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

The Open Rights Group has a Petition for you to sign, however, we strongly suggest using an Open Proxy or Tor etc. to hide your real IP address.when you sign this petition online.

The government has announced that it will be spending up to £2 billion into new ways to snoop on email and web traffic.

This Kafka-esque "Intercept Modernisation Plan", was stopped near the end of the last government, but was quietly revived in the 2010 Spending Review (read more here). While billions of pounds are being slashed from education, welfare and defence, the government plans to waste vast sums trying to snoop on our emails and Facebook communications.

We need to tell the government to stop this wasteful, intrusive plan for wholesale snooping on our daily lives. 7281 people have signed so far

Please sign our petition - and tell your friends

Dear David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May,

I do not want the government to try to intercept every UK email, facebook account and online communication. It would be pointless - as it will be easy for criminals to encrypt and evade - and expensive, costing everyone £2 billion. It would also be illegal: mass surveillance would be a breach of our fundamental right to privacy. Please cancel the Intercept Modernisation Plan.

Be very clear, Spy Blog believes that any low level public servant, or their senior Sir Humphrey Appleby / Yes Minister masters, whether they are in the Police or in the Intelligence Agencies ,should be prosecuted for Misfeasance in Public Office if they fail to investigate actual terrorist or serious organised criminal gangs or conspiracies.

We fully support narrowly targeted Interception and Data Preservation (NOT mandatory Data Retention)) aimed at terrorists, spies and serious organised criminal gangs.

However, if such bureaucrats dare to promote the re-introduction of the evil Labour government's wasteful Interception Modernisatrion Programme<, they should be named and shamed and ridiculed and sacked, for wasting public money in harsh economic times.

We totally reject as unworkable, counter-productive and liable to actually help recruit terrorists etc., any attempt at Mass Surveillance or Mass Telecommunications Traffic Data Retention and / or Analysis, especially if this is done in secret.

We had thought that disgraced former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's weasel worded "Interception Modernisation Programme" had been abandoned by the Whitehall apparatchiki as unworkable (as everyone with any real world internet or mobile phone technical knowledge or experience told them) , but, it seems that the Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition government has been tricked and bamboozled into reviving this "zombie" policy, under the aegis of the National Security Strategy.

The ORG petition only highlights "government snooping on every email and Facebook message and web chat", but the reality of a re-introduction of the IMP pipe dream would be far more extensive and far more intrusive than this, including Mobile Phone Cell based Location Data to physically track the movements of you or your children in near real time, without any "reasonable suspicion" that you were actually involved in a Serious Crime (defined by the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000, section 81 General Interpretation, subsection (3) (a) , as one which a first time offender, might expect a Prison Sentence of 3 years or more - typically drug smuggling or terrorism etc.)

a) that the offence or one of the offences that is or would be constituted by the conduct is an offence for which a person who has attained the age of twenty-one (eighteen in relation to England and Wales] and has no previous convictions could reasonably be expected to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or more;

Needless to say it would mostly be innocent people. or knuckle dragging stupid criminals, who could be easily caught by other means, who would be the targets of such a scheme. Any competent professional criminals, foreign intelligence agents (spies) or sophisticated terrorists would easily avoid it.

We have bot seen any evidence to dissuade us from the view that any such IMP scheme would be open to widespread abuse for political or personal reasons, or that vast amounts of the data would not be lost or handed over in bulk to insecure foreign governments, without any mechanisms for error correction and financial compensation for the inevitable cock ups and gross errors.

In the worst cases, too many innocent people's lives will be put in physical danger or their family lives and career prospects will be ruined, as a result of futile, inaccurate, automated false positive / false negative attempts at "data mining" in secret.

There is also the very real danger that such a database will be abused for purely political reasons, to help snoop on, or harass innocent political opponents of the current or future government.

Do not think that simply signing this online petition is enough.

Please also lobby your Members of Parliament or other elected representatives (in Westminster or in Scotland or Northern Ireland ore Wales or in Europe) - contact them via

The Guardian has a good summary of a limited investigation conducted by the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Sara Thornton QPM, into the public relations disaster which was the West Midlands Police Project Champion.

This was a Labour government approved and funded plan to literally create CCTV Camera and Automatic Number Plate Recognition enforced apartheid ghettos in two districts of Birmingham.

Such mass surveillance schemes attack or destroy the fundamental human rights to freedom of travel and freedom of association, of millions of innocent people. Such schemes are a victory for our enemies, who aim to destroy our free society and help to create domestic extremists or terrorists.

The full text of the actual Review: Project Champion Review (.pdf)

N.B. this was not a full inquiry, with powers to punish the guilty or incompetent bureaucrats, however the Report is reasonably hard hitting in its conclusions.

This Review benefited from the expertise of one of our favourite Cross-Bench Peers, the Intelligence and Security Committee.

The blame for this scandal should not be heaped entirely on the West Midlands Police.

  • Who will cross examine the roles played by the West Midlands Police Authority and Birmingham Council ?

  • Since the £3 million was approved from central government public anti-terrorism funds, who will identify and cross examine the bureaucrats and politicians responsible for this evil Orwellian mass surveillance scheme ?

  • Who will investigate the Home Office (especially the Office for security and Counter-Terrorism) , ACPO (TAM), the Security Service MI5 and the "Prevent" strand of the CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy ?

    To Prevent

    This is a long term and vital element of CONTEST, focusing on building relationships with all members of the community and enhancing links with key organisations.

    Our 'Prevent' work will provide not only reassurance to vulnerable groups but also potentially impact upon the underlying causes of terrorism and diminish support for terrorists.

If the appalling NuLabour cheerleader Hazel Blears is allowed to serve on the Intelligence and Security Committee. then they cannot be trusted to investigate this scandal properly. Hazel Blears was the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government when this Project Champion was proposed implemented. She was politically responsible for at least part of the PREVENT strand of CONTEST - so there would be an obvious conflict of interest whenever.the ISC looks into this policy area.

She cannot be trusted to keep classified documents secret, so her presence on the ISC will mean that they will not be given full access to documents and witnesses - see the previous Spy Blog article: Proposed Intelligence and Security Committee appointments - do *not* let Hazel Blears anywhere near the ISC !

We would also like to know

  • Are there other secret mass surveillance projects using overt and covert CCTV and ANPR technology in other British cities ?

  • Are there there Mobile Phone based "security cordons" using the same sort of combination of Cellular transmitter ID and / or antenna triangulation and web based geographical mapping and tracking used for Electronic Tags worn by criminals or by people subjected to Control Orders , to snoop on the locations and movements and meeting patterns of thousands or millions of innocent people in the Alum Rock and Washwood Heath areas of Birmingham or in London or Manchester or Leeds / Bradford etc. ?

  • Are there any other non-Mobile Phone call technologies e.g. BlueTooth and / or WiFi or contactless Passport or Oyster travel card etc. unlicensed Industrial Scientific Medical band radio snooping and surveillance schemes in these areas, which have supposedly been installed for anti-terrorism purposes, but which have mutated , through lack of transparent public scrutiny, into secret mass surveillance schemes, which are open to abuse by authorised insiders or by external agencies ?

  • Have any of these technologies been used to target and stigmatise or harass members of ethnic or religious minorities or otherwise peaceful political opponents of the Labour government, as has already happened with the national ANPR database and the Police National Computer ?

  • Will the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government actually investigate what the creepy Labour control freaks specifically authorised, or turned a blind eye to, in terms of such mass surveillance schemes and will they undo the damage which has been done to our freedoms and liberties ?

If you know about any other such current or future mass surveillance schemes, please contact us pseudo-anonymously via the blog comments or email, PGP encrypted if possible, taking the usual precautions - see our - Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Holiday reading for Spy Blog readers - reviews of a couple of books on the GCHQ and the NSA

These comprehensive reviews seem to give a good outline of a couple of books about a couple of the world's premier intelligence agencies, which deserve close study:

Spy Blog could be tempted to review

Securing the State by Sir David Omand GCB, the former éminence grise of the Cabinet Office Intelligence bureaucrac and obe of the architechts of Protint - 'protected information' data mining of personal sensitive data by intelligence agencies.

As always, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner tends to reveal a little more than either the Interception of Communications Commissioner or the Intelligence Services Commissioner ever do in their Annual reports.

Annual report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2009-2010 (.pdf)

Unlike the other two RIPA Commissioners, Sir Christopher Rose does actually have something to report about RIPA Part II:

CHIS = Covert Human Intelligence Sources
i.e. spies , undercover agents, paid informers, unpaid informers etc.


4.8 There were 5,320 CHIS recruited by law enforcement agencies during the year; 4,495 were cancelled (including some who were recruited during the previous year) ; and 3,767 were in place at the end of March 2010. The figures for the previous year which were 4,278, 4,202 and 3,722 indicate a slight increase in usage.

4.9 During the current reporting year other public authorities recruited 229 CHIS of whom 182 were cancelled during the year with 90 in place on 31 March 2010.

During the previous year 234 were recruited, 153 cancelled and 106 were in place at the end of the year. Again just over half of CHIS usage was by government departments. The light use of RIPA/RIP(S)A powers by local authorities is even more pronounced in relation to CHIS recruitment. 97% recruited five or fewer and 86% did not use CHIS.

There are some criticisms of CHIS management and tradecraft:

5.9 There are too many occasions when inspections reveal poor tradecraft in managing CHIS. Infrequent physical meetings and reliance on communication by text messages are rarely adequate. There have also been instances where law enforcement officers have pretended to be the CHIS when communicating with his associates online, without properly providing the CHIS with an alibi. It seems to me that this is an unsafe practice.

The protection of CHIS is one of the main reasons cited for the vast amount of secrecy and lack of freedom of information and transparency in the Police and Intelligence Agencies etc.

Such amateurism in the handling of CHIS should be punished by removal of those responsible from any positions of power or authority involving CHIS - they could literally get people killed through such incompetence.

Encryption Keys and RIPA Part III

At last a few details about RIPA Part III:

NTAC = National Technical; Assistance Centre, now run by GCHQ, politically controlled by the Foreign Secretary.

Section 49 - encryption

4.10 During the period reported on, NTAC granted 38 approvals. Of these, 22 had permission granted by a Circuit Judge, of which 17 have so far been served. Six were complied with and seven were not complied with, the remainder were still being processed. Of the seven that were not complied with, five people were charged with an offence, one was not charged and the other is still being processed. So far there has been one conviction with other cases still to be decided.

4.11 The conviction related to the possession of indecent images of children and this offence is the main reason why section 49 notices are served. Other offences include: insider dealing, illegal broadcasting, theft, evasion of excise duty and aggravated burglary. It is of note that only one notice was served in relation to terrorism offences.

These statistics further aggravate the injustice to someone who does not fall into any of these categories see the previous Spy Blog article: "JFL" provides some more details about his imprisonment for refusing to divulge his cryptographic keys under a RIPA Part III section 49 notice

4.12 These statistics are provided by NTAC which is able to be accurate regarding the number of approvals it has granted. But it is reliant on those processing notices to keep it informed regarding progress. It appears that there has been delay in serving some notices after approval has been granted (hence the difference between the number approved and the number served) . Notices, once approved, should be served without delay. If delays continue, I will require an explanation.

Sir Christopher does not seem to have delved into whether or not the de-crypted plaintext or the cryptographic keys were actually stored securely, ideally also using strong encryption or not, once they had been seized as evidence through the section 49 orders.

Unless and until the public is reassured about that, then there will be lots of non-cooperation from businesses which risk massive "collateral damage" to their core business systems, as a result of police investigations involving only part of their computer infrastructure, or a few employees or customers.

There is nothing specific about Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), but there is a section on CCTV:

Closed Circuit TeleVision - CCTV


5.22 My Chief Inspector has met the Interim CCTV Regulator and, as a member of the Independent Advisors Group, he will represent me in the development of the National CCTV Strategy.

How things have changed. Previously the Surveillance Commissioners took no interest in overt or covert CCTV spy cameras.

5.23 I am pleased by the proliferation of protocols between local authorities and police forces. In particular, I am satisfied that there is a wider acceptance of the need for authorisations to be shown to those responsible for using cameras covertly. But I am concerned at the number of inspections reporting the ability of some police forces to control, remotely, cameras owned, solely by or in partnership with, a local council. Sometimes control can be taken without the knowledge of the council CCTV Control Room or the guarantee that an appropriate authorisation exists. Equally, there is no guarantee that the person remotely operating the camera is appropriately qualified to conduct such an operation. Protocols should clarify the procedures to be followed when control is taken by others outside the CCTV Control Room and ensure that suitable safeguards are in place to prevent misuse.

Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2009 (.pdf), by the Rt,Hon. Sir Peter Gibson

Just like all the previous Intelligence Services Commissioner reports, the lack of public detail makes a mockery of the whole RIPA oversight process - it takes 16 pages to say almost nothing at all.

Yet again, there has been no call for Sir Peter to oversee any RIPA Part III encryption key or plaintext orders. This appears to have been left to the Chief Surveillance Commissioner.

Part III of RIPA

34. As I have noted above, Part III of RIPA came into force on 1 October 2007. However, no notification of any directions to require disclosure in respect of protected electronic information has been given to me in 2009 and there has been no exercise or performance of powers and duties under Part III for me to review.

The Intelligence Services Commissioner has gone through the motions with the Identity Scheme Commissioner Sir Joseph Pilling, bearing in mind the scrapping of the scheme which is still in progress.

11. On 16 November 2009 the Identity Minister, Meg Hillier, signed the Commencement Order allowing the Identity and Passport Service to begin issuing identity cards to members of the public living or working in Greater Manchester with effect from 30 November 2009 though it should be noted that identity cards were also made available to Home Office/Identity and Passport Service civil servants as well as airside workers in Manchester and London City Airport for a few weeks beforehand. On 10 December 2009 I had a useful meeting with Sir Joseph Pilling, the Identity Commissioner, in which we discussed our respective areas of responsibility under the ICA. I informed him that I did not envisage that I would need to obtain information about the acquisition, storage and use of data in the National Identity Register by organisations other than the intelligence services. At the time of writing this Report I am not aware of any acquisition, storage and use made by the intelligence services pursuant to the ICA of information recorded in the National Identity Register and in view of the intended repeal of the ICA it is unlikely that there will be any such acquisition, storage or use

Obliviously he has a good professional working contacts with the Intelligence agencies, but does that automatically taint him as the chairman of the Inquiry looking into allegations of complicity in torture of foreign terrorist suspects by MI5 or MI6 etc, appointed by PM David Cameron ?

He is already looking at:

Guidance on detention and interviewing of detainees by intelligence officers and military personnel

39. On 18 March 2009 the Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament about the detention and interviewing of detainees by intelligence officers and military personnel and announced my agreement to his request that the Intelligence Services Commissioner should monitor compliance by the intelligence agencies with the consolidated guidance on the standards to be followed during the detention and interviewing of detainees. My role in monitoring compliance will not commence until the consolidated guidance has been published. Such publication has not yet occurred,

The Report contains exactly the same words as the Interception of Communications Commissioner regarding the Investigatory Tribunal. A public agency broke the law, but will not be published for doing so. Why can they not at least be named and shamed in public ? There cannot be any "national security" grounds for not doing so.

Another year, another brief Annual Report by a RIPA Commissioner

Interception of Communications Commissioner Annual Report for 2009 (.pdf) , the right hon. Sir Paul Kennedy.

As with all the previous RIPA reports, the statistics about the number of Interception warrants or about the number of Communications Data requests are deliberately not broken down into any meaningful level of detail and should be ignored, although there will no doubt be plenty of media articles which are based on the headline figures.

How many people do these figures represent ? One criminal suspect could have many mobile phones, one interception warrant could be used to capture millions or billions of email messages.

There should be a breakdown of Communications Data requests since not all Public Authorities are allowed to request the full set of subscriber details, "friendship tree" call or email patterns and location data. Revealing such figures would not prejudice ongoing investigations.

As before, there are a trivial number of minor reported procedural and form filling Errors by the Police and Intelligence agencies (Interception and Communications Data) and , to a lesser extent the hundreds of other Public Authorities who have Communications Data powers, mostly due to keyboard typing errors.

Fewer of these Errors are now even being reported, in order to reduce bureaucracy:

3.11 Accordingly I agreed to a change in the error reporting system whereby public authorities now only report errors which have resulted in them obtaining the wrong communications data and where this has resulted in intrusion upon the privacy of an innocent third party. Other errors are simply recorded.


As before, we challenge the claim that the public are in any way "reassured" by this RIPA Commissioner (or any of the other RIPA Commissioners):



The Agencies always make available to me the personnel and documents that I have asked to see. They welcome my oversight, as ensuring that they are acting lawfully, proportionately and appropriately, and they seek my advice whenever it is deemed appropriate. It is a reassurance to the general public that their activities are overseen by an independent person who has held high judicial office

National Technical Assistance Centre snooping infrastructure down for 3 days

The National Technical Assistance Centre was formerly under the Home Office / MI5 now it is under the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and GCHQ.

Amongst other things they operate the "black box" legally authorised snooping under RIPA infrastructure which taps into major telephone and internet company infrastructure (not the same as GCHQ's main interception infrastructure)

2.27 Three errors attributable to the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC) were reported during the period of this report, one of which I now explain. NTAC reported a technical fault within their infrastructure that resulted in the prevention of delivery of intercept related information to the intercepting agencies for three days. A project to prevent this type of error occurring has been initiated and is expected to deliver improvements in the system in 2010.

How much public money is now being spent on NTAC and its "black boxes" ?

No Interception of Communications Commissioner involvement with Encryption, again ?

Yet again, on RIPA Part III, whilst the boilerplate text explaining the legal section of the Act is copied from previous reports, there is no mention of the Interception of Communications Commissioner having been advised of any Section 49 Notices demanding access to cryptographic de-cryption keys or to the plaintext information which has been protected by encryption.

Were all the cases in the past year really dealt with by the Other RIPA Commissioners ?

There is no mention of any reports or inspections by the Inspectors or by the ICC himself into how well or how badly the Code of Practice is being adhered to regarding electronic information protected by encryption.

Mobile phones in Prisons

It is interesting to see that the ICC and his inspectors seem to have finally taken our suggestion regarding illegal Mobile Phones in Prisons, made in previous years, that whilst they are inspecting the procedures for Interception and Communications Data analysis in Prisons, something which technically they have no power to do under the RIPA, but which they have been asked to do by successive Home Secretaries.

4.12 The inspections have also revealed that an alarming number of Category B local prisons appear to have a very limited capacity to monitor prisoners who pose a real threat to good order and security and this is a cause for concern. The smuggling of drugs and illicit mobile telephones are serious problems for most prisons, irrespective of their security status, and if a serious incident were to occur, which could have been prevented through the gathering of intercept intelligence, then prison managers and staff could find themselves in an indefensible position. Regrettably on occasions my Inspectors still have to emphasise this point in a number their reports.

4.13 The Category B local prisons, which were inspected during the reporting period, were asked to provide details of the numbers of illicit mobile telephones and associated equipment that had been seized in a six month period. Statistics from 25 prisons were collated and these revealed that 1,456 mobile telephones and 797 SIM cards were seized. Under the Offender Management Act 2007 and Prison Order 1100 dated 26 March, 2008 it is now a criminal offence to convey a mobile telephone or a component part of this equipment into a prison without the authorisation of the Governor and 11 of the prisons were making use of this legislation. However, the availability of such a large number of illicit telephones in the prison system is a serious cause for concern because prisoners can also use them to access the Internet.

4.14 Following the publication of the Blakey report in 2008 the Chief Operating Officer issued the Mobile Phones Good Practice Guide which was designed to help prisons minimise the number of mobile phones entering prisons and disrupt the number of mobile telephones that they were unable to find. Intelligence from the Pin-phones does help to prevent and detect attempts to smuggle them into the prison and this was part of the strategy. Clearly quite a number of the establishments are unable to implement the strategy fully because the resources and equipment are weighted far too heavily in favour of the offence related monitoring and this is a continuing problem. It is crucially important that prisoners are prevented from using mobile telephones to conduct criminal or illicit activity inside and outside the prison. Better use of the Interception Risk Assessments will eventually reduce the amount of offence related monitoring which needs to be conducted and this will in turn increase the capability to conduct more intelligence-led monitoring.

No mention of the Wilson Doctrine

There is no mention of the Wilson Doctrine in this year's public report, except for the background reference to current Prisons policy:



Communications which are subject to legal privilege are protected and there are also special arrangements in place for dealing with confidential matters, such as contact with the Samaritans and a prisoner's constituency MP

See the previous Spy Blog article: When will Prime Minister David Cameron re-affirm and extend the Wilson Doctrine on the protection from snooping on constituents' communications with their elected representatives ?

Still no progress on the use of Intercept Evidence in Court proceedings

2.10 Both the Advisory Group of Privy Counsellors and the government believe
that the potential gains from intercept as evidence justify further work in order to
establish whether the problems identified are capable of being resolved. The issues
involved are complex and difficult. I hope to be able to report on the progress
made on the planned further work in my 2010 Annual Report.

There are couple of positive bits of this report:


A welcome move by internet infrastructure giant Google, is their offering of Secure Sockets layer (SSL) / Transport Layer Security (TLS) session encryption, for their core web search service.

See the technical details of this offering: Google Web Search Help - SSL Search

Spy Blog notes that:

  • The URL link for the encrypted web search page is Missing out the "www." takes you (via Google's clever location load balancing DNS) to the unencrypted local version of Google e.g.

  • The Digital Certificate used by is issued by the Thawte Certification Authority under the Verisign top level CA (trusted by default by most web browsers). The level of encryption is "only" 128bit RC4, but that is still currently secure.

  • Although the announcement and documentation correctly says that:

    At this time, search over SSL is supported only on Google web search. We will continue to work to support other products like Images and Maps. All features that are not supported have been removed from the left panel and the row of links at the top. You'll continue to see integrated results like images and maps, and clicking those results will take you out of encrypted search mode.

    it may actually be a bit better than that, for the careful web surfer. The list of "click thru" SSL enabled Google filters in the left already includes Everything, Videos, News, Books, Updates and Discussions.

    Google Cache is also available via SSL session encryption, but not yet by default.

  • As an example, if you search for our "Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers" (or for supposedly still legal "thought crime" documents like ), the top listing will be something like:

    Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers
    Jan 23, 2010 ... Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and ... - Cached - Similar

    Note the URL link for the "Cached" version of the page, something which is very useful for checking out a current or recently modified or deleted web page. In this case it is

    However, if you resist the temptation to click on this link immediately, but instead Right Mouse click and Copy the Link Location , open up a new tab or window and paste it into your new web browser address bar, then change "" to its SSL/TLS protected equivalent using "", then this also offers an encrypted version of the Google Web Cache.

  • The Digital Certificate used by is issued by Google's own Certificate Authority called Google Internet Authority, under the top level Equifax Certificate Authority (trusted by default by most web browsers). Again, the level of encryption is "only" 128bit RC4, but that is still currently secure.

    Will Google soon be selling Digital Certificates, in competition with the other established Certificate Authorities ?

Privacy as a side effect of jealously guarded commercial or government data

Spy Blog has a theory that most of the Privacy which ordinary people enjoy, comes about as a result of private sector companies or government departments investing money in technology and infrastructure, to jealously guard the data of their "customers" from commercial or political rivals.

The side effect of this is to offer a measure of personal privacy from snooping by anybody else other than the company or government department you are dealing with directly.

This is more important in practice, than the fact that this happens to coincide with the internationally established Principles of Data Protection, which are spelled out in law under the very weakly enforced UK Data Protection Act 1998 Schedule 1.

This extension of SSL/TLS encrypted session protection by Google, will help improve your web searching / web browsing privacy, from the prying eyes of your local computer network systems administrators, from your Internet Service Provider and from any "snoopvertising" partners of your ISP like the notorious Phorm. etc.

Advantages for Google

From Google's point of view, it actually enhances their data collection and analysis of your web searching habits, since the SSL / TLS protocol usually gives a more accurate
reading of your Internet connection's true IP address where normal web proxy servers are in use.

The SSL search page does not affect Google's "personalization" cookie tracking technology, if you sign in to your Google account.

This feature may also help protect Google's share of the web search engine market in companies, organisations or countries which censor the unencrypted version of Google search. Simply blocking SSL/TLS port 443 would be commercial suicide for any company or country, since it would also block most types of e-commerce.

Google SSL enabled web search works ok via Tor

If you use the Tor cloud of encrypted anonymous proxy servers, then your IP address will still appear to be that of a random Tor Exit node somewhere around the world (which will change in about 10 minutes or so), even through an SSL connection.

Relying on Tor via SSL and then supplying account username and password credentials to a website (e.g. a web email account or your internet bank account etc.) is not recommended, but for encrypted Google web searching, this is fine.

So far, we have not yet seen a "Google Captcha" when using SSL Google web search via Tor, but this may only be because the abusers of Tor are not yet exploiting this via scripts and malware.

Communications Data Retention

The UK Home Office under the former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, who thankfully lost his Parliamentary seat in the recent General Election "policy laundered" mandatory Data Retention through Brussels and inflicted it on 450 million innocent European Union citizens.

Nobody who has actually read and analysed web log files is fooled into believing that staff at ISPs and Police or Intelligence agencies will magically always avert their eyes and only read the "Communications Data" part (i.e. the subdomain and domain name e.g. of a web server or proxy server or load balancer or firewall or anti-virus scanner etc. log file and ignore the "Content" part of the record i.e. the Google keyword search terms

Using SSL/TLS, these keyword search terms are encrypted.and therefore hidden from casual snooping.

Obviously Google will continue to comply with legitimate, US Court ordered requests for such information in specific police or intelligence agency investigations, either from the United States of America or from foreign countries via Mutual Legal Assistance treaties, but this introduction of SSL/TLS encrypted Google web searching, may reduce some of the secret (probably illegal but how do you prove it ?) "data trawling" which now goes on.

Remember that SSL/TLS encryption whilst hiding the content of a web session from interception en route, still allows a snooper to see the time, date and IP addresses of both ends of the session and the amount of data which has been downloaded or uploaded.

This may well be enough to strongly suggest or even to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a particular computer connected to a particular web page at a certain time and date.

Google extends the use of SSL encryption, but no longer uses it.

It is ironic that in the same week that Google have extended their use of SSL/TLS encrypted web sessions, the partially re-launched "Whistleblower leaks" website no longer offers SSL/TLS encrypted sessions for downloads or for their onsite web search form, at all . i.e. the fact that you have searched for the keyword "injunction" on the website is visible, in the clear, in various log file available to to your local systems administrators, Internet Service providers , Government agencies and private sector lawyers armed with Court Orders or injunctions. e.g.

Trying this using fails, as you get sent to the "secure" document submission system instead.

Since no longer allow the public to submit or edit comments on the Discussion pages related to each "whistleblower leak" document, the fact that this standard wiki functionality does not use SSL either, is moot. still offer SSL encryption for their "whistleblower leak" submission pages, but this uses a deprecated RapidSSL Digital Certificate using the weak MD5 digital signature, which potentially allows their SSL sessions to be snooped on via an undetectable "man in the middle" attack using a forged Digital Certificate. Such an attack was demonstrated back in 2008.

Most potential attackers do not have the technical resources and the will to exploit this MD5 vulnerability, but the US Military and Intelligence agencies, who spend too much of their time annoying for political reasons, certainly do.

What are playing at with this slap dash attitude to Encryption ? They have also dropped the use of PGP Encryption and of encrypted Tor Hidden Services.

See the blog for more details

The most interesting section of the BBC Radio 4 documentary, by the BBC's Security Correspondent Gordon Corera, entitled GCHQ: Cracking the Code is the couple of minutes almost at the end of the 40 minute programme.

N.B. a hat tip to the professional GCHQ audio transcribers - even this short section from BBC broadcast quality sound, required multiple repeat playbacks of certain sections. Their transcriptions of much poorer quality sounds, must be a lot harder and even more error prone.

(start at about 34 minutes into the programme)

Gordon Corera (GC):

Out in Afghanistan, it may be clear who the enemy is, but in the vast swamp of global communications, and with all the supercomputers whirring away in the basement, how can we be sure that GCHQ, isn't listening to us ? Director Iain Lobban: - People out here might think, you can "hoover up" everything, all the communications data, that you are listening to everything, that you are capable of intercepting anything, that you've got huge databases, collecting all of our communications information.

Can you ? Do you ? Will You ?

Iain Lobban (IL): errm no. So can we listen to everything - no we can't

Do we try to listen to everything - no we don't

There's a vast amount of communication out there.

Our approach, is to be as surgical as possible.

So we're looking for that tiny, tiny proportion of communications, globally, that is of interest to us.

And how do we measure that ? How do we check ourselves ?

We operate according to 3 very strict principles.

First of all, is our activity Authorised ? Normally that is a Warrant, some sort of authorisation signed by a Secretary of State.

The second one is, is what we have done necessary ? Does it meet those purposes of national security, the prevention or detection of serious crime, or the economic well being of the UK ?

And then finally, is it proportionate ? Is the action that we are taking, sufficient to justify the potential intrusion around privacy ?

This is what is expected under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part 1 Interception of communications.

GC: there have been reports that you are building some super huge database, down in the basement here, to collect all the Communications Data.and that you'll have access to, everyone's phone records, email records.

Is that true ?

IC: No it is not true.

GC: No such database ? No such access ?

IC: There's no such database, there's no such access, and it would be impossible, anyway, in my view, my view so.

Gordon Corera was being very clear and specific in using the term "Communications Data" and mentioning phone records and email records.

Note to the Home Office - your plan, mooted by the disgraced former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, for a vast expansion of mandatory Communications Data Retention under the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) plan, "would be impossible", according to the Director of GCHQ.

GC: What do you hear, there is lots of speculation about things called Echelon, and systems, for being able to listen to, all kinds of private communications, around the world.

IC: Yes, I read about some of these in books. I particularly like the one which says anytime anyone says the word "bomb" in a conversation, that tapes start whirring, and an individual is GeoLocated. It's simply not like that. It's just not like that.

So what we aim to do, is focus down on, known targets, or try to establish new, unknown, intelligence targets. And then restrict, as closely as possible, focus, as surgically as possible, on that individual's communications.

GC: Rather than "hoover up" everything,

IL: Hoover up

GC: and then look through it, in a database

IL: "Hoover up". "Hoover up" is not a concept that we would be physically capable of doing, or legally capable of doing.

Are GCHQ's official statements any more or less trustworthy, than the anonymous briefings from Whitehall or from MI5 the Security Service, or from MI6 the Security Service, to favoured mainstream media reporters ?

What are the chances of innocent people's private data being "collateral damaged" as part of an ongoing GCHQ investigation ?

Where is the necessary system of generous financial compensation and mandatory, swift, prominent public apologies and the punishment of malevolent or overzealous bureaucrats, to redress such wrongs ?

Richard Taylor, a keen observer and Freedom of Information Act request expert, blogs:

Observing History - Heathrow Robbery Trial Starts Without Jury


This morning I went to the Royal Courts of Justice to personally witness the start of the first modern criminal trial in the UK where the defendants have been denied a jury.

That should probably say "England & Wales" rather than "the UK", given the Diplock courts in Northern Ireland.

My views on this are:

* It a terrible indictment on our police that they are unable to protect jurors and haven't been able to bring those disrupting the judicial process to justice themselves.
* By removing the right to a jury trial a key safeguard against state abuse of power has been eroded.
* I am concerned that this trial may be the first of many. If the police can't deal with jury intimidation connected with a robbery; how would they cope if problems occurred in a terrorist trial, there the consequences of a justice not being done, and not being seen to be done, could itself incite more anger and further terrorist acts. I am concerned that what has started today may ultimately make the UK less safe.

Agreed !

The usual security theatre (metal detectors, X-ray machines) etc. greets those entering the Royal Courts of Justice court complex. Staff were fairly relaxed though; the man who entered in front of me said he was carrying a hard disk containing CCTV footage for use in a trial and asked if the X-Ray machine would damage it. Security officers waved the man straight through without looking in his rucksack.

that is a Security FAILURE, which makes a mockery of the public money spent on the X-Ray machine and the "trained" staff !

The judge said that there had been plans, if the press presence had been larger, to allow the press to sit in the jury seats; the journalists responded with a half-gasp, half-laugh.


So this "trial without a jury", very nearly started of as "trial by the press and media" !

The judge then asked the prosecution barrister if there were to be any reporting restrictions. In response the prosecutor referred to restrictions imposed by the court of appeal. The press (and I - though the speech was addressed only to the official press) are forbidden from reporting the names of other defendants who are not being tried in the current trial but are alleged to have been involved in the robbery. One effect of this is to make it harder for people identify any further trial from the court lists if / when it takes place. The former home address of a witness - which is to be mentioned at some point in the trial - can also not be reported.

How exactly is a third party blogger or media organisation not physically present in Court, actually meant to know about these reporting restrictions ?

Prosecutor Simon Russell Flint QC then began; passing what he had trouble not calling the "Jury bundle" to the judge. Aided by illustrations, maps, etc. in the bundle Mr Flint outlined the case; starting with the fact that the events occurred six years ago and described them as a "professionally planned, professionally executed robbery". He listed precise amounts in various currencies which were stolen and then, using a 2004 exchange rate to convert to sterling rather pompously announced the full amount down to the penny.

Will the same misleading claims be made by the prosecution and the media about this being "the biggest" attempted armed robbery in the UK ?

We wrote about this aspect of the reporting of this case, on May 18, 2004:
Heathrow robbery attempt is NOT the biggest in Britain

The infamous Brinks Mat gold bullion robbery in November 1983 netted the criminals £26 million pounds worth of gold bullion - 6800 bars - about 3 tons of gold. This would have been worth over £55 million at today's prices, c.f the Office of National Statistics regarding inflation in the UK since 1750 (.pdf)

The BBC also fails to remind its audience of the largest attempted armed robbery in the UK - the Millennium Dome Diamonds heist - Operation Magician, which attempted to steal over £200 million pounds worth of diamonds.(worth over £213 million at today's prices).

Subsequently, in 2006, the Securitas depot robbery involved over £53million in banknotes.

The "story" of the robbery was then outlined in a painfully slow and repetitive manner, adding little to what has been written about in the press. Interesting elements include:

* Heavy reliance by the police on evidence of phone usage (who called who, when and for how long).
* Evidence from "Cell Site" records; was being used to infer "opportunities for meetings" when two phones were near.
* The defendants were alleged to have taken on a plan devised by others.

One thing which struck me was that the police were very closely following this group; they had been recording their conversations and knew their target yet they didn't act to prevent the robbery taking place - a robbery in which a gun was fired multiple times and someone could have been seriously injured or killed.

"Evidence from "Cell Site" records; was being used to infer "opportunities for meetings" when two phones were near."

When used as part of a targeted criminal investigation, where the investigators are fully aware of the background details, then this is a useful investigatory technique.

Whether it provides proper evidence, rather than mere suspicion, of a physical meeting
is not all clear, especially if there is no direct voice phone / SMS text or data call record evidence between the alleged participants.

This technique must not be used to speculatively trawl through the billions of retained Communications Traffic Data records of hundreds of millions of innocent European Union citizens, thereby tarring them with "guilt by association" simply for having been in unwitting close proximity with suspected criminals.

The fact that the alleged armed robbers were already under such intensive surveillance by the Police, means that they were collecting and analysing current and perhaps even near real timeCommunications Traffic Data.

This provides no justification whatsoever for mandatory Communications Data Retention of innocent people's data for at least a year.

While in the UK the doors of courts are almost always open there isn't much transparency in the justice system as:

  • It is hard to find out when cases of interest are scheduled. I found out the date and location of this one via a FOI request. As I knew the defendants names I could have watched the official court lists daily and got a few hours notice, but that isn't possible with local magistrates courts.
  • Court papers are not published online. Had today's "jury bundle"; been published everyone in court (and outside) could have followed along. As the request from the member of the press highlights the full list of charges was neither read out or made available on paper. The Stockwell Inquest and Diana Inquest show how transcripts, evidence and court papers can be effectively published online making the process accessible.
  • As I understand it - while the taxpayer pays for the recording and transcription of court cases the results are not automatically released to the public;

We agree that Justice is not being seen to be done fairly, because of the secrecy and the internet incompetence of the UK Courts system.

The Home Office has published its summary of the responses to the public consultation Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: Consolidating orders and codes of practice (1.7Mb .pdf) which ran from April to July.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: consolidating orders and codes of practice - responses to the consultation (269Kb .pdf) says that:

The 222 respondents comprised:

  • 104 local authorities;
  • 9 local authority associations;
  • 10 law enforcement bodies;
  • 9 other public authorities;
  • 6 legal reform or scrutiny bodies;
  • 5 communications service providers;
  • 3 training organisations;
  • 2 housing agencies;
  • 2 oversight commissioners (the Chief Surveillance Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner);
  • 68 members of the public (of whom 27 had experience of working with RIPA); and
  • 4 other NGOs with interests in the prosecution of offenders, waste management, computing and children's rights.

Spy Blog raised the following issues in response to this public consultation, with little success:

1) Mandatory use of strong Encryption should be explicit in the Regulations and Codes of Practice

2) Automatic Number Plate Recognition data needs to be brought within the RIPA framework

3) Sub-division of "Communications Data" to now include a separate Location Based Services data category

4) All Local Authorities should have their Intrusive Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Source powers removed. Access to Subscriber Details should continue, but no LA access to Location Based Services data.

5) The abuse of Children as Covert Human Intelligence Sources

About this blog

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

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

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

Email Contact

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


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

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

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

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

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

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

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

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
Privacy and Human Rights Survey 2004

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

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

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

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

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

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

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

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

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

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

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

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

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

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

Internet Censorship

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

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

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

Judicial Links

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

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

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

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

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

Parliamentary Opposition

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

UK Government

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

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

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

House of Commons "Question Book"

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

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

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

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

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

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

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

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

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

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

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

Surveillance Infrastructures

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

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

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

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

RFID Links

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

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

Genetic Links

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

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

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

Miscellanous Links

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

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

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

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

Former Spies

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

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

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

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

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

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

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

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

Liberty Central

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

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

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

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

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

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

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

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

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

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

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward


The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

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


Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

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

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

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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

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

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

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

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

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

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

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

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

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

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

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

Justin Wylie's political blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

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

Cool Britannia


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

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

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at

RIPA Consultations

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

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

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UK Legislation

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

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

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

UK Legislation Links

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

UK Commissioners

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

UK Intelligence Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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

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

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

Campaign Button Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Rights Group

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

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

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

Amnesty International's campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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

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

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

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

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

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


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


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