using

rather than

The best feature of the web form, the feedback tracking could be improved slightly. Unless someone has actually bookmarked the Tracking Report Status page, there is no link to

in the workflow of the the web form for them to type their Response Code into, assuming that they have written it down or remembered it.

Saving the web page or bookmarking it does poses potential anonymity betrayal risks to anybody who is trying to report their concerns about a web page or website from within an organisation or company etc. - it could tip off their colleagues who might be up to something illegal.

The Home Office also does now appear to have corrected the spelling mistakes on their web page press release.

The UK media reporting about the now convicted terrorist Rajib Karim, a British Airways trainee software engineer based in Newcastle, has been devoid of most of the interesting details which were made public in the courtroom.

Is this because of UK journalistic technical incompetence ?

The Wall Street Journal did publish rather more details about the Encryption etc.

This article certainly does not even fall under standing DA Notice 3 Ciphers and Secure Communications, which applies to UK government secrets, not terrorist ones,
so why do the UK media reports about this case look as if they have been censored ?

This is yet another terrorism case involving emails or other messages stored on a seized computer, which are almost the only evidence used to prosecute and convict, even though such emails are inadmissible as evidence, by either the prosecution or the defence, in a UK Court (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 section 17 Exclusion of matters from legal proceedings) if they were, instead, intercepted in transit in the UK.

U.K. Case Reveals Terror Tactics


FEBRUARY 7, 2011


The methods that terror suspects use to conceal their communications are "a real problem" for police and intelligence authorities, says Lord Alan West, who was security adviser to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Other experts say such problems have been made worse by off-the-shelf software.

The previous government had even looked into whether they should make it a criminal offense for suspects to not hand over decryption codes, Lord West said.

How could Admiral Lord West of Spithead not know that his Labour government did not simply "look into" the question of "whether they should make it a criminal offense for suspects to not hand over decryption codes" ?

It is astonishing that the former Labour Security Minister at the Home Office, a former head of Defence Intelligence and former First Sea Lord, appears to be ignorant of the enactment and enforcement of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part III Investigation of electronic data protected by encryption etc.

This was amended by the Terrorism Act 2006 to increase the criminal penalty for refusing to hand over the plaintext or cryptographic keys in response to a Section 49 notice, if the magic words "national security case " or, as amended by the Policing and Crime Act 2009 the other magic phrase "child indecency case" are uttered. i.e. a criminal penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment, rather than the penalty of up to 2 years in prison in any other case.

The time needed to break such codes was one reason the previous British government under Mr. Brown argued for holding terror suspects for as long as 28 days without charge, Lord West added.

The decryption of these email messages in this case took far longer than even 90 days which the Labour government securocrats and apparatchiks were trying to impose.

According to this BBC report "experts from the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command spent nine months decrypting 300 coded messages found on his computer hard drive."

Rajib Karim was arrested on 25th February 2010 and charged on 11th March 2010 and has now been convicted on 28th February 2011.

On what basis was he charged and remanded in custody, if the gathering of actual evidence from the de-cryption of his computer took another 9 months ?

Remember that he had no weapons or explosives or co-conspirators in the UK. Neither had he actually attempted to sabotage any British Airways computer systems.

The current government of Prime Minister David Cameron recently reduced this to 14 days.

The Protection of Freedoms Bill clause 57 Permanent reduction of maximum detention period to 14 days, only reached its Second Reading in the Commons yesterday, it is not yet law.

Upon raiding Mr. Karim's apartment police recovered, among other things, a laptop and an external hard drive able to store some 320 gigabytes of data, according to prosecutors. The hard drive held some 35,000 files including messages with Mr. Karim's brother, with Mr. Awlaki--a leader of terror group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula--and with other colleagues, prosecutors say.

What exactly led them to suspect Karim in the first place ? Perhaps surveillance of his brother's communications traffic data.

Mr. Karim allegedly hid the messages and other data stored on the drive by changing the suffix at the end of the name of key files, which would typically tell a computer what program would be needed to open them up. That included four files labeled "Quran DVD Collection," which appeared to be compressed files because they took the suffix ".rar," which relates to a type of software that reduces the size of a file, according to prosecutors.

RAR is a very commonly used compressed file format used by RapidShare and other encrypted "cyber locker" web based file sharing services worldwide.

Will the Rajib Karim case be used by the UK government to try to suppress or ban these web services ?

Mr. Ball said he noted these files were unusually large, and discovered that they were actually created in a different program, Pretty Good Privacy, which enabled each file to run as a separate, encryption-protected "virtual hard drive." Without the correct password, the files were completely unintelligible.

It's the equivalent of "a safe with a combination," Mr. Ball said in court. He sent the files to British intelligence services, which returned them decrypted, or unlocked. Once able to open the files, Mr. Ball testified, he still wasn't able to read most of the messages contained with them: Mr. Karim had enciphered the text, leaving it scrambled and unreadable.

This is the most interesting part of this article: Just how vulnerable are PGP encrypted container files to the "British intelligence services" ?

Was this a dictionary attack on the pass phrase or some other vulnerability ?

Can religious fanatics stop themselves from using Koranic or Biblical etc. passphrases ? ]

Mr. Karim left police a clue, however. On the external hard drive was a disguised file that looked like it was meant for viewing thumbnail-size photographs--but that actually consisted of text with instructions for using a spreadsheet containing a purpose-built formula to decipher the message, according to Mr. Ball. The spreadsheet also worked in reverse, enciphering messages before sending to another member of the group, Mr. Ball said.

So why didn't Karim use PGP or GPG for email or file encryption ?

Those instructions helped Mr. Ball decrypt the messages and see that--according to prosecutors' account--Mr. Karim was passing to Mr. Awlaki information about British Airways' computer and security systems that could be vitally important for those wishing to conduct a terrorist attack.

Still, it took many more months for the messages to fully come into focus. There were many spreadsheets on the hard drive, and sometimes numerous versions of each one. Even once unscrambled, prosecutors allege the messages contained false names and other coded words, further obscuring their contents. The names of countries and people, as well as their sex, were changed, and their movements and activity were discussed as if involved in business transactions, prosecutors allege.

As an additional layer of protection, prosecutors say, Mr. Karim and his colleagues didn't exchange their messages as emails, which can be intercepted. They instead uploaded them to public websites that host files, where another member of the group could then download them to his or her own machine.

Presumably Lord West and the Home Office will pretend that they could not have possibly guessed (despite the warnings from regular Spy Blog readers and every civil liberties and digital data rights organisation in the UK) that the mandatory Data Retention of UK or EU based email log files, provided by Communications Services Providers would have been so easily circumvented by terrorists. N.B. this scheme was "policy laundered" by the Labour government, i.e. they suggested it in the first place and used the UK's turn at the temporary chairmanship of the European Union Council of Ministers, to force it through as a European Directive and then claimed that it was all Europe's fault that this had happened.

This by no means the first terrorism case in the UK where the suspects did not send emails in the usual manner - there have been some where the Drafts folder on say a US based web mail system, has been accessed by two or more people who have pre-shared the logon credentials, never sending any incriminating emails at all.

In a further safeguard, prosecutors allege, Mr. Karim used software to erase other electronic fingerprints from his laptop, including a program called "Windows Washer" that effectively deletes traces of Internet browsing history from the machine.

Something which is certainly not illegal. What about the built in Privacy modes of the leading web browsers then ?

Write to Alistair MacDonald at and Cassell Bryan-Low at

They seem to have a better job of reporting the details of this case, as revealed in open Court, than the British media have bothered, or perhaps have dared, to do.

The controversial website (no longer the current website, this now only redirects to a partial mirror of the original website) is still no longer accepting any submissions of leaked documents from ordinary, local or regional whistleblowers.

They and their mainstream media collaborators, have instead, been busy milking the vast amount of secret information which seems to have come from the imprisoned, but as yet unconvicted, low level US Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, Bradley Manning and they have survived various legal and illegal attacks on their computer and internet infrastructure as a result.

There is a new WikiLeakS.CH website which now boast over 1600 mirror websites, the setting up of which has , incredibly, been done by getting gullible people to send off an unencrypted web form with the volunteer's computer login and password details, in the clear, for various government agencies, ISPs and criminals to snoop on and intercept .

Neither WikiLeakS.CH nor any of its mirrors is running any working, leaked document submission system, so the news that a new website, called is set to launch on Monday is quite interesting,

However so are the other alternatives such as, or, or, or the comparatively venerable, or the Indonesian

Anybody thinking about using any of these websites to contact journalists, or to upload whistleblower leak documents, should firstly take some or all of the anonymity and security precautions which you can find at our website - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Some Spy Blog Questions, Analysis and Opinion on these whistleblower websites:

Holiday reading for Spy Blog readers - reviews of a couple of books on the GCHQ and the NSA

These comprehensive reviews seem to give a good outline of a couple of books about a couple of the world's premier intelligence agencies, which deserve close study:

Spy Blog could be tempted to review

Securing the State by Sir David Omand GCB, the former éminence grise of the Cabinet Office Intelligence bureaucrac and obe of the architechts of Protint - 'protected information' data mining of personal sensitive data by intelligence agencies.

As always, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner tends to reveal a little more than either the Interception of Communications Commissioner or the Intelligence Services Commissioner ever do in their Annual reports.

Annual report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2009-2010 (.pdf)

Unlike the other two RIPA Commissioners, Sir Christopher Rose does actually have something to report about RIPA Part II:

CHIS = Covert Human Intelligence Sources
i.e. spies , undercover agents, paid informers, unpaid informers etc.


4.8 There were 5,320 CHIS recruited by law enforcement agencies during the year; 4,495 were cancelled (including some who were recruited during the previous year) ; and 3,767 were in place at the end of March 2010. The figures for the previous year which were 4,278, 4,202 and 3,722 indicate a slight increase in usage.

4.9 During the current reporting year other public authorities recruited 229 CHIS of whom 182 were cancelled during the year with 90 in place on 31 March 2010.

During the previous year 234 were recruited, 153 cancelled and 106 were in place at the end of the year. Again just over half of CHIS usage was by government departments. The light use of RIPA/RIP(S)A powers by local authorities is even more pronounced in relation to CHIS recruitment. 97% recruited five or fewer and 86% did not use CHIS.

There are some criticisms of CHIS management and tradecraft:

5.9 There are too many occasions when inspections reveal poor tradecraft in managing CHIS. Infrequent physical meetings and reliance on communication by text messages are rarely adequate. There have also been instances where law enforcement officers have pretended to be the CHIS when communicating with his associates online, without properly providing the CHIS with an alibi. It seems to me that this is an unsafe practice.

The protection of CHIS is one of the main reasons cited for the vast amount of secrecy and lack of freedom of information and transparency in the Police and Intelligence Agencies etc.

Such amateurism in the handling of CHIS should be punished by removal of those responsible from any positions of power or authority involving CHIS - they could literally get people killed through such incompetence.

Encryption Keys and RIPA Part III

At last a few details about RIPA Part III:

NTAC = National Technical; Assistance Centre, now run by GCHQ, politically controlled by the Foreign Secretary.

Section 49 - encryption

4.10 During the period reported on, NTAC granted 38 approvals. Of these, 22 had permission granted by a Circuit Judge, of which 17 have so far been served. Six were complied with and seven were not complied with, the remainder were still being processed. Of the seven that were not complied with, five people were charged with an offence, one was not charged and the other is still being processed. So far there has been one conviction with other cases still to be decided.

4.11 The conviction related to the possession of indecent images of children and this offence is the main reason why section 49 notices are served. Other offences include: insider dealing, illegal broadcasting, theft, evasion of excise duty and aggravated burglary. It is of note that only one notice was served in relation to terrorism offences.

These statistics further aggravate the injustice to someone who does not fall into any of these categories see the previous Spy Blog article: "JFL" provides some more details about his imprisonment for refusing to divulge his cryptographic keys under a RIPA Part III section 49 notice

4.12 These statistics are provided by NTAC which is able to be accurate regarding the number of approvals it has granted. But it is reliant on those processing notices to keep it informed regarding progress. It appears that there has been delay in serving some notices after approval has been granted (hence the difference between the number approved and the number served) . Notices, once approved, should be served without delay. If delays continue, I will require an explanation.

Sir Christopher does not seem to have delved into whether or not the de-crypted plaintext or the cryptographic keys were actually stored securely, ideally also using strong encryption or not, once they had been seized as evidence through the section 49 orders.

Unless and until the public is reassured about that, then there will be lots of non-cooperation from businesses which risk massive "collateral damage" to their core business systems, as a result of police investigations involving only part of their computer infrastructure, or a few employees or customers.

There is nothing specific about Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), but there is a section on CCTV:

Closed Circuit TeleVision - CCTV


5.22 My Chief Inspector has met the Interim CCTV Regulator and, as a member of the Independent Advisors Group, he will represent me in the development of the National CCTV Strategy.

How things have changed. Previously the Surveillance Commissioners took no interest in overt or covert CCTV spy cameras.

5.23 I am pleased by the proliferation of protocols between local authorities and police forces. In particular, I am satisfied that there is a wider acceptance of the need for authorisations to be shown to those responsible for using cameras covertly. But I am concerned at the number of inspections reporting the ability of some police forces to control, remotely, cameras owned, solely by or in partnership with, a local council. Sometimes control can be taken without the knowledge of the council CCTV Control Room or the guarantee that an appropriate authorisation exists. Equally, there is no guarantee that the person remotely operating the camera is appropriately qualified to conduct such an operation. Protocols should clarify the procedures to be followed when control is taken by others outside the CCTV Control Room and ensure that suitable safeguards are in place to prevent misuse.

Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2009 (.pdf), by the Rt,Hon. Sir Peter Gibson

Just like all the previous Intelligence Services Commissioner reports, the lack of public detail makes a mockery of the whole RIPA oversight process - it takes 16 pages to say almost nothing at all.

Yet again, there has been no call for Sir Peter to oversee any RIPA Part III encryption key or plaintext orders. This appears to have been left to the Chief Surveillance Commissioner.

Part III of RIPA

34. As I have noted above, Part III of RIPA came into force on 1 October 2007. However, no notification of any directions to require disclosure in respect of protected electronic information has been given to me in 2009 and there has been no exercise or performance of powers and duties under Part III for me to review.

The Intelligence Services Commissioner has gone through the motions with the Identity Scheme Commissioner Sir Joseph Pilling, bearing in mind the scrapping of the scheme which is still in progress.

11. On 16 November 2009 the Identity Minister, Meg Hillier, signed the Commencement Order allowing the Identity and Passport Service to begin issuing identity cards to members of the public living or working in Greater Manchester with effect from 30 November 2009 though it should be noted that identity cards were also made available to Home Office/Identity and Passport Service civil servants as well as airside workers in Manchester and London City Airport for a few weeks beforehand. On 10 December 2009 I had a useful meeting with Sir Joseph Pilling, the Identity Commissioner, in which we discussed our respective areas of responsibility under the ICA. I informed him that I did not envisage that I would need to obtain information about the acquisition, storage and use of data in the National Identity Register by organisations other than the intelligence services. At the time of writing this Report I am not aware of any acquisition, storage and use made by the intelligence services pursuant to the ICA of information recorded in the National Identity Register and in view of the intended repeal of the ICA it is unlikely that there will be any such acquisition, storage or use

Obliviously he has a good professional working contacts with the Intelligence agencies, but does that automatically taint him as the chairman of the Inquiry looking into allegations of complicity in torture of foreign terrorist suspects by MI5 or MI6 etc, appointed by PM David Cameron ?

He is already looking at:

Guidance on detention and interviewing of detainees by intelligence officers and military personnel

39. On 18 March 2009 the Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament about the detention and interviewing of detainees by intelligence officers and military personnel and announced my agreement to his request that the Intelligence Services Commissioner should monitor compliance by the intelligence agencies with the consolidated guidance on the standards to be followed during the detention and interviewing of detainees. My role in monitoring compliance will not commence until the consolidated guidance has been published. Such publication has not yet occurred,

The Report contains exactly the same words as the Interception of Communications Commissioner regarding the Investigatory Tribunal. A public agency broke the law, but will not be published for doing so. Why can they not at least be named and shamed in public ? There cannot be any "national security" grounds for not doing so.

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
(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:

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 - ethical and technical discussion about the 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 - 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 have gone on to set up other online tools like The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the 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 - New Alliance's ID Cards page - 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 - 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 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 - 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 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 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

BLOGDIAL - 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

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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_150.jpg - 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 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

wblogocrop_150.jpg - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers