September 2003 Archives

Secret decision on Central Population Register ?

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Thanks for the heads up on the White Rose blog, but I am not sure that the Guardian article Secret go-ahead for ID card database is entirely correct:

The plans for a citizen information register have not been announced and the only official reference was a brief mention to a feasibility study in the government's consultation paper on identity cards published last July. The scheme is a joint project between the Office of National Statistics and the Treasury and is designed to ensure that "public sector organisations have the right records about the right people at the right time."

The Office of National Statistics has published a consultation document on July 10th 2003 on the whitepaer from January 2002 (submit your views by October 24th 2003) called:

Civil Registration: Delivering Vital Change

I might be slightly happier if the ONS were to be in charge of such a project rather than the Home Office or the Treasury. The ONS has more of a culture of anonymising individual Census respondents data, and of not revealing this to even the Police, under penalty of 2 years in jail under the Census Act.

Their proposals do seem to recognise that the whole system will come tumbling down if people do not trust the system and have not given their explicit permission for data sharing etc, so, unlike the Home Office ID Card plans, there is actually an allusion to the need for criminal penalties against privacy abuse:

"It would become an offence to access a record where permission has been withdrawn or not provided by the individual, their family or representative. A system for monitoring compliance would be developed. These offences are necessary to maintain the security and integrity of registration records and the information they contain."

Why do these supposedly secret Cabinet decisions get leaked to the press ? If the Government cannot keep Cabinet discussions secret, why should we trust them with our sensitive personal data ?

If the Guardian article is true, then it looks as if the Government has pre-judged the outcome of the Office of National Statistics consultation process.

KableNet reports that:

Data fears for Oyster card
29 September 2003

The UK's data protection watchdog is worried about London's travel smart card scheme

The UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has warned London's transport authority that it must tell passengers using the new Oyster smart cards, how personal information held about them is stored and used.

Thomas, who enforces and oversees the Data Protection Act, has written to Transport for London (TfL) expressing concerns about the length of time that it will hold information about passengers and how this could be used to track the movements of individuals

Thomas, who enforces and oversees the Data Protection Act, has written to Transport for London (TfL) expressing concerns about the length of time that it will hold information about passengers and how this could be used to track the movements of individuals.

A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner told Government Computing News on 26 September 2003: "They need to make it clear to people, as part of the fare processing element of the Data Protection Act, what personal data will be collected, how long it will be retained for and what use it will be put to."

It is interesting to see that it is not just us who are alarmed at the potential privacy abuses of what should be just an improvement to London's public transport infrastructure.

If you take a look at Transport for London's Data Protection Register entry, you may wonder why exactly do they need to store such a large amount of your Personal Data like:

  • Personal Details
  • Family, Lifestyle and Social Circumstances
  • Education and Training Details
  • Racial or Ethnic Origin
  • Political Opinions
  • Religious or Other Beliefs Of A Similar Nature
  • Trade Union Membership
  • Physical or Mental Health or Condition
  • Sexual Life

What exactly have these extremely sensitive Personal Data categories got to do with travelling on the Tube or on a Bus or paying the Congestion Charge ?

Transport for London are, according to their Data Protection Register entry, apparently willing to hand over or sell this Personal Data to:

  • Traders in personal data
  • Private Investigators
  • The media

The topic of the London Underground Oyster Smart Card scheme is now under discussion on the White Rose blog: No Pearl in this Foul Oyster

Mayor Ken Livingstone "won" this year's Big Brother Award in the Worst Public Servant category, "nominated because of his obsession with travel and transport surveillance"

Transport for London has a poor record on Privacy e.g. by recording the details of journeys of all the vehicles entering or leaving the London Congestion Charge zone, and trying to force people to give up their Data Protection rights during the online registration process.

Now that the Contactless Smart Card infrastructure (similar in principle to RFID tags, but using larger, more expensive and more complicated cards) is in place, there are no technical or legal safeguards, only policy and economic ones to prevent the routine matching of the massive amounts of CCTV Surveillance in Tube stations with the name, address and possibly credit card details of the season ticket holders using the Oyster Contacless Smart card.

London Tube stations at Mile End and Liverpool Street are testing Suspicious Behavior computer systems linked to their CCTV control rooms, using secret criteria.

Where are the published rules about what constitutes suspicious behavior in a public place ? Why is exiting from an escalator in one particular direction rather than another considered to be suspicious by the IPSOTEK Cromatica software ?

If anythings is flagged as suspicious, surely the temptation will be to access the Oyster database to attempt to identify the people involved ?

Given modern trends in the way that surveillance is used, it is quite likely that perfectly innocent bystanders, or people travelling a few minutes before or after, will have their Oyster database details pulled to identify and harrass them as "potential witnesses", even though they are obviously not involved in the incident itself

An example of this occurred with the murder of Marsha McDonnell earlier this year, where the CCTV footage from the late night bus where she was travelling on the lower deck, was broadcast on TV etc. The authorities chose to use this to hunt down possible witnesses e.g. passengers on the top deck of the bus, and even some on a completely different bus, who had not come forward, obviously because they had nothing to do with her murder which happened a few minutes after she got off the bus down a sidestreet away from the bus route. These witnesses were oblivious of her, and givien the lighting conditions, of anything else outside the bus itself.

In this case, CCTV surveillance neither prevented the murder, nor did it help to find any suspects, but it was used to hunt down witnesses. To many people having your CCTV picture shown on televison associated with a murder investigation brands you as a suspect not as an innocent witness.

If the Oyster Card system (which is also installed on Buses as well as at Tube stations) had been in place then, it is safe to assume that the central database would have been used to track down and harrass these innocent non-witnesses.

David Aaronovitch's Guardian article on ID cards

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David Aaronovitch, usually a lucid and intelligent commentator, is just so completely wrong in his article on ID cards published in the Guardian on Tuesday 23rd September 2003.

Why I can't wait for my identity card

David Aaronovitch
Tuesday September 23, 2003
The Guardian

"Ihre Papiere bitte!" barks the bloke in the black uniform, while a second guard adjusts the strap of his Schmeisser. Time seems to stand still in the fuggy railway compartment as the escaped airmen wonder whether their crude forgeries will withstand this scrutiny. The chap in the cap looks up...
Somewhere in the national psyche - indeed in the Anglophonic psyche - this image seems to be engraved. Granite-headed fascists and Stalinists in Britain or Australia will jib at the idea of carrying an identity card, whereas the milkiest liberals in Germany, France and Portugal - where they actually lived under occupation or totalitarianism - think nothing of it. Eleven out of 15 nations of the EU currently require their citizens to possess ID cards, and

But ID Cards have NOT helped ANY of those countries to eliminate or even significantly reduce terrorism, serious crime or illegal immigration ! They simply do not work !

yet if a proposal to introduce them here in Britain is to be included in the Queen's Speech - as David Blunkett wants - the balloon will go up. Whatever it is they do on the continent, if it is done here, it will somehow usher in a new Dark Age.

It is quite sneaky to argue that the "continent" has only one single ID Card policy. In Germany, for example, the ID card number is, by law, NOT allowed to be used as a central identifier to access central government databases, which is what David Blunkett seems to be proposing.

The home secretary doesn't make life easy for us London types. He can hardly bear to pass us by without delivering a kick to our delicate sensibilities. So this weekend, when elaborating on his support for a new ID card, he claimed that it would - among other things - ensure that "people don't work if they are not entitled to work, they don't draw on services which are free in this country, including health, unless they are entitled to." But, like many Guardian readers, I secretly approve of people getting things to which they are not entitled, just so long as they are not rich or white. And, of course, as we all know, Blunkett also wishes to exercise Orwellian levels of power over his fellow Britons, because that is the kind of thing that politicians do.

Unfortunately, the record of the last three Home Secretaries, Michael Howard (Con), Jack Straw (Lab) and David Blunkett (Lab) shows that they all seem to have "gone native" and have been willing to espouse any ill thought out Home Office policies, provided that they could claim the political kudos for being "tough on criminals/immigrants/terrorists" etc

So who wants it? The fuzz do, because they reckon it would make apprehending criminals and bail-jumpers much easier if they could check cards on hand-held card-readers.

WRONG! The Police do NOT have a problem with identifying suspects once they have their hands on them, they have problems with sufficent EVIDENCE of a crime. Given the Blunkett/Home Office plan to allow people not to have to carry their ID Cards all the time (even though registration would be compulsory), what possible difference could they make to the apprehension of bail-jumpers ?

Social service managers do.

WRONG! Most of the ?3 billion a year fraud in the Social Security empire is NOT due to IDENTITY fraud, it is due to people claiming extra benifits illegally e.g. extra relatives, claiming benefits whilst employed, housing benefit fraud through collusion with landlords etc

Health service managers do.

WRONG! Most "health tourists" do not hide themselves in cross channel lorries or trains, but arrive on legal visas and passports, they would be allowed to get themselves an ID Card anyway.

An ID card could assist those who are entitled to support to get it more quickly.

WRONG! If everyone has a compulsory ID Card, the queues for service remain the same, apart from the extra delays caused by checking the ID Card itself.

The banks would quite like it, because it would establish a single method of identification.

WRONG! The banks and credit card companies have steered well clear of being forced to run an ID Card infrastructure for free.

In France, where the ID card is not compulsory, 90% of the population carry it all the time anyway, because it is convenient and - so far - the French have managed to stave off a collapse into 1984-style totalitarianism.

BUT they still have massive Illegal Immigrant problems despite the ID Card and there are, frankly, racist abuses by the authorities when checking IDs of Algerian French people.

Here we can confidently expect everyone on the left to oppose it and everybody on the right to support it, but only for other people. Charles Kennedy, Political Leader of the Month (September), describes the idea of the cards as "fundamentally illiberal". The civil rights group, Liberty, argues that ordinary people would be "criminalised" if they refused to carry the cards. A trump argument will be that their introduction may increase the harassment suffered by ethnic minorities at the hands of the authorities.

Have you forgotten the way that the "sus" laws were actaully used to police the streets of Britain ?

Then there will be a job lot of practical arguments to suggest that any scheme will cost too much, be subject to massive fraud and won't work anyway because the computers will fail. Whichever particular scheme is eventually chosen by the government, it will - of necessity - be the worst scheme available.

A compulsory ID system for the 60 million or so people in the UK would be orders of magnitude more complicated and prone to cost overruns than any of the Government IT computer projects mishandled by Government in collaboration with such PFI contractors such as Capita and EDS.

The planned use of Biometric Identifiers means that there is no scope for postal applications or renewals - you will have to queue up at authorised iris scanners etc, reducing the effective productivity of the entire country by a couple of working days a year.

Well, electronic tagging works when everyone said it wouldn't.

There are only a few thousand people who are electronically tagged, this is NOT a valid comparison with a 60 million plus person ID Card system. According to the Observer, electronic tagging costs ?500 a month per offender - the Treasury might have qualms about those sort of sums for 60 million of us !

At a purely practical level, it would be rather wonderful to combine an EU passport, driving licence, bank card, library card, social security card, medical number, AA card, workplace entrycard, gym card and Tottenham Hotspur season ticket. A bit of a bugger if you lose it, though. And if fraud and impersonation were really insuperable problems, then we wouldn't have any of the aforesaid cards in any case - we would just roll up to the bank and ask for some money, and they would decide on the look of us whether to pay out.

Biometric Identifiers are being touted as the solution to forgery problems - but they simply do not work for 60 million people!. Biometric Identifiers are just DIGITAL COPIES of images of fingerprints or iris scans - they can be as easily forged , copiesd, or stolen in secret by any cheap digital camera.
"Biometrics the password you can never revoke, even when it is compromised"

But there is also a principled set of reasons for people on the left to support ID cards. In my case, the liberal and the social democrat are always contending. What is convenient or aesthetic for the individual is not, unfailingly, what is good for society. Take MMR as an example. Much though I would like to indulge neurotic parents' right to their neuroses, I don't want to do it at the expense of public health. So when Liberty talks of ID cards turning people into "suspects not citizens", I am bound to ask whether Liberty actually has any concept of the duties - as opposed to the rights - of citizenship. We British do not, it seems to me, demand very much of "citizens" in return. There is no national service, no semi-compulsory social work, no duty - as the Swiss have - to sweep in front of your front door. We are asked to do very little - perhaps jury service once a lifetime, and many of us manage to avoid even that.

So how do you expect a Compulsory ID Card, which will cost ?40 on top of the cost of a driving licence or passport to instill more social responsability ?

But if we are going to have an immigration policy, then it must be policed.

Asylum seekers ALREADY get a smart ID card with their iris scan and fingerprint.

If there is such a thing as being entitled to services, then it means little if those who are not entitled also claim.

We are ALREADY entitled to the public services which we are paying taxes for, paying ?40 for an ID card makes no difference to these existing rights. It would be morally wrong to create a 2 tier system, normal service for those with ID cards, second class service for those without, which given the scale of implementing an ID Card system, will be te case for many years, even amongst the population of those entitled to the benefits or services.

What I find sinister are the other systems - the inevitable alternatives to ID cards - that dole out cards only to claimants, asylum-seekers, or to those with work permits. But if we all have a card - a citizen's card - then it puts us all on an equal footing as citizens. If everyone has to carry an ID card, almost as an act of civic solidarity, then we will all be Spartacus

N.B. Spartacus was a slave gladiator who led an armed rebellion against the evil Roman Empire - is that really what David Aaronovitch forsees for us ?

We have serious doubts about the deliberately
vague Home Office/David Blunkett proposals for a compulsory ID Card.

N.B. the people at have also written a letter to the Guardian, refuting this article by David Aaronovitch


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David Carr on the White Rose blog raises the issue of Automatic Number Plate Recognition following this article by John Lettice in The Register

Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology has a legitimate place as a useful law enforcement tool. Its use by mobile police patrols who are then in a position to stop and examine a suspicious vehicle is not much of a privacy problem.

The real privacy problems with ANPR come from public systems which monitor all the vehicles in view, e.g.

  • All 24 million users of the 7500 miles motorways and A class roads in the UK, not just the 100,000 or so who have paid for a road traffic information service e.g. Trafficmaster

  • Every vehicle entering or leaving the massive Blue Water retail shopping park near Dagenham (allegedly just monitoring the vehicles of staff)

  • The notorious London Congestion Charge scheme where ANPR and other "scene " photos and videos are captured, not just of those people who are trying to evade the ?5 charge, but of all the people who have paid or are exempt.

  • All vehicles crossing the main Forth and Tay bridges in Scotland

There seems to be renewed hype about Global Positioning Satellite tracking technologies in the run up to the Labour Party annual conference.

Not content with announcing vague plans for tracking the 24 million motor vehicles on the UK's roads for road toll gathering purposes, the politicians also seem to grasping at GPS as a magic wand technology for papering over the budget and resource cracks in their running of the Prison and Probation Services.

BBC Newsnight ran a story in February about Sky Guardian tags

Today's story in the Observer 500 paedophiles to be tracked by satellite tags:

"Sky Guardian will unveil the first electronic device made specifically to track paedophiles at this month's Labour party conference and is to test the technology on a volunteer MP this week"

Who exactly is this Labour MP ?

However, we have huge doubts about the security of the fundamental idea behind such technology. GPS receivers need a clear view of the sky in order to directly see at least 4 of the satellites in orbit.

However GPS simply does not work indoors, or even in many cases outside in the shadow of tall buildings (given our northern latitude, the buildings do not have to be skyscrapers in order to block a direct view to geostationary satellites along the equator) or even overhanging trees or bushes, exactly the places that are supposed to be "off limits".

There already exist GPS spoofing devices which replay the very weak signal from the satellites to the reciever, which has no possible means of authenticating that the signal it is getting is from a real GPS satellite or not.

GPS jamming devices are also relatively cheap and easy to make.

With one of these devices, a criminal could pretend to be under curfew, but could be anywhere else he chose to be, with the tag system providing him with an alibi.

The current electronic offender tags linking the tag to a base unit and a landline phone by short range radio are not perfect either, (have no criminals ever managed to pick the locks etc or otherwise physically remove the tags ?), but they seem to be less flawed than these proposed GPS tracking tags.

If this system is "far cheaper than the current tagging devices used to enforce curfews and probation orders which costs around ?500 per offender each month" then presumably its use will spread to other types of offender who are currently electronically tagged, thereby increasing the market and resources available to create and sell GPS spoofing devices.

If GPS tags are used for motor vehicle tolls across the whole of Europe, then the market for such GPS replay spoofers and area jammers to fool the tags as to their real location, will probably exceed that for "pirate" satellite and cable TV decoders i.e. they will be easily available for moderate cost.

CORRECTION: thanks to those people who have reminded us that GPS satellites are mostly not geostationary about the equator.

"GPS has poorer coverage the further you go from the equator, but the GPS satellites are NOT geostationary, they are in a 55 degree inclined orbit, which gives poorer coverage away from the equator.

There are 4 augmentation satellites (WAAS and EGNOS systems) that ARE
geostationary that can also be used for navigation, but the 24 GPS
satellites are NOT geostationary."

Found: Travel Pass and Student ID

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Yesterday whilst travelling on public transport , one of us found a student's travel pass and weekly ticket, together with his temporary college ID.

Lost Travel Pass and Student ID

We have contacted the college and are sending the passes to them in the post.

Imagine the expense, hassle and worry that this young man would have experienced if these Identity and Entitlement documents had been lost.

Imagine how much worse this would have been had it been the Home Secretary's planned Compulsory ID Card which he had lost.

Although it has taken nearly a week to appear online, after having been "laid before parliament" last Thursday September 11th, the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 Statutory Instrument i.e. the Retention of Communications Data (Code of Practice) Order 2003 and the the actual Code of Practice is, for now, at:

This Voluntary scheme of Data Retention has found no favour with the Telecommunications companies and Internet Service Providers, and is therefore likely to be replaced with a Compulsory scheme, powers for which are already in the Act..

Your internet and phone Communications Data is supposedly just "itemised billing" type data will be retained for longer than would otherwise be permitted under the Data Protection Act.

In practice the consultation document, and the now published Voluntary Code of Practice are not specific or detailed enough to say exactly which data is to be retained and for how long.

N.B. The ATCSA, despite being rushed through Parliament in the immediate aftermath of September 11th 2001, is not just about terrorism:

The Act establishes the framework for communication service providers to retain data for the purposes of safeguarding national security and for the prevention or detection of crime and prosecution of offenders which may relate directly or indirectly to national security.

That means it will be used for any crime not just for national security

"All terrorists are criminals. Let's snoop on all criminals. All terrorists and criminals are members of the general public. Let's snoop on all members of the general public - for the sake of national security"

We will be publishing another of our "Privacy Polemics" on this complicated and far reaching topic very soon.

RFID Privacy Workshop at MIT

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We need a similar workshop to this one, but in the United Kingdom. to counter some of the hype and spin about RFID tags and Electronic Product Codes.

Will RFID tags and EPC become the next "GM FrankenFood" conflict between consumers and big business ?

RFID Privacy Workshop at MIT 2003
November 15th, 2003
Bartos Theater
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsored in part by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Labo

Issues surrounding the use and deployment of RFID technology are quickly moving from business needs to the political. Technologists have created remote identification technology, but does the public want it? Last year, Benetton withdrew its plan to put RFID chips into some clothing after activists garnered international attention by pointing out that Benetton was about to deploy a technology without thinking through the privacy implications.

A lot is being said about RFID. Some of the criticism is dead-on target; other critique relies on scenarios that are technically impossible. Meanwhile, some complaints that appear to be focused on RFID are actually criticisms about other technologies and business practices?things that can be done with or without radio frequency identification systems.

The goal of the RFID Privacy Workshop is to bring together RFID technologists, boosters, critics, privacy advocates, and journalists covering the space to establish some technical truths and a framework for discussing the policy issues.

NoTags Tesco RFID tag protest

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NoTags RFID tag protest , Tesco Extra, Sandhurst, 15th September 2003

The NoTags organised protest at the Tesco Extra superstore passed off very amiably.

Although not a huge threat to privacy at the moment, Tesco do deserve to be criticised for not informing their customers about the full implications of this and other RFID tag trials.

c.f. our RFID webpage for more details and photos.

RFID tag protest at Tesco Sandhurst

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MeadWestvaco RFID tag with top layer of paper removed on standard DVD case

NoTags are organising a protest at the Tesco Sandhurst store on Monday 15th September from 5.30pm.

c.f. Re-scalable map showing the location of the Tesco Extra superstore in Sandhurst.

More details of the RFID trial at Tescos and its implications on our Radio Frequency ID tag page

Privacy and Human Rights Survey 2003

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The Privacy and Human Rights Survey 2003
has comrehensive references and footnotes to various technological and legal threats to privacy and human rights around the world:

Cedric Laurant
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Washington, DC, USA
Privacy International
London, UK

Table of Contents
About this publication
Executive Summary
Defining Privacy
Models of Privacy Protection
The Right to Privacy
The Evolution of Data Protection
Oversight and Privacy and Data Protection Commissioners
Transborder Data Flows and Data Havens

Global Data Protection Map
Threats to Privacy
Beyond September 11, 2001
Identity systems
Surveillance of Communications
Audio Bugging
Video Surveillance
Satellite Surveillance
Electronic Commerce
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)
Public Records and Privacy, Public-Private Ventures
Digital Rights Management
Authentication and Identity Disclosure
Spy TV: Interactive Television & "T-Commerce"
Genetic Privacy
Workplace Privacy

Country Reports

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 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.

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 under the HMG PKI Root Certificate hierarchy 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)

House of Lords Constitution Committee - Surveillance: Citizens and the State

House of Lords Constitution Committee 2008-2009 session - Second Report: Surveillance: Citizens and the State


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
Privacy and Human Rights Survey 2004

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

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."

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

RIPA Consultations

RIPA Part III consultation blog - Government access to Encrypted Information and Encryption Keys.

RIPA Part I Chapter II consultation blog - Government access and disclosure of Communications Traffic Data

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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_gov_uk_150.gif - Cabinet Office hosted portal website to various UK Intelligence Agencies and UK Government intelligence committees and Commissioners etc.

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protestClimate 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

Serious Organised Crime Agency - have cut themselves off from direct contact with the public and businesses - no phone - no email

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.

netcu_logo_150.gif National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit
National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit - keeps a watch on animal extremists, genetically modified crop protesters, peace protesters etc.
(some people think that the word salad of acronyms means that NETCU is a spoof website)

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