Feeds

Ashcroft, Ellison win ‘Big Brother’ awards

Electronic privacy advocates honor foes

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Last December, US Attorney General John Ashcroft, testifying at a Senate hearing, accused privacy advocates and civil libertarians of aiding terrorists by scaring "peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty."

On Thursday, a large US gathering of those critics responded in their own way: by giving Ashcroft the "Worst Government Official" nod at the annual Big Brother Awards.

"I take this nomination seriously, because it's been 20 or 30 years since I've been called treasonous," said ACLU associate director Barry Steinhardt, announcing Ashcroft's win before a friendly audience of cypherpunks, civil libertarians and electronic privacy fans at the 12th annual Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in San Francisco.

Privacy International, a London-based non-profit advocacy group, hands out the awards each year to honor people and organizations that have done the most to harm personal privacy in the US, in the judgment of a ten-person panel drawn from a various privacy groups. David Banisar, Privacy International's US director, acted as master of ceremonies at the tongue-in-cheek award show.

In addition to charging administration critics with helping terror, Ashcroft was picked out for the controversial USA PATRIOT Act, and for the increased domestic surveillance and immigration sweeps that followed the terrorist attacks of 11 September.

Like many of the heated panel discussions and debates at the four-day conference, government and private industry's response to terrorism drove the event.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison won "Worst Corporate Invader" for his vocal advocacy of a national identification card backed by Oracle database software. A proposal to pre-screen airline passengers by tying together credit reporting systems and purchase histories won "Most Heinous Project." Iran-Contra conspirator John Poindexter was given the "Lifetime Menace Award." Poindexter heads DARPA's new Information Awareness Office, created in January to develop data mining technology.

Not-surprisingly, none of the award recipients were present to accept their trophies -- gold-colored statuettes depicting a human head being crushed under a jackboot.

Privacy International also gave out two serious, pro-privacy Brandeis Awards, named for the Supreme Court Justice who wrote that privacy is "the right to be left alone." One Brandeis went to California senator Jackie Speier for spearheading financial privacy legislation. The second went to Warren Leech, a private citizen who played a driving role in consumers winning the right to examine, and correct errors in, their credit reports.

© 2002 SecurityFocus.com, all rights reserved.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.