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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Privacy foes named and shamed
Big Brother Award, Privacy International
The trophy is inspired by Orwell's 1984
The organisations and individuals doing the most to erode personal privacy in 2004 have been named and shamed.

MP Margaret Hodge, the NHS and the Office of National Statistics have all won prizes in the annual Big Brother awards organised by Privacy International.

Ms Hodge won her award as Worst Public Servant for her backing of intrusive government databases and desire to monitor children by pervasive tracking systems.

The awards, held in 17 countries, expose abuses of personal privacy and liberty by public and private institutions.

Stamping on liberty

Simon Davies, head of Privacy International, said the winners were chosen from more than 300 nominees.

He said: "The winning nominations reflect a broad and intensified assault on the right to privacy in the UK.

Worst Public Servant: Margaret Hodge
Most Appalling Project: NHS National Programme for Technology
Most Heinous Government Organisation: Office of National Statistics
Lifetime Menace: US Visit Programme
"There is a clear hostility within government to privacy and a general antagonism to it from within business," said Mr Davies. "We have seen few instances where privacy has been genuinely respected by large organisations."

Ms Hodge, MP for Barking and Minister for Children, has supported controversial proposals in the Children's Bill that aims to set up a database that will, among other things, hold data about children deemed to be at risk of becoming criminals.

Privacy crash

The NHS' national technology programme won the award for Most Appalling Project because of its plans to computerise patient records without putting in place adequate privacy safeguards.

Margaret Hodge, BBC
Hodge: Backs controversial proposals
The Office of National Statistics was awarded the title of 2004's Most Heinous Government Organisation for its Citizen Information Project that aims to unify government records about British people.

Privacy International gave the Lifetime Menace award to the US Visit programme that, from September 2004, will mean all visitors to the US will be fingerprinted.

Said Mr Davies: "The proclaimed need for protection of children and the fight against terrorism has often been shamelessly used as the pretext for privacy invasion".

"We are seeing a race to the bottom where government and private sector alike compete to provide the most intrusive services in the most unstable environment for privacy," he said.

Mr Davies said the Home Secretary David Blunkett, the Home Office and the UK's National Identity Card project received numerous nominations but all were excluded because their efforts to monitor ordinary people have been recognised in previous years.

However, he said, the Lifetime Menace award has now been renamed the David Blunkett Lifetime Menace award.

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