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Oftel, the Home office and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) are among this year's shortlist for the Internet Villain Award being dished out by the UK's Net industry.

As ever, there are two hotly-contested gongs that always seem to court controversy. However, the Internet hero and villain shortlists reflect the people and organisations that have helped - or hampered - progress in the Internet industry.

So, without further ado, the nominations for the Internet Villain Award are:

BBC Watchdog - for a report on the important issue of spam that was more intent on vilifying ISP's than educating consumers
The Home Office - for the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security (ATCS) Act and continued delays associated with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA)
Oftel - for (among a host of other things) failing to ensure expedient local loop unbundling by BT which has hindered both competition in the telco sector and the development of Broadband Britain
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) - for supporting "right to hack" proposals and other unworkable solutions to curb copyright abuse, and
Telecomms analysts - for their "substantial contribution to the meltdown in the telecomms and Internet sector’.

Interestingly, this is the second year on the trot that former villain winner, BT, has failed to make the shortlist. How the monster telco has managed, yet again, to pull the wool over the eyes of the judges is simply beyond belief. Still, there you go.

Anyhow, there can be no villains without heroes. The nominations for the Internet Hero Award are:
The All-Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) - for launching the public inquiry into data retention and access laws
Richard Allan MP for Sheffield Hallam - for ongoing support and understanding of the Internet and the Internet industry.
Hugh Blunkett - for briefing his father David Blunkett, Secretary of State for the Home Office, on privacy fears associated with giving a raft of public bodies in the UK access to private email and mobile phone records
Elizabeth France, Ex-Information Commissioner - for her stance on data retention legislation, and
Simon Watkin, Home Office - for doing his best to understand the industry, tech sector interest groups and experts and to subsequently inform discussions within the Home Office.

The winners of the 2003 ISPAs - the fifth annual UK Internet industry awards - are due to be announced on February 20. ®

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