Surviving The Brit Bugging Pandemic

After 10 years of incubation, bugging has now metastasized throughout the UK – here’s a survival guide.

The march of the buggers (my ellipsis and emphasis):

Sir Swinton Thomas, …Interception of Communications Commissioner (said) in his 2005-06 annual report: “The work of the commissioner has changed and grown out of all recognition since I took up my post in April 2000.

” The nine agencies with the power to intercept letters and phone calls – the security and intelligence services, three police chiefs, Revenue & Customs – have been joined by no fewer than 786 other organisations, which, since 2004, have been allowed to ask for communications data such as the identities of whom we phone or write to, and the internet sites we visit.

These organisations include all local authorities, police forces, prisons and other bodies such as the Financial Services Authority, Ambulance Service and Independent Police Complaints Commission.

They’re going public:

Gordon Brown has paved the way for phone tapping evidence to be used in court trials for the first time…

Britain is one of few countries in the world to bar the use of evidence from intercepted phone-calls, emails, letters and faxes as part of a prosecution case in court.

I think the last para should begin “Britain was”, not “Britain is”. Anyway, some will be spared the attentions of the buggers:

Since 1966, a Parliamentary doctrine introduced by Harold Wilson has barred the police or security services from bugging MPs’ telephones or intercepting other communication.

Those of us without this immunity should consider the following defensive tactics.

1. Use a secure email service. Hushmail is Irish, so will never give access to the hated Brit state. But don’t use their web interface – the Feds have compromised it.

2. Don’t use cellphones, even prepaid. They can be easily located (both SIM and handset) and your conversations and texts intercepted. The only security is one-time use, which involves a level of cost and complexity only justified if you plan a V For Vendetta level hit.

3. Use call boxes not domestic landlines and talk languages the pols won’t understand – classical Greek, Python, and PDP-8 Assembler are all good. And don’t use call boxes monitored by CCTV, as many are.

4 . Of course always use cash not credit cards, and don’t use store loyalty cards and the like.

5. If CCTV bothers you, wear a hood (although you may be mistaken for a member of the Conservative Party). If that risk is unacceptable, use the traditional ski mask/paintball gun combo.

6. Don’t use Internet cafes – they’re all CCTVd.

7. Don’t travel on your own passport – the Brits now scan all passports on entry, and on exit have airlines collect and pass to them your PNR.

There are plenty of offensive measures you can take too, but since there’s a small chance the buggers might bug real enemies of the state, I’ll leave these to your imagination. For the moment.

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One Response to Surviving The Brit Bugging Pandemic

  1. Jeff Crump says:

    PDP-8 … now that goes back 40 years. Remember Fortran II, or Focal? Paper tape readers.

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