February 2006 Archives

Channel 4 TV tonight at 8pm has a documentary by Peter Hitchins, "Dispatches: Stealing Freedom" which will probably be of interest to readers of this blog:

"Political commentator Peter Hitchens takes a look at how the recent avalanche of security legislation has affected the civil liberties of ordinary people in Britain. The result, Hitchens explains, is that we are sleepwalking into a Big Brother state. Travelling across Britain, Hitchens meets ordinary people who have suffered needlessly because of new legislation and increased police powers. The programme also contains interviews with the Lord Chancellor Charles Falconer, Lord Carlisle, an independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, and Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty"

This is still one of the very few UK blogs which has bothered to comment on the wretched Police and Justice Bill 2006, especially on the the Miscellaneous Part 5 Computer Misuse amendments to the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

We were hoping to read some online expert commentary and discussion on the detailed implications of this Bill on IT Security and Privacy issues, but either our search engine query skills are lacking, or, yet again, it seems to be down to us, by default, to try to stimulate a bit of intelligent discussion on this topic.

As is typical for the Home Office, they do not appear to have bothered to produce a Regulatory Impact Assessment of the Computer Misuse clauses of the Police and Justice Bill.

There does not appear to have been any private thought or public consultation about the cumulative effect on IT Security and Privacy issues of the combination of the Police and Justice Bill, 2006, the Identity Cards Bill 2005 and the Terrorism Bill 2005.

The Home Office has published the Commercial Directory of about 160 companies who have expressed some interest in parts of the Identity Cards Programme, via the Market Sounding exercise.

The 1Mb .pdf Company Profile Directory seems to contain all the "usual suspects" amongst the 160 or so entries, although there could well be others who have chosen to remain in the background, but who are represented by strategic business alliance partners or subsidiaries.

All the directors and shareholders and employees of these companies should really read our criticisims of former Clause 31, Tampering with the Register etc., which has now been re-numbered as Clause 29.

The Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons has now published the uncorrected transcript of the Oral Evidence it took on Tuesday 14th February 2006, as part of its examination of the controversial "90 days" detention without charge. proposed in the Terrorism Bill 2005.

Having heard and read this expert evidence before the Committee, we feel vindicated in our criticisms of the alleged justification for "90 days" outlined in the controversial Andy Hayman letter. which forms the basis of this Home Affairs Committee Inquiry.

Questions need to be asked, by senior anti-terrorist experts, about the training and competence of the Special Branch officers at our airports. UPDATE: (See the Press Release from Bedfordshire Police below)

This account of his questioning by "Special Branch", at Luton Airport, by Riz Ahmed one of the actors detained on his return from the Berlin Film Festival, where he was promoting a film where he portrayed one of the "Tipton Three", British former Guantanamo Bay detainees, is worrying..

"Guantanamo Film Stars Detained in Luton"

Is this really the way in which "intelligence led" anti-terrorism policing is being conducted at Luton Airport, one of the major airports in the UK ?

Was this questioning even legal, given that none of the lawyers on the other end of the mobile phone, including specialist human rights lawyers with plenty of terrorism suspect case experience, could recognise the supposed powers under which the actor was held and questioned ?

She gave me a blank copy of a “Section 7 of the Terrorism Act Detention Form” to explain why I couldn’t contact anyone. The form stated that someone detained under its powers can be prevented from contacting anyone, including legal advisors, for up to 48 hours, by a superintendent officer. I asked her whether she was a superintendent. Her reply was that I was not in fact being held under the powers outlined in this form. I was only being denied legal advice for the first hour of questioning, rather than 48hours.

What, apart from creating resentment against the police, has this incompetent stop, search and questioning actually achieved in makng us safe from terrorists ?

via Talk Politics

UPDATE: The Bedfordshire Police have issued a Press Release on their website, regarding this affair, which , astonishingly repeatedly quotes the legislation as the "Prevention of Terrorism Act" !

Second guess the Sir Humphreys

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From time to time, we eagerly anticipate the Answers to Parliamenttary Questions tabled by Members of Parliament. Like so much else, the UK Parliament website does provide a list of such pending Questions tabled in "the Question Book, but you have to teawl through several pages, which reflect the several doucments which contain contain current and future Questions at any one time.

The House of Lords also allows Questions to be put to Ministers, and keep track of any interesting Questions asked there also adds to lack of transparency.

In theory, this process of Questions and Oral or Written Answers should be a major way that Parliament holds the Executive to account, but it seems that the whole process is heavily weighted in favour of Civil Service secrecy and Ministerial political backside covering.

The number, and quality, of the Questions asked by Members of Parliament varies enoirmously. You can check out how many Questions any MP has asked at the TheyWorkForYou website.

A further shield, behind which the Governemnt hides is that the acceptable format for draughting a Question, which should only be for the sake of clarity and brevity, has, over the years been

How not to ask a Parliamentary Question about "wiretapping":

477 Harry Cohen (Leyton & Wanstead): To ask the Prime Minister, whether (a) he, (b) any UK minister and (c) any official of the UK Government has authorised any warrantless wiretapping since 1997. (54462)

Toi can almost hear the snort of derision from the Sir Humphreys, as this badly draughted Parliamentary Question is swatted away with little effort:

Yes of course they have - especially between 1997 and 2000 when Regulation of Investigatory Powers Acct 2000 became law.

There is a huge anount of "wiretapping" not via a "warrant" but, as permitted by via a "Certificate" for bulk operations like GCHQ, signed by or behalf of the Home Secretary.

Such "warrants" or "certificates" are needed for actual electronic interception of the contents of phone conversations or of internet etc. electronic communications, but not for COmmumications Traffic Data e.g. itemised phone bills, internet mail or webserver logfiles etc.

The Question does not ask for any statistics, only if there has ever been a single case.

Our guess at the Written Answer:

"By convention, the Government does not comment on the details of national security matters

Before 2000, phone interceptions "wiretapping" required the authorisation of Police CHief Constables, who are not Government Officials

"wiretapping" is an imprecise word and does not cover "mobile phone" or other radio or "wireless" communications.

a) - No - the Prime Minister delagates such matters to the approroate Secretary of State for the Home Department.

b) Yes, "certificates" as permitted under RIPA signed by the Home Secretary

c) Yes - in an emergency Officials are permitted to sign a "certificate" which is then signed later by the Home Secretary

It has been the established policy of successive Governments to neither confirm nor deny speculation about covert operations or to comment on on-going police investigations.

Home Office Minister Andy Burnham has made a Written Ministerial Statement on the National DNA Database

Unconvincingly, he claims that

"Inclusion on the NDNAD does not signify a criminal record and there is no personal cost or material disadvantage to the individual simply by being on it"

If Home Secretary Charles Clarke, or the other Home Office Ministers like Andy Burnhan are so sure that this is the case, then why not lead by example, and voluntarily place their own human tissue samples and "DNA fingerprints" on this NDNAD, to be retained forever, and potentially re-analysed and data shared, without their consent, in the future ?

Why not do the same to all of the NuLabour politicians as well, considering how dangerous these people are to our security and liberty ?

What is a "criminal record" , for practical purposes these days ? If you have any entry on the Police National Computer (PNC), the Police Local Cross-Check, (PLX), or the Information Management, Prioritisation, Analysis, Co-ordination and Tasking (IMPACT) systems for "soft intelligence" being slowly brought in by after the Bichard Inquiry, then you have, in effect got a "police record", which, in practice, is going to be virtually indistinguishable from a "criminal record"m especially when the details are passed on to other systems such as Criminal Records Bureau checks or to foreign governments for "terrorism suspect lists".

These latter systems will usually not be privy to the details of why you are "known to the police" computer systems, e.g. a voluntary DNA sample, and innocent people will be put under suspicion as a result.

Following on from our questions to the Interception of Communications Commissioner, about the "Wilson Doctrine",we were surprised that his office claimed that he was technically exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We therefore emailed the Department for Constitutional Affairs, so as to have the various Commissioners who were established by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and who are appointed by the Prime Minister, added to the List of Organisations in Schdeule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as they all meet both of the conditions set down for inclusion under the Act.

We have now had a reply from the DCA:

Do you remember the Parliamentary "ping pong" which the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 entailed about this time last year ? Debates into the late hours, much gnashing of teeth and cries of "Habeas Corpus" and "European Convention on Human Rights" etc. and "hundreds" of people who pose an "Immediate Terrroist Threat" ?

There was a promise to review the "Control Order" legislation in the early part of 2006, with the so called "sunset clause concession" by the Government.

Well, the "sunset clause" is no more, it has been passed without a vote

The motion to accept the continuation of this dreadful legislation has been passed, "on the nod", without a vote, by the House of Commons, after a mere 90 minutes of debate, attended, at one point by only 13 Members of Parliament.

What an utter disgrace and mockery of Parliamentary democracy this is !

The House of Commons has allowed the Government to win all of today's votes on the Lords' amendments to the Identity Cards Bill 2005.

All the sensible, well argued speeches were from those (on both sides of the House) who opposed the Government e.g. Andrew Carmichael (Liberal Democrats), Edward Garnier (Conservatives), Sammy Wilson (DUP), Stewart Hosie (SNP), Lynne Jones (Labour), Mark Todd (Labour)

All the incoherent, self contradictory ones, were from the Government front bench, obviously from Charles Clarke, but especially from Andy Burnham and from some "whips plants" amongst the Labour backbenches. Other Labour MPs who clearly could not eve command the respect of even their colleagues e.g. Martin Linton (Battersea) and Celia Barlow (Hove).

The doubly disgraced ex-Minister David Blunkett (Sheffield Brightside) even crawled out from his grace and favour £3 million Belgravia house, which he is still squatting in rent and tax free, to utter some of his usual nonsense about "clean databases" - all the existing "dirty" Government databases started off as "clean" ones, what will be different about the National Identity Register ?

Only the Labour Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee John Denham (Southampton Itchen) made any sort of partial reasonable sense in favour of the Bill.

So, yet again, despite the actual debate having been clearly won by the opponents of the Bill, the Parliamentary "lobby fodder" ended up voting against all the main Lords' amendments.

Even if all the Lords' Amendments had stood, the Bill would still have been dreadful.

Will the House of Lords accept this rejections of their amendments, on March 6th, or thereabouts, when the Bill is likely to return to them ?


No doubt the full text of Gordon Brown's speech to the Royal United Services Institute today will eventually be available online.

UPDATED: The text of the speech is now available on the HM Treasury website

Some first impressions:

The BBC News 24 tv news are reporting that Prime Minister Tony Blair's aeroplane flight back from some vague summmit or other in a wildlife reserve in South Africa (what has this achieved exactly ?), has been delayed from taking off due to engine trouble.

Will he miss the votes in the House of Commons on the Identity Cards Bill ?

Simon Davies versus the Home Office

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There is not much that can be added to the sentiments expressed by Longrider and D-Notice, regarding the plight of Simon Davies and academic freedom, in the face of the Government's ID Cards spin onslaught, as described in the Sunday Times

Partly in order to clear the decks, in case of his taking legal action against the NuLabour Government Ministers who have been briefing against him personally, Simon Davies is now no longer Chair of the Advisory Board to the cross party NO2ID Campaign which has been rallying the opposition to the Identity Cards Bill, upon which MPs will be voting later today.

The London School of Economics Identity Project report did not examine any of the civil liberties and privacy issues, upon which Simon Davies is so well qualified to comment on, It presented an analysis of the UK Government's scheme, as best as could be understood from the paltry public information which the Home Office had released in dribs and drabs , and examined various low, medium and high estimates for costs, legal issues, and international comparisons, as well as an alternative ID Card scheme proposal which could have been cheaper and more secure than the Home Office scheme.

Will we see more of the media spin from the Government before this evening's votes on the Consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Identity Cards Bill 2005 ? Given Chancellor Gordon Brown's imminent, heavily leaked speech, to the Royal United Services Institute today, and his confused interview on Sunday AM, we suspect that there may well be, along the lines of the Andy Burnham briefing letter to Labour MPs.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown continues his media spin campaign to try to convince the world that he is going to replace Tony Blair as Prime Minister, by pontificating on a wider range of subjects than simply the economy.

He gave a glimpse of his confused thinking about Terrorists and ID Cards in his interview with Andrew Marr on the BBC's Sunday AM morning political TV slot (AM - Andrew Marr, = ante meridian = Morning - doh !), ahead of his heavily leaked speech to the Royal United Services Institute tomorrow.

So that the British political blogosphere can appreciate, and hopefully properly dissect the thoughts of this NuLabour politician, we have partially transcribed this interview below, so that some of the nonsensical claims and actual falsehoods which he uttered, can be preserved via search engines, for posterity.

He seems to be threatening us with more repressive laws whilst claiming that there will be "safeguards for individuals" (mentioned 7 times) and "accountability to Parliament" (mentioned 5 times), which are incredible claims, given that he and his Government are set to vote against exactly such provisions in the Lords' Amendments to the Identity Cards Bill on Monday and the Terrorism Bill on Wednesday.

Has he actually bothered to read the full text of these Bills and of the Amendments ?

Partial transcript:

As NuLabour Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown tries to divert media attention from the by-election defeat on his own doorstep in Dunfermlline and Fife, his media spin machine has managed to plant a leak of some of the contents of a speech which he is due to give on Monday.

The BBC and The Guardian "berliner", The Independent and The Sun and The Mirror tabloids, report, in almost identical words, presumably simply "cut & pasted" from the Treasury press briefing, without troubling their readers with any sort of any proper analysis or background details:

"As Chancellor, I have found increasingly that an important part of the role of a finance minister is to address issues of international terrorism," Mr Brown will say.

"And I have discovered that this requires an international operation using modern methods of forensic accounting as imaginative and path-breaking for our times as the Enigma code breakers at Bletchley Park achieved more than half a century ago," the speech will say.

The Treasury spokesman said that "Gordon Brown believes we must now create a specialist centre where Britain's best financial experts can work on identifying, tracking and breaking down terrorist financial networks."

Is Gordon Brown planning to snoop even more heavily on the finacial transactions of the British public ? Is he also planning to attack the privacy and security of the world's financial networks ?

We have some obvious questions which the professional journalists do not seem to have bothered to ask.

WIll anybody in the audience at the United Services Institute dare to ask them on Monday, or will they be bundled out of the room and held under the Terrorism Act, for heckling ?

More Home Office figures which nobody trusts

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The Daily Telegraph has Yet Another Example of Home Office Figures Which Nobody Trusts:

It is time to call for the breakup and re-organisation of this ailing Government Department, which is simply not doing the job which it claims to be doing on our behalf, and is trying to mislead the public:

Official figures on crime and drink just don't add up By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor (Filed: 09/02/2006)

The Home Office was under fire last night after publishing statistics purporting to show that violent crime fell in the weeks after pubs were allowed to extend opening hours.

The Tories accused ministers of spinning "bogus" figures to justify the reforms and the Statistics Commission, an independent watchdog set up to ensure that Government figures are trustworthy, said it was concerned about the way they had been compiled and released.

CCTV Camera nominated as an "Icon of England"

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Thanks are due to Perry de Havilland at Samizdata, [UPDATE: and other people like John Lilburne] for nominating the CCTV camera as one of the "Icons" on the Government's controversial million pound Icons of England propaganda website.

The CCTV camera is the perfect icon for Britain today, summing up the nature of the changing relationship between civil society and political state. They are an innovation in which Britain leads the world both technologically and in usage and are the visible manifestation of so many things which happen out of sight. It is almost impossible to avoid their gaze for an entire day and sitting like steel crows on their perches above us, truly they are emblematic of modern Britain.

Please vote for this "icon", and perhaps the "CCTV camera" will take its place alongside "fox hunting" as icons chosen by the people, rather than one of those foisted on us by the Government.

This Monday the 13th February 2006, the House of Commons will be debating the Lords' Amendments to the controversial Identity Cards Bill 2005.

The cross party NO2ID Campaign will be lobbying their MPs:

NO2ID and Liberty will be holding an emergency lobby of Parliament on 13th February 2006, when the Identity Cards Bill returns to the Commons for consideration of Lords' amendments.

The lobby will take place from 12 noon until 1:00pm on the sundial in Old Palace Yard. This is opposite the St Stephen's Gate entrance to the Houses of Parliament [location marked 'H' on this map]

This will be your last chance to make a visible protest against the Bill before it goes into Parliamentary 'ping-pong'. As always, we shall be laying on some props but please do bring your own banners and placards - the bigger and clearer the better.

To get an idea of numbers, we'd appreciate an RSVP. Please send an e-mail to events@no2id.net or fill in the form [click here] to let us know if you can definitely make it.

Please at least write to your Member of Parliament urging them to reject this Bill, or at least to accept the Lords' Amendments.

This is especially important if you are a constituent of a Labour MP, as they are being briefed with utter rubbish (.pdf) by Home Office Ministers like Andy Burnham:

There really is no excuse, in a democracy, for the Government not to answer general questions about the strategy and democratic safeguards, about any aspect of "security" policy, whilst obviously protecting current operations and methods, or the details of individual cases.

Yesterday, Dr. Vincent Cable, the Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, was again stonewalled by the Prime Minister regarding his series of perfectly reasonable questions regarding the "Wilson Doctrine."

All he got was an unsatisfactory "nothing further to add " Answer.

What is the Prime Minister hiding from us ?

Did the Home Secretary indirectly admit to the phone tapping of MPs in the latter half of 2005 ?

Remember that it is the constituents of Members of Parliament who are being potentially illegaly snooped on, not just the MPs themselves, under the murky limits of the "Wilson Doctrine".

Dr. Cable's Parliamentary Written Answer:

Cabinet Office Minister Jim Murphy has published the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill 2006 looks to be another sneaky attempt by the Executive branch of Government to further weaken the role of Parliament.

Why does the NuLabour Government hate the idea of full public consultation and of detailed scrutiny by Parliament so much ?

This Bill adds to the already strong case for a law which imposes criminal penalties on any Government Ministers, civil servants and lawyers, who dare to use words like "any" or "all" or "every" in a Bill or Order or Regulation, without qualification, caveat or restriction of unlimited powers.

Similarly, by law, no Act of Parliament should ever be worded so that it could be interpreted to give the power to amend itself (not the same thing as normal Secondary Legislation), without new Primary Legislation and full, detailed scrutiny by Parliament.

This Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill fails these simple constitutional safeguards.

Does this Parliamentary Answer to a Question, along the lines which we have been asking, put by the Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, Dr. Vincent Cable, constitute a "no smoke without fire" admission about the "Wilson Doctrine" ?

6 Feb 2006 : Column 944W

Interception of Communications

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many requests have been received by his Department for the electronic interception of (a) telephones, (b) emails and (c) other electronic communications between July and December 2005; and how many requests his Department has received for details of the communications traffic data of hon. Members in this period. [47558]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The available information is published annually in the report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner. Figures for 2005 will be included in the Commissioner's next report.

Has the Home Office / Charles Clarke deliberately or incompetently missed that this question relates, not to the general public, but specifically to Members of Parliament, under the "Wilson Doctrine" ?

Or is this a tacit confirmation that MPs phones have been tapped, or at least that there have been requests for phone taps and/or email interceptions or for Communications Traffic Data requests etc., since last July ?

N.B. The last report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Swinton Thomas, last July 2005 , made no mention of the issue whatsoever, yet by December, Sir Swinton was writing to the Prime Minister regarding the need to review the "Wilson Doctrine".

What assurance is there that there has not been a "Vodafone Greece" type compromise of MP's or the general public's phones ? After all, identical Ericsson telecommunications hardware and software is installed in the UK mobile phone network.

There are all sorts of unanswered questions about the notorious Abu "The Hook" Hamza al Masri, who was sentenced on 11 out of 15 charges, to run concurrently, for up to 7 years in prison

Since a jury has had to suffer by watching the tapes of his rantings, that punishment is probably deserved, even though the prosecution had picked only 10 out of about 2700 sermons or seminars, all dating from before the year 2000.

However, why was Abu Hamza, supposedly a key lynchpin of the Al Quaeda terrorist network, given such a short sentence, for "collecting information" under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, compared with other recent convictions under the same law i.e. only three and a half years, concurrently with his other 7 year sentence, whilst other, far less important people, have been sentenced to 15 years and to 6 years in prison ?

The House of Lords has now completed its Third Reading of the Identity Cards Bill 2005

The Bill now goes back to the House of Commons next Monday 13th February 2006, where the MPs can either accept the Lords' Amendments or not.

Some minor amendments were passed at Third Reading.

Will there be the sort of Parliamentary "ping pong" between the Commons and the Lords, which happened with the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which brought in the potentially tyrannical power of Control Orders, even against British citizens who have not been charged, let alone convicted of a crime ?

The most important amendment, which was a Government one based on a suggestion made previously by the Opposition Lord Phillips of Sudbury, was:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 2, line 34, leave out "physical" and insert "external"

This explicitly prevents using certain biometric identifiers, some of which have been used experimentally at airports, such as hand geometry i.e. the shape and length of the bones in your hand as revealed by a strong light, and any types of X-Ray images etc. in the National Identity Register, except in the "voluntary information" section e.g. the useless idea of putting your own blood group information on the database.

In real life, modern day ambulance crews take no notice of any alleged "blood group" information recorded on bits of paper, or in this case, on an inaccessible centralised government database (it will not be stored on the ID Card itself), especially as they all have access to rapid, automated blood group testing equipment, which they will use on the way to the hospital.

This amendment also specifically precludes DNA samples being required for the National Identity Register, by Order, as this, according to Lord Bassam would be an "internal" characteristic or biometric. Any future addition of DNA etc. to the NIR would require Primary Legislation, i.e. another Bill with a full debate by Parliament.

Lord Bassam of Brighton, the Government Minister, had the impossible task of defending the Home Office's credibility in the light of recent revelations:

With the Third Reading of the controversial Identity Cards Bill 2005 in the House of Lords tomorrow, and its return to the House of Commons scheduled for next Monday13th February, the likelihood is that the NuLabour public relations machinery will be in full swing again, briefing newspapers and the broadcast media.

It is an intolerable abuse of power, when powerful politicians, with unlimited resources paid for by the taxpayer, focus their spin and disinformation machinery onto a single named individual, who is not a professional politician, who happens to disagree with some detailed Government policy.

Has everyone already forgotten the death of Dr. David Kelly and the subsequent Hutton Inquiry ?

If the Government disagree with the well respected LSE Identity Project report, then they should simply publish their own detailed system architecture and their detailed cost benefit analyses, and their project risk assumptions, to justify their proposed multi-billion pound expenditure of public money, on a scheme which will literally change the relationship between the Government and every person in the United Kingdom.

"If they have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear".

The Government should not attempt to discredit either the London School of Economics, or the hundred or so experts who have contributed to the report, which is now required reading all over the world, by everyone who is working on e-government projects

They should definitely not focus on a single named individual, who does not have the opportunity to speak out under the protection of Parliamentary privilege.

Shamefully, this is what the NuLabour government has been doing to Simon Davies, who is now considering taking legal action against individual politicians, for their repeated campaign of defamatory statements to the press and media.

Ian Brown reports: "LSE visiting fellow threatens Blair with legal action"

The text of Simon Davies' letter to the Prime Minister:

The Government is still dithering and stalling over the "Wilson Doctrine".

Several Members of Parliament have tabled Questions,
the first if which has been "answered":

Written answers Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Prime Minister

Wilson Doctrine

Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme, Lab):

To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish those sections of the report from the Interception of Communications Commissioner which are relevant to the Wilson Doctrine; if he will put any proposed changes to the doctrine to a vote on the floor of the House; and if he will make a statement.

Tony Blair (Prime Minister):

I have nothing further to add to my written ministerial statement, 15 December 2005, Official Report, column 173WS, and my answers at Prime Minister's questions on 18 and 25 January.

The scandal unfolding in Greece, reported by the Independent over the revelations that politicians mobile phones, including those of the Greek prime minister etc. had been intercepted by Vodafone, before and after the 2004 Olympic Games.

Is the Vodafone mobile phone network similarly vulnerable here in the United Kingdom ?

Some more details in this AFP report via Alan Mather e-government@large

The House of Lords has now completed its consideration of the controversial Terrorism Bill 2005. The next stage in the legislation is for the House of Commons to vote on wether or not to accept the Lords' Amendments

The last major Opposition amendment related to the censorship of the internet, mostly web sites with respect to the dissemination of material which might "glorifiy or encourage" terrorism.

This amendment passed by a single vote, without the presence of the Home Office Minister in the Lords, Baroness Scotland of Asthall, who was absent for family reasons.

Thanks to an email correspondent for alerting us to the Mayor Of London Ken Livingstone's latest mass surveillance plans. He is proposing Yet Another Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, which will snoop on every vehicle entering or leaving the Greater London within the M25 orbital motorway, this time, under the pretext of enforcing a Low Emission Zone, to curb some diesel engine pollution, starting in 2008.

There are still unanswered questions about the controversial and privacy invasive London Congestion Charge scheme and its Westward Extension, ,

See "M25 Low Emission Zone - another ANPR surveillance snooping scheme"

Low Emission Zone Consultation

Frequently Asked Questions

This will cover all the 33 London Boroughs within the M25, but not the M25 itself, and will seek to limit particulate carbon air pollutants , which are mostly produced by pre-2001 vintage diesel engined lorries etc. through Yet Another Automatic Number Plate Recognition enforced system of fees (£100 to £200 a day) and fines (£ 1000 or more).

Unlike the London Congestion Charge, presumably this LEZ scheme will need to be run 24/7 and at weekends.

"It is proposed that the LEZ would be enforced using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras similar to those used for Congestion Charging. Fixed cameras would be supplemented by mobile patrol units fitted with ANPR cameras"

Why have they chosen the most intrusive and privacy unfriendly "control freak" way of enforcing this anti-pollution policy ?

It is not possible for ANPR cameras to monitor just HGVs, they must pick up all vehicles. Surely there will be the temptation to feed this system into the controversial National ANPR Database, and to retain the traffic movement data on millions of innocent drivers for 2 to 6 years, or more ?

We expect another onslaught of Government spin and disinformation over their new "soundbite" figure of "£1.7 billion for identity fraud" , which is being falsely spun as some sort of justification for the billions to be spent on the National Identity Register ID Card scheme.

The "detailed" breakdown of the £1.7 billion figure is online at:

Updated Estimate of the Cost of Identity Fraud to the UK Economy, 2 February 2006

This is as bad as the discredited 2002 Cabinet Office figure of £1.3 billion !

Even where the notes to the figures say "we have no idea how much of this figure is due to identity fraud", the whole figure has been added up to compile the supposed £1.7 billion figure !

They have actually had to repeat some of the same vague figures from the 2002 report, "for comparison", for want of anything else e.g. £395 million for Money Laundering, and £215 million for MITC (Missing Trader Intra-Community) fraud. It can be argued that such mostly international frauds do not even represent a loss to the UK economy, but a net gain.

As if by magic, a figure of £372 million has appeared under the heading of "Telecommunications", which did not appear in the 2002 report. How exactly was this large figure arrived at, and by whom ?

They are also including the estimated costs of enforcement measures in various departments like for driving tests, or the Police, which would remain as fixed overhead costs, even after the introduction of a perfect ID Card scheme. e.g. the £62.8 million "The cost to UKPS of measures to counter identity
fraud when processing applications for UK passports issued in the UK."

This fixed overhead cost will not be reduced by the proposed Identity Cards scheme, it will in fact be increased by at least the alleged £584 million a year running costs of the NIR (according to the Home Office's Regulatory Impact Assessment). i.e. the ID Cards scheme, would, according to this analysis actually increase the cost to the UK economy to over £2.3 billion a year !

These "identity fraud" figures are totally inadequate, and are another insult to the intelligence of anyone who looks at them.

Where are the actual crime statistics on the numbers of "identity fraud" crimes actually committed, the number of criminals involved, and the number of actual victims, and the amount of money they have actually lost ?

Where is the evidence of the alleged improvements since 2002 e.g. the secure passport delivery via courier rather than by post and the whole "Chip and PIN" system which was not yet in place in 2002 ?

Andy Burnham. the former spin doctor, is the Home Office Minister in charge of Home Office research. Why did he not commission a proper scientific , quantitative study ?

Home Office Minister Andy Burnham has been on BBC News 24 breakfast tv, saying that the Home Office will be publishing new figures on "identity fraud" later today, which we will look at with interest.

"The trend is upwards" apparently.

His soundbites were preceded by a pre-filmed segment showing a case where a woman and her partner had both had money withdrawn from their internet bank accounts illegally, with the suspicion falling on their recycled rubbish as being the possible source of sensitive personal data to the thieves.

When asked by the tv interviewer how the Identity Card scheme would prevent such a case, Burnham did not answer the question and wittered on about biometrics and being able to prevent multiple ID registrations.

Which, of course, would have made no differemce whatsoever in the internet banking fraud case, since you will not be able to send and verify your biometrics online via a bank's online website, without putting that sensitive data and your biometric details at severe risk of being stolen en route.

If you have to physically go to a secure biometric reader in the bank, then the whole point of internet or phone banking is lost.

The National Audit Office have published a report on 31st January 2006:

Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Home Office
Resource Accounts 2004-05

which, despite the obviously toned down language, and the usual claims that "it is all being sorted out now", cannot conceal the utter chaos and mismanagement which the introduction of a new Adelphi computer system, planned for and introduced under the notorious former Home Secretary David Blunkett and Sir John Gieve.

Sir John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General wrote

To inform Parliament that the Home Office has not met the statutory reporting timetable in respect of its 2004-05 resource accounts;


I cannot form an opinion on the truth and fairness of the Home Office financial statements for 2004-05


That is as strong a condemnation of incompetent financial management as any auditor is likely to utter.

It is as astonishing as it is unacceptable, that a major Central Government Department like the Home Office cannot be trusted to account for the money it spends on our behalf.

If a private sector organisation had mismanged its financial affairs as badly as this, then the people in charge would be outt of a job forthwith.

Will the Home Secretary Charles Clarke, whom in theory bears resposibility for this David Blunkett legacy, have the honour to resign ?

What about the "Sir Humphrey" , the Permanent Secretary and therfore the Accounting Officer of the Home Department at the time. i.e. SIr John Gieve.

Sir John is now the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, with a vote on the level of the Bankk of England's official Interest Rates, which affect the entire UK economy !

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 www.pgpi.org
(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: http://ht4w.co.uk

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

WikiLeak.org - ethical and technical discussion about the WikiLeaks.org 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
PublicTechnology.net - 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 stand.org.uk have gone on to set up other online tools like WriteToThem.com. The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the stand.org 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
www.idcards-uk.info - New Alliance's ID Cards page
irefuse.org - 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

CommentOnThis.com - 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

RFIDBuzz.com 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
freetotravel.org - 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

e-nsecure.net 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 Euro-correspondent.com 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


MySecured.com - 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 http://nuclear-weapons.info

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 - 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.com - 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 irrepressible.info 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