Feeds

Government projects star in Big Brother awards

Privacy violators named and shamed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

Privacy invasers were honoured this week in the fourth annual Big Brother Awards.

Watchdog organisation Privacy International bestows the awards to the government and private sector organisations judged to have done the most to invade personal privacy in Britain.

Privacy International's Director, Simon Davies, said that through the judging it became clear that "government agencies and companies have stooped to an all time low in the wilful violation of our privacy"

He said the outlook for the future was grim in large part because "September 11 has given organisations the opportunity to promote bad policy on the basis of fears about terrorism".

Villains

Sir Richard Wilson, the Cabinet Secretary, was judged the Worst Public Servant "for his long standing commitment to opposing freedom of information, data protection and ministerial accountability".

Sir Richard was also up for a "Lifetime Menace award", but was beaten in that category by the national Identification and data sharing scheme, which is involved in promoting the concept of a national ID.

The Department of Education and Skills, for creating a student tracking system, beat the Home Office and the Internet Watch Foundation for the Most Heinous Government Organisation award.

The Most Appalling Project trophy went to the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), for its proposal to archive and warehouse all email, Internet and telephone call traffic records.

Controversy

The most controversial category turned out to be the Most Invasive Company award, which went to Norwich Union, "following last year's controversy over the use of unapproved genetic tests to assess eligibility for life insurance. Norwich has also won the award because of its 'Pay as you Drive' satellite vehicle tracking project". It came ahead of the other contenders The Countryside Alliance and the Internet Watch Foundation.

Norwich Union says the allegations against it are incorrect. James Evans, a spokesman for Norwich Union, said that it abides by the Association of British Insurers code of practice on genetic testing. The company has never asked anyone for a genetic test, he added.

Evans said the 'Pay as you Drive' satellite vehicle tracking project was "innovative technology" and suggested that its use would be voluntary, although since the scheme is at a very early stage of development it would seem difficult to draw firm conclusions on it.

Heroes

It wasn't all bad news though. A number of people were presented with "Winston" awards for outstanding contribution to privacy protection. They were: Maurice Frankel, Campaign for Freedom of Information, Lord Andrew Phillips, The Daily Telegraph, ex-spy David Shaylor and Ilka Schroeder, MEP.

Explanatory note

[To explain some aspects to the awards. Named after Big Brother from George Orwell's 1984 novel, Winston Smith was the protagonist whose rebelled against the status quo.

The trophy to privacy violating organisations takes its form from a quote in the book: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."] ®

Related stories

Big Brother award nominees pile in
Biometric passports for Brits - by 2006
Big Brother Award nomination for WPA, Passport pains MS
NSA and FBI big winners at Big Brother awards
Bosses are snooping on 27 million workers worldwide
The solution to RIP, email sackings and Big Brother
Definitive list of 'dangerous' Big Brother spin-offs revealed!

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?