Intelligence and Security Committee report for 2007 - 2008 - SCOPE Phase 2 cancelled, even more snooping planned

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The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) is an increasingly useless way for the Government to pretend to provide independent scrutiny of the secret intelligence agencies. The ISC's highly censored Annual report, sometimes provide a few tantalising glimpses of what these agencies are wasting our public money on, without providing any hard evidence of any actual successes, and with no indication of value for public money.

Having delayed publication of this censored report for over 3 months, the Government also gets to timetable the "debate" in the Commons about this Report, probably in another 6 months or so, judging by previous years.

The mainstream media have cherry picked the section on the failure of the SCOPE computer project, but have not bothered to look any deeper into the worrying projected increase in the size and intrusiveness of the Surveillance / Snooper / Secret Police State which this Report hints at, involving the general expansion of all of the intelligence agencies, and projects such as the Intelligence Exploitation programme, the IQ Programme, the Interception Modernisation Programme and the Communications Data Bill.

These all seem to be an expansion of snooping and data trawling through large numbers of innocent people's data, in pursuit of mythical "terrorist patterns", without any evidence that such snooping can possibly work technically, and without any effective error correction mechanisms and procedures, to investigate individual abuses, and to purge the records, provide financial compensation and issue a public apology to the inevitable victims False Positive matches.

Yet again, the ISC fails to scrutinise either the Serious Organised Crime Agency, or the various "domestic extremism" Police units set up by the unaccountable Association of Chief Police Officers, or any military Special Forces covert surveillance and reconnaissance units.

There is also no investigation of the revolving door whereby retired intelligence agency or police counter terrorism specialists join Private Military Contractor and Security / Mercenary companies.

ISC Annual Report 2007-08
[PDF 658KB, 58 pages]

The Government's Response to the ISC Report, is, as usual, even less informative than the Report itself:

Government Response to the ISC Annual Report 2007-08 [PDF 298KB, 8 pages]

Some Spy Blog notes and questions on the ISC report:

Reform of the Intelligence and Security Committee 4

One of the most impenetrable bits of the Report. There are no noticeable changes or reforms in evidence, which would have made this Committee into a proper independent watchdog of the Public's interest, with some real teeth, rather than a cosy co-conspirator with the Government politicians and the secret bureaucracy.

The threat 7
The Single Intelligence Account 8
Government Communications Headquarters 10

We have no problems with GCHQ getting new and updated equipment to keep pace with the growth of the internet.

    Internet programme - costing £*** million over the next three years, this project includes a number of elements which together are designed to enable GCHQ to keep up with the rapid progression of internet technologies. The project aims to improve the identification, interception and management of internet-based communications.26

    26 One of the most significant challenges facing GCHQ is to maintain its capability to identify and intercept targets as communications - including telephony - increasingly move to Internet Protocol technology. This challenge is faced on a broader scale across the intelligence and law enforcement communities and the Home Office is therefore co-ordinating the Interception Modernisation Programme to address the challenge. This is covered in paragraphs 174 to 176.

Taking this at face value, assuming that GCHQ are not "policy laundering" their own demands by claiming that "it was MI5 wot made us do it, guv", there appears to be an insatiable demand for more electronic surveillance and snooping (see also the IQ Programme and Intelligence Exploitation in the MI5 Security Service section below)

    35.Of GCHQ's total ICT effort, ***% was in support of Security Service operations and this continues to be a growing demand on, and a challenge for, GCHQ28 GCHQ has agreed performance targets with the Security Service for the level of support it will provide to operations; however, the Director of GCHQ told the Committee that these are extremely difficult to meet:

    We don't quite meet the targets they set, but, frankly, the targets they set are at a level where it is very unlikely we ever would be able to meet them... I think their aspirations would almost always exceed our capability.29

Give them an inch, and they take a mile.

The Security Service 14


Why are they pretending to publish financial figures, entirely censored with "***" ?

Given the vast sums involved, and the apparent waste of resources, knowing what is spent, even to the nearest million pounds, on a particular department or project, offers no real clue as to its intelligence effectiveness and value for money, neither to potential enemies, nor to the Government, nor to the tax paying public, and is therefore not a security risk.

    51. Whilst the Security Service continues to deploy resources on discovering new potential terrorist networks and plots, it is increasingly finding that intelligence about extremist activity relates to individuals who have already surfaced on some level in previous investigations. The Director General told the Committee:

    [One of our priorities is] to try and know more about the people we already know about, rather than to find the people we don't know anything about. It would be nice to know about the unknown unknowns, but it is probably a less rich seam than knowing more about the people that we know are a threat to us.44

    This means that the Service is focusing its efforts on making better use of the intelligence already at its disposal - it needs to innovate to improve the methods by which it collects, analyses and acts upon intelligence.

    52.The Service completed the first phase of its "Information Exploitation (IE) Programme" in June 2007 at a cost of £*** million. The programme provides tools to enable investigators to search across systems, map networks and analyse events based on time and geography. It therefore allows specialist analysts to focus on more complex,in-depth analysis. The second phase, when completed, will double investigative capability by transforming the Service's ability to process and exploit intelligence. It will improve the way investigators are able to use intelligence from a variety of sources, and provide what the Director General has described as "trip-wire" coverage of significant patterns of activity. It will also allow staff to bring the intelligence together and analyse it more effectively. This second phase has now been incorporated into the "IQ Programme".45

    45 The "IQ Programme" is scheduled over the CSR07 period and beyond. It aims to build on the "IE Programme" by providing investigators with context and connections to what they already know about their targets, saving time on searches. The first part of the "IQ Programme" is scheduled to go live in 2009/10.

This looks like even more "Rich Picture" intelligence snooping (mentioned in previous ISC reports) on "significant patterns of activity".

We fear that this actually means even more data trawling of large numbers of innocent people's personal records, and the increased chances of abuse by authorised insiders, motivated by politics or religion, by irrational jealousy or financial gain. There is also the chance of authorised or unauthorised abuse of such data for financial gain via insider trading manipulation of the stock market etc.

There is also going to be even more domestic spying in the UK - more "agent handlers" must mean more Covert Human Intelligence Sources, double agents, undercover operatives and informers:

    iii. increasing the impact and improving the effectiveness of the Service's
    agent-running capability;42 and

    42 The Service aimed to do this by increasing operational staff numbers (in 2001 the Security Service had *** agent handlers working against the ICT target - this has increased to *** currently and over the next three years will grow further), improving training of agent handlers and appointing a Head of Profession for operational officers to encourage best practice.

MI5 Northern Operations Centre

    54. A very real practical benefit of the regionalisation programme is the ability to respond to events across the UK more quickly than before. The Director General explained:

    If one takes, for an example, the events of the London/Glasgow attacks in June [2007]...if we had... forward mounted some of the equipment and surveillance in the north ***, our response would have been considerably quicker in getting up to Scotland, particularly some of the equipment because we had to ind some way of getting the stuff up to Glasgow. You would be starting two-thirds of the way there, which would in fact have been considerably advantageous to us...46

    The Security Service recently opened a Northern Operations Centre to provide an operational support capability from a base outside London. This is particularly beneficial given the UK-wide nature of the threat that the Service is trying to cover.

"two-thirds of the way there" between London and Glasgow, sounds like Manchester.

What possible communications or surveillance equipment, no matter how sophisticated, did MI5 need to move to Glasgow, which they could not have borrowed from Strathclyde Police or from the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency ?

    59. Another key non-ICT focus for the Service is its counter-espionage work. The Security Service dedicates 3.5% of its resources to such work, with particular focus on China and Russia.

    60. The murder of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006 led to a serious deterioration in diplomatic and political relations between Russia and the UK.

    In response to the Litvinenko murder, the Security Service increased its resource dedicated to Russia by around ***%. The Director General told the Committee that:

Counter-espionage work, to protect us against foreign intelligence agencies from the whole of the rest of the world, only takes up a measly 3.5% of MI5 the Security Service's resources ?

That is an astonishing statistic if it is true, but it does explain, somewhat, why the recent "spy" trials and allegations have not involved any "real" professional foreign intelligence agents, who must be laughing at MI5.

The Secret Intelligence Service 21

These footnotes

    21 The SIS resource figures from 2008/09 inclusive will be reduced each year by a £*** million baseline transfer to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

    58 These figures show spending in 2007/08 prices calculated on the basis of the latest HM Treasury deflators (as at 30 September 2008). As previously indicated (footnote 21), the 2008/09 to 2010/11 figures will be reduced by a £*** million baseline transfer to SOCA.

are puzzling.

Has MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service transferred some of its functions to the Serious Organised Crime Agency, or is this just an accounting fiddle, to "rob Peter to pay Paul", to cover a shortfall in the SOCA budget from an unspent surplus from the SIS one ?

If the latter, then why is the ISC keeping this secret ?

Business continuity 26

GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was nearly brought to a standstill by the River Severn floods, partly due to the disruption to transport etc. which affected their staff, the risk of electricity supply cuts, and partly due to the indirect loss of clean mains water (power failures to water pumping stations) , which could easily have affected the mainframe computer cooling and air conditioning systems.

    94. GCHQ has reviewed its business continuity plans following the summer floods of 2007, which resulted in significant disruption to both of its sites ***. The greatest challenge to GCHQ during the crisis was a lack of mains water supply - vital for computer cooling - since both sites held water reserves sufficient for ***. By sending home non- critical staff and switching off a number of non-critical computer systems, GCHQ reduced consumption until suppliers were able to put in place an adequate and reliable supply via road tankers. This allowed critical services to be maintained during the ten-day period during which the mains supply was interrupted.66

The Security Service

    ii. It has ensured that, where it has expanded, the new sites add to its overall collective resilience.67 Loughside, in Northern Ireland, also provides a significant fall-back capability should Thames House suffer significant disruption.

    67 Should Thames House be out of action, the Service can now maintain ***.

Secret Intelligence Service

    100. SIS's business continuity plan covers a range of scenarios, from the short-term loss of Vauxhall Cross to the complete evacuation of staff out of London for two months. For an incident affecting only part of Vauxhall Cross, SIS would still be able to make use of two separate ***, whilst key staff could be deployed to work out of a number of alternative locations (***). There are also back-up duty officer arrangements for SIS ***.

    101. SIS has nearly completed a major programme to duplicate its core IT and communications systems at *** to make it a viable alternative headquarters if Vauxhall Cross were completely out of action as a result of a serious incident. SIS also has a year-round emergency provision in place for the movement of staff out of London, although this does not address a scenario where ***.

    102. SIS exercises its evacuation procedures regularly, and plans to hold regular desktop exercises 68 during 2008 to ensure that all teams across the organisation are aware of what to do in an emergency. In view of its dependence upon *** as a back-up site, we would expect SIS to test those arrangements regularly to ensure that they are fully it for purpose.

The new computer centre at Hanslope Park , near Milton Keynes, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office communications link with British Embassies and Consulates throughout the world, and the site of Her Majesty's Government Communications Centre, would be a logical choice for this back up centre.

The Agencies' non-ICT funding 28
Value for money and efficiency in the Agencies 28

HM Treasury "Gershon targets" about "efficiency" , published with every financial figure censored with *** are meaningless.

There is no attempt to measure or correlate actual intelligence successes and failures with the amount of public money spent to achieve these.

Media relations 30
The Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism and CONTEST 31
Ministerial Committee on National Security, International Relations and
Development 33
The National Security Strategy 33
The Head of Intelligence, Security and Resilience 35
The Professional Head of Intelligence Analysis 36

Incredibly, the ISC report does not even mention:

The Sun: Did Russians or al-Qaeda poison Britain's top spy? - Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee Alex Allan in a coma

especially as the Cabinet Office now seems to have decided to increase his workload, by subsuming role oft the Professional Head of Intelligence Analysis into that of
Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

    135. We are therefore very concerned that the post remained vacant since Jane Knight (the first post-holder) retired in August 2007. We are particularly concerned that the progress achieved during the previous two years may be lost. Although we note that the Deputy Professional Head has been covering both posts during this time, we question the extent to which one person can adequately cover two demanding posts at the same time. The JIC Chairman told us in January 2008 that thought was being given to the future of the Professional Head post - whether it should be a separate post, or whether it should be amalgamated within the JIC Chairman role. The Cabinet Office has since told us that a decision has been made to subsume the role within the JIC Chairman role.

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre 37
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure 38
The Joint Intelligence Committee and Assessments Staff 38

See above for mention of Alex Allan, the Chairman of the JIC.

See also Document security in the Cabinet Office 47 below


The magnitude of this failed IT project disaster must be immense, if even this compliant ISC is forced to write:

    147. SCOPE is a major cross-government IT programme aiming to improve the intelligence community's secure communications. The Committee has repeatedly raised concerns about delays to this project, a lack of preparation amongst partner departments, and the risks to the successful delivery of Phase II:

    We remain very concerned, however, by the numerous delays... a general lack of preparedness for full implementation amongst SCOPE partners, and difficulties in providing a secure environment for the deployment of SCOPE overseas.

    Last year we reported that Phase I had initially been implemented, but expressed concern at further delays to Phase II - which aimed to broaden the user departments and improve capability of their communications. This phase had been delayed and revised on a number of occasions. Last year we were told that considerable work had been done to reduce the risk of any further delay and to ensure its successful delivery between mid-2008 and early 2009

    149. This year, however, the Cabinet Secretary told us that, despite all this work, Phase II of SCOPE has now been abandoned:

    ...we know that the way they were planning to do [Phase II] won't work... So we are working actively on ways in which we can achieve those benefits, but probably through rather different routes.

    At the time of writing, the Committee has yet to be provided with details of how the decision to scrap SCOPE Phase II was arrived at, what the cost implications are and what the options are for a replacement system.

    N. We have consistently reported concerns about SCOPE and are appalled that Phase II of the system - on which tens of millions of pounds have been spent - has now had to be scrapped. We sincerely hope that lessons have been learnt from this failure and that they will be used when plans for the future are being drawn up. We also expect the development of any replacement capability to be subject to more stringent controls, and greater management and financial accountability, from the outset. We will be investigating the reasons for the serious failure of this important project, and will report on the matter in the forthcoming year.

That is about as strong a criticism as the ISC ever makes, but no Government Ministers or civil servants have taken personal responsibility for this failure and resigned, have they ?

Where is the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Review Process, or any equivalent, of this SCOPE project ?

N.B. none of the Intelligence and Security Committee members are qualified to understand the complexities of large scale information technology projects, and they are not resourced with independent experts who are.They may be able to comment intelligently on documents with which they are presented, but they will be likely to fail to ask the right questions about technological and "business" risks and assumptions, especially if these are not properly spelled out, or are entirely missing from the project documentation.

The Defence Intelligence Staff 41
The Commissioners 42

The combination of the secretive and toothless RIPA Commissioners, and the ISC does not provide the democratic accountability or the effective independent complaints investigation and remedial action procedure, which should be standard operating practice in a mature democracy.

Official Secrets Act 43
Rendition report 44
Intercept as evidence 44

The ISC report adds nothing to the equally censored Chilcot Review and Advisory Group Report:


Interception modernisation 47

    174. The ability to intercept communications is essential to the UK's national security. This ability is threatened by advances in new technology. According to a recent Home Ofice study, the move to Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications will render the UK's domestic interception capability obsolete over the next decade.

This imprecise weasel wording conflates and confuses the processes of interception and communications traffic data analysis. It fails to distinguish between existing IP data communications (which are already snooped on), and current third party encrypted peer to peer Voice over IP telephony e.g. Skype, (which will always present intelligence agencies and the Police with de-cryption problems, but which does not affect communications traffic analysis very much) , and British Telecoms 21st Century Network, move to convert its old telephony switching backbone infrastructure into an entirely IP based one (which will make snooping on phone calls easier, not more difficult).

    The Home Secretary told the Committee:

    We do recognise the changing technology that we are facing, the way in which... both the collection and the dissemination of information and data will change fundamentally, and it will change more quickly in this country than it will in many others... The impact of that will be to massively degrade (unless we make big changes) our ability, not just to be able to intercept, but actually potentially to be able to collect the communications data in the first place in order to be able to target the interception.126

    175. This is a very complex issue but one that must be addressed as a matter of priority. In response, the Home Office has established the Interception Modernisation Programme, which aims to update how intelligence and law enforcement agencies collect and access communications data. On 15 October 2008, the Home Secretary announced that a public consultation would begin early in 2009 to inform Ministerial decisions as to any future legislation which might be necessary.

    16. The Communications Data Bill - which had included a provision "to ensure that public authorities can continue to have access to essential communications data" 127 - is now on hold until the outcome of the public consultation next year.

It is now March 2009, and there is still no sign of this promised public consultation.nearly 5 months after it was announced.

Document security in the Cabinet Office 47

    180, The Committee wrote to Sir David Omand to draw his attention to the findings of an investigation into security arrangements in the Agencies that was commissioned by the Committee in 1999. One of the issues that concerned the Committee was the different arrangements relating to document security across the intelligence community. The investigation found that there are random exit searches in each of the Agencies, but that the Cabinet Office does not employ random searches, despite housing highly classified material in some areas.


    On 28 October, the individual concerned appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court charged under Section 8.1 of the Official Secrets Act. He pleaded guilty and was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay court costs.

i.e. "Cabinet Office official Jackson, 37, of Yateley, Hampshire, was fined £2,500 and will have to pay £250 costs. "

See: Official Secrets Act prosecutions and media spin - Richard Jackson has been treated more leniently than Corporal Daniel James

Investigation into BAE Systems 49

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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.

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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

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Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

Front Line Defenders - Irish charity - Defenders of Human Rights Defenders

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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

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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.

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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
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DNA Profiles - analysis by Paul Nutteing
GeneWatch UK monitors genetic privacy and other issues
Postnote February 2006 Number 258 - National DNA Database (.pdf) - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2004/5 (.pdf) - published by the NDNAD Board and ACPO.

Eeclaim Your DNA from Britain's National DNA Database - model letters and advice on how to have your DNA samples and profiles removed from the National DNA Database,in spite of all of the nureacratic obstacles which try to prevent this, even if you are innocent.

Miscellanous Links

Michael Field - Pacific Island news - no longer a paradise - John Gilmore versus USA internal flight passports and passenger profiling etc.

The BUPA Seven - whistleblowers badly let down by the system.

Tax Credit Overpayment - the near suicidal despair inflicted on poor, vulnerable people by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown's disasterous Inland Revenue IT system.

Fassit UK - resources and help for those abused by the Social Services Childrens Care bureaucracy

Former Spies

MI6 v Tomlinson - Richard Tomlinson - still being harassed by his former employer MI6

Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links blog - Comments on IT security and Privacy or the lack thereof.
Rat's Blog -The Reverend Rat writes about London street life and technology
Duncan Drury - wired adventures in Tanzania & London
Dr. K's blog - Hacker, Author, Musician, Philosopher

David Mery - falsely arrested on the London Tube - you could be next.

James Hammerton
White Rose - a thorn in the side of Big Brother
Big Blunkett
Into The Machine - formerly "David Blunkett is an Arse" by Charlie Williams and Scribe
infinite ideas machine - Phil Booth
Louise Ferguson - City of Bits
Chris Lightfoot
Oblomovka - Danny O'Brien

Liberty Central

dropsafe - Alec Muffett
The Identity Corner - Stefan Brands
Kim Cameron - Microsoft's Identity Architect
Schneier on Security - Bruce Schneier
Politics of Privacy Blog - Andreas Busch
solarider blog

Richard Allan - former Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam
Boris Johnson Conservative MP for Henley
Craig Murray - former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, "outsourced torture" whistleblower

Howard Rheingold - SmartMobs
Global Guerrillas - John Robb
Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

Nick Leaton - Random Ramblings
The Periscope - Companion weblog to journalist network.
The Practical Nomad Blog Edward Hasbrouck on Privacy and Travel
Policeman's Blog
World Weary Detective

Martin Stabe
B2fxxx - Ray Corrigan
Matt Sellers
Grits for Breakfast - Scott Henson in Texas
The Green Ribbon - Tom Griffin
Guido Fawkes blog - Parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy.
The Last Ditch - Tom Paine
The (e)State of Tim - Tim Hicks
Ilkley Against CCTV
Tim Worstall
Bill's Comment Page - Bill Cameron
The Society of Qualified Archivists
The Streeb-Greebling Diaries - Bob Mottram

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke - Freedom off Information campaigning journalist

Ministry of Truth _ Unity's V for Vendetta styled blog.

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security et al.
EUrophobia - Nosemonkey

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward


The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

Database Masterclass - frequently asked questions and answers about the several centralised national databases of children in the UK.


Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

Brit Watch - Public Surveillance in the UK - Web - Email - Databases - CCTV - Telephony - RFID - Banking - DNA

BLOGDIAL - smart mobile phone forensics, information security, computer security and digital forensics by a couple of Australian researchers

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

UK Liberty - A blog on issues relating to liberty in the UK

Big Brother State - "a small act of resistance" to the "sustained and systematic attack on our personal freedom, privacy and legal system"

HosReport - "Crisis. Conspiraciones. Enigmas. Conflictos. Espionaje." - Carlos Eduardo Hos (in Spanish)

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

Corruption-free Anguilla - Good Governance and Corruption in Public Office Issues in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the West Indies - Don Mitchell CBE QC

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

PJC Journal - I am not a number, I am a free Man - The Prisoner

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

The Caucus House - blog of the Chicago International Model United Nations

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

The 4th Bomb: Tavistock Sq Daniel's 7:7 Revelations - Daniel Obachike

OurKingdom - part of OpenDemocracy - " will discuss Britain’s nations, institutions, constitution, administration, liberties, justice, peoples and media and their principles, identity and character"

Beau Bo D'Or blog by an increasingly famous digital political cartoonist.

Between Both Worlds - "Thoughts & Ideas that Reflect the Concerns of Our Conscious Evolution" - Kingsley Dennis

Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair - the rich Uzbek businessman and his shyster lawyers Schillings really made a huge counterproductive error in trying to censor the blogs of Tim Ireland, of all people.

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

Henry Porter on Liberty - a leading mainstream media commentator and opinion former who is doing more than most to help preserve our freedom and liberty.

HMRC is shite - "dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of the HMRC, who have to endure the monumental shambles that is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)."

Head of Legal - Carl Gardner a former legal advisor to the Government

The Landed Underclass - Voice of the Banana Republic of Great Britain

Henrik Alexandersson - Swedish blogger threatened with censorship by the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishement, their equivalent of the UK GCHQ or the US NSA.

World's First Fascist Democracy - blog with link to a Google map - "This map is an attempt to take a UK wide, geographical view, of both the public and the personal effect of State sponsored fear and distrust as seen through the twisted technological lens of petty officials and would be bureaucrats nationwide."

Blogoir - Charles Crawford - former UK Ambassodor to Poland etc.

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

Lords of the Blog - group blog by half a dozen or so Peers sitting in the House of Lords.

notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society - blog by Dr. David Murakami Wood, editor of the online academic journal Surveillance and Society

Justin Wylie's political blog

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
Mayor of London Blog
London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

Cool Britannia


Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at

RIPA Consultations

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

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

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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.


Monthly Archives

November 2010

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UK Legislation

The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

UK Legislation Links

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

UK Commissioners

UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

UK Intelligence Agencies

intelligence_gov_uk_150.gif - Cabinet Office hosted portal website to various UK Intelligence Agencies and UK Government intelligence committees and Commissioners etc.

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protestClimate of Fear propaganda posters

MI5 Security Service
MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

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

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

FreeFarid_150.jpg - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

Amnesty International's campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."


Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme