Section 49

Disclosure of keys.  Under UK law you can be issued with a Section 49 by the authorities to decode and hand over any encrypted data as plain text.  Two people recently have been charged for failing to decode their data, and it is unclear of what original charges they were arrested on.

There is an article at the Register regarding this.

Also here is some information from the government web-site .

It is an offence for a person who has been given a notice to knowingly fail to disclose the information required.


Gary McKinnon Loses Extradition Appeals

Gary has lost the latest round in the battle for extradition to the USA.

Above is a link to an article on the wired website.

When I was a teenager I spent a lot of time in my room trying to break into various computer systems, and like Gary, most of the systems I gained access to had very little security (if any at all) and it was as easy as finding the computer and then entering some default usernames and passwords.  I was doing this during the mid-90’s using a dial up modem and a “war dialer” and a brute force password cracker (if needed).  I would leave the computer on over night dialing a range of free call numbers and the computer would log any that had a modem attached.  The next day I would spend time going through each one that was successful and see if I was able to gain access to the system.  Essentially my main goal was so that I could gain access to the “internet” but via a free phone call.  This also led me onto exploring phone phreaking – a means to exploit the phone network to gain free phone calls.

I never had any malicious intent, and generally my only reason for doing it was “because I could”.

Gary had an obsession with UFO’s and conspiracies.  He smoked a lot of weed, and spend hours and hours trying to break into systems that SHOULD have had a high level of security – the fact that they didn’t just goes to show how slack people can be when it comes to computer security.  He performed his hacking in 2001-2002 , and I would have presumed that by then a lot of system admin and network managers would have been more aware of the techniques he used to gain access to their systems.  I can only presume that even today, 7 years on, that many computer systems are still woefuly unsecure.

I feel incredibly sorry for Gary.  His obsession, and what has happened to him could so easily have been me.  I spent a great deal of time involved in the world of conspiracy theories, and computer “hacking / cracking”.


Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes

This article is from the wired magazine – but it originally appeared in the Sunday Express – so there is the possibility that it is total nonsense or at least sensationalised nonsense.

BUT, considering the nature of this current government – it’s probably not best to presume that stories like this are total nonsense, after all the UK is CCTV crazy.

This is straight out of 1984 .  This is essentially – madness.


Clause 152 The Coroners and Justice Bill

It looks like Jack Straw has seen some sense (or was worried that too many people had discovered the hidden agenda in the Coroners and Justice Bill) and backed down.

Link to Article in Independent

The Clause in question would have essentially allowed any Minister to – take any information gathered for one purpose from anywhere, and use it for any other purpose. This would go against the Data Protection Act.  – Click here for some more information.

This was a topic that I was particularly interested in, and as such I used the website to send a quick letter to my local MP – Mr Andrew Smith.  Who replied within a week expressing his concern with the clause.


Reasons for ID cards not made clear

Article in Public Service (an information portal for the public sector) reports that the identity minister Meg Hillier has admitted that the government did not make its reasons for identity cards “clear enough”.

There seems to be a lot of reports in the press regarding the disatisfaction with the Identity Card Scheme and the Governments desire to keep closer tabs on the citizens of the Unitied Kingdoms.

Last month there was increased pressure on the Government to make available the 2003 ID cards Gateway Review (click here) .  The Information Tribunals latest ruling was for the Government to make this review available after 28 days – that was around 20 days ago – we shall see in the next week or so if the Government will do this, or if they will continue to hide the information.

There seems to be very little evidence that the ID card Scheme will deliver what the Government claims it will – considering the track record of this Government with IT projects, the only outcome that is certain is that the ID card Scheme and the National Identity register will cost the tax payer an incredible amount of money; and that our data will not be safe in the hands of the “power that be”.

Visit for more information regarding what you can do to get involved to fight the ID card Scheme and the National Identity Register.


Phorm CEO clashes with Berners-Lee at Parliament

Article in the Register regarding Phorm – essentially a means for ISP’s to monitor users internet activity, and use it for “advertising” means.  Berners-Lee claims it would be like each and everyone internet user having a spy camera in their home.

Berners-Lee gave a passionate explanation of why he does not believe ISPs should on principle be allowed to intercept and profile their customers’ internet usage. “It is very important that when click we click without a thought that a third party knows what we’re clicking on,” he said. “I have come here to defend the internet as a medium.”

For those who are unaware, Tim Berner-Lee is credited with inventing the World Wide Web.

go read the article here.

Also – click here – for article in Guardian newspaper