Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/10/28/ms_wins_big_brother_award/

MS wins Big Brother award for Linux spam atrocity

MS Austria execs now risk gaol in Norway...

By John Lettice

Posted in Business, 28th October 1999 11:03 GMT

Microsoft Austria has collected the top prize in the Community category of the Austrian Big Brother Awards. The prize, a tacky looking robot thing which can be viewed here, was given for the company's activities in spamming Austrian Linux users with questionnaires. Microsoft Austria recruited G3 GMBH to handle the mailing. This outfit seems to have helped itself to the email addresses of Austrian users registered with the Linux Counter and then sent them the questionnaire, which asked about their views on the software industry, about Linux, and about their employment. This was in breach of the Linux Counter's copyright and terms of use, which specifically bar use of the data for mass mailings. It's also, as the Linux Counter is hosted in Norway, a crime under Norwegian privacy legislation. The execs from Microsoft Austria don't seem to have been extradited by vengeful nordics, but after an outcry they were forced to destroy the data they'd gathered. Another notable award went to former European parliamentarians for their sterling work in support of Enfopol, but none of the winners seems to have turned up to the ceremony, held on Tuesday. The Big Brother awards themselves were started up by Privacy International, and are run in the UK, US and Austria. The recent UK awards weren't as juicy as the Austrian ones, but we were pleased to see UK Home Secretary Jack Straw collected a double, for himself as Worst Public Servant and for The Home Office as Lifetime Menace. ®