Czech Republic bestowed Big Brother Awards for the second time

8. 11. 2006 | 14:06

On 30 October 2006 in Prague the Big Brother Awards for the most egregious data privacy transgressions in the Czech Republic were bestowed for the second time. The event organised by the NGO Iuridicum Remedium was quite a big success reported by many national media. The chief of the Czech data protection office as well as other officials and foreign guests - Meryem Marzouki from EDRi, padeluun from German FoeBud, Alexander Kashamov, of AIP organising BBA event in Bulgaria together with dozens of people enjoyed the evening show. Thus, for retaining indefinitely the data of its former customers and even of people who have merely made an inquiry with the institution, the "Komercní banka" (which freely translates as "Commercial Bank") will henceforth be allowed to bear the title of "Worst Commercial Intruder." The title of "Biggest State Intruder," on the other hand, the jury thought fit to bestow upon the country`s Minister of Finance Vlastimil Tlustý . Anyone who wants to do small business in the Czech Republic must apply for a taxpayer reference number. This number is to certain extend identical to the identity number that every Czech national receives and retains throughout his or her life. This way, identity numbers of a great part of the Czech citizens are available in the database accessible by public. The International Award went to the United States for surreptitiously gathering financial transactions data supplied by the transaction services provider SWIFT as well as for the country`s controversial flight passenger data collection scheme that applies to all passengers flying to the United States. The jury found the most dangerous new technology from a data-privacy protection angle to be that introduced by the Czech Federal Railway Company. The company is banking on "In-Karta," an RFID-based ticket that makes it possible to track the movement of passengers. The title Big Brother law of the year went to the Law on electronic communications which introduces Data Retention Directive. The law has been in force in the Czech Republic since last autumn. The winner of the award for the "most ridiculous argument against data protection" was Milos Titz, the erstwhile deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security. Six months ago Mr. Titz came out in public with the following statement: "If I don`t do anything bad I have nothing to fear of phonetapping." Alas, the Social Democratic Member of Parliament is not alone in adopting this attitude toward data privacy protection. A virtually identical statement helped the Czech Police Commissioner Jirí Kolár bag last year`s Big Brother award. Positive prize for protection of the privacy was given to EDRi represented in Prague by its chairwomen Meryem Marzouki. EDRi was awarded the prize for its electronic biweekly EDRigram which becomes the most important source of information on privacy protection in Europe and for the coordination of the campaign against Data retention last year. Big Brother Awards 2006 - Czech Republic (Contribution by Filip Pospisil - EDRI-member Iuridicum Remedium - Czech Republic)

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