Privacy Group to Hand Out 'Big Brother' Awardsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Wild Wild West : One Thread
An Award You Don't Want
Privacy Group to Hand Out 'Big Brother' Awards
By Sascha Segan
March 6 - There are some awards that just don't look great on a shelf.
A metal sculpture of a jackboot crushing a human head, the tongue-in-cheek statuette for Privacy International's "Big Brother" awards is one of them. The nonprofit privacy advocacy organization plans to hand out its third set of U.S. awards Wednesday night at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in Cambridge, Mass. The awards come in four flavors: "Worst Government Official/Most Heinous Government Organization," "Most Invasive Company," "Most Appalling Project" and "Lifetime Menace." A few positive awards are also given out to individuals or organizations seen as protecting privacy.
This year's nominees for most egregious privacy offenders include the FBI, for its "Carnivore" e-wiretapping system; IBM, for what Privacy International deputy director Dave Banisar said is a history of anti-privacy stances; and the city of Tampa, Fla., for running an experimental video surveillance system during the Superbowl which aimed to pick the faces of wanted criminals out of the crowd.
"There's been a lot more focus on video issues [this year]," Banisar said, as well as on failing dot-com companies selling personal data for money.
Not Popular Among Nominees
Nominees, needless to say, are nonplussed.
"What expectation of privacy do they see in a crowd of 100,000 people?" asked Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin. "What it comes down to is what the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on privacy issues, and clearly there is no expectation of privacy in a crowd setting."
Tampa officials will not be attending the awards ceremony.
Jules Polonetsky, chief privacy officer of Internet advertising firm DoubleClick, says awards like these can be productive. DoubleClick received a "most invasive company" award in 2000; this year, it's sponsoring the afternoon cookies at the privacy conference. (Unlike Web cookies, these physical cookies are strictly opt-in, Banisar said.)
"Certainly, getting a presentation like this from [privacy] advocates was one of the things that sent a message to the company" that it needed to build bridges to the privacy community and put strict privacy policies in place, Polonetsky said. Privacy officers now must give their permission for personal data to flow around DoubleClick and to its business partners, and the company undergoes independent privacy audits, he said.
Banisar said he respects Polonetsky but that, in his opinion, DoubleClick has not improved its stance on online privacy.
So far, nobody's yet picked up an award, though Microsoft's chief privacy officer showed up and gave a speech when his company got an award in 1999. He fled from the advancing golden jackboot, Banisar said.
"He refused to actually take the award, and [privacy advocate] Jason Catlett from Junkbusters was chasing him down the aisle trying to give him the award, which I don't think he actually took," he said.
-- Tidbit (email@example.com), March 07, 2001
Tampa Super Bowl Crowd Scanned for Suspects
-- Older tidbit (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 07, 2001.