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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 20:01 GMT
Net monitoring scheme under fire
Hand putting CD in PC
Plans to archive internet data gets thumbs down
UK Government plans to archive all internet traffic and e-mail has been singled out for a controversial award at this year's Big Brother Award ceremony.

The awards - established in 1998 by Human Rights watchdog Privacy International - are designed to expose the state erosions of privacy as well as honouring those that made an outstanding contribution to preserving privacy.

The plan to store all communication data won in the Most Appalling Project category.

The scheme was the brainchild of the National Criminal Intelligence Service and is outlined in the government's Anti-Terrorism Act.

'Worst act yet'

Other "winners" included Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard Wilson who was singled out for what the judges described as "his long-standing commitment to opposing freedom of information, data protection and ministerial accountability".

The Lifetime Menace award went to another government scheme: the plan to introduce nationwide ID cards. The proposal, long mooted in government, is for a comprehensive data-sharing scheme between government agencies and the private sector.

Big Brother Award
Golden boot is given to award winners
The judges described the scheme as the worst threat to privacy yet.

Plans by the Department for Education and Skills for creating a student-tracking system won it the award for Most Heinous Government Organisation.

Insurance firm the Norwich Union won the Most Invasive Organisation Award, in part for its satellite vehicle-tracking project.

Speaking at the ceremony at the London School of Economics, head of Privacy International, Simon Davies, said the erosion of privacy, often using technology, alarmed him.

Technology beyond law

"During the judging process, it has become clear that government agencies and companies have stooped to an all-time low in the wilful violation of our privacy.

"We have been almost overwhelmed this year by a flood of new entries, many of which involve technologies and techniques that are beyond the control of law, and outside of the comprehension of policy makers."

On a more optimistic note, five "Winstons" were also handed out to organisations or individuals who the judges believed had made an outstanding contribution to the protection of privacy and human rights.

German Greens MEP Ilka Schroder was honoured for her part in the investigation of the American spying system Echelon. Thanks in part to her work, the system is being investigated by the European Parliament.

See also:

28 Feb 02 | Americas
Washington is watching
15 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
Net snooping laws 'too costly'
18 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
UK snooping laws in disarray
12 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
Cybercrime treaty gets green light
29 Aug 01 | Business
Calls for cybercrime database
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