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Shortlist for privacy 'Oscars' announced

Big Brother awards - as in the book, not the TV zoo

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The shortlist for this year's Big Brother awards for nasty privacy invaders has been released. The awards include: Worst Public Servant, Most Invasive Company, Most Appalling Project, Most Heinous Government Organisation and Lifetime Menace Award - now renamed the David Blunkett Lifetime Menace Award.

Pressure group Privacy International, which organises the awards, said it was overwhelmed by nominations for Blunkett, the Home Office and national ID cards but they had been recognised in previous years.

Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, said: "The nominations reflect a broad and intensified assault on the right to privacy in the UK. There is a clear hostility within government to privacy and a general antagonism to it from within business. We have seen few instances where privacy has been genuinely respected by large organisations."

Contenders for Worst Public Servant are Margaret Hodge for her support for a database of children and "good behaviour" orders for children as young as eight. There is also a joint nomination in this category - Katherine Courtney and Stephen Harrison for their work in promoting the National ID card.

Two nominations for Most Invasive Company - LloydsTSB for its insistence that customers report to a branch with documents to prove their identities and FollowUS - a company which allows you to track mobile phones for "security or fun".

Favourite though is British Gas for blaming the Data Protection Act when an elderly couple died when British Gas disconnected their gas.

There are three contenders for the Most Appalling Project prize. Vodafone is in the running for its decision to bar all "adult" sites. The NHS is there for its plan to "computerise all patient records in a way that is both insecure and dangerous to patient privacy." The Safe Harbour Agreement - which governs transmission of data between EU countries and the US, also gets a mention despite not being a UK-initiative.

The awards ceremony takes place at the London School of Economics from 6.30pm on Wednesday 28 July. Full details are available here.

If you are interested in attending the awards you need to register at UKBBA@privacy.org ®

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