Intelligence and Security Committee publishes Two annual reports - Gordon Brown keeps one still secret

| | Comments (2)

The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, who are supposed to provide the public with independent scrutiny of the secret intelligence services, has actually written two Annual reports in the last 9 months.

11 March 2010: The Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual Report for 2008-2009 was laid before Parliament today by the Prime Minister. A copy of the Report can be found here. A copy of the Government Response to the Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual Report 2008-2009 can be found here.

The Committee has issued an accompanying Press Release, which can be found here.

These Annual Reports are not an adequate mechanism for holding the secret intelligence agencies to account, either for their waste of public money, or for how well they are doing their job.


Perhaps there is some good reason for the 8 month publication delay of this supposedly Annual 2008 - 2009 report , but since nobody trusts Gordon Brown not to lie by omission, we assume that there was some sort of petty political reason for the unnecessary delay.

Dr. Kim Howell's, the outgoing Labour chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who will not be standing for re-election at the forthcoming General Election, seems a bit frustrated with the

"We also sent our Annual Report for 2009-10 to the Prime Minister on Friday 5 March 2010.
This is a shorter report, given the duration of the Parliamentary year, however it covers some
fundamental issues.


We have been assured by the Prime Minister that this Report will also be published in good time before the debate next week.

This is an opportunity for Gordon Brown to show his respect or contempt for Parliament and the British public.

We would like to be proved wrong, but we assume that Gordon Brown will break this promise to Kim Howells.

The debate on the Intelligence and Security Committee Report is scheduled for this Thursday 18th March 2010.

On past performance, we expect a few paper copies this 2009 - 2010 report to have been made available a few minutes before, or perhaps even during this debate, in the Vote Office, giving MPs and others no time to read and analyse it beforehand.

We doubt if it will be published on the web until after the debate in the Commons.

Here are a few points which stood out for Spy Blog, when reading this censored ISC report:

GCHQ - Government Communications Headquarters

Difficulties in recruiting and retaining their target number of technical staff.

This is affecting the ability to defend against Russian and Chinese and other state sponsored cyber attacks:

27. Nevertheless, work to tackle the threat of electronic attack is about a third below the level planned. We have been told that the shortfall is because of the difficulties GCHQ has had in recruiting and retaining skilled internet specialists in sufficient numbers - although specialist recruitment campaigns have been set up to try and address this problem

The loss of 35 laptop computers discovered back in 2008, including 3 which could have held Top Secret information.

How many have they lost since then ?

MI5 - Security Service

51. The Security Service has continued its rapid recruitment programme and plans to grow to around 4,100 staff by the end of 2010/11 (compared with current staffing of approximately 3,500).47

47We have since been informed that this target has been reduced to 3,800

MI6 - Secret Intelligence Service

MI6 still seems incapable of managing its capital expenditure and IT project finances.

H. This is the second year in a row that the Secret Intelligence Service has failed to manage its capital spend across the financial year, putting both efficiency gains and value-for-money gains at risk.

This looks like an admission of failure, regarding Information Technology projects and budgets:

56. SIS has now appointed a senior official to manage IT budgets across the Service, an area where this kind of expenditure surge has been particularly prevalent. We hope that this appointment will help the department to plan more effectively and organise capital spending across the year.

Why was nobody doing this properly before ?

63. SIS recruited 204 new staff during 2007/08, against a target of 230 (the remainder having been selected but had not yet started). As at 31 March 2009, SIS had 2,253 staff; this is predicted to increase to 2,527 by March 2010.

An example of how ineffective the Intelligence and Security Committee is, can be seen from the 2003 / 2004 incident regarding the sale of an MI6 Camera on eBay, which contained some secret documents in its memory stick. They are only reporting on this 6 years after the security incident !

71. SIS advised the Committee that its IT and communications system in *** at that time required files (including scanned documents and other images) to be transferred via floppy disk. Staff found that it was possible to use the station's digital cameras, rather than floppy disks, to transfer larger files - even though this was a breach of security operating procedures - and this is how this data came to be stored on the camera memory stick.

The fact that the member of the public who bought this camera, preferred to sell the story to The Sun newspaper which published it in September 2008, shows just how secretive and out of touch with the public both MI6 and the ISC are.

There is also a question about how effective the SIS training and integration of new recruts is:

66. On the second point, the Chief explained that, due to the time taken to train new staff, and the time required for them to accumulate sufficient experience, the recent rise in staff numbers had yet to result in any real increase in terms of the numbers of staff who were actually deployable. As a result, SIS has reviewed its training arrangements and the Intelligence Officer New Entrants Course (IONEC), which was previously open only to Intelligence Officers and took six months, has been redesigned into two three-month modules open to a wider group of staff.53 SIS hopes that this will allow for the speedier deployment of new entrants into operational jobs and provide greater flexibility in terms of providing a greater number of staff who can do a wider range of jobs.54

54The Committee has been reassured that the benefits of the full IONEC are still being delivered to the Intelligence Officer cadre, but now in two separate courses, which provides more flexibility in terms of their deployment.

"Intelligence Officer cadre" - how very Communist of them !

Only six months training from a raw recruit into a fully deployable Intelligence Officer ? That does not seem long enough. It might explain the Daniel Houghton criminal case.

68. With the significant growth in staff numbers in recent years, as previously mentioned, SIS now has a higher proportion of younger and less experienced officers. This carries significant risk - one of the keys to managing this is ensuring that officers without sufficient experience can at least have access to the existing knowledge and expertise within the organisation. 56


At a less exalted but still very important level, failures properly to exploit tribal knowledge and information in SIS continue to contribute significantly to operational errors.

Backup Data Centre

In SR07 we didn't bid for the funds to do a new resilient facility. So we have done the initial study with the other two Agencies and that came back with a costing of about £*** million to £*** million. Prior to that GCHQ had done its own independent study on building a resilient data centre for itself and the prices were in that same sort of ballpark. As a result of those pieces of costing work, the three Agencies have concluded that none of the three of us have the funding within our baselines to pay that sort of bill. So we will be attempting to make the case in the next spending review to obtain the funding to do that.60

60Oral evidence - GCHQ, 24 January 2009.

So none of the three UK intelligence agencies have their own, or a shared, properly resilient secure offsite disaster recovery computer centre.

Defence Advisory Notice system

We note that the ISC mention the voluntary Defence, Press & Broadcasting Advisory Committee (see their website Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system and how even mainstream media like The Sunday Times ignores it

94. Our final concern relates to the lack of any real power. As Sir Bill Jeffrey said:

is a voluntary set of arrangements and... we meet... the responsible editors and other senior media people, but if in the end the journalist decides to ignore the advice and print something, there's nothing we can do about it.74

74Oral evidence - DPBAC, 20 January 2009.

This was illustrated in a recent case where Sunday Times published information that clearly fell under the DA-Notice system, yet it failed to consult the Secretary before the event, and then failed to respond to concerns raised both on the Media Side of the DPBAC and by the Secretary. In other words, completely ignored the system and any subsequent remonstrations without any consequences. Given this example, it is manifest that there is a problem with the current system and further thought must be given to how to address this.

We assume that this is the Sunday Times story mentioned above: Oops! Building firm blurts out secrets of hush-hush MI5 HQ 14th June 2009

RICU -Research, Information and Communications Unit

The anti-terrorism propaganda unit, which aims to somehow positively "influence" potential terrorists:

Research, Information and Communications Unit

101. One of the units within OSCT working under the PREVENT strand is the Research Information and Communications Unit (RICU), which was established in June 2007 in order to counter extremist messages. It aims to:

  • ensure consistency, across government, on counter-terrorism and counter-extremism messages;
  • provide a unifed communications strategy across all departments involved in delivering aspects of PREVENT;
  • undertake a wide range of "audience research" in order to identify how best to deliver these messages; and
  • advise police forces and local authorities on how best to communicate with local communities in order to target those most at risk of turning to extremism.

In early 2009, RICU's remit was widened to include the co-ordination of PREVENT-related news across Whitehall, and responsibility for preparing communications strategies to underpin all four strands of CONTEST.

102. The Unit is jointly funded by the Home Offce, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Communities and Local Government, but is based in OSCT. RICU currently has 35 staff and a budget of £5.7 million for 2009/10. Of this budget, £1.5 million is expected to be spent on research, and £3.5 million on campaigns to "wer community voicesh as Muslim community groups.82

82Letter from the Home Secretary - 13 May 2009.

Even the ISC has noticed that it is very hard to see any quantifiable measurement of success or effectiveness of this strategy or of this particular propaganda unit, or to determine if the taxpayer is getting value for money.

The National Security Forum

107. When the Prime Minister announced the National Security Strategy in March 2008, he also outlined plans for a National Security Forum87 to advise the Ministerial Committee on National Security, International Relations and Development (NSID) on the strategy.

The Cabinet Office told the Committee that it is envisaged that the Forum would meet around six times a year and described its expected composition:

It will be a mixture of specialists... we would look at a range of the different areas that are represented in the National Security Strategy... [these will] include the intelligence and security field, including diplomacy... the military, including the police, but also science, academia, interest in conflicts and international developments [and]... have one or two lay representatives as well.88

108. However, we understand that the Forum will be appointed until 2010 and that, in the meantime, an interim forum has been appointed that, we were told on 8 April 2009, only once/sup>

Progress appears to have been painfully slow, given the importance the Government attaches to the National Security Strategy and its supporting structures.90

9090 We also note that the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy has yet to be appointed.

Having said this, the impact of the National Security Strategy and Forum on the intelligence and security Agencies is very small, and these delays have not therefore had any bearing on their work. In addition, NSID and its sub-committees appear to have been functioning adequately without any significant advice from the Forum so far.

Another of Gordon Brown's attempts at creating policies through media soundbites, which has failed to be implemented properly in practice.

The other Whitehall departments and intelligence agencies seem to be ignoring this National Security Forum.

Given the way in which the Labour politicians abuse the voluntary services of independent scientists and experts, especially if they give advice which is unpalatable (e.g. the Home Office and their Drugs Advisory Committee), it would not be a surprise if they are having difficulty in finding good quality people who are willing to serve on this National Security Forum.

See our previous Spy Blog article back when this was announced:: National Security Strategy - bias, omissions and weasel words


More on this expensive IT project disaster:


123. The SCOPE programme was established in 2001 as a major interdepartmental IT project designed to facilitate more efficient and effective information sharing across the wider intelligence community. It was intended to be delivered in two phases:

  • Phase 1: connecting key departments (such as the Home Office and SOCA) to the existing secure communications network used by the intelligence community; and

  • Phase 2: improving and expanding the secure communications network and extending the system's capabilities.

124. SCOPE has been dogged continually by problems and we have repeatedly voiced concerns about the programme. After a two-year delay, Phase 1 was eventually implemented in late 2007, and the Committee was assured (in January 2008) that concerted efforts were being made to ensure successful and timely delivery of Phase 2. However, just three months later, as we reported last year, the decision had been taken to abandon SCOPE Phase 2. We reported that we were appalled at what appeared to be a waste of tens of millions of pounds, and said that we would be investigating why this vital project failed, the associated cost implications and the options for a replacement system.107

However, there seems to be a more modest replacement programme underway called Collaboration in the Intelligence Community (CLiC):


125. Following the failure of SCOPE Phase 2, GCHQ and SIS set up an initiative called Collaboration in the Intelligence Community (CLiC). This is intended to be a low-risk, inexpensive approach, providing incremental changes to existing systems, and designed to address the intelligence community's most urgent IT collaboration requirements. The Chief of SIS told us:

CLiC is designed to shore up... some of the capability that SCOPE 2 would have given us... We are doing really quite well on this more modest CLiC programme, which is not being run out of the Cabinet Office, it is being run out of SIS and GCHQ... and it will be of community-wide value when it is delivered.108

108 Oral evidence - SIS, 27 January 2009.

Note the implication that any IT Project which the Cabinet Office meddles with, is doomed to project management disasters. delays and cost overruns.

126. The first three areas CLiC will address are:

  • development for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of an enhanced version of the SCOPE Phase 1 Top Secret desktop, which will enable HMRC to continue to receive intelligence and communicate securely via email. This approach will reduce the overall cost of Top Secret desktop systems through economies of scale;

  • STRAP3A secure messaging - an email system for intelligence information that is subject to the highest protection standards. It is planned that, by the end of the 2009/10 financial year, up to seven departments (GCHQ, SIS, Ministry of Defence, FCO, Security Service, Cabinet Office and Home Office) will be able to exchange information at this level; and

  • a pilot programme for 100 users to collaborate on serious crime work. GCHQ has told us that this pilot successfully delivered, over a two-month period, the UK's first Top Secret "shared workspace" between GCHQ, SIS and SOCA. In May 2009, we were informed that the next planned increment will be the expansion of the user base to around 600 to 700 users across the wider intelligence community.

    127. A total of £*** million was spent on CLiC between August 2008 and the end of March 2009, with SIS and GCHQ each contributing £*** million and the remaining sum being provided by HMRC and the FCO. The largest cost element has been for specialist contractor staff and the development of technical infrastructure, with ***.

    V. CLiC appears to be progressing well so far. We are optimistic that it will deliver some of the IT solutions that the (far more costly) SCOPE Phase 2 programme was unable to. It is regrettable that this same practical and incremental approach was not adopted in the planning of the SCOPE programme.

More implied criticism of the Cabinet Office incompetence with IT projects.

Note the difficulty in producing a properly secure It system even for only a few hundred or thousand users in the UK and worldwide.

There is no hope of producing an equally secure National Identity Register or National Childrens' Database centralised computer systems, with access by hundreds of thousands of authorised users.

SCOPE Overseas

128. The SCOPE Overseas project was initiated in November 2005, with the aim of providing secure email between some overseas posts and other domestic users on the UK Intelligence Messaging Network (UKIMN).

129. The UK infrastructure for SCOPE Overseas became operational in mid-2008. There
are now 12 posts connected to the UKIMN: ***
In May 2009 the FCO told the Committee that *** would be connected in the coming months. The system will be rolled out to around 40 posts by March 2010. There is currently no FCO funding for further installations beyond April 2010.

So after 5 years, only a maximum of 40 British Embassies or Consulates, even though the UK is diplomatically represented in of over 120 countries, have access to this secure email system ?

That is totally unacceptable.

Every single British Embassy and Consulate should have secure communications technology available.

What is missing from this Report ?

  1. Why is there still no scrutiny by the ISC of the secretive Serious Organised Crime Agency ? It is connected into SCOPE and other intelligence agency machinery. and it conducts snooping, interception, intrusive surveillance and undercover Covert Human Intelligence Sources operations under RIPA and the Police Act 2006 Part III, which are indistinguishable from those conducted by an intelligence agency .

  2. Where is the scrutiny of Foreign Intelligence Agencies e.g. the US CIA, operating in the United Kingdom ? Are they properly subservient to MI5 and MI6 etc., or are they taking liberties with British citizens' privacy and freedoms, without any UK control or responsibility ?

  3. What about the use of Private Military Contractor / Mercenary companies, in intelligence gathering and surveillance roles ?

  4. Are any of these Private Military Contractors directly involved in, or indirectly complicit in torture ?


This is a good piece of content, I was wondering if I could use this blog on my website, I will link it back to your website though. If this is a problem please let me know and I will take it down right away.

Just want to say your article is striking. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i can take for granted you are an expert on this field. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. ???????????? ??????????? ??????

Leave a comment

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to supress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

We know that there are decent, honest, trustworthy individual politicians, civil servants, law enforcement, intelligence agency personnel and broadcast, print and internet journalists etc., who often feel powerless or trapped in the system. They need the assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email your views about this blog, or news about the issues it tries to comment on.


Our PGP public encryption key is available for those correspondents who wish to send us news or information in confidence, and also for those of you who value your privacy, even if you have got nothing to hide.

You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from
(available for most of the common computer operating systems, and also in various Open Source versions like GPG)

We look forward to the day when UK Government Legislation, Press Releases and Emails etc. are Digitally Signed under the HMG PKI Root Certificate hierarchy so that we can be assured that they are not fakes. Trusting that the digitally signed content makes any sense, is another matter entirely.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link:

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

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

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


Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog - ethical and technical discussion about the project for anonymous mass leaking of documents etc.

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
Privacy and Human Rights Survey 2004

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

Identity Project report by the London School of Economics
Surveillance & Society the fully peer-reviewed transdisciplinary online surveillance studies journal

Statewatch - monitoring the state and civil liberties in the European Union

The Policy Laundering Project - attempts by Governments to pretend their repressive surveillance systems, have to be introduced to comply with international agreements, which they themselves have pushed for in the first place

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

ARCH Action Rights for Children in Education - worried about the planned Children's Bill Database, Connexions Card, fingerprinting of children, CCTV spy cameras in schools etc.

Foundation for Information Policy Research
UK Crypto - UK Cryptography Policy Discussion Group email list

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

Open Rights Group - a UK version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a clearinghouse to raise digital rights and civil liberties issues with the media and to influence Governments.

Digital Rights Ireland - legal case against mandatory EU Comms Data Retention etc.

Blindside - "What’s going to go wrong in our e-enabled world? " blog and wiki and Quarterly Report will supposedly be read by the Cabinet Office Central Sponsor for Information Assurance. Whether the rest of the Government bureaucracy and the Politicians actually listen to the CSIA, is another matter.

Biometrics in schools - 'A concerned parent who doesn't want her children to live in "1984" type society.'

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

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

Reporters without Borders internet section - news of internet related censorship and repression of journalists, bloggers and dissidents etc.

Judicial Links

British and Irish Legal Information Institute - publishes the full text of major case Judgments

Her Majesty's Courts Service - publishes forthcoming High Court etc. cases (but only in the next few days !)

House of Lords - The Law Lords are currently the supreme court in the UK - will be moved to the new Supreme Court in October 2009.

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals under FOIA, DPA both for and against the Information Commissioner

Investigatory Powers Tribunal - deals with complaints about interception and snooping under RIPA - has almost never ruled in favour of a complainant.

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

Home Office - "Not fit for purpose. It is inadequate in terms of its scope, it is inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management systems and processes" - Home Secretary John Reid. 23rd May 2006. Not quite the fount of all evil legislation in the UK, but close.

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

United Kingdom Parliament
Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons.

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

FaxYourMP - identify and then fax your Member of Parliament
WriteToThem - identify and then contact your Local Councillors, members of devolved assemblies, Member of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament etc.
They Work For You - House of Commons Hansard made more accessible ? UK Members of the European Parliament

Read The Bills Act - USA proposal to force politicians to actually read the legislation that they are voting for, something which is badly needed in the UK Parliament.

Bichard Inquiry delving into criminal records and "soft intelligence" policies highlighted by the Soham murders. (taken offline by the Home Office)

ACPO - Association of Chief Police Officers - England, Wales and Northern Ireland
ACPOS Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

NewsNow Encryption and Security aggregate news feed
KableNet - UK Government IT project news - UK eGovernment and public sector IT news
eGov Monitor

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

Stand - email and fax campaign on ID Cards etc. [Now defunct]. The people who supported have gone on to set up other online tools like The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the website to the Home Office public consultation on Entitlement Cards is one of the factors which later led directly to the formation of the the NO2ID Campaign who have been marshalling cross party opposition to Labour's dreadful National Identity Register compulsory centralised national biometric database and ID Card plans, at the expense of simpler, cheaper, less repressive, more effective, nore secure and more privacy friendly alternative identity schemes.

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID bulletin board discussion forum

Home Office Identity Cards website
No compulsory national Identity Cards (ID Cards) BBC iCan campaign site
UK ID Cards blog
NO2ID press clippings blog
CASNIC - Campaign to STOP the National Identity Card.
Defy-ID active meetings and protests in Glasgow - New Alliance's ID Cards page - total rejection of any UK ID Card

International Civil Aviation Organisation - Machine Readable Travel Documents standards for Biometric Passports etc.
Anti National ID Japan - controversial and insecure Jukinet National ID registry in Japan
UK Biometrics Working Group run by CESG/GCHQ experts etc. the UK Government on Biometrics issues feasability
Citizen Information Project feasability study population register plans by the Treasury and Office of National Statistics - comments and links to each paragraph of the Home Office's "Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme".

De-Materialised ID - "The voluntary alternative to material ID cards, A Proposal by David Moss of Business Consultancy Services Ltd (BCSL)" - well researched analysis of the current Home Office scheme, and a potentially viable alternative.

Surveillance Infrastructures

National Roads Telecommunications Services project - infrastruture for various mass surveillance systems, CCTV, ANPR, PMMR imaging etc.

CameraWatch - independent UK CCTV industry lobby group - like us, they also want more regulation of CCTV surveillance systems.

Every Step You Take a documentary about CCTV surveillance in the Uk by Austrian film maker Nino Leitner.

Transport for London an attempt at a technological panopticon - London Congestion Charge, London Low-Emission Zone, Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, tens of thousands of CCTV cameras on buses, thousands of CCTV cameras on London Underground, realtime road traffic CCTV, Iyster smart cards - all handed over to the Metropolitan Police for "national security" purposes, in real time, in bulk, without any public accountibility, for secret data mining, exempt from even the usual weak protections of the Data Protection Act 1998.

RFID Links

RFID tag privacy concerns - our own original article updated with photos

NoTags - campaign against individual item RFID tags
Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products has been endorsed by a large number of privacy and human rights organisations.
RFID Privacy Happenings at MIT
Surpriv: RFID Surveillance and Privacy
RFID Scanner blog
RFID Gazette
The Sorting Door Project blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward


The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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


Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia


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

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

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at

RIPA Consultations

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

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

Syndicate this site (XML):

Follow Spy Blog on Twitter

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

Please bear in mind the many recent, serious security vulnerabilities which have compromised the Twitter infrastructure and many user accounts, and Twitter's inevitable plans to make money out of you somehow, probably by selling your Communications Traffic Data to commercial and government interests.

Recent Comments

  • schlüsseldienst wiesbaden: Just want to say your article is striking. The clearness read more
  • porno izle: This is a good piece of content, I was wondering read more


Monthly Archives

November 2010

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

UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Rights Group

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

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

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

Amnesty International's campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


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


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