Recently in MI5 Category

Over the years, Spy Blog has, unfortunately, had to criticise the MI5 Security Service website for an unprofessional lack of security, seemingly every time the web site design has been revamped by c.f.

Here we go again:

To quote MI5 's own "Cyber" section of their website:

Hostile actors

A wide range of hostile actors use cyber to target the UK. They include foreign states, criminals, "hacktivist" groups and terrorists. The resources and capabilities of such actors vary. Foreign states are generally equipped to conduct the most damaging cyber espionage and computer network attacks.

Hostile actors conducting cyber espionage can target the government, military, business and individuals.

There are 4 sections of the MI5 Security Service website:

  1. Corporate brochure, history, "what we do" , "what we don't do", some news e.g. recent terrorism case convictions, speeches by the Director General etc..

  2. The infamous Terrorism Threat Level, which has mutated over the years into seperate categories for mainland UK, Northern Ireland and "international" i.e. muslim extremist terrorism.
    N.B. there is no clear indication of what exactly the public is meant to do at each Threat Level. Should we "Be pure! Be vigilant! Behave!"
    or Keep Calm and Carry On" ?

  3. Job vacancy and Careers information for people thinking about joining Mi5 Security Service.

  4. A confidential National Security tip off web form

Whilst the first two sections are important for the public image and reputation of MI5, the last two (Careers and Tip Off form) are of intense interest to our enemies.

Even the https:// only website does use a Digital Certificate with good Transport Layer Security configuration,

N.B. In common with GCHQ and MI6 there is no DNS entry for i.e. without the "www."
This tends to confuse the dimmer "hackivists" who frequently claim that their "script kiddy" Denial of Service attacks have somehow magically succeeded in a "tango down" of a non-existent website URL.

Accessing the MI5 Security Service website may be illegal or dangerous if you are in e.g. the Middle East or Russia or China etc.
so, for obvious reasons, they claim to keep your communications with them confidential.

You may decide to use the increasingly popular Tor Browser to hide your originating IP address.

Why then does the MI5 website betray your web browser meta data to one and possibly two foreign companies based in the USA i.e. CloudFlare and Google reCaptcha ?

CloudFlare, whilst providing useful TLS and anti Denial of Service attack services, is under heavy criticism for forcing Tor users to fill in stupid Google reCapture puzzles #dontblocktorto proceed to a "protected" website.
This is a minor inconvenience for most people, but it is completely inappropriate for an intelligence agency website with sensitive recruitment and national security tip off form features.

Regardless of whether a visitor is using Tor or not, if they want to to contact MI5 with a national security related tip off, the Google reCaptcha is embedded in the the "secure" contact form!


i.e. there are image links which do not go to the local MI5 web server, or any web servers in the United Kingdom, but which are pulled from Google in California, USA
e.g. the Google reCaptcha refresh image (and all the street sign or river etc. reCapture image tiles)


This creates a web log entry or "Internet Connection Record" in the new Investigatory Powers Bill doublespeak, in a foreign country, regardless of whether you fill in the form or not.

If you are using e.g. Firefox without Tor and your IP address does not trigger Cloudflare, then you may be able to get to the non-Javascript MI5 web contact form

but most people will have been tricked into handing over their meta data to these US companies and therefore to the US government (on demand), instead of just
sharing it with MI5 the Security Service in the United Kingdom

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:

Mata Hari and WW1 era invisible ink


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


22 May 1917,

To: Colonel GOUBET


She was given 3 phials containing

1st & 3rd phials - a white liquid

2nd phial - absinthe coloured liquid

The first was for moistening paper

The second " " writing on

The third " " obliterating all signs of

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

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

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

Given the pre-announced constraints, what Questions can the Intelligence and Security Committee actually sensibly ask the heads of GCHQ, Security Service MI5 and Secret Intelligence Service SIS/MI6, during tomorrow's "historic" first televised Open Evidence session ?

The Committee will question the Agency Heads on the work of the Agencies, their current priorities and the threats to the UK. Among other things it will cover the terrorist threat, regional instability and weapons proliferation, cyber security and espionage. However, since this is a public session, it will not cover details of intelligence capabilities or techniques, ongoing operations or sub judice matters. The Committee questions the Agencies about these details in their closed sessions.


Sir Iain Lobban, Director, GCHQ;
Mr Andrew Parker, Director General, Security Service; and
Sir John Sawers, Chief, Secret Intelligence Service.

will have rehearsed and / or have received tax payer funded "media coaching", like other senior civil servants have done when appearing before televised Parliamentary Committee sessions. Sir John Sawers, a former diplomat, is likely to require the least "coaching".

Here is are some Spy Blog suggested Questions for the ISC to ask:

Some Witness protection but currently no Whistleblower protection

Given the new powers of the ISC under the Justice & Security Act 2013 Schedule 1 (7) Protection for Witnesses

Protection for witnesses

7(1) Evidence given by a person who is a witness before the ISC may not be used in any civil or disciplinary proceedings, unless the evidence was given in bad faith.

(2) Evidence given by a person who is a witness before the ISC may not be used against the person in any criminal proceedings, unless the evidence was given in bad faith.

However, many potential whistleblowers will be scared of even contacting the ISC to merely discuss possible future witness testimony, regarding issues or details about which the senior managers of the Intelligence Agencies may not themselves be aware of. This will happen before any ISC witness immunity can be invoked, since this can only apply to actual evidence, rather than to investigative tip offs etc. for the ISC to probe further.

N.B. even if the Intelligence & Security Committee became a proper Joint Select Committee of Parliament, the legal privileges under the Bill of Rights would still only be Witness rather than Whistleblower protection.

Questions for the Open Session

Will each of the heads of the Intelligence Agencies publicly assure the Committee, the public and potential whistleblowers within their agencies and within their private sector subcontractors, that:

  1. They will not seek to use any of their Interception, Communications Data, Confidential Human Intelligence Sources or other Surveillance powers to try to identify potential or actual whistleblowers, who try to contact the Intelligence and Security Committee with tip offs, stories, testimony or hard evidence, regarding issues which the senior management of the agencies might not actually be aware of e.g. regarding knowledge or suspicion of the use of torture etc.
  2. They will not try to get the Police to conduct such "ISC whistleblower hunts" on their behalf and will forbid Foreign Intelligence Agency partners from doing so either.
  3. Contacting or actually giving evidence to the ISC will not affect an individual's Security Vetting / Clearance.
  4. Contacting or actually giving evidence to the ISC will not affect existing or future commercial contracts let by the intelligence agencies
Unless a current or future UK whistleblower can make use of the Intelligence and Security Committee, to get real or imagined wrongdoing properly investigated, without the risk of pre-emptive or post facto retaliation by the Intelligence Agencies, then it is more likely that they will simply dump their evidence anonymously to the internet at large, instead of using newspapers to (in most cases) responsibly publish them and raise legitimate democratic issues, like the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has done.

Promises about Whistleblower Protection are not enough on their own

Even if the ISC does extract such Whistleblower Protection promises from the current heads of the Intelligence Agencies, these need to be codfied into law, backed up by criminal sanctions, to bind their successors.

In addition, the ISC still needs to use suffcient technological and human counter espionage measures, because Hostile Foreign Intelligence Services (whether "enemies" or "allies") and criminals will also be targeting the Members of the Committee and their staff and families, to try to glean the identities of the Committee's confidential contacts and sources.

Will this Open Evidence session actually reassure the sceptics (like Spy Blog) of the effectiveness of the scrutiny provided by the Intelligence and Security Committee ?

Or will it be little more than a recital of how everything that the Intelligence Agencies do is lawful and that they should be trusted regardless ?

Send your own Questions (or tip offs) to the ISC

You can send the Intelligence and Security Committee an email with your own Questions or even tentative first approaches with a view to giving evidence in private via:

which will be encrypted in transit on the network, but which will be vulnerable to GCHQ and NSA and other snoopers whilst on the public internet.

Postal address is:

Intelligence and Security Committee
35 Great Smith Street

You are also welcome to send your Questions anonymously to Spy Blog, which will then be passed on to them as securely and as anonymously as possible:

Spy Blog PGP public encryption key for

After being hastily cancelled in the first week of July 2013, the Intelligence and Security Committee has again announced the "historic" first ever open oral evidence taking session with the three heads of the UK's intelligence agencies.

23 October 2013
posted 23 Oct 2013 03:04 by ISC Admin
Open Evidence Session

At 14:00 on Thursday 7 November, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament will be holding an Open Evidence Session with the three heads of the UK Intelligence Agencies:

Sir Iain Lobban, Director, GCHQ;
Mr Andrew Parker, Director General, Security Service; and
Sir John Sawers, Chief, Secret Intelligence Service.

No doubt all three are rehearesing what they will say and are being given taxpayer funded TV media coaching, so that they do not make fools of themselves in public.

Sir John Sawers a former Ambassador and British Permanent Representative to the United Nations, is likely to have most experience with the media, but the ISC is unlikely to ask any of the tree of them any hard questions.

This will be the Committee's first Open Evidence Session: it will be the first time the three heads of the Intelligence Agencies have appeared in public together to talk about their work.

The session will give an insight into the world of intelligence, and the work the Agencies do on behalf of the UK. It represents a very significant step forward in terms of the openness and transparency of the Agencies. The Committee will question the Agency Heads on the work of the Agencies, their current priorities and the threats to the UK. Among other things it will cover the terrorist threat, regional instability and weapons proliferation, cyber security and espionage.

The sort of things readers of the censored ISC Annual Reports have become used to.

However, since this is a public session, it will not cover details of intelligence capabilities or techniques, ongoing operations or sub judice matters. The Committee questions the Agencies about these details in their closed sessions.

So absolutely everything to do with the Edward Snowden revelations will be kept secret.

The session will be held on the Parliamentary estate and will last approximately an hour and a half. It will be broadcast on

Clearly not this is not likely to be a Parliamentary Committee Room in the main Palace of Westminster and the "secure" brutalist bunker architecture of the QE II Conference Centre is part of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), not part of the Parliamentary Estate.

At a guess one of the Portcullis House Committee rooms might be used as they are already wired up for TV broadcast and which it is easier to smuggle the secret squirrels in and out via the maze of the Norman Shaw Building etc. for security reasons.


Parliamentary Estate boundaries as per Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 section 128 - crossing these boundaries without permission is criminal trespass.

The session will be broadcast on a short time delay. The time delay is a security mechanism to allow the Committee to pause the broadcast if anything is mentioned which might endanger national security or the safety of those working for the Agencies. A similar process was used during the public hearings for the Iraq Inquiry.

There will be a limited number of seats available in the meeting room itself. For security reasons, the Committee has agreed that for this first Open Session these seats will be available to full Parliamentary pass holders and a small number of print journalists only. A notification of the event has been posted on the parliamentary intranet and pass holders have been invited to apply for a seat, which will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis.

Media arrangements are being dealt with separately.

The week before and the weekend after this "historic" session, there is likely to be a lot of Whitehall "media handling" and spin to manipulate the usual suspect newspapers and broadcast media to emphasise the official line and to ignore the unanswered (and probably unasked) questions.

Submit Questions for the ISC to ask the heads of GCHQ, MI5 & SIS

We invite Spy Blog readers to submit their own Questions for the heads of the UK Intelligence Agencies either for the open session or for the closed one, either directly to the ISC:

Postal Address

Intelligence and Security Committee
35 Great Smith Street

Email Address

Alternatively, if you suspect that you may be tracked and monitored by the Intelligence Agencies, especially if you are a current or former employee, Spy Blog will pass on your Questions as anonymously as possible on your behalf.

Spy Blog PGP public encryption key for
Fingerprint: F529 A804 A171 548E B2B7 A724 A165 A294 80CF AA4C
expires on 6th September 2014

See also Spy Blog's Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for
Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Intelligence agency staff whistleblower protection

The ISC has the theoretical power to protect actual witnesses giving evidence from any criminal or civil prosecutions or internal disciplinary measures. This is all very well for hiding the sins and errors of the heads or former heads or senior staff of the intelligence agencies, but is not adequate for more junior staff or contractors, whose evidence or testimony may contradict or may have been hidden from the more senior staff. These people risk their security clearances and commercial contracts if they speak out and so should get extra protection.

There should be whistleblower protection afforded by the Intelligence and Security Committe, similar to that outlined in our correspondence with the Detainee Inquiry (which was nobbled when trying to look into allegations of torture complicity by the UK intelligence services & MOD etc.)

Witness but not whistleblower protection for the Detainee Inquiry into torture complicity of MI5, SIS, GCHQ

Without this, middle level or senior intelligence agency staff, fearful for their own jobs, could well authorise the deployment of the full panoply of their state backed surveillance powers in a "mole hunt" exercise, self-justified on "internal national security" grounds, to try to identify who has attempted to "spill the beans" to the Intelligence and Security Committee, regardless of whether they actually go through with it or actually say anything really controversial.


The new Director General of the Security Service (MI5), Andrew Parker gave his first public speech, yesterday Tuesday 8th October 2013, at the following in the tradition of his predecessors, before an uncritical audience at traditional at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Whitehall.

The Guardian has a useful analysis:MI5 chief's defence of GCHQ surveillance: extracts and analysis by Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor

The full text of his speech is worth commenting on, given the mainstream media briefing and spin, which, apart from The Guardian, is wholly uncritical of all of the claims and evasions made in this speech.

Address by the Director General of the Security Service, Andrew Parker, to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Whitehall, 8 October 2013.

RUSI is a securocrat thinktank which is literally in Whitehall, opposite next to the Banqueting House, on the same opposite side of the road as to Downing Street, between the Cabinet Office and Horse Guards.

Google Maps Streetview of 61 Whitehall.

[Thanks to the readers who pointed out the error with the geography]

It is now the traditional venue for MI5 Director General's public speeches. N.B. neither the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) nor GCHQ have bothered with even this tiny level of public transparency.

1. I'd like to start by thanking Professor Michael Clarke and the Royal United Services Institute for offering this forum for my first published speech as Director-General of MI5. RUSI is rightly recognised at home and around the world in the leading rank of independent, authoritative voices on national security matters.

2. I was appointed Director-General of MI5 in April. MI5 is a highly specialised and professional organisation. Its work has been critical to the safety and security of the country and our people for over a century. Leading MI5 is both a tremendous privilege and an enormous responsibility. Those responsibilities are as wide ranging as they are serious. Our work is ever more subject to public debate and scrutiny. I want to use the opportunity of my first public speech tonight to open my contribution to those debates.

"ever more subject to public debate and scrutiny" - really ? where ? Not in Parliament nor in the DA-Notice observant mainstream media.

3. I will focus on three things:

  • the MI5 of 2013, and what guides and shapes it;
  • the enduring and diversifying threat from Al Qaida and its imitators; and third
  • the question of how in a world of accelerating technological change MI5 will continue to be able to get the information it needs to protect the UK.

4. Let me begin with a personal perspective. I joined MI5 30 years ago, fascinated and drawn by the opportunity to work in a professional organisation doing work of real national importance. That might sound starry-eyed, but it has been my genuine experience every day since.

5. Over the years, with many excellent colleagues, I have been greatly privileged to be part of MI5's work in protecting the UK through numerous extraordinary and historic events that have shaped the life of this country.

6. Covert threats to the UK's security can arise from many different quarters. Wherever and whenever they do it is MI5's job to be there, gathering intelligence, investigating and disrupting to protect the United Kingdom.

7. We have seen countless examples of the capacity of individuals, groups and nations to act aggressively for a host of reasons, be it from fear, suspicion or a sense of grievance. We are all too familiar with the way that terrorism, espionage, cyber attack, and weapons of mass destruction are all features of the darker side of our modern world.

8. Of course the type and mix of security threats shifts. Over recent decades new threats have emerged (Al Qaida), old ones have fallen away (Cold War subversion), mutated (Northern Ireland-related terrorism) or branched out in new forms (cyber espionage).

9. MI5 has changed with the times too. So have our close partner Agencies: especially GCHQ, SIS and the police, upon whom our work depends. Together we have a rich and proud history of continually adapting, reshaping, developing new skills and ways of working, and growing innovative capabilities to meet new challenges.

10. The past decade has seen some of the greatest shifts in MI5's post-war history. In recent years we have responded to the rising threat of Islamist terrorism, taken on a new lead role for intelligence work in Northern Ireland, built cyber work, and helped secure the Olympics. As I speak today we are tackling threats on more fronts than ever before.

"built cyber work" - what exactly is the MI5 rather than the GCHQ or Police aspect of this ?

11. But some things don't change. For over a hundred years MI5 has been protecting this country and its people from many kinds of danger: through two World Wars, the Cold War and bloody campaigns of terror. Critical to our success down the decades, and still today, are the enduring qualities that define MI5.

12. I had the pleasure of speaking to several hundred retired members of the Service earlier this year. The audience spanned recent leavers right back to a distinguished colleague who had served during the Second World War. They strongly recognised those defining qualities that remain at the core of MI5 today:

  • the energy, commitment and clarity of purpose;
  • the deep importance of integrity, objective judgement, and the rule of law;
  • operational agility, skill and sheer inventiveness; and
  • the way we work together in common endeavour.

13. Security threats are a feature of the modern world, but they do not define it. We are all lucky to be able to live without fear in a free society. It is the task of MI5 and all the vital partner agencies on whom we depend to keep it that way. We deal with threats and dangers all day every day. But for the public at large security concerns are rightly not a dominant part of daily life. Lethal terrorist attacks in the UK remain rare. MI5 and partners have a long track record of detecting and preventing most attempts.

14. But our task is getting harder. The threats are more diverse and diffuse. And we face increasing challenges caused by the speed of technological change. Those are my twin themes tonight.

"Lethal terrorist attacks in the UK remain rare" - not rare, but extremely rare. How much of this is due to MI5 is completely unclear.


15. My predecessor spoke last year about cyber threats. This evening I am majoring on terrorism. Describing the reality of the terrorism threat we face is challenging in public discourse. I've heard too much exaggeration at one end, while at the other there can sometimes be an alarming degree of complacency.

16. A partial picture does the public a disservice. It ultimately tends to corrode confidence in what MI5 and others do, and why. That is one of the main reasons why my predecessors over the past 20 years have made it an occasional habit to speak on the record. None of us joined MI5 to make public speeches. But I too believe strongly that the public is owed an explanation of the threats the country faces and what we are doing about them. Ministers properly take the day-to-day role in doing that, but I think it right that from time to time the public also hear direct from those who work behind the scenes to defend them.

Ministers are meant to be responsible for MI5 and the other intelligence agencies, but they simply do not bother to explain any of their actions, in any worthwhile detail.Instead they pretend that they can "neither confirm nor deny" nor "discuss" anything to do with "national security.

How convenient for them, but this stupidity breeds mistrust in the whole of government and lets conspiracy theories run wild.

17. I'm not focusing on Northern Ireland terrorism this evening in detail, but given its importance and its central part in MI5's work, I can't leave it without saying a few words. We have obviously seen enormous progress in re-building normality in Northern Ireland in the fifteen years since the Good Friday Agreement. But we still have to deal with continuing incidents of violence on both sides.

18. MI5 is necessarily focused on the darkest end. Various terrorist factions remain determined to kill people. We and the Police Service of Northern Ireland detect and disrupt the vast majority of their attempts. But occasionally we are all stung with the tragedy of wanton murder, as we saw most recently with the shooting of David Black last November. Rejecting the political process in Northern Ireland, these ragged remnants of a bygone age are in a cul-de-sac of pointless violence and crime with little community support. We will continue to work with the police to put these thugs and killers in front of the Courts.

Those "ragged remnants of a bygone age" in Northern Ireland still seem to be better armed and have much better access to weapons, explosives and bomb making skills, than any of the recent Islamist extremist plotters.

There should be more focus on Northern Irish terrorism than on purely overseas Islamic extremist plots or fund raising.

19. Turning to international terrorism, let's start with the plain facts: from 11 September 2001 to the end of March this year 330 people were convicted of terrorism-related offences in Britain. At the end of that period 121 were in prison, nearly three-quarters of whom were British. In the first few months of this year there were four major trials related to terrorist plots. These included plans for a 7/7-style attack with rucksack bombs, two plots to kill soldiers, and a failed attempt to attack an EDL march using an array of lethal weapons. There were guilty pleas in each case. 24 terrorists were convicted and sentenced to more than 260 years in jail.

Most of these had no access to weapons, explosives or even money.
Many of those convicted were not actually plotting anything in the UK at all.

The foiling of the potential armed attack by an Islamic extremist gang on the English Defence League extremist march had nothing whatsoever to do with MI5. The idiots got the time of the EDL march wrong and were stopped and arrested by Police, because their car had no insurance, with a car boot full of unsophisticated weapons !

Six admit planning to bomb English Defence League rally

Andrew Parker should have been advised not to use this (non) example in a speech about MI5 and Terrorism.

Far too many of these convictions have been simply for Orwellian Thought Crimes under the notorious Terrorism Act s58 Collection of information - most educated readers of Spy Blog have more knowledge in their heads, than many of those who have been convicted under this section ever downloaded from the internet e.g. the probable honeypot Inspire Magazine

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

N.B. slide 20 in the Washington Post's version of a recent release from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (censored in The Guardian version) shows that "Inspire Magazine" was a successful NSA hacking target after 8 months.

EGOTISTICALGIRAFFE (Washington Post version)

20. Today, the threat level for international terrorism in the UK is assessed to be 'substantial': attacks are considered a strong possibility. But what does that really mean?

21. Since 2000, we have seen serious attempts at major acts of terrorism in this country typically once or twice a year. That feels to me, for the moment, unlikely to change.

22. While that tempo seems reasonably even, the ground we have to cover has increased as the threat has become more diversified.

23. Ten years ago, the almost singular focus of the international CT effort was Al Qaida in South Asia. Since that time we have seen violent Islamist groupings in various countries and regions exploiting conflict, revolutions and the opportunity of weakened governance to gain strength and refuge. Some have adopted the Al Qaida brand, becoming franchised affiliates with what at the same time has been a declining Al Qaida core in South Asia.

24. A time-lapse sequence of a world map over the past decade would show outbreaks in Iraq, North & West Africa, Yemen, Somalia, and most recently Syria.

25. Al Qaida and its affiliates in South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula present the most direct and immediate threats to the UK. For the future, there is good reason to be concerned about Syria. A growing proportion of our casework now has some link to Syria, mostly concerning individuals from the UK who have travelled to fight there or who aspire to do so. Al Nusrah and other extremist Sunni groups there aligned with Al Qaida aspire to attack Western countries.

Why devote any expensive resources to people who are planning to travel to fight in Syria or elsewhere ?

Would today's MI5 be snooping on a modern day Eric Blair (better known as George Orwell) who volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War ?

Many of those who do so will either be killed or disillusioned, rather than posing any sort of threat (without access to weapons or explosives etc.) if they ever come back to the UK.

26. The ability of Al Qaida to launch the centrally directed large scale attacks of the last decade has been degraded, though not removed. We have seen the threat shift more to increasing numbers of smaller-scale attacks and a growing proportion of groups and individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of terrorism. It remains the case that there are several thousand Islamist extremists here who see the British people as a legitimate target.

27. Overall, I do not believe the terrorist threat is worse now than before. But it is more diffuse. More complicated. More unpredictable.

28. We have again seen the reality of terrorism this year. At the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria and then in Nairobi two weeks ago, we saw once more the unconstrained intent of the terrorists in action and the impact on Britons living and working around the world. And on 22 May, Fusilier Lee Rigby was brutally killed in Woolwich -- the forthcoming trial prevents me saying more. And we have seen violent attacks against Muslims and Mosques.

MI5 did nothing at all to prevent the murderer of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich despite having the alleged murderers under various levels of surveillance for years.

It may even be that the repeated harassment and attempts to recruit the chief suspect and members of his family into becoming MI5 informers actually contributed to this stupid and evil murder.

The Intelligence and Security Committee is meant to have looked into this, but., of course, they have not actually told the public anything, whilst the murder trial proceeds, but don't hold your breath for anything at all critical of Mi5.

Again, Andrew Parker should have been advised not to use this (non) example in a speech about MI5 and Terrorism.

Counter Terrorism

29. I'd like to turn now to counter terrorism. The months preceding 7 July 2005 saw widespread scepticism about the threat... Surely it couldn't happen here? I was Counter Terrorism Director the day Al Qaida murdered 52 people in London. I led the Service's CT response - a story for another day. But the steps we and our partners were then able to take with an injection of new resources led directly a year later to what has been described as the biggest counter terrorism success in modern history. Al Qaida tried to bring down a number of transatlantic airliners using liquid bombs -- the reason why there are restrictions on taking liquids on planes today. Like so many other attempts before and since, we were able to detect that plot and, with partners, stop it.

Therefore Andrew Parker must have been complicit in or and should take personal responsibility for MI5's failure to supply the supposedly independent and all powerful Intelligence and Security Committee with all the relevant information regarding the July 2005 attacks.

The ISC had to sheepishly issue a second report into the July 2005 attacks and both the ISC and MI5 lost a huge amount of public credibility and public trust as a result.

Report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 (2006)

Review of the Intelligence on the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 (2009)

The airliner liquid bomb threat over-reaction has caused millions of pounds of economic damage and has actually put passengers lives at more risk.

The huge pile of baggage which built up at Heathrow airport and elsewhere when the restrictions on liquids were rushed in, which then was flown on passenger planes as well as cargo planes, without the associated passengers on the same plane. This risked Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie style bomb attacks and aided drug smuggling instead of making the public any safer.

30. But, as events have tragically shown, we can't stop them all.

31. There can be no doubt that the UK has one of the most developed and effective set of counter terrorist capabilities and arrangements in the world. But I don't say this with any boasting. As I've often said to heads of sister agencies overseas who have made such admiring remarks, what we have in the UK is not the product of some clever consultant on a management away-day with a flipchart and a marker pen. It was not designed and implemented in some giant leap.

32. The reality is of course that the UK has built and then advanced through many stages a set of defences over four decades in response to near-continuous severe terrorist threat. Over that time in Great Britain and Northern Ireland thousands of people have died at the hands of terrorists. We have continually adapted, adjusted and advanced what we do to counter it, applying hard won lessons, sometimes painfully learned. With partners in GCHQ, SIS, and the police, we continually challenge ourselves to move forward and keep improving. Increased investment and the skilful leadership of my predecessors have created a Security Service in the UK that is the envy of the world. Similar advances have been made in the agencies we depend upon.

33. In one sense counter terrorism is an extraordinary proposition. Let me say what I mean. Terrorism, because of its nature and consequences, is the one area of crime where the expectation sometimes seems to be that the stats should be zero.

34. Zero. Imagine applying the same target to murder in general, or major drugs trafficking. That is the stuff of 'pre-crime' in the Tom Cruise movie 'Minority Report'.

35. Life is not the movies. In a free society 'zero' is of course impossible to achieve in the face of persistent and serious threats - though we will keep stretching for it. The utter unacceptability of terrorism is the reason why so much effort is rightly devoted to intelligence work to detect plans and thwart plots before they occur.

36. A strong record of success risks creating an expectation of guaranteed prevention. There can be no such guarantee.

"though we will keep stretching for it." - We do not expect MI5 etc. to completely protect us from every terrorism attack and they should not be allowed to even try to snoop on all (or most) of our (innocent) communications, all of the time.

37. And then there is the difference between knowing of someone and knowing everything about them. Let me say what I mean. With greater resources since 7/7 we have worked very hard to identify as many as possible of the people in the country who are active in some way in support of terrorism.

38. As my predecessors have said at different times, there are several thousand of them, with varying degrees of involvement. My repeating this immediately risks conjuring the perhaps reasonable-seeming assumption that knowing who somebody is means MI5 then somehow knows everything about that person and can continually monitor every aspect of their life. We cannot.

Sounds like a pre-emptive washing of hands regarding the Drummer Lee Rigby murder.

Our impression of that murder is that the two alleged murderers only talked face to face to each other whilst planning an almost random , spur of the moment attack. Unless there had been an armed MI5 or Police surveillance team tracking them, no amount of MI5 communications or other remote surveillance could have prevented this evil murder.

39. The idea that we either can or would want to operate intensive scrutiny of thousands is fanciful. This is not East Germany, or North Korea. And thank goodness it's not. Successive Governments have made careful decisions about both the scale and powers of organisations like MI5, proportionate to the threats, and have gone no further. Britain is a democracy that rightly prizes the freedom of the individual. We do not want all-pervasive, oppressive security apparatus.

That is not how East German or North Korean state surveillance works, though, is it ? Even they did not / can not snoop on everything all of the time.

Surely everyone in MI5 must be familiar with this famous quote from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four part 1 chapter 1.

Spy Bog George Orwell's 1984 - telescreen and the surveillance society

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinised.

40. Knowing of an individual does not equate to knowing everything about them. Being on our radar does not necessarily mean being under our microscope. The reality of intelligence work in practice is that we only focus the most intense intrusive attention on a small number of cases at any one time.

There is no reason to disbelieve Andrew Parker when he states the obvious regarding properly authorised and sanctioned, narrowly targeted snooping.

Nobody has ever been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act or the Computer Misuse Act or the Data Protection Act or The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act etc. for malicious, private snooping , stalking, harassment of their ex-wives or partners (something we absolutely know happens in other organisations like the Police or the Department for Work & Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs etc.) or for financial gain (by selling information to tabloid journalists or foreign intelligence agencies or for insider trading financial speculation.

If MI5 and the other other intelligence agencies want to try to regain the public's trust, which they have lost, they will have to be much more open and ruthless in stamping out, in public, any abuses of the massive snooping infrastructure that they have built in secret.

41. The challenge therefore concerns making choices between multiple and competing demands to give us the best chance of being in the right place at the right time to prevent terrorism. There are of course processes for making these decisions, but I can't emphasise too strongly that it is not and never can be a precise science, and it should not be treated as if it were. It centres on the art of judgement by intelligence professionals, who rarely have more than fragments of a picture to work with.

42. We are not perfect, and there are always things we can learn, do better and sharpen up on. That we have a habit of doing so is one of our enduring strengths. And it's right that independent scrutineers like the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) can look at what we have done and help point out areas in which we can improve.

The neither the secretive RIPA Commissioners nor the Intelligence and Security Committee, command any public trust - they are all seen, rightly or wrongly, as Whitehall poodles.

43. I am very pleased that we are a highly accountable Service. It is critically important to the sort of country we all want to live in that organisations like mine do not have free rein, and equally that we are not politically directed. We operate under law. I am in charge of our operations, but am accountable to the Home Secretary. She in turn is accountable to Parliament and the British People, responsibilities that I know she treats with the utmost seriousness.

Like all her recent Labour and Conservative predecessors as Home Secretary, this "utmost seriousness" does not actually involve taking responsibility for MI5 failure and honorably resigning from office, does it ?

44. There is an important double-lock there: Minsters cannot direct MI5 operations, but equally I have to explain and answer for what we do. MI5 initiates operations, but conducting the most intrusive activity requires the signed authority and consent of the Secretary of State in every instance.

Not just a "Secretary of State" but a "senior official" can also sign an Intelligence Services Act warrant or a RIPA Interception warrant, after Charles Clarke's failures to properly notice identical boilerplate text on what should have been individual, different warrants he was supposed to individually scrutinise and sign. This led to the amendments in the Terrorism Act 2006 s31 & s32

45. Our accountability goes much further. MI5 is overseen independently by Parliament through the ISC, inspected by two independent Commissioners (usually senior Judges), held to account on any complaints from the public by a senior and independent Tribunal of judges and lawyers, and audited by the National Audit Office. We give evidence in court.

Neither the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Anthony May nor the Intelligence Services Commissioner, Sir Mark Waller (until December 2013)

are still Judges. They are retired Judges and no longer have any legal powers e.g. Contempt of Court etc. which could be used to fine or imprison truculent Intelligence Agency personnel.

They are very secretive and refuse to engage with the public, a necessary task for which they have no legal mandate and no budget for.

46. Rightly, these arrangements are tough and testing. They have just been strengthened further by the passage of the Justice and Security Act. This has expanded the powers and the resources of the ISC by a significant degree, allowing them for the first time to investigate operational matters of significant national importance.

The ISC is virtually technologically illiterate and has no experience of successfully scrutinising multi-million pound Information Technology projects, which are so common in intelligence agencies these days.

47. I welcome this reform and the enhanced confidence it can give to the public. The fact that much of this oversight necessarily happens out of public hearing leads some commentators to mistake silence for weakness. That is plain wrong. From my experience, I know that all of the bodies I have mentioned and their supporting staff pursue their responsibilities very fully, professionally and conscientiously.

48. We are also coming soon to the first Public Hearing at which the Agency Heads will be televised answering questions from the ISC in Parliament. Whilst it can never replace the value of candid and classified evidence given in closed session about the detail of our work, it will be an important and visible extension of the accountability process and one which is transparent and tangible to the British public.

This televised session was supposed to happen in the first week of July.

When exactly is it now scheduled for ? (no information on ISC or MI5 websites)

There should be a mechanism for the general public to submit Questions to be put to the heads of the UK intelligence Agencies by the Intelligence and Security Committee. However, we fear that this will be a bland, meaningless bit of public relations, not proper transparency or scrutiny.

There are plenty of questions which do not require the revelation of tactical secrets or sources or truly secret techniques.


49. I want to mention some of the challenges we face doing our work in the future. I'll do so in the way I talk about this to my staff. I often describe the work of MI5 as a duality: keeping the country safe today, and ensuring we remain able to do so tomorrow. In other words, doing all we can to tackle the threats the country faces today, while also positioning ourselves and developing the capabilities we need to be able to protect the UK against future threats. That second aspect might seem obvious but in a rapidly changing world it is becoming ever more important. It will require constant effort and forward thinking if we are to have the ways and means to hold back tomorrow's threats.

50. Let me explain. Our success in the future depends on how well we are able to respond to two principal themes. I have mentioned the first already: the diversifying threat landscape on all fronts. The challenge for us and for SIS and GCHQ is how to spread our effort effectively across a broader, shifting front. As always we will need to ensure we are at all times looking where the problems for the UK are developing most strongly. That applies across the whole range of fronts, not just terrorism.

"That applies across the whole range of fronts, not just terrorism."
e.g. G20 summits, the United Nations, European Union, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SWIFT, Saudi banks, Brasilian petroleum and mineral industries, Belgacom Belgium's main telecommunications company, Tor users etc. , according to the revelations from Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden

51. The second, perhaps greater, challenge is the accelerating technology race. The internet, `big data', and leaps in technology continue profoundly to change how we all live. There are healthy debates about how society and indeed the economy gain most from the best, while setting aside less welcome effects. Its relevance to our subject tonight is in the opportunities it gives to terrorists, and the challenges posed to us in tracking what they do.

52. What do I mean? The internet is used by terrorists for many purposes: broadcasting their propaganda, radicalising vulnerable individuals, arranging travel, buying items, moving money and so on. But the primary issue is communication.

53. When I joined the Service, communication between remote individuals was by telephone or by letter. Where there were grounds to do so, both could be covertly intercepted under legal warrant. We could reasonably assume that we could acquire the whole content of the target's communication for analysis. At a lower threshold we could acquire their call data: a list of what calls they had made and received, without the content.

54. The internet and related technologies offer a rather different world - better in so many ways, but better too for the terrorists. Through e-mail, IP telephony, in-game communication, social networking, chat rooms, anonymising services, and a myriad of mobile apps the terrorist has tens of thousands of means of communication. Many of those routes are now encrypted. Further advances are made every day.

"tens of thousands of means of communication" - not even full time professional internet experts have access to or will ever use "tens of thousands".

55. How the UK decides to respond to these developments will directly determine the level of security available against the threats we face. Retaining the capability to access such information is intrinsic to MI5's ability to protect the country.

56. Shifts in technology can erode our capabilities. There are choices to be made, including, for example, about how and whether communications data is retained. It is not, however, an option to disregard such shifts with an unspoken assumption that somehow security will anyway be sustained. It will not. We cannot work without tools.

57. Technologies advance all the time. But MI5 will still need the ability to read or listen to terrorists' communications if we are to have any prospect of knowing their intentions and stopping them. The converse to this would be to accept that terrorists should have means of communication that they can be confident are beyond the sight of MI5 or GCHQ acting with proper legal warrant. Does anyone actually believe that? We would all like to live in a world where there were no good reasons for covert investigation of people. But as events continue to prove, that is not the world we are

58. And let me be clear - we only apply intrusive tools and capabilities against terrorists and others threatening national security. The law requires that we only collect and access information that we really need to perform our functions, in this case tackling the threat of terrorism. In some quarters there seems to be a vague notion that we monitor everyone and all their communications, browsing at will through people's private lives for anything that looks interesting. That is, of course, utter nonsense.

Be very clear, just because Mi5 does not officially look through your innocent private (non terrorist, non criminal) communications now, the mere fact of snooping on them and storing them puts them at risk from rogue insiders (especially where personal jealousy or personal financial gain) and from future spies and extremist politicians who may change the current rules.

Until MI5 and their sister agencies can prove that they have really robust internal mechanisms to prevent such rogue or future malicious abuses of the surveillance infrastructure, it is better that they not be trusted with anything except narrowly focused investigations, coupled with an aggressive data destruction policy.

We do not expect 100% "security" and they should not have 100% access to our communications.

59. What we know about the terrorists, and the detail of the capabilities we use against them together represent our margin of advantage. That margin gives us the prospect of being able to detect their plots and stop them. But that margin is under attack. Reporting from GCHQ is vital to the safety of this country and its citizens. GCHQ intelligence has played a vital role in stopping many of the terrorist plots that MI5 and the police have tackled in the past decade. We are facing an international threat and GCHQ provides many of the intelligence leads upon which we rely. It makes a vital contribution to most of our high priority investigations. It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will. Unfashionable as it might seem, that is why we must keep secrets secret, and why not doing so causes such harm.

It should be Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is responsible for GCHQ, making such a defence of their snooping activities.

At the very least it should be the Director of GCHQ Sir Iain Lobban, who defends his own organisation in public, not the Director General of the Security Service MI5.

What precise information has been of any value to terrorists whatsoever, in the revelations by Edward Snowden ? How does the revelation of the cover name of say TEMPORA and the millions or billions spent on it, without any real technical details at all, make any difference to a potential terrorist ?

The only operational details revealed have been about spying on supposedly friendly allies and international organisations, who are clearly not terrorists.


60. In closing, let me remind you of something that is too easily forgotten. MI5 is in the end an organisation of members of the public from every walk of life who care very much about the sort of country we live in. That's why they work there. Believe me it's not for the money. Our whole raison d'être is the protection of the freedoms we all enjoy. The fundamental principles of necessity and proportionality run deep in the Service. We bring thoughtful and considered balance to decisions about use of intrusive techniques. Far from being gratuitous harvesters of private information, in practice we focus our work very carefully and tightly against those who intend harm. The law requires it. All our internal controls, systems and authorisation levels are built accordingly and subject to independent inspection and oversight.

61. Threats are diversifying, but not diminishing. The internet, technology and big data are transforming our society. We have a tough job to do in rapidly changing times. We can't stop every plot, much as we try and much as we would like to. There are choices ahead that will determine whether we can sustain what we do, or accept that it will erode.

62. But, standing before you today, I can say that we are well placed to tackle the bulk of the threats we face, because of the support we receive from our colleagues in GCHQ, SIS and the police and, most of all, because of the commitment of the men and women who make up MI5.

Ok, we support what you meant to be trying to do, but we do not trust the under resourced, technologically illiterate, far too secretive and public hating ,supposedly independent scrutiny of your activities
Note that there is no mention whatsoever in this speech of what, if anything, MI5 is doing in Counter Intelligence. Have all the foreign intelligence agencies operating in or against the United Kingdom magically stopped ?

MI5 The Security Service seems to have allowed its legally required Register of Data Controllers entry Z8881167 to expire (or else the Information Commissioner's Office has not bothered to publish a new or updated entry)

Registration Number: Z8881167

Date Registered: 19 January 2005 Registration Expires: 18 January 2013



P.O.BOX 3255

This register entry describes, in very general terms, the personal data being processed by:

This register entry contains personal data held for 3 purpose(s)
Purpose 1

Staff Administration

Purpose Description:

Appointments or removals, pay, discipline, superannuation, work management or other personnel matters in relation to the staff of the data controller.

Data subjects are:

Relatives, guardians and associates of the data subject


Data classes are:

Personal Details
Family, Lifestyle and Social Circumstances
Education and Training Details
Employment Details
Financial Details
Racial or Ethnic Origin
Physical or Mental Health or Condition

Sources (S) and Disclosures (D)(1984 Act). Recipients (1998 Act):

Data subjects themselves
Current, past or prospective employers of the data subject
Healthcare, social and welfare advisers or practitioners
Education, training establishments and examining bodies
Financial organisations and advisers
Central Government
Employment and recruitment agencies



Purpose 2

Method 2

Data Controllers further description of Purpose:


Data subjects are:

Customers and clients
Advisers, consultants and other professional experts

Data classes are:

Goods or Services Provided

Sources (S) and Disclosures (D)(1984 Act). Recipients (1998 Act):

Data subjects themselves
Business associates and other professional advisers
Employees and agents of the data controller
Central Government


None outside the European Economic Area

Purpose 3

Method 2

Data Controllers further description of Purpose:


Data subjects are:

Staff including volunteers, agents, temporary and casual workers
Complainants, correspondents and enquirers
Relatives, guardians and associates of the data subject
Advisers, consultants and other professional experts


Data classes are:

Personal Details

Sources (S) and Disclosures (D)(1984 Act). Recipients (1998 Act):

Employees and agents of the data controller
Police forces
Central Government
Ombudsmen and regulatory authorities


None outside the European Economic Area

Statement of exempt processing:

This data controller also processes personal data which is exempt from notification

Search the Register of Data Controllers:

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