Information newsletter
Issue 4(16), April 2005

Privacy International Announces U.S. Big Brother Awards winners for 2005

Privacy International held the 7th annual U.S. Big Brother Awards to shame the invaders and celebrate the champions of privacy. The ceremony was hosted by the 2005 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference, in Seattle.

The Nominees for the Worst Corporate Invader were:
- Acxiom (for a tradition of data brokering)
- Accenture (for its Government projects)
- Response Unlimited (for trying to sell the list of donors to Schiavo's parents')

The judges selected Accenture for the award. Citing concerned members of the House of Representatives, who raised the fact that the largest contract issued by the Department of Homeland Security was being issued to a company based in Bermuda, the judges felt that Accenture was worthy of the award. The judges were particularly concerned with the plans for the US-VISIT programme, including the use of additional biometrics, profiling, and the development of digitial dossiers.

The Most Invasive Proposal or Project Nominees were:
- US-VISIT (mass fingerprinting and face-scanning programme of all visitors to the U.S.)
- U.S. Passport with RFID (placing a transmitter chip in all new U.S. passports, to be read by anyone, anywhere, from a distance)
- Secure Flight (system to compare all travellers with the terrorist watchlists)
- Brittan Elementary School RFID tagging of students
- Standardised Drivers Licenses (de facto national ID scheme)

- Big Brother

The judges selected Brittan Elementary School for the award. Citing the principal of the school who enjoyed the idea of spying on all students' whereabouts "because it would streamline the taking of attendance, giving teachers a few minutes more each day to teach and boost accuracy, no small matter given that California school funding is based on how many children attend class each day." Parents of students reacted negatively and organized campaigns against the scheme. The Big Brother Award will be delivered personally to the principal by concerned parents.

Nomineees for the Worst Public Department were:
- The Federal Trade Commission (for repeated failures to stand up for privacy rights)
- Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics (for proposing a national database of all students)
- The Department of State (for continual use of diplomacy to promote bad policy abroad, i.e. policy laundering, such as biometric passports)

The judges selected the Department of Education's proposed programme. This programme would collect data on 15 million children across 6000 schools in the U.S., collecting data such as credits earned, degree plan, race and ethnicity, grants and loans received, tax status, etc. to be held by the Federal Government for at least the life of the student.

Finally, the Lifetime Menace Award was issued to Choicepoint. Choicepoint has been an abuser and broker of personal information for many years now, collecting information on Americans and foreigners without having to adhere to strict privacy laws. Recently it has admitted that there have been a number of fraudulent uses and loss of this personal information. This resulted in mass apologies, apologies to Congress, and a CEO bonus of 1.8 million dollars.

The U.S. 2005 Big Brother Awards were judged by

- Beth Givens, Privacy Rights Clearing House
- Evan Hendricks, Publisher of Privacy Times
- Chris Hoofnagle, Associate Director of EPIC
- Wendy Grossman
- Conrad Martin, Director of the Fund for Constitutional Government
- Ed Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director of PIRG
- Bob Ellis Smith, Editor of the Privacy Journal
- Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU

English Version Last Update: 19.05.2005 © 1999 Copyright by Interia & AIP