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The Apache Consortium, producers of the world's most popular Internet server software, sucks when it comes to privacy. So much so that it won a Big Brother award for it's "irresponsible default settings".

Yes folks, its Big Brother Awards time again. The brainchild of Privacy International,a London-based human organisation ceremonies were held simultaneously last night in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to dish out awards to government agencies, companies and initiatives considered by juries in each country to have done the most to invade personal privacy.

This year's roll of dishonour includes:

  • European Telecommunication Standards Institute's Lawful Interception working group (ETSI LI WG) was cited because for its work to design standard interfaces for eavesdropping on digital networks, such as ISDN, GSM, and UMTS.
  • Austrian shopping portal Saturn won because with by clicking upon registration, the user agrees that Saturn has the "irrevocable" right to turn over information about their personal information to third parties and what is worse, this information is in small print on the back of the receipt.
  • Telecommunications operator Swisscom (Bern) was cited for its three hourly monitoring of cellular phone subscribers' positioning and storing that information in a central database and this is in the days before Swisscom introduced any "location based services".
  • Pharmaceuticals giant Roche, selected by the Swiss Jury because of its twice-yearly urine testing of young trainees.
  • Mr Adolf Ogi, head of the military department of the Swiss government and the man behind Satos 3, Switzerland's version of the notorious American Echelon system. He will be receiving his Big Brother award in the post.
  • Free Webmail services providers GMX (Germany) and Sunrise (Switzerland), cited for their lack of security.

None of the winners showed up to accept their award.

Previous winners include: Doubleclick in the US for monitoring the surfing of 50 million Internet users and TransUnion for selling credit reports to marketers and keeping inaccurate records for years.

Another notable awardee from the past is Harlequin, in the UK, developer of the WatCall telephone traffic analysis system. This enables police to analyse telephone records to create "friendship networks" linked to existing police intelligence systems to automatically target people who are "of interest". The activity takes place without the issue of any warrant. ®

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