Secret Police?

The Mark Stone / Kennedy case is really wild. So much so that i’m surprised that there hasn’t been more outrage. From the original piece in The Guardian:

A police officer who for seven years lived deep undercover at the heart of the environmental protest movement, traveling to 22 countries gleaning information and playing a frontline role in some of the most high-profile confrontations, has quit the Met, telling his friends that what he did was wrong.

PC Mark Kennedy, a Metropolitan police officer, infiltrated dozens of protest groups including anti-racist campaigners and anarchists

Infiltrating anti-racist campaigners? Oh no, we can’t have that…

There was also a piece on Newsnight last night where the green campaigner was easily the most eloquent and made some interesting points. Every time she was given a chance to speak she made the point that the degree to which “political policing” was being practiced was being greatly underplayed. Oddly, the solidly establishment figures, who were obviously supposed to be there to rebut / balance her comments were very much in agreement.

This doesn’t usually happen on Newsnight. If the show has a fault it’s that the producers and presenters work far to hard to make every story a confrontation. It’s no doubt done in the name of balance. When it doesn’t play out that way it must mean something… maybe this is a none issue, or the establishment is also feeling threatened?

It turns out that the ‘National Public Order Intelligence Unit‘, for which the undercover agent was working is part of something called the ‘Association of Chief Police Officers‘. Amazingly, given the name, this is a private limited company!

In 1997 ACPO was incorporated as a private company limited by guarantee. As a private company, ACPO does not have to comply with the Freedom of Information Act. It is not a staff association, the staff association for senior police officers being a separate body, the Chief Police Officers Staff Association (CPOSA).

To me that seems completely incredible! Here is a unit of ‘Secret Police’ that has been set up to be able to operate without transparency. It is in fact not even accountable to the public or parliament. This is despite being partially funded out of the Home Office. The rest of it’s money comes from commercial activities… wow.

I don’t suppose it’s particularly surprising that the police are infiltrating the environmental movement. (Which isn’t to say that i don’t think that it’s a disgusting waste of time and money…) Maybe it isn’t even surprising that they are acting as agent provocateurs. What is surprising is that all this is seemingly being done without political oversight and control.

Ah well, at least we now know that there is an English Secret Police. I wonder how their agenda is set; why the focus on environmental groups, anti-globalisation movement, anti-racism, etc?

As usual, for England, it was well hidden in plain site. If only the press spent less time fluffing politicians, and more time doing it’s job…


More Layers in the Onion

In reaction to the last post, Sven noted that by default my ISP is probably tracking all of my web traffic. I’ve no idea what the law requires of ISPs in Japan, but it seems quite likely that there are very few protections for citizens, and a lot of snooping going on…

There are two parts to this:

– nameserver lookups–if my ISP is logging all lookups then obviously that’s a risk. In order to get around that i’ll need to either run a local DNS (urgh, no doubt there is a lot to learn there…), or find a DNS service provider that a) has a reasonable data retention policy b) is trustworthy.

– regular traffic–the ISP could easily be logging all of the requests that i make. If there is a host out there that i do trust as an exit point (trust not to maintain a log of my activity) then running a VPN / tunnel to that point would be acceptable. At best my local ISP would know that i was communicating with the VPN host, but would know nothing about the traffic moving through the VPN. Unfortunately i don’t have access to such a VPN host, and given the traffic costs involved, can’t imagine that they are out there and cheap to use.

The other option is to use Tor. I’m still rather reluctant to do this… it seems like it may well be a step to far (similar to contemplating running a DNS server…) given that i’m not actually attempting to do anything illegal, or actively evade detection. My only goal here is see if it’s possible to opt out of a system of pervasive surveillance and monetization of my activity.

I’ll set up Tor and see how unbearable it makes life… running an exit node is out of the question given how little i know about the state of Japanese ‘net surveillance. The last thing i’d want to be doing is to be unknowingly feeding the machine.