Association of Chief Police Officers demands for even more legal powers - the politicians must not grant all of these powers, or else the terrorists will have won another victory

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1)

Yesterday the Prime Minister and Home Secretary met with police and security agency chiefs to see what new powers if any were necessary in the light of the recent terrorist attacks in London.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) who represnt most of the the police forces in the UK (except for Scotland), have published a long shopping list of extra new legal powers, many of which are extremely controversial and probably counterproductive.

The "consensus in principle" by the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians must not grant all this shopping list of powers to the police and security agencies - if they do so, the terrorists will have won another victory.

"Press Release (N.B. peculiar GUID based URL for the ACPO press releases - are they trying to track individual downloads ?)

Reference: 55/05 Date: July 21, 2005

Chief Police Officers today supported several key changes to existing counter terrorist legislation including;

- Acts Preparatory to Terrorism
- Indirect Incitement to Criminal Acts
- Providing or Receiving Training in the use of Hazardous Substances

They also proposed some further changes to law and procedure including;

- a new offence of not disclosing encryption keys
- Extension of maximum pre-charge detention on suspicion of terrorism from 14 days to 3 months
- A review of border security

And focused on several other police issues, including;

- a willingness to discuss further the issue of admission of Interception material as evidence in criminal trials;
- the need for further funding for regional Special Branches capacity
- the need for further funding for national ANPR capacity

Ken Jones, Chairman of the ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee, and Chief Constable of Sussex, speaking after meeting the Prime Minister this afternoon, commented;

"The terrorist attacks in London on 7 July and today provide an opportunity for us to reflect on our systems and practices to ensure they are sufficient to counter such unprecedented events."

"All police forces in the UK are working closely with the Metropolitan Police in the investigation of the incidents, and our counter terrorism legislation is sophisticated and robust - yet practice and experience shows us that nothing is flawless. We now have an opportunity to examine our system and close loopholes to prevent the recurrence of such acts."

"In considering new legislation we recognise the following as imperatives:-

  • New proposals must enhance an already robust system;

  • Proposed changes must not duplicate existing legislation;

  • Proposals should be measured and necessary and not viewed as a knee jerk reaction to events;

  • New legislation needs to cut across different law enforcement and intelligence agencies to enable collaboration in countering terrorism;

"At this time there are increased levels of concern and feelings of vulnerability within a number of communities, especially Muslim ones. It is important that society is not seen to disengage from their needs and fears by introducing flawed legislation."

"However the evolving nature of the current threat from international terrorism demands that those charged with countering the threat have the tools they need to do the job. Often there is a need to intervene and disrupt at an early stage those who are intent on terrorist activity in order to protect the public. Clearly our legislation must reflect the importance of such disruptive action."

"We have therefore put to Government today the following views of the police service."

"A. Proposed new legislation

The proposed counter terrorism legislation proposes the creation of three new criminal offences and a number of other changes to close loopholes and improve operational efficiency.

1. Acts Preparatory to Terrorism.

This offence will deal with instances where there is serious criminal intent yet the precise details of the terrorist act are not known. It will allow the police and intelligence agencies to intervene at an early stage early to protect the public and will go some way towards countering the negative messages we receive concerning terrorism arrests and subsequent charging/prosecution figures. This offence has been widely discussed previously and is not unexpected. It will assist in putting the tactic of disruption on a more formal legislative footing."

The words "acts preparatory to terrorism" have been widely used, but that does not that there has been informed public debate, since the details of what is intended have not been spelt out. See the comments further down this article.

We do not want terrorist organisations to be subjected to the flawed tactic of disruption ! This seems to be a euphemism for bureaucratic backside covering, "just in case", on insufficent actual evidence. The huge danger with a policy of "disruption", is that by targeting so called "acts preparatory to terrorism". which are not already covered by existing legislation, it will be a recruiting seargeant, which radicalises the family, friends and community of the "martyrs" who are subjected to lengthy arrest without charge or trial etc.

ACPI's hope that such new powers

"will go some way towards countering the negative messages we receive concerning terrorism arrests and subsequent charging/prosecution figures"

tends to prove that the policy of "disruption" and stopping, searching and arresting people, without sufficient evidence, is a bad idea. Lowering the standard of proof required to get a conviction, or inventing even more catch all new offences, is not the right thing to do either.

We do not want "disruption" we want destruction of terrorist organisations !

"2. Indirect Incitement to Commit Terrorist Acts.

Direct incitement to commit a violent or criminal act is already an offence. The new proposed offence is intended to capture the expression of sentiments which do not amount to direct incitement to commit terrorist acts but which are made with the intent to encourage others to commit terrorist acts.

How exactly do you fairly and consistently prove "intent", but with no direct evidence of incitement ?

"This offence will allow the UK to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism which requires parties to have an offence of public provocation to commit a terrorist offence. Public provocation is defined as "inciting the commission of an offence whether or not directly…"

The introduction of this offence will significantly widen the scope of the incitement offence. Clearly there is a Europe wide drive for such legislation to which we would wish to be a key partner."

The NuLabour Home Office is very selective in which Council of Europe Conventions it chooses to support see the ongoing scandal of the refusal to sign or ratify the CoE Convention Against Human Trafficking which would give minimal rights to victims of the sex slave and forced labour trades, to be treated firstly as victims , rather than only as criminals or illegal immigrants.

"3. Providing or Receiving Training in the Use of Hazardous Substances.

The purpose of this offence is to cover training undertaken in the UK and abroad. Again this offence complies with the requirements of the Council of Europe Convention for parties to have in place a comprehensive offence to deal with all aspects of terrorist training.

Section 54 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT) provides wide legislative coverage of the issue of terrorist training. However it does not cover issues relating to hazardous substances and methods or techniques. The new offence would address this gap and ensure compliance with other European partners.

The new offence would also incorporate the element of receiving training despite the fact that the Convention only refers to providing training. This would bring the new offence in line with the offences of Section 54 of TACT.

There are provisos attached to this offence in that the training has to have a potential terrorist use and that the training is given or received with the intention of being used for terrorist purposes. The definitions of hazardous substances may need wider consultation but subject to that, this offence will assist our work to protect the public."

Surely the definition of a "weapon" and therefore of "weapons training" is quite easily wide enough to encompass "hazardous substances", the possession of many of which are already illegal under exisiting laws covering explosives, poisons, toxins, and chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological weapons.

"2. Proposed changes to existing legislation

1. Introduce "all premises" warrants in terrorist legislation.

This would enable police to obtain search warrants covering any property owned or controlled by terrorist suspects. It would increase efficiency and reduce time wasted applying for warrants during post arrest phase. It may in fact lead to suspects spending shorter periods in custody."

Why is there any significant administrative delay in obtaining even multiple premises search warrants, especially after an arrest has actually been made ?

The police must not be given unlimited powers to just enter and search any premises they want to, without any judicial supervision.

"2. Give the Security Service the ability to seek warrants authorising activities overseas.

Currently the Security Service has to rely on the Secret Intelligence Service to act on its behalf."

No ! Why is MI5 the Security Service planning to conduct overseas operations without coordinating with the Secret Intelligence Service Mi6 who work mostly overseas ? Why can't MI6 handle such operations as they do now ?

We do not want a USA or Russian style competition and rivalry between security agencies to apply to MI5 and MI6 !

"3. Allow a one day period of grace on warrants under Section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 if a person enters the United Kingdom.

This will ensure there is no loss of coverage of a target coming to the UK."

This would appear to be an uncontroversial demand, although it is puzzling why it should have to be necessary at all.

"4. Allow initial cash seizure hearings to take place in closed session.

This will allow hearings concerned with the seizure of terrorist cash to be heard in closed court session and follows on from the Newton Committee recommendations on the Anti Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001."

The "seizure of terrorist cash" is virtually non-existant and moore for political effect than an actual counter terrorism measure. There has only been £380,000 seized since September 11th 2001 by UK authorities, spread over some 45 different accounts i.e. less than the value of a single house in a suburb of London.

"5. Ratification of the UN convention on the suppression of nuclear terrorism.

Various minor changes are required to enable the UK to ratify this convention."

What are these exactly ?

"6. Amendments to the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

Amendments should ensure that it is an offence to plan an explosion which takes place overseas. This would appear to be a logical development of the legislation."

Why are they trying to amend this old legislation ? It is already an offence to plan an overseas act of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000 When would the Explosive Substances Act 1883 ever be used in preference ? If there are illegal explosives found in the UK, what difference does it make whether they are intended for use in the UK or abroad ?

If there are no explosives found in the UK, then trying to shoehorn this act to cover the rest of the world is stupid.

"7. Extending terrorism stop and search powers to cover bays and estuaries.

Currently stop and search powers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 are linked to geographical police boundaries and effectively apply on land. An extension to include bays and estuaries, so called internal waters, would be a step forward. This is a quick measure that would afford added protection.

However there is a consensus within the police service that we would wish this power to be extended further. If we take party conferences as an example then there is no power to interdict or stop vessels offshore as Section 44 authority ends at the low water mark. The extension of the power to include the 12 mile coastal limit would be welcome by police forces.

Current legal advice is that such powers cannot be extended without the "reasonable suspicion" test as they interfere with international law and freedom of passage at sea. International agreement for something that falls between internal waters/low water and the 12 mile mark may be the way forward."

So what are the Royal Navy for ? Do Police forces intend to try to search ships at sea without the help of the Navy ?

The test of "reasonable suspicion" should apply to all searches on land as well !

"8. Increased flexibility of the proscription regime.

This will prevent organisations from evading the proscription regime by changing their name."

Surely this just requires the Home Office to get their collective fingers out ?

It is a scandal that neither the Taleban in Afghanistan nor any Chechen groups nor any so called animal rights extremist groups are on the Home Office's list of "proscribed organisations".

"9. Improved search powers at ports.

Strengthen the legislation to make it clear that examining officers at ports have powers to search vehicles as part of their examining officer functions."

In what way is this not clear at the moment ?

"10. Control Orders.

The Home Secretary has told Parliament that there would be time to consider this issue again. The police approach remains supportive of the need for a form of scrutiny for individuals in order to disrupt terrorist activity without criminal proceedings. Suitable legislation will continue to assist the police and intelligence agencies to better contain the terrorist threat."

No ! The whole concept of "disruption" is stupid and counterproductive. The use of Control Orders, which restrict the freedoms of people without any charge or evidence being brought against them, breaches so many of our fundamntal liberties and freedoms, it gives comfort to the aims of the terrorists, and
acts as a recruiting factor for new generations of terrorists.

"C. New Police Proposals

1.Extension of pre charge detention from 14 days to 3 months

The complexity and scale of current counter terrorist operations leave the current 14 day maximum detention period often insufficient. The complexities and timescales surrounding forensic examination of scenes etc merely add to the burden and immense time pressures on investigating officers. A judicially supervised process to allow detention to be authorised from 14 days up to 3 months would assist in the efficiency and preparation of evidence to sustain charging."

Why not spend more money and resources on forensic investigators and facilities instead ?

You do not have to wait for every last victim of a terrorist bomb to be forensically identified, before charging a suspect with the first murder.

The temptation will be to use such extended detention without charge or trial as a collective punishment of various communities under the so called tactic of disruption, which is just wrong.

"2.Offence not to disclose encryption keys etc

Recent investigations have been made more complex by difficulties for investigating officers in ascertaining whereabouts of encryption keys to access computers etc. An amendment to part 3 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to make it an offence to fail to disclose such items would provide some sanction against suspects failing to cooperate with investigations."

No ! That is the point about the so called safeguards in Part 3 of RIPA. We have genuinely forgotten many PGP passphrases that we have used in the past. There are many cyrptographic protocols where the user simply never knows the encryption key in detail e.g. an SSL/ TLS secure wbemail or credit card transaction or a mobile phone conversation.

Why should a member of the public be at risk of a criminal offence if they fail to disclose an encryption key which they cannot supply ? This legislation does not just apply to terrorist offences, but to all "serious crimes".

"3.Use of the internet to prepare, encourage, facilitate acts of terrorism.

The creation of an offence to suppress inappropriate internet usage is necessary in respect of today’s global communication capability. This preventative measure may well be catered for within the proposed new offence of acts preparatory to terrorism."

How exactly is such a policing of the global internet going to take place, and who is going to pay for it ?

If the Home Office cannot even keep their list of proscribed terrorist organisations up to date, then why should we believe that they will do this with "terrorist websites" etc ?, in real time ?

"4. Powers to attack identified websites.

This power has significant benefits for counter terrorism and overlaps with other police priorities namely domestic extremism and paedophilia/child pornography. This issue goes beyond national borders and requires significant international cooperation. The need for appropriate authority and warrantry is implicit."

Mo! Why should UK police authorities be allowed to declare "cyber war" on a foreign country ? Some countries, e.g. China and possibly even the USA, will view "cyber attacks" by UK authorities as an act of war.

The Indymedia server seizure affair last October illustrated how Mulilateral Legal Assistance Treaties can cause "collateral damage" to innocent third parties on a shared web server.

If the UK authorities are somehow allowed to attack foreign websites (there are no UK websites with illegal content on them that cannot already be removed voluntarily by the UK ISP industry), then foreign governments will also be attacking UK websites.

Will news websites such as Al Jazeera be atatcked, as they have been by US vigilantes, who do not even speak Arabic and who objected to some web video coverage from Iraq which was gleefully re-broadcast by all the mainstream media ?

Why are suspicious websites not put under surveillance, with the cooperation of local national law enforcement authorities ?

If all that is intended is the counterproductive tactic of "disruption" then that is doomed to failure, and will hand a propaganda victory to the terrorists.

"5. Cross Border Authorisations

The office of the National Coordinator Special Branches (NCSB) has a key role is driving forward the ACPO(TAM) theme of building regional capability and capacity. Currently RIPA does not allow for Covert Human Intelligence Source or Directed Surveillance authorities to be authorised by an officer from one force area for implementation in another force area. The advent of regionalisation of Special Branch working processes means that this could become a significant hurdle to operational effectiveness. The introduction of a regional authorisation process would assist this development."

So how does the National Crime Squad operate now, and how will the Serious Organised Crime Agency operate next year ?

"6.Cross border property warrants.

This proposal could link directly with the desire for cross border authorisations.

Clearly the development of our regional investigative capability will make this a potential issue for the future."

Same question as above: so how does the National Crime Squad operate now, and how will the Serious Organised Crime Agency operate next year ?

"7. National security equipment at ports.

The urgent expansion of the formal Designation scheme or passenger/cargo hypothecation for security at all air and sea ports is necessary to ensure borders remain properly secured through effective protective security measures. The ACPO preference is the hypothecation model. Currently the ports industry is required to provide accommodation for special branch policing at ports. The standard of provision varies considerably throughout the country and has been highlighted by Lord Carlile as an area requiring constant attention. To raise the bar further it has been identified that a statutory obligation on the ports industry to allow the installation of specific national security equipment (eg ANPR/CCTV) would be particularly helpful. This would ensure that ports operators could not succumb to natural commercial pressure, which might obstruct important additions to the national counter terrorism infrastructure."

Why doen't the Governmet pay for proper office accomodation, computer and CCTV equipment at our ports and airports ?

"8. General aviation powers under the Terrorism Act 2002 (TACT 2000)

The current provisions of TACT 2000 require general aviation to notify the police of flight movements within the common travel area (CTA). We should consider extending this power to include all flights within the CTA and internationally. This would have particular relevance for short flights to and from Europe."

Which police force handles this flight movement information now ?

Surely this is all information is already available via TRANSEC the Department of Transport's security team ?

"9. Protective security powers.

Government to consider creating a duty on the public and private sector to install and maintain to approved standards protective security in designated locations. Also consideration should be given to creating a duty whereby privately employed security staff are put at the disposal of the police in the immediate aftermath of an outrage."

There is already the power to amend the Building Regulations to do this under the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act 2004

We would welcome this if it meant that CCTV cameras were regulated and maintained properly.

The big question is who actually pays for these national security costs ?

There has never been any occasion where private security staff have not cooperated with the local police in enforcing a cordon, or in guiding them in a search of their building, on a voluntary basis, after a terrorist outrage.

Does "private security staff" also include IT systems administrators and consultants who hold the "electronic keys" ?

What is the point of more bureaucratic legal red tape ?

"10. Disclosure in criminal proceedings;

Consideration should be given to developing new rules of disclosure to provide protection from discovery of sensitive tactics and techniques."

There are already a huge range of protections avilable with hearings held in camera, anonymous witnesses, video conferencing evidence, public interest disclosure immunity certificates, reporting restrictions etc. at the discretion of a Judge.

What more do they want ?

"11. Compulsory answers to questions.

The obligation placed on company directors in fraud trials to answer questions would have significant benefits if developed into the arena of counter terrorism."

This obligation on company directors is already a breach of Human Rights, and it should not be used as a wedge to further extend such
powers to other offences.

"D. Other policy/structural changes

1. Regionalisation

Government should review and reconsider bids already presented for developing regional police capability and capacity to counter terrorism and domestic extremism. ACPO has submitted detailed modest bids to Government to put in place necessary capability and capacity at the regional level. Reconsideration of these bids is essential.

2 Special Branch Capability

The Home Secretary, as he has done with the National Centre for Policing Excellence through the Police Act 1996, should codify activity and mandate the minimum capability and capacity for special branches within police forces. This has a direct link to the principle of scaleability implicit in the ACPO(TAM) proposals for building regional capability and capacity.

3 ANPR - Nationwide

Significant improvement is possible in our ability to contain the terrorist threat and reduce overall crime. The provision of £45.3 million would enhance the capacity of the ANPR data centre, provide a mobile fingerprint capacity to every mobile ANPR intercept team, provide research and development to safeguard against ANPR counter measures and complete an upgrade programme for ANPR at all sea and air ports and key road linkages."

There has been no public debate about the privacy intrusions which a National Automatic Number Plate Recognition database system poses to the vast majority of innocent motorists.

What is the Data Retention policy for this "ANPR data centre", esprecially for innocent motorists movement data ?

"4. Border Agency

ACPO believes the Government should review its position on a single Border Agency. The current 'e-borders' programme is developing well and we are fully supportive of its development. We believe it would complement such an Agency."

This is not currently Labour Government policy, but it is the policy of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Opposition parties.

"5. National Police Improvement Agency

This new Agency, due to become operational in April 2007, must ensure that its priorities include the police role in countering terrorism.

6.Threat Level Review

Recent changes to the threat level definitions have provided greater clarity for police and intelligence services in fine tuning responses to minor changes in the intelligence picture but such changes are not well understood by the public and consideration ought to be given to developing and delivering this information in a suitable format for public consumption."

More traffic light colour alerts ?

Where is the Civil Defence training of the public or even of key transportation or private security staff ?

"7.Admission of Interception evidence

Intelligence gained from the lawful and properly accountable interception of communications is a valuable asset for the intelligence services and law enforcement in terrorist investigations. The arguments for and against its admissibility as evidence in subsequent criminal proceedings are finely balanced,
and are subject of regular discussion amongst law enforcement and intelligence professionals. The ACPO view has always has been, that on balance the arguments for retaining the current position outweigh those for allowing its admission as evidence in terrorist prosecutions. However we are ready to review that position in consultation with government and security agencies"

So how do you prove, beyond reasonable doubt that telephone or email etc. electronic intercept evidence has not been faked, mistranslated taken out of context or misleadingly edited in an attempt to "fit up" a terrorist suspect who hates the British Governmet and state authorities ?

Is this review of intercept evidence also going to apply to non-terrorist ooffences as well ?





The ACPO Press Office can be contacted via 020 7227 3406/3425 (office hours) or via 07803 903686 (out of office hours), or email ‘’. Further information including copies of recent news releases can also be found on website ‘’.

Through a series of committees and working groups ACPO members, often in consultation with develop policy and guidance for the police service. The Association aims to assist chief officers in providing excellence in leadership of the service; to ensure a professional and ethical service is delivered to all communities; and to provide professional advice to Government. Police Authorities other organisations and individuals with an interest in policing issues.

ACPO’s 292 members are; police officers of Assistant Chief Constable rank (Commanders in the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police) and above, and senior non-police managers, in the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus national agencies such as NCIS and the National Crime Squad, and other forces such as British Transport Police and States of Jersey Police."

1 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Association of Chief Police Officers demands for even more legal powers - the politicians must not grant all of these powers, or else the terrorists will have won another victory.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Yesterday's House of Commons Committee stage debate on the controversial Terrorism Bill 2005 brought up the subject of Encryption in the context of the extremely controversial Clause 23 "90 days detention without charge". NuLabour former junior whip Da... Read More


Iam writing just to say that i do not know if there is a law which exist.
I am a victim of the police and i wander why there is no law to restrain police who are harassing woman.
I was abducted and attempt rape by one of senior officers. His station protected him they coverd up ,he then went and rape another lady at the police station.The abduction went unpunished and i am sure when he comes back from prison he will assault again .
Now there is another officer who is stalking me. My case is in the hand of the IPCC who are frightened of this police .
Whar kind of wold do we have .Is there any difference of a police abducting me or a civilian abducting me ?What is the difference.
Iam writing to you because on medication and i am off sick from work and from college i am a post graduate student .I am a dual qualified nurse but i cannot go to work i am not safe because of my stalker.
I have written to the chief constable of my area to ask her if i was safe to go back to work because of the staulker five times i have written to her she did not reply.
The stalker is one of the police officer at my area.In my eyes i do not call him a officer i see him as a criminal who is employed by the police .
i would like to know why opolice officers cannot be investigated for things they are doing.
I had bulglar who have left wapon in the house and i know some of the bulglar.the officer who is responsible of my area does not think that it is wrong and tells me that they are not breaking the law.Is he aa normal officer?
i would like to know why your authorities does not apply here in Cambridge.
i look forward to hear from you .
Yours sincererly
Elisabeth Townshend

Leave a comment

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

Syndicate this site (XML):

Follow Spy Blog on Twitter

For those of you who find it convenient, there is now a Twitter feed to alert you to new Spy Blog postings.

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.

Recent Comments

  • kika Elisabeth Townshend: Iam writing just to say that i do not know read more


Monthly Archives

November 2010

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        

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