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Protest March / Demo mobile device #OPSEC


Whether it is the expected massive turnout for the @PeoplesVote People's Vote anti Brexit march on Saturday 23rd March 2018, or a smaller Climate Change peaceful (yet traffic disruptive) @ExtinctionR Extinction Rebellion Rebellion event
here are a few mobile device Operational Security (OPSEC) and other tips, as everyone who attends will be under intense electronic surveillance, by the Police, UK and Foreign Intelligence Agencies, rival political factions , corporate lobbyists and advertisers etc.
via Mobile Phone network Location Data, WiFi snooping, Social Media platforms (Google, Apple, Twitter, FaceBook/ Instagram and advertiser funded mobile phone Apps

For most people this will not be a problem, but for quite a few out of the expected hundreds of thousands of marchers, there could be a risk pf
being targeted and harassed for their political activities or spammed by inappropriate advertising.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes (weather forecast for Saturday 23rd March is for only a 10% chance of rain)

  2. Bring non-alcoholic drinks (alcohol is banned in public on central London streets and Tube & Buses)

  3. No illegal drugs

  4. Know where there are public toilets, especially if you need disabled access c.f. The Great British Public Toilet Map

  5. Leave your normal mobile phone at home

  6. If you have a mobile phone on the Vodafone UK network, uou can at least Opt Out from Vodafone Analytics (which sells your Location Data to adverisers etc. who will then cross reference and try to de-anonymise it to the best of their ability)
    by sending an SMS text OPT OUT to 68808 from each of your Vodafone devices (only for future data, not historical and only for commercial xustomers, not the Police or Intelligence agencies)
    Not perfect, but better than the other UK mobile phone networks.

  7. If you do bring an unregistered, cash bought prepaid SIM #burner phone for emergencies, keep it switched off except when needed. Don't activate it at Home or at Work.

  8. If you are using a #burner phone or just your normal smartphone to coordinate with your protest march friends only use an End to End Encrypted Messenger App e.g. @SignalApp or @WhatsApp *not** voice or SMS text.

  9. Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth whilst actually on the march route.

  10. Don't copy any Contacts from the SIM card to the phone handset (or vice versa if you are temporarily using a new prepaid SIM card - not ideal but better than your normal one)

  11. Only keep other #burner phone contacts on the prepaid disposable SIM card and the phone numbers of specialist civil rights solicitors who attend Police stations 24 /7 e.g. Bindmans in case you are unlucky enough to get arrested (or if this is a deliberate part of your civil disobedience action like some @XtinctionR climate change protestors)

  12. Switch off Notification previews on the the Lock Screen e.g. set to only display when unlocked, or never. This helps reduce the curiosity of people with a casual view of your phone screen.

  13. Switch off / disable access to Location services - both Android and Apple iPhone Apps and OS can blab your location even when not being used
    Print out a Google map before you go to London or use an A to Z map or guide book

  14. If you use "Free" WiFi e.g. on the train or at a restaurant / cafe or pub use a VPN back to Home or your Office or via a Foreign based Commercial VPN, when looking up the #PeoplesMarch route details etc.

  15. When you have finished doing this then force your SmartPhone to *forget* the any Home or Office Wifi connections and any "Free" WiFi you use en route, in case it blabs characteristic WiFi Probe Requests when it is "out of range, which can and will be logged by Advertisers, Retail shops, Transport for London, the Police and foreign intelligence services as you travel.
    N.B. easier to do this on Android, but Apple iPhone users have to remember to do this whilst still in range of the WiFi network or else it is not displayed in the list to allow you to forget it.

  16. Although you are unlikely to be arrested, there is a chance of being caught up in anti police demos which a few extremists will try to incite.
    Remember most violence at London marches & demos happens *away* from the main routes and assembly place, often at night, after the official event has finsished, especially when alcohol has been consumed to excess.
    Memorise or keep the phone number of specialist solicitors who will attend a Police Station 24 / 7 e.g. Bindmans +44 (0)20 7305 5638 or Kaim Todner 0207 842 0650
    on paper or written in marker pen on your arm / hand - your phone contact address book will probably not be available to you if and when you need it, if you are Stopped and Searched or arrested and your phone is being forensically imaged.

  17. If you are arrested or subsequently attend even a "voluntary" interview at a Police Station, even with your solicitor present, do not unlock your mobile phone as there have been cases of shoulder surfing of your unlock passphrase and subsequent seizure of activists mobile phones by the Police. Ideally only bring a "clean" fresh burner phone to such an interview.

  18. On your #burner phone or your switched off normal phone, ensure you have set a reasonably strong screen lock alpha numeric pass phrase (8 characters at least) - not a noddy 4 digit PIN or a pattern or fingerprint or face print. Hopefully this will deter "casual" snooping if you are merely Stopped and Searched by the Police.
    Being arrested will mean that any phone you have with you will be forensically imaged. That could also apply to the phone(s) you have left at home if you are arrested for a *serious* offence and your home / office is then raided.

  19. If you do use your SmartPhone or other Digital Camera to record the peaceful march, do not publish the images online without removing or editing the EXIF metadata, especiallu any Camera or lens Serial Numbers, which can be linked to your identifiable public holiday snaps.
    Use Exiftool which works on Windows, macOS or Linux or an Android App like Exif Eraser
    Ideally use a dedicated #burner phone or camera only for your political protest marches and demos.

  20. Take spare batteries, charged up USB power banks and Android and Apple USB charging cables

  21. If you do witness violence or intimidation, call the police first and then video record it from a safe distance, unless you and your friends can safely intervene to stop it. Do not just voyeuristically record it without taking some action.

  22. Have a pre-arranged fallback meeting location agreed with your family or friends for if / when you get seperated in the hopefully large protest march crowds,

  23. Have fun

UPDATE: UK activists can learn some lesssons from the Hong Kong Protests where people are rightly worried about future State discrimination or repression against those opposing the current government on the streets.

  • Even though the organisers of protests and demonstrations tend to use End to End Encrypted Messenger Apps e.g. Signal Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram it is important to set these up on burner phones or at least using prepaid SIM card phone numbers for the initial social media account set up verification SMS mtext message
    N.B. In UK you do not have to have any money /call time / data / text credit on a 99p prepaid SIM card to recieve such SMS text messages for free.

  • Hong Kong protestors seem to make good use of Apple iOS AirDrop to peer to peer share via BlueTooth & WiFi maps and protest literature locally within a crowd, without relying on potentially tracked centralised internet web sites or services.

  • Hopefully there is no need for anti tear gas respirator masks and saline solution etc., but do consider facemasks or scarves and hats etc. to frustrate some of the CCTV footage and Facial Recognition processed data which will be directed against protest crowds and, as it is unregulated, will be stored into the future, despite the weasel words which say that the (irreleveant after big data processing) raw images are likely deleted after a month or so.

  • As of July 2019, Transport for London has rolled out its WiFi snooping data collection all over the central Underground Tube stations. This data collection scheme targets not just people who take advantage of the "free" Virgin Media WiFi access points, but it also grabs and analyses the WiFi Probe requests which everybody else's SmartPhone makes repeatedly with your Home or Work or other "free" WiFi networks you have used and which are now Out Of Range. Whenever you are not using WiFi for messaging or navigation etc., then turn it off in the Settings of your SmartPhone.

  • Transport for London hands over its data "in bulk, in real time" to the Metropolitan Police, often exempt from the Data Protection Act due to Ministerial Certificates citing "national security".Try not to use financially traceable tickets in London i.e. only cash (not credit or debit card) bought prepaid Oyster Cards or paper Travel Card ticketsand not the convenient but trackable NFC cashless payment Apps on your SmartPhone.

Why should I take OPSEC precautions, I am only protesting peacefully ?

Operational Security precautions only work forwards in time, not retrospectively when it is too late. It is likely that some near future demonstrations will become violent, if there are food or fuel shortages etc. after the Brexit crash out which the current government seems to be planning or cannot avoid.

Police, intelligence agencies and political fanatics will attempt to link future violence to past peaceful political activism, simply because the unregulated data is, or may be made available to them. You only have to look at the false arrests of e,g, drone hobbyists after the Gatwick Airport debacle in December 2018 to fear bureaucrats under political and media pressure to "arrest the usual suspects"

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 ?

The few English language documents in the cache of secret intelligence documents liberated as a result of the (British ?) bombing of one of the Libyan dictator Gaddafi's intelligence agency buildings, has already caused the abandonment / cover up of the Detainee Inquiry into allegations of MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service and the British government involvement in torture.

The Mail on Sunday seems to have access to some of the other ones, now translated from Arabic, which seem to implicate the MI5 Security Service as being in cahoots with the same murderous Libyan torturers, in London in 2006.

Will these allegations result in Yet Another Police / Crown Prosecution Service investigation, which like the previous ones, will dither for 2 or 3 years, thereby further delaying the promised replacement Inquiry into Torture complicity by the British government ?

Secret documents reveal MI5 agents betrayed Libyan dissidents to Gaddafi spies in London rendezvous just 700 yards from Harrods

  • British spies supplied the Libyan dictator's secret agents with intelligence, mobile phones and an upmarket London safe house
  • Experts say the explosive documents suggest breaches of the Geneva Conventions, the Human Rights Act and criminal law

By Robert Verkaik, Barbara Jones and David Rose

PUBLISHED: 23:00, 21 April 2012 | UPDATED: 02:52, 22 April 2012

MI5 betrayed enemies of Colonel Gaddafi given refuge in Britain in a covert joint operation with Libyan spies working on UK soil, documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal.

Gaddafi's secret agents were supplied by MI5 with intelligence, secure mobile phones and a luxurious safe house in the heart of London's Knightsbridge.

The extraordinary revelations emerge from hundreds of secret documents unearthed from Libyan spymasters' archives after the Gaddafi regime was toppled - with British military help - last year.

Shockingly, they reveal tactics of intimidation and coercion - and expose the British agents' specific fears that their actions might be reported by the press in the UK.


A senior former intelligence officer said it was 'difficult to imagine' that the joint operations were not sanctioned by Ministers and it was likely that the Home and Foreign Secretaries were involved, as well as the Prime Minister - at the time, Tony Blair.

But the then Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, said: 'I don't think I knew anything about this. I certainly have no recollection of it.' She thought that as an 'operational matter' it would not have needed ministerial authorisation.

Lord Reid, who was Home Secretary, failed to return phone calls asking for comment. A spokesman for Mr Blair said he had 'no recollection' of the operations.

The documents reveal meetings between the British and Libyan services in both Tripoli and London, and visits by the Libyan agents to make 'approaches' to their targets in London and Manchester in August and October 2006.

It does not matter whether these notoriously authoritarian Labour politicians now choose not to remember sanctioning such reprehensible betrayals on British soil. They were the elected politicians who bear the political responsibility for the actions of their Security Service MI5 and Secret Intelligence Service MI6 minions at the time.

If this was an unsanctioned operation, then that is also their fault, for allowing such things to go undetected and unpunished.

N.B. the warrants signed by Secretaries of State under the Intelligence Services Act 1994, apply to things like property interference (burglary to plant bugging devices).

They do not specifically sanction the use of blackmail threats to force the cooperation of Confidential Human Intelligence Sources, especially not in collaboration with the foreign intelligence service of a dictatorship.

Such warrants, even if they do actually exist, do not absolve MI5 officers or politicians from prosecution for misconduct in public office


According to the minutes, one of the MI5 staff said: 'The target person has the right to make a complaint or seek police protection. British intelligence must be careful how they approach a target because this individual could call on human rights or the press and cause a security scandal that exposes the co-operation between British and Libyan secret services.'

Note how, according to the blinkered MI5 mindset, it is the victim of the blackmail and betrayal who would somehow seen to be "causing" the scandal, if they complained to the police or the press, not the Labour government's Security Service MI5 and the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's External Security Organisation.

Mi5 always has and always should keep a close eye on foreign dissident groups which have sought refuge in the UK from evil foreign regimes. They used to keep the foreign intelligence agencies of such regimes, who prey on and (as was the case with the Libyans) assassinate such political refugees, under even tighter surveillance.

Moussa Koussa, the then head of the Libyan intelligence agencies, with whom MI6 and MI5 were so friendly with, had been expelled from London earlier in his career in 1980, precisely for threatening to murder ex-patriot Libyan dissidents in London.

It is appalling that MI5 actually cooperated with the Libyan dictatorship, in London and used their surveillance powers and blackmail threats of arrest and deportation, against refugees people who are not terrorists themselves, whilst fully aware that what they were doing was morally wrong and illegal in the UK.

How many other such joint intelligence agency operations with the foreign intelligence agencies of dictatorships, aimed at foreign refugees / dissidents, supposedly under asylum protection in the UK were there under the Labour government ?

How many of these operations have continued under the Coalition government ?

Were there, or are there still, similar arrangements in place with, say the Egyptian or Saudi Arabian or Indonesian governments ?

This time, the plan was to set up further meetings with the target in Didsbury, with the hope of introducing him to MI5. The Libyans were not to stay at the safe house, however, but at the five-star City Inn Hotel, which conveniently is next to MI5's headquarters on the Thames.

[via Google Street view]

The Thorney Street rear entrances / emergency exits to the Thames House buildings are all very well, but their comings and goings are presumably observed and remotely monitored by other domestic and foreign intelligence agencies 24/7 from the neighbouring Millbank and other office buildings which overlook Thorney Street.

Spy Blog has often wondered if there is a secret tunnel underground entrance to the MI5 Thames House HQ from this nearby City Inn Hotel, underneath Thorney Street.

Presumably the City Inn CCTV systems, hotel rooms, suites and telephones are electronically bugged by MI5 (they have been doing that sort of thing in London hotels for over a hundred years).

The "data rape" of the notorious London Congestion Charge system appears to be set to get even worse.

Not only are all drivers snooped on all of the time, day and night and at weekends (even when there is no Congestion Charge to pay), but the photos and number plate / time / date / ANPR checkpoint location data is handed over, in secret, in bulk, in real time, to theMetropolitan Police and to other "national security" agencies , both in the UK and in foreign countries like the USA, thanks to the Ministerial Certificates signed by the then (useless) Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

See the previous Spy Blog articles:

Today the Guardian / Observer reports that:

Private data on British drivers will be stored offshore

Secret move by IBM, which runs London's congestion charge, will allow access to sensitive DVLA information

Daniel Boffey, policy editor
The Observer, Sunday 18 March 2012

The government has secretly agreed that the "particularly sensitive" personal data of all 43 million drivers in the UK can be contracted offshore to India in a move that will allow the private firm running London's congestion zone to cut costs and make more money.

Unecessary risks to our "particulary sensitive" personal data is bad, but this should not to be confused with the Data Protection Act 1998 section 2 Sensitive Personal Data, none of which should be collected by the London Congestion Charge at all, but which probably is, if you are registered disabled etc.

Data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, including addresses, dates of birth and registration plate numbers, along with credit card details, will now be accessible to staff outside the UK following a review by ministers.

Since many people pay the Congestion Charge via mobile phone, these phone numbers willalso now be at increased risk of abuse.

Which Coalition Government Minister signed off on this privacy unfriendly policy ? Was it Justine Greening, Theresa Villiers, Mike Penning (all Conservatives) or Norman Baker (Liberal Democrat) ?

Why has this unecessary risk to Londoners privacy and security not been vetoed by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who is supposed to be in control of Transport for London ?

The prohibition was rescinded after IBM, which runs the congestion charge zone for Transport for London (TfL), lobbied for a change. The company has been repeatedly fined since it took over the contract from Capita in 2009, making the £60m deal less profitable than it had hoped.

The Labour party supporting C(r)apita (the former boss of which Rod Aldridge "loaned" the Labour party £1 million) failed to run the scheme as budgeted for. It was meant to provide £60 million a year "profit" to be used to improve the rest of London's transport infrastructure, but it never did and Ken Livingstone simply handed them extra cash and increased the daily charge, reneging on his election promises (quelle suprise).

However the move to relax the rules around the sensitive data, which has not been publicly announced, raises concerns in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics about the increased risk of fraud.

It is understood that a risk assessment carried out within IBM has also identified a potential threat to London's reputation should the changes lessen the ability of staff to deal with problems in the congestion zone IT systems. It also warned of the risk to the security of sensitive data.

The move also appears to contradict ministers' recent insistence that they would resist any work on government contracts going abroad.

The transition allowing staff abroad access to the data is expected to be completed by 18 May. An internal email sent by IBM's commercial manager earlier this month, and seen by the Observer, says: "Since go live, TfL has directed that we retain within the UK certain support roles with access to data that they considered particularly sensitive... TfL has recently completed a risk assessment with the DVLA and the Department for Transport and has concluded that they no longer require this additional level of control... As a result we have commenced a transition exercise to manage the changes to our support organisation over the next three months."

If some people's data is considered to be "particularly sensitive" and is not to be allowed out of the UK, then why should any of it be put at risk ?


A DVLA spokesperson said: "All IT systems must be managed to the same standard as if they were in the UK. We will ensure that all appropriate controls for data protection are in place."

The DVLA have an appalling record on data protection - they have allowed millions of driver motoring test records to be sent to the USA and they have sold vehicle keeper names and addresses for as little as £2.50 a time to private sector companies , including those run by criminals

If you are a potential or actual whistleblower, working in the United Kingdom intelligence services, who had information regarding involvement in torture, which might contradict what the senior managers and officials who will be appearing before Sir Peter Gibson's Detainee Inquiry, would you be satisfied with the assurances given below ?

Would you risk your career or life, or those of your family and friends, on such such assurances ?

See our previous blog article of the 11th August 2011, before the revelations from Libya: Spy Blog letter to the Detainee Inquiry re: lack of whistleblower anonymity protection and immunity from prosecution

The Detainee Inquiry
35 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BQ
Telephone: 020 7276 5544

From the Secretary to the Inquiry

13 September 2011

Via E-mail [email address]


Thank you for your e-mail to Sir Peter Gibson on behalf of Spyblog and its readership, in reference to the provisions of anonymity protection for whistleblowers and a number of issues related to the Inquiry's work. I am responding on Sir Peter's behalf.

The Inquiry takes the welfare and safety of any witnesses who provide evidence to us very seriously. The Inquiry's Protocol (available on our website) makes clear that witnesses may provide evidence to the Inquiry in private if the Inquiry believes that there is a good reason for them to do so.This is designed to ensure both the welfare and safety of witnesses by the protection of their identity, and the provision of full and frank evidence to the Inquiry. Any request by a witness to appear in private will be given careful consideration by the Panel. By way of further reassurance, the only people present during private hearings will be the witness and any one person they choose to accompany them, the panel, Counsel to the Inquiry, members of the Inquiry staff and contracted stenographers with the appropriate security clearance (see paragraph 37 of the Protocol). Should we find it necessary to seek further information from a Department or Agency as a result of evidence given by a witness, we would not reveal the source of the information leading to the request. We believe that the current measures are sufficient at this stage to protect the anonymity of whistleblowers or anyone else who has good reason to give evidence in private, but we will keep this under review

As you have identified, the Prime Minister stated in his letter of the 6 July 2010 to Sir Peter Gibson that 'the Attorney General has agreed to provide an undertaking that evidence given by witnesses may not be used against them in criminal proceedings, whether their evidence is given in public, private or both (other than in proceedings where he or she is charged with giving false evidence or conspiring to do so in the course of this Inquiry)' We are currently liaising with the Attorney General's office on producing a comprehensive undertaking which we are confident will address the concerns you have around potential prosecution of whistleblowers under legislation such as the Official Secrets Act. We hope to receive a final version of the undertaking soon and will then publish it on our website as you suggest. We will then confirm with the Cabinet Secretary and the Heads of the intelligence services their analogous undertakings to staff in respect of disciplinary proceedings based on the evidence provided, this was also set out in the Prime Minister's letter.

You raise an important point about assurances from the UK Intelligence Agencies in respect of their cooperating with the Inquiry. We have been assured by the Prime Minister that we will receive full co-operation from the Government and its Security and Intelligence Agencies. The Inquiry believes that this would cover all of the activities you have mentioned, as the type of behaviour you have explained regarding the Agencies deploying surveillance techniques on the Inquiry's Staff or asking Agencies in other countries to do likewise would go against this assurance of full cooperation.

Thank you for your recommendation in reference to encryption of the website to allow for individuals to submit evidence while protecting their identity. We continue to review our website and its security and will consider the points you have raised.

Finally on the important point in reference to ensuring that redactions placed on documents cannot be removed, the Inquiry takes its obligation to redact sensitive material, including individuals' personal details where they must be kept private, very seriously and are mindful of this risk. We shall, of course, do everything we can to ensure that this situation does not arise.

Yours Sincerely,

Alun Evans

With your help and feedback (either in the comments or via encrypted email, ideally using Tor or other IP Address obfuscation techniques) we will respond to the Detainee Inquiry, to press them further about the points in our Letter which they did not properly answer.

N.B. there are only a couple of working days left before the Attorney General and the Cabinet Secretary must reply to our Freedom of Information Act Requests for the promised Undertakings:

Spy Blog readers may recall our criticism of US style political campaigning web services "as used to help President Barack Obama get elected":

How sneakily are Blue State Digital tracking NGO political campaign emails ?

Several UK NGO's looked at this technology and chose to make use of it, without using its most privacy endangering features such as the use of hidden "web bug" graphics in HTML emails.

Just in case you thought that the Labour party has somehow changed its penchant for control freakery and mass surveillance, the iPad wielding apparatchiks have now launched a campaign website for the odious Ken Livingstone in his attempt to get re-elected as Mayor of London called

The social media integrated web based political campaign service which the website is using is called based in California, USA.

Snazzy integrated political campaign tools - but no privacy

To a political campaign or other non government organisation, this commercial service offers some snazzy tools, setting volunteer activists goals to achieve in terms of organising events or spreading the campaign message. There are blog pages and Google Maps showing where registered supporters are located , with tools to graphically "turf carve your voter file" amongst different local organisers etc. There is integration with Twitter and FaceBook.


All very slick, but all very American when it comes to privacy and data protection - there is none. clearly states in its "privacy" policy that they make routine use of web tracking technologies like "web bugs":

Clear Gifs Information: When you use the Service, we may employ clear gifs (also known as web beacons) which are used to track the online usage patterns of our users anonymously. In addition, we may also use clear gifs in HTML-based emails sent to our users to track which emails are opened by recipients. The information is used to enable more accurate reporting, improve the effectiveness of our marketing, and make NationBuilder better for our users.

Third Party Services: 3dna uses Google Analytics to help understand use of the Service. This service collects the information sent by your browser as part of a web page request, including cookies and your IP address, and their use of it is governed by their Privacy Policy.

No SSL / TLS encryption for registration of Sensitive Personal Data , which is exported to the USA

Although the main website does have a working SSL / TLS Digital certificate, presumably so that they can process credit card or other online payments, this feature is totally lacking from the website, which handles donations on the main website.

Before even being able to browse the website to see what it it all about, all new visitors are already assumed to be supporters and are asked to fill in a registration form with their Personal Data i.e. home, address, phone and mobile phone, email details, Twitter and FaceBook accounts.

By implication, by virtue of registering for a Labour party political campaign, this Personal Data is being tagged with their presumed political affiliation. Legally this is Sensitive Personal Data defined under the Data Protection Act - there is no excuse for not protecting this in transit with standard SSL / TLS strong encryption.

Simply by accessing, your computer's IP address and web browser details are logged by both Google Analytics and also by Quantserve, two third party commercial web tracking companies in the USA, through hidden JavaScript and sneaky 1 x 1 pixel sized transparent .gif images which are pulled from the tracking companies web servers rather than from the website.

Email Blaster - is a tool for spam, not for responsible political campaigning

The worst aspect of the NationBuilder service is the "Email Blaster" campaign email tool. The NationBuilder website gives advice on creating a "Killer Email Blast" etc. This is email spam marketing rather than proper permission based email.

Just like the Blue State Digital tool we wrote about in 2009, the HTML emails (signed by Ken Livingstone himself, allegedly) sent out by this Email Blaster tool contain hidden "web bug" invisible 1 x 1 pixel graphics, not from Quantserve or Google Analytics, but from, which is an alias for the system in the USA.

If, like most people, this email is read using HTML enabled email software, this "web bug" allows NationBuilder and the Labour Party to track not only whether a recipient has opened the email, but it also tracks other people to whom the "web bugged" email has been forwarded to.


Remember that all such log file tracking information is available, on demand, to US Government agencies, under their PATRIOT Act, or can be freely sold by these commercial US companies.

This is not appropriate for a list of a particular UK political campaign's supporters' home address, phone and mobile phone, email details, Twitter and FaceBook accounts details etc.

The Labour party is welcome to spy on those of its own supporters, who have actually given their prior, informed consent to do this. We suspect, however, that many ordinary Labour party members and supporters will be annoyed, or perhaps horrified, that this is being done to them without such informed prior consent.

We hope that no other UK political party will be tempted to abuse their supporters or potential supporters in this way and that they will shame the Labour party for doing so.

Will shut down becuase of US trade embargos and sanctions against Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez ?, based in California, may well be dealing with Labour party social media apparatchiks, but they may be unware of the toxic nature of "Red Ken"s authoritarian political policies and fantasies.

It is possible that, which is run by Democrat supporters, or their upstream US based ISPs, could shut down the website, because of his sycophantic support for the communist dictators Fidel and Raul Castro in Cuba and the anti-American Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. They could use the excuse of US trade embargo and economic sanctions laws, or they could simply take a moral stand against "Red Ken".

If the Labour party and Ken Livingstone's apparatchiks really cared about Londoners, they would not have outsourced the website to the USA and would have employed a local London based company to provide exactly the same sort of social media integrated web campaigning tools, without the odious "web bug" tracking of people without their prior informed consent.

Some Spy Blog readers will remember this iconic image which summed up the creepy yet incompetent NuLabour police / surveillance / snooper / database state:


See our Spy Blog article from April 2008:

Banksy "One Nation Under CCTV" - tourists and beggars

So is everything now rosy under the Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition ?

Hardly - the valuable Banksy street stencilled wall mural, which was a tourist attraction in itself, has been censored, presumably on the orders of some apparatchik at the Post Office, in spite of the fact that such Banksy stencil wall murals are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.


The original CCTV camera / pigeon perch which was part of the mural is still there.

Incredibly, Westminster Council have installed a WiFi connected CCTV camera (silhouetted against the sky, to the left of the BT Tower) in this ostensible Crime Hotspot (not). Surely the Post Office is capable of paying for any extra security they deem necessary, so why did Westminster Council waste public money on this ?

This seems to be a clear example of using CCTV surveillance against legitimate political and artistic protest, rather than against real crime.

Does anybody know the names of the bureaucrats who ordered

  1. The destruction of the Banksy "One Nation Under CCTV" mural
  2. The Installation of the Westminster WiFi CCTV camera at just this location (isolated from the rest of the surveillance network)



Hostile Reconnaissance a pre-election rally on Terror Laws, Civil Liberties and Press Freedom


7pm, Tuesday 13th April 2010


Friends House (formerly known as the Friends Meeting House) opposite Euston mainline Railway and Tube station.

Friends House
173-177 Euston Road

Google Street View of the main entrance on the Euston Road.

N.B. for those of you who may wish to enter or leave more discretely, there is also a back entrance in Endsleigh Gardens. (Google Street View)


Hostile Reconnaissance

13th April, 2010

The London Photographers’ Branch is proud to announce a pre-election rally on Terror Laws, Civil Liberties & Press Freedom at 7pm on the 13th of April at Friends Meeting House in Euston.

The rally will be chaired by award winning photographer Jess Hurd and speakers include:

More speakers are TBC and will include high-profile photographers, journalists and lawyers who have dealt with the raft of terror laws that we face today.

Supporting the rally are the National Union of Journalists, NUJ London Central Branch and the I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! campaign group.

FacebookFacebook Event Google MapsGoogle Map

Remember that not a single real terrorist or mere terrorist suspect, who was not already under intense surveillance by the authorities, has ever been caught in the act of conducting" hostile reconnaissance" of potential terrorist targets.

SInce you do not need any special equipment to do so, even the most innocent tourist or business journey can be misconstrued as "hostile reconnaissance", once the dirty allegation of terrorism has been leveled at you.

Recently, there has been a bland and ineffective re-packaging of the old "Crowded Places" advice / training / "Climate of Fear" propaganda, which has been directly responsible for some of the slanderous incidents leading to harassment of innocent members of the public by various "useless jobsworths".

See the Home Office's Office for Security and Counter-terrorism's Working Together to Protect Crowded Places guidance

The main document:

Working Together to Protect Crowded Places guidance - March 2010 (.pdf)

See Chapter 4: Reducing Vulnerabilities: What works ? which mentions

  • Project Argus (general propaganda awareness interactive DVD session - 3 hours including coffee break),

  • Project Griffin Police and Security Industry Authority accredited security guards one day course.

  • Operation Lightning - "a police coordinated hostile reconnaissance operation, to identify those who might be concerned in terrorist activity and /or domestic extremism.

    N.B. We are also "concerned" about "terrorist activity and /or domestic extremism", but that does not mean that we participate in any !

See also the Spy Blog article

How much "war on terror" training for "tens of thousands" of people is the Labour government providing ? As little as 3 hours (including a coffee break)

How can , for example the notorious Terrorism Act section 44 stop and search without reasonable suspicion legal power, act as a deterrent, when the supposedly strictly limited geographical location and the supposedly limited time period is kept secret by the Home Office and the Police ?

Also of relevance to this "pre-election rally" is our (failed) Spy Blog Freedom of Information Act request:

ICO Decision Notice FS50198733 - Home Office: Terrorism Act 2000 s44 stop and search Authorisations

Spy Blog Hints and Tips for attending this sort of anti-surveillance state public event:

  1. Tell all your friends and family about the meeting, eben if they are not interested in attending themselves, at least have someone worry about you if you are late home from such a meeting.

  2. Although there will obviously be journalists at this particular event, tell any other journalists or broadcast media contacts you have about it - these issues affect them and their readers / audiences, it not not just a a London thing.

  3. Switch off your mobile phone(s) when you are within, a couple of blocks, or Tube or train or Bus stops from Euston. Even if you do not make or receive a voice call or send or receive an SMS text message or use your mobile phone internet connection, then your phone will register its Location every 10 minutes or so with the nearby mobile phone Cell tower base stations, simply to be ready for any such normal mobile telephony uses.

    This will generate Communications Traffic data including Location Based Services data, which will be trawled through, en masse, by various police and intelligence units with an interest in trying to identify and track some or all of the attendees of this meeting.

  4. Take note and photographs if possible, of anybody seeming to record or photograph vehicle number plates of nearby parked cars or the people entering or leaving the meeting rooms / building etc.

  5. If you are "stopped and searched" under the Terrorism Act 2000 section 44, you do not have to give your name and address (although this can be demanded if you are actually arrested under the vast swathe of other legislation ).

  6. Remember that Police Community Support officers have no powers under the the Terrorism Act 2000 section 44, unless they are being physically supervised by a real , sworn, Police Constable in Uniform (plain clothes or undercover police also have no section 44 powers)

  7. Neither Police Constables nor PCSOs can demand that you delete any photographs or video you have taken on your camera or mobile phone (that is potentially "destruction of evidence") .

  8. This is a peaceful meeting, but just in case you are arrested, or stopped and searched etc. do have the contact details of a firm of solicitors who deal with criminal law and human rights etc. Say nothing until you have access to proper, independent legal advice.

  9. Do not rely on keeping these solicitors details in your mobile phone - that is one of the first things that will be taken away from you by the police - memorise them and / or keep them on paper as well.

  10. Set a security PIN code on your Mobile Phone. This will not prevent the police from examining it forensically if you are actually arrested, but it may be enough to prevent casual, illegal, snooping by Police Constables or by ill trained Police Community Support Officers.

  11. Delete all your stored SMS text messages (sent, received and draft). These can be forensically recovered or reconstructed from central records, but again, there is no need to give anything private away to nosey snoopers who might have your phone in their possession.

  12. Ideally, do not take your normal mobile phone to such a meeting - use a cheap / disposable, prepaid, unregistered mobile phone, with little or no Friendship Tree history or stored contacts or SMS messages.

  13. Leave your passport, driving licence, union membership card, credit cards, bank ATM cards, supermarket loyalty cards, airline travel miles, car breakdown service cards, library cards, club membership cards, business address cards or registered Oyster travel cards etc. at home. These will be used to obtain your name and address without your consent, if you are "stopped and searched" or arrested. Surely none of you will have been so stupid as to obtain and carry a new National Identity Card to such a meeting ?

  14. Since this meeting will be in the run up to the General and Local elections, do please make very clear your views on the creepy Labour Surveillance State and its counterproductive effect on innocent people, to any politicians who might be trawling for votes at or near the meeting.

  15. If you are going to publish any photos or articles or emails or blog entries or tweetsl or other reports about this meeting, especially if you are inspired to participate in or plan some sort of peaceful action against the Labour Government or Whitehall, or other tentacles of the surveillance state, then please bear in mind our - Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers etc. - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

It is very frightening that this "pre-election rally" meeting is needed at all, in our supposedly liberal western democracy.

The bureaucratic surveillance police state which this unpopular, inept, yet desperate to cling on to power Labour government, has encouraged, make these simple precautions worth considering, even for a peaceful public meeting.

ICO Decision Notice FS50198733 - Home Office: Terrorism Act 2000 s44 stop and search Authorisations:

Given the recent European Court of Human Rights judgement about the controversial and widely abused Terrorism Act 2000 section 44 "stop and search" without "reasonable suspicion" legal powers, and, without any measurable positive effect on terrorism, we think that the Home Office and the Information Commissioner's Office are both very wrong in their decision to refuse our modest Freedom of Information Act request.

See European Court of Human Rights Judgment against the Terrorism Act 2000 section 44 stop and search without reasonable cause powers

More comments on this Decision Notice soon, when we have some feedback from our expert friends.

Reference: FS50198733

Information Commissioner's Office

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Section 50)
Decision Notice Date: 8 February 2010

Public Authority: Address:
The Home Office
Seacote Building
2 Marsham Street



The complainant requested copies of all Authorisations for the power to stop and search issued under the Terrorism Act 2000. During the investigation, the request was refined as being for certain information contained within those Authorisations.

The public authority refused to release any information citing the exemptions at section
23 (Information supplied by or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters), section
24 (National security) and section 31 (Law enforcement). The complainant did not contest any information withheld by virtue of section 23.

The Commissioner's decision is that the exemption at section 24(1) is engaged and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure. He finds that this exemption applies to all the remaining information sought by the complainant so the exemption at section 31 has not been further considered.

The Commissioner has also identified procedural breaches which are outlined in the Notice below. The complaint is therefore partly upheld.


59. As cited in paragraph 34 above, "... 'national security' means the security of the United Kingdom and its people". The Commissioner is of the opinion that releasing the requested information would cause specific and real threats to national security. He believes that the information could be used by terrorists to support and influence their activity. He therefore believes that any advantages gained by further informing the public would be significantly outweighed by the factors for protecting the public by maintaining the exemption. The complaint is therefore not upheld.

60. As the Commissioner finds that all of the remaining requested information (to
which section 23 does not apply) is exempt by virtue of section 24(1) he has not gone on to consider the exemption at section 31(1 )(a), (b) and (c).


The decision

66. The Commissioner's decision is that the public authority dealt with the following elements of the request in accordance with the requirements of the Act:

  • the requested information was properly withheld under the exemption at section 24(1) of the Act.

67. However, the Commissioner has also decided that the following elements of the request were not dealt with in accordance with the Act:

  • in failing to provide a response compliant with section 1(1 )(a) within 20 working days of receipt of the request, the public authority breached section 10(1);
  • in exceeding the statutory time limit for providing a response the public authority breached section 17(1).

Steps required

68. The Commissioner requires no steps to be taken.

Other matters

69. Although they do not form part of this Decision Notice the Commissioner wishes to highlight the following matters of concern.


Information Notice

75. During the course of his investigation, the Commissioner has encountered considerable delay on account of the Home Office's reluctance to meet the timescales for response set out in his letters. The delays were such that the Commissioner found it necessary to issue an Information Notice in order to obtain details relevant to his investigation.

76. Accordingly, the Commissioner does not consider the Home Office's approach to this case to be particularly co-operative, or within the spirit of the Act. As such he will be monitoring the authority's future engagement with the ICO and would expect to see improvements in this regard.


Download the OCR / edited text of FOIA Decision Notice FS50198733 as a Rich text Format document.

ICO Decision Notice FS50198733 (.rtf)


Various motoring blogs etc.(e.g. Honest John) have been reporting about the Castrol motor oil company's (ab)use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology for roadside "snoopvertising" billboard marketing purposes.

This Mail on Sunday report, however, uncovers Yet Another "data sharing without prior, individual, informed consent" scandal involving the notorious Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Drivers' details sold by DVLA are used in bizarre roadside adverts for Castrol

By Christopher Leake

The Government's controversial Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has launched an investigation into how the car registrations of millions of motorists were sold for use by a giant oil firm.

Castrol spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on a campaign promoting its oils, using giant advertising billboards on five major routes in London.

But when The Mail on Sunday contacted the DVLA on Thursday, the campaign - which has also raised safety fears - was halted, just four days after it began. It was due to run for two weeks.

The DVLA says it restricts the release of data chiefly to car parking enforcement companies, solicitors, finance firms and property companies - but insists that in every case the privacy of motorists is 'properly safeguarded'.

That is obviously a lie.

However, the agency does sell data, including the registration number, engine size, year, make and model of individual cars, to a number of organisations, including five motor industry data providers.

This is used to ensure garages fit vehicles with the correct tyres, batteries and replacement parts. But sources have admitted that in the Castrol campaign, the DVLA data was passed on by one of the five companies to a third-party contractor, which then used it in contravention of the ban on the use of registration numbers for marketing purposes.

Both the DVLA and Castrol have refused to identify the data firm at the centre of the scandal while the official inquiry is being carried out.

Presumably these are the DVLA Accredited Trade Associations:

* The British Parking Association (BPA) -
* The Association of British Investigators (ABI)-
* The Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) -
* British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) -
* Consumer Credit Trade Association (CCTA) -

Which one of these betrayed the DVLA data ?

Who is the "third-party contractor" ?

A spokeswoman for Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, the data watchdog, said last night that its officials had contacted the DVLA to seek assurances that drivers' personal details had not been released.

Remember that the definition of "personal data" includes partially or poorly "anonymised data", which can easily be cross referenced with another system e.g. Vehicle Number Plate and just the first part of the Post Code of the Registered Keeper address will be enough to identify the driver , in most cases.

The new Information Commissioner Christopher Graham needs to prove that he is not tainted by having been in charge of the Advertising Standards Authority, and therefore having had previous dealings with the Ogilvy advertising agency and with the Clear Channel Outdoor advertising billboard company, who seem to involved in this scheme - see our comments on the Clear Channel Create press release below.

A DVLA spokesman said: 'We have not provided any vehicle information to Castrol or received any fee from them in relation to their campaign. As soon as we became aware that vehicle information had been used inappropriately we contacted the organisation concerned to ensure this was stopped and are urgently investigating the case.'

There are two parts to the DVLA, the Vehicle data and the Driver data. This quote evades any mention of Driver data which might have been supplied to Castrol.

So what action will the DVLA actually take to punish those individuals and companies responsible ?

Chris Sedgwick, Castrol's UK & Ireland marketing director, said last night: 'We conducted this campaign as a short-term extension to the long-term service we have been running by web and text for years and believed it was entirely in line with the service provided by our data supplier.

'As soon as we were alerted to the issue we took steps to cease the interactive trial.

Castrol does not have direct access to DVLA data.'

So Castrol are trying to say that they are somehow not to blame either - what a surprise.

Will they punish their advertising agencies and other sub-contractors ?

This Clear Channel Create press release names some of the advertising people who have unprofessionally ignored, or sought to sneak around, the internationally recognised laid down in the Data Protection Act 1998.

The senior officials at the DVLA and the Directors of each of the companies mentioned are personally legally responsible for safeguarding the public's personal data.

The Clear Channel press release raises all sorts of Data Protection and personal Privacy and Security questions:

Castrol leads the way with UK's first personalised billboard advertising campaign

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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Please bear in mind the many recent, serious security vulnerabilities which have compromised the Twitter infrastructure and many user accounts, and Twitter's inevitable plans to make money out of you somehow, probably by selling your Communications Traffic Data to commercial and government interests. (same window)

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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