Recently in MoD security and privacy breach Category

The Sun tabloid newspaper claims an exclusive report:


Laptop is stolen at MoD HQ


Published: 12th December 2009

A MAJOR hunt was in progress last night after a laptop crammed with secret data was stolen from inside the Ministry of Defence nerve centre.

The machine, plus an encryption key to unlock highly sensitive files, vanished from the heart of the MoD's London HQ.

It sparked fears that a "mole" is operating there.

Last night a source said: "This has the potential to become one of the most serious security breaches at the Ministry for a very long time.

If that anonymous statement is true, then given the scale and sensitivity of the IT privacy and security breaches of recent years, it must be a real disaster.

"Laptops have been mislaid before, but not with encryption keys."

Too many of the previously lost or stolen laptop computers had no encryption whatsoever.

The computer was left in the HQ by a high-ranking RAF officer.

He was removed from the maximum security building and posted to another station while the incident is investigated.

MoD cops have been drafted in to probe the loss.

A Ministry spokesperson said: "An investigation is ongoing."

The Ministry of Defence still do not appear to have implemented their own Action Plan for securing laptop computers etc.: Report into the Loss of MOD Personal Data - Sir Edmund Burton Review and MOD's action plan in response to the Burton Report.

The Guardian and the BBC (see BBC2 tv documentary Who's Watching You ? starts Monday 25th May 9pm) seem to have found out a little more about Yet Another Ministry of Defence Data Privacy / Security Scandal and the subsequent Coverup:

Stolen RAF vice files spark blackmail fear

Vetting data included drug abuse and use of prostitutes by senior officers

* David Hencke, Westminster correspondent
*, Sunday 24 May 2009 22.30 BST

Sensitive files detailing the extra marital affairs, drug taking and use of prostitutes by very senior officers in the RAF have been stolen, raising fears within the Ministry of Defence that personnel could be vulnerable to blackmail.

Up to 500 people in the service could be affected by the theft. They have been interviewed individually about the possible consequences to them and to their families.

The potentially damaging information was stored on three computer hard drives that went missing from RAF Innsworth, Gloucestershire, last September. The files were not encrypted, so could be opened easily. The RAF disclosed the loss of the hard drives two weeks after they went missing, revealing only that the bank details and home addresses of 50,000 servicemen and women were on the computers.

It kept secret the fact that the "vetting" information about 500 staff had also disappeared. The defence secretary at the time, Des Browne, was not told, nor was Sir Richard Thomas, the then information commissioner. The details were also withheld from parliament.


The outgoing Information Commissioner Richard Thomas may well be in line for knighthood, but he is not yet "Sir" Richard.

What exactly was the point of this coverup by Ministry of Defence bureaucrats ?

Will any of them be punished ?

What use have the Burton and Hannigan reviews of data handling security been in this case ? Less than zero.

In a further statement to the Guardian, the ministry added: "All individuals identified as being at risk received personal one-on-one interviews to alert them to the loss of data, to discuss potential threats and to provide them with advice on mitigating action.

"There is no evidence to suggest that the information held on the hard drive believed to have been stolen from the secure ... site at MoD Innsworth has been targeted by criminal or hostile elements."

So have these "one to one interviews" determined which of these people had the strongest motive for helping with, or instigating, "an inside job" to suppress their own "vetting secrets" ?

How the Ministry of Defence can really be so sure that this data is not in the wrong hands, is a mystery.

Does their definition of "hostile elements" also include supposedly friendly allied foreign intelligence agencies and UK Private Military Contractor / Mercenary companies who employ former UK military personnel ?

Are the current copies of these file now strongly encrypted or not ?

Details of the FOIA requests and the coverup are available from the Jess the Dog blog of the retired RAF officer mentioned at the end of the BBC tv documentary:

***Exclusive: What happens when the Government loses your secret data***

Today's guilty plea by Richard Jackson, to a single offence under the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of information

The BBC reports Official fined over missing files

A senior civil servant has been fined after pleading guilty to leaving top secret documents on a train.

Richard Jackson admitted negligence by losing the files on a service from London Waterloo to Surrey on 10 June.

City of Westminster Magistrates Court heard the documents "had the potential to damage national security and UK international relations".

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


See also the report in The Guardian Civil servant fined £2,500 for leaving secret al-Qaida files on train



A member of the public found them inside an orange cardboard envelope on a train from Waterloo station to Surrey and passed them on to the BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.

Would this scandal have been covered up if the member of the public had simply not returned the documents, or had not used the BBC to do so ?

One of the documents was a seven-page report by the joint intelligence committee entitled Al-Qaida Vulnerabilities.

Classified as top-secret, the intelligence assessment on al-Qaida was so sensitive that every document was numbered and marked "for UK/US/Canadian and Australian eyes only". It is understood the assessment also contained reports on the state of the Islamist terror network in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan.

The document reportedly contained names of individuals or locations that might have been useful to Britain's enemies.

The second document, commissioned from the committee by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), contained an analysis of Iraq's security forces. It included a top-secret and in some places "damning" assessment of Iraq's security forces.

Jackson was on secondment to the Cabinet Office from the MoD at the time the documents were lost.

The court heard that the intelligence files "had the potential to damage national security and UK international relations".

This is an extraordinarily lenient "punishment" for potentially tipping off terrorists and foreign intelligence agencies to the UK intelligence communities highest level strategic intelligence assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of our enemies.

What assurance is there that the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Joint Intelligence Committee, and their Assessments Staff, have made it physically and culturally impossible for such highly classified documents to actually be printed out and taken physically out of a secure reading room in Whitehall ?

Why are there no airport style, pat down searches, "see through your clothes" body scanners and physical searches of bags and briefcases, on every one of the small number of people who are handling such top secret documents, without exception, to physically prevent them from ever taking such unencrypted documents home, either deliberately or by accident ?

Unless and until, the Labour Government and the Whitehall bureaucracy, at the senior level at which Richard Jackson worked at, can demonstrate a real change in attitude and culture to our data security and privacy concerns, they simply cannot be trusted with national scale databases of our personal data.

This case contrasts sharply with the Official Secrets Act trial of Corporal Daniel James, a foreign born interpreter who worked for General David Richards in Afghanistan, who has now been promoted to be head of the British Army.

Despite the much more severe risk to UK anti-terrorism and national security, which Richard Jackson's negligence or arrogance put at risk, he has not been vilified in the mainstream media or by the prosecution, in court, like the Iranian born Corporal Daniel James has.

It is worth reading the blog articles by Michael James Smith, who has an insider's perspective of machinations in such Official Secrets Act cases, having served time in prison after having been convicted of passing technical defence contractor documents to the KGB in 1993, which he is trying to have overturned. He has actually visited and interviewed Daniel James in Wandsworth prison (what are the chances that this prison visit was electronically snooped on ? )

See Daniel James - the sacrificial lamb

The prosecution case against Corporal Daniel James appears to rest on 7 unencrypted emails between Daniel James and the Iranian military attache in Kabul, Afghanistan, which must have been intercepted whilst he was back in the United Kingdom, awaiting a return to duty.

Presumably these are therefore US government intercepts of UK email communications, being used in a British civilian court case, something which is forbidden by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 section 17 Exclusion of matterd from legal proceedings,

This has implications for the ongoing Chilcot Review of Intercept Evidence - see the Spy Blog article Privy Council Chilcot Review report on Intercept Evidence - more ***

It also has implications for Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's totalitarian Communications Data Bill and her attempts to piggyback a secret centralised communications data traffic database onto the GCHQ Intercept Modernisation Programme.

Meanwhile, there does not appear to be any prosecution over the incident which emerged a few days after the Richard Jackson stupidity, also involving HM Treasury and sensitive terrorist financing and money laundering documents, also left on a train:

See the previous Spy Blog article: Terrorist financing and money laundering Treasury documents left on a train - time for Whitehall mandarins and Ministerial heads to roll

Is this because a favoured political apparatchik was the culprit ?

A Ministerial Written Statement confirms the story in The Sun, and our speculation that it was the TAFMIS (Training Administration and Financial Management Information System) database which has been lost, yet again:

See the previous Spy Blog article - The Sun: MoD data on 1m is missing - EDS again

13 Oct 2008 : Column 28WS
Data Security

According to The Sun, the UK Ministry of Defence appears to have lost Yet Another Unencrypted Hard Disk With Over a Million Sensitive Personal Data Records on it.

MoD data on 1m is missing

Defence Editor

The Sun
Friday 10th October 2008

A COMPUTER hard-drive with 1.6million pieces of personal data about the armed forces is missing, The Sun can reveal.

Up to one million people could be affected by the scandal.

The names and private details of around 100,000 serving personnel -- half the armed forces -- are believed to be on the drive.

There are also next-of-kin details, 600,000 potential services applicants and the names of their referees.

The data can be used to steal the IDs of servicemen and women on the frontline. It is the worst information security breach to hit the MoD. And it is the second largest ever for the Government since the Datagate scandal last year when the Inland Revenue lost the details of 25million people.

Here we go again. See the Spy Blog category archive - MoD security and privacy breach

Incompetence or malicious "data traitors" ?

It is believed the hard-drive was NOT encrypted.

After the previous data security and privacy scandals, and after Sir Edmund Burton's Review into the MoD recruitment laptop theft scandal, why was this not properly encrypted ?

New Defence Secretary John Hutton was last night "spitting with anger" about the loss, which affects all ranks across the Army, Royal Navy and RAF.

The drive includes passport numbers, addresses, dates of birth, driving licence details, names and contact numbers for family doctors and dentists, and religion groups. Officials admitted there is probably a "small amount" of troops' bank account details.

The hard-drive belonged to the MoD's main IT contractor EDS and was used by the firm -- based in Hook, Hants -- to test MoD computer equipment.

What possible testing requires a full copy of the live personnel database rather than synthetic test data ?

The drive was discovered missing on Wednesday -- but it could have disappeared weeks ago.

A source close to Mr Hutton said: "John believes it is a breach of trust which forces' personnel put in the ministry. EDS's contract will be examined and, if necessary, heads will roll."

An MoD spokesman last night confirmed the loss.

The fact the EDS are involved again, and the amount of data involved, we suspect that this is another copy of the previous, unencrypted TAFMIS-R(H)SQL database on a laptop computer hard drive, which was stolen from a parked vehicle in Birmingham back in January 2008.

We wonder if any of this data has been handed over or sold to the various Private Military Contractor companies who recruit former UK military service personnel.

Given what has already happened, there should also be an Official Secrets Act 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of information prosecution, not just of the EDS defence contractor staff but of the Ministry of Defence managers who have failed again to protect such valuable and potentially life threatening data..

How many hundreds of lost or stolen laptop computers or USB memory sticks etc. will it take before anyone is prosecuted at the Ministry of Defence ?

The Government's initial figures about the scale of the data security incompetence at the Ministry of Defence, following the theft of the MoD laptop computer with the personal details of over a million people (potential and actual military recruits and their families etc.) have been revised upwards, yet again, according to this Parliamentary Written Answer

17 July 2008 : Column 663W--continued

Departmental Computers

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the statement of 21 January 2008, Official Report, column 1225, on MOD (data loss), how many of the 347 laptops stolen or lost from the Ministry of Defence since 2004 have been recovered. [182359]

Des Browne: As a result of the theft of the Royal Navy laptop, the Ministry of Defence has initiated an investigation into the details of all computers lost or stolen since 2003. This investigation is under way and I will write to the hon. Member when the information is available and arrange for a copy of my letter to be placed in the Library of the House.

Substantive answer from Des Browne to Mark Pritchard:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 29 January 2008, (Official Report, column 184W) about the number of laptops stolen or lost from the Ministry of Defence since 2004 that had subsequently been recovered.

The figure of 347 laptops that you quote can be derived from information provided in answer to the hon Member for Rayleigh (Mr Francois) on 19 January 2007, (Official Report, column 1363-4W) and the hon Member for South West Hertfordshire (Mr Gauke) on 10 December 2007, (Official Report, column 58W) and relates only to stolen laptops.

Revised figures have been taken from the data collated in the course of the investigation into details of computers and other electronic media lost/stolen since 2003 and provided to Sir Edmund Burton as part of his review. For all years they show an increase in the number of stolen laptops from the numbers previously reported is because the Burton Review investigation revealed anomalies in the reporting process. Instructions have been issued to remedy these shortcomings.

Revised figures as at today are set out below.

17 July 2008 : Column 664W

  Previously reported stolen laptops Updated stolen laptops Updated lost laptops Updated total stolen and lost laptops Updated laptops recovered (stolen/lost)































(1) A corresponding figure of 230 was given in Burton Report (Summary, Paragraph 38c, Page 9.) Subsequent reclassification and clarification of incidents has reduced the figure to 123.

As pointed out by The Register,MoD: We lost 87 classified USB sticks since 2003 there have also been losses of unencrypted USB memory devices, Personal Digital Assistants etc. including at least 5 involving Secret classified data.

See Commons Hansard - July 2008 : Column 446W

Where are the military Courts Martial or criminal prosecutions under the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 8 Safeguarding of information for those individual officials responsible for such entirely avoidable losses of unencrypted classified data and documents ?

When will any Minister resign as a result of this ongoing scandal ? This is not an isolated incident, but is being repeated year after year.

The Sir Edmund Burton's Review into the MoD recruitment laptop theft scandal, is now available online.

7.The stolen laptop, designated TAFMIS-R(H)SQL, was one of a small population of, currently, 512 laptops, which hold a large database incorporating over 600,000 personal records. Investigations revealed that a total of 4 of these laptops have been stolen since 2004 (all from parked cars). Only the recent theft appears to have led to disciplinary proceedings. Although the security instructions for the safekeeping of laptops were clear in prohibiting them from being left in unattended vehicles, they did not dictate that the data must be encrypted.


18.The loss of four laptops containing 600,000 personal records from unattended vehicles in clear breach of security instructions (and common sense) out of total population of 55 laptops over a period of less than four years indicates a failure of supervision.


27. The laptop stolen from Edgbaston in January 2008 was a TAFMIS-R(H) laptop using SQL, which contained the whole RN/RAF database, holding some 600,000 personal data records. Although the laptop held records relating to some 600,000 recruits or potential recruits, investigations by MOD DG Info staff, in conjunction with EDS, has indicated that the database includes personal details of some 400,000 additional individuals, who were either referees or parents of the recruits. Technically, therefore, the laptop held some 1,000,000 personal records. The reason for the large number of records is due to the original user requirement and design drawn up between RN, RAF and AFPAA. The TAFMIS-R(H) design synchronises the whole database from the main server to the laptop.


34.During a visit to an Armed Forces Career Office (AFCO) Joint Services recruiting unit in London, it was discovered that recruiting staff were unaware of MOD DPA retention policy for recruiting data. Nevertheless, the TAFMIS system does not allow recruiters to delete information once submitted to the database. The only people able to delete are EDS staff under authorisation from ARTD. Yet it is understood that no policy or process currently exists to manage data according to the eight principles defined with in the DPA 1998.


30. Hard Power: There is anecdotal evidence that the censure and punishment handed out to those who lose, compromise or misuse personal data within the Department is inconsistent at present. Serious compromises of personal data must invoke appropriate punishment, in order to create a deterrent effect and to emphasise the seriousness of such losses.

Recommendation 38: MOD to review and formalise a coherent system of censure and punishment for those who lose or compromise personal data, where the level of punishment reflects the scale and seriousness of the loss; seeking to apply this equitably, regardless of whether the individual responsible is military or civilian, government employee or contractor.

The report heavily criticises EDS for failing to comply with instructions issued back in 2003, to ensure that all these laptop computers had Reflex Data's DataVault hard disk encryption software installed, suitable for Restricted documents and data at least. The current laptop hard disk encryption, which seems to have been installed rapidly in a few weeks, on all MoD laptops, after the Birmingham laptop theft, appears to be the CESG approved BeCrypt software. This contrasts with the failure to install such encryption over the previous five years.

There is no good reason why the entire recruitment database should have been designed to be synchronised with a local SQL copies on dozens of laptop computers. The claim that this would have been too expensive in terms of communications costs in 2002, is false, and telecomms prices have gone down since then.

This data aggregation of having all those personal records in one SQL database should have bumped up the Protective Marking classification well above Restricted.

If Recommendation 38 is actually implemented, perhaps we will actually see some proper sanctions i.e. prison sentences for the negligent , inept or corrupt.

Regrettably there is no sign of Minister of Defence Des Browne acting honourably and offering his resignation.

The Labour Government are up to their usual "bury bad news" media manipulation tricks again today.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has published the final Poynter Review into the lost copies of the entire national HMRC Child Benefit database scandal last October. - Poynter Review final report, 25 June 2008 (PDF file 1.13MB)

As if by magic, and obviously just a complete coincidence, the supposedly independent from Government, Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has also published its report into the incident today. - HMRC, Washington IPCC independent investigation report into loss of data relating to Child Benefit (144KB .pdf)

Unsurprisingly, the IPCC finds nobody at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, or at the National Audit Office, to be criminally responsible for breaching Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Perhaps the fact that HMRC got the Director of Public Prosecutions to sign prosecution immunity certificates to the is effect explains this, although this was probably necessary in order to secure the cooperation of the junior and middle ranking staff involved.

Apparently Robert Hannigans's Cabinet Office review of wider Whitehall data handling is also meant to be published today. Whether this takes into account the recent Top Secret Joint Intelligence Committee papers left on a train, or Hazel Blears' Restricted and Confidential Cabinet documents unencrypted on a stolen computer in her constituency office scandals, remains to be seen.

There is also meant to be a Ministerial Statement by Des "Swiss Tony" Browne, the embarrassing Defence Secretary, into the stolen, unencrypted laptop computer with personal details of 650,000 potential and actual military recruits.

Also published today is Sir Michael Pitt's final report into the lack of preparedness for last summer's floods in large areas of the countryside., which obviously must also be of interest to the mainstream media and broadcasters.

It may take some time for the media and for bloggers to comment properly on all of these reports (if they are fully available on line), which is, presumably, a deliberate media spin policy

There is no hint of any of the senior civil servants or of the supposedly politically accountable Ministers actually taking personal, responsibility for the scandals, and resigning with honour.

We are alternating between laughter and fury, at the catalogue of errors displayed by HMRC, which seems to stem from the incompetence of its former boss, the then Chancellor and current Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

We note that neither the Poynter Review, nor the IPCC has properly examined the National Audit Office's lax data handling procedures, especially in regard to their transfers of the unencrypted Child Benefit Data to and from their commercial audit sub-contractors KPMG.

Some brief quotations:

When Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne admitted to the theft of an MoD recruitment laptop computer, containing over 600,000 personal records, he and his briefers, attempted to downplay just how disastrous a security breach this represents, by claiming in his Ministerial Statement on 21st January that

In some cases the record may be no more than a name, but I am advised that for about 153,000 people who progressed as far as submitting an application form to join the forces, more extensive personal data are held, including passport details, national insurance numbers, driver's licence details, family details, doctors' addresses and national health service numbers; for about 3,700 people, banking details were also included.

Yesterday's Parliamentary Written Answer admits to 605,757 addresses

28 Jan 2008 : Column 37W

Departmental Personal Records

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of those individuals who had their personal details lost as a result of the theft in Edgbaston on 9 January of an MOD computer from the vehicle of a Royal Navy Officer are domiciled in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland, (d) England and (e) elsewhere. [182396]

Des Browne: Where a record of domicile is held, the following figures were recorded on the database at the time of the entry of the record.

Northern Ireland14,223

So, in fact, the vast majority of the stolen records consist of at least a name and address, and are not merely "no more than a name"

This unencrypted data security breach could easily pit the lives of serving or former members of the armed forces, and their families, at risk from terrorists and foreign intelligence agencies. Even people who never actually joined the armed services, but just expressed an interest in doing so, could be at risk, especially if they have, say, easily identifiable Muslim names, or an address in an area that is familiar to fanatics.

Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne's statement to the House of Commons this afternoon on the stolen MoD recruitment laptop computer scandal

See: Commons Hansard 21 Jan 2008 : Column 1225 MOD (Data Loss)

  • 153,000 people who submitted detailed application forms
  • 5.700 bank account details
  • Initial belief that the data was encrypted
  • Dubious claim that "the level of encryption used by the Ministry of Defence on its computers is stronger than that used for commercial applications"
  • Dubious implication that MoD encryption systems can actually be broken in practice
  • Admissions that the data was not encrypted at all
  • Blames the media for reporting the leaked information scandal
  • No mention of Army recruits' data, despite the Army handling the data for all three armed services
  • Dubious claim about "no indication" that the data has fallen into terrorist or foreign intelligence agency hands
  • Admission about 2 previous stolen recruitment data laptops
  • Useless Cabinet Office review of data handling
  • Yet Another Review - Sir Edmund Burton
  • No resignations by Ministers or senior MoD staff

Some comments on some extracts from the statement:

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

  • Lavonna Belk: This is the most ordinary fact in the world. read more
  • wiesbaden schlüsseldienst: Thanks for sharing, please keep an update about this info. read more
  • schlüsseldienstwiesbaden: I assumed it was likely being some unexciting old report, read more
  • wiesbadenschlüsseldienst: Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs read more
  • Karine: I admire what you have done here. I like the read more
  • schlüsseldienstwiesbaden: nsightful thoughts here. Are you certain this is the best read more
  • Leola: I thought it was going to be some boring old read more
  • schlüsseldienstwiesbaden: Thanks for sharing, please keep an update about this info. read more
  • sweaty palms: I agree, tyvm for sharing this.. read more
  • wiesbaden schlüsseldienst: 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