Big Brother Awards Czech Republic 2008

18. 11. 2008 | 14:34

The fourth edition of Big Brother Awards was announced in the Czech Republic in Prague on Friday, November 14. Under the direction of Czech EDRi-member NGO Iuridicum Remedium,o.s. seven worst perpetrators of the right to privacy were awarded. The positive prize was granted to German Working Group on Data Retention AK Vorrat. 

The prizes were chosen by an expert jury from more than seventy nominations submitted by the public. The jury members were Petr Krčmář (editor-in-chief,, Lenka Nejezchlebová (journalist, MF Dnes), RNDr. Karel Neuwirth (Council of Europe Data Protection Commissioner), MUDr. Miroslav Ouzký (member of the European Parliament), Radek Smolík (regional director, Symantec), JUDr. Ing. Helena Svatošová (Iuridicum Remedium) and JUDr. Václav Vlk (advocate).
The Municipal-Council of the city of Prague received the prize for the Worst Public Agency for multifunctional chip card it introduced for public transport earlier this year. Although the card is designed to replace all currently available season tickets, it is available only after presentation of ID and agreement with the processing of personal data. Along with the plans to reintroduce electronic gates in Prague underground, the possibility to use public transport anonymously slowly diminishes.
The award in the category of the Greatest Corporate Invader was granted to the AQUER.CZ for its products specifically aimed at devaluation of personal privacy in terms of providing full software for complete monitoring of one’s computer activity.
Deutsche Telekom AG got the Lifetime Menace prize for the massive data loss it incurred two years ago and willingly ignored until Der Spiegel proved the data concerned were available for sale on the internet. Until that, Deutsche Telekom AG had not taken any steps to inform its customers about potential threats that could have resulted from its failure to protect the customer’s data.
The USA government has again kept its position of the world leader in the category of the Worst Snooper among Nations for set of bilateral agreements on personal data transfers that were concluded between the governments of USA and several EU member states in exchange of visa waiver. The agreement with the Czech government is kept under secret regime and will not be subjected to democratic vote of the Parliament. It raises fears concerning the quality, quantity, as well as protection of the data to be transferred.
The Electronic road-toll system provided by Kapsch AG for monitoring and regulation of the traffic on the country’s highways won the prize in the category of Dangerous New Technology. The original intention to use this system to charge extra fees from transportation entrepreneurs will soon be extended to contain every car on the road. Although the Ministry of Transportation claims that anonymity of transport is its priority, it has provided neither guarantees nor any information how the anonymity will be achieved.
In the category Big Brother´s Precept of Law the award was given to the European Commission for its proposal to introduce virtual strip search cameras at European airports. The virtual strip search provides the airport controllers with detailed picture of the traveler’s body construction which is in breach not only with the right to privacy but also the fundamental principles of human dignity.
Mr Rudolf Marek was awarded in the category Boot in the Mouth for his statement in his article in the EURO magazine on spying called “Hon na škodnou nebo paranoia?” (Chasing the Vermints or Paranoia?), which presents the possibility of hidden spying on employees as normal and usual, although it is strictly prohibited by law: “… hidden CCTV’s and well placed sensors are irreplaceable for many employers. They might bring proofs of criminal activities and deterrence. What happens when the employer monitors phone lines, reception, offices, meeting rooms and company cars using the satellite?”
At the end, the organizers were pleased to award the group of privacy advocates AK Vorrat the Positive Winston Smith prize for its unceasing endeavor to remedy the critical situation in the field of personal data protection and defense of the fundamentals right to privacy not only within the country of its origin, Germany, but within the entire Europe. The recent successes of AK Vorrat have proven that its strong mission can mobilize tens of thousands of people who do not hesitate to take part in process of achieving the vision of the world we all share – world where the Big Brother does not exist.
(Contribution by EDRi-member Iuridicum Remedium)
Big Brother Awards Czech Republic Official Web Site (only in Czech)
Big Brother Awards Czech Republic 2007 (in English) (only in Czech)
Hospodářské noviny (only in Czech)
Czech TV (only in Czech)


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