Italy/Spain: Big Brother Awards

The winners of Italy's Big Brother Awards (organised by Privacy International and the Winston Smith Project in association with 14 other organisations) were announced on 27 May 2005 in Florence. Telecom Italia (Italy's leading, formerly public, telephone service provider) won the award called "the people's lament", which is automatically granted to the person or body that receives the largest number of nominations from the public. The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, won an award as a result of his office sending every Italian mobile phone a text message inviting them to vote in Italy's European elections. The "life-time menace" award was won by Giuseppe Fortunato, a Neapolitan lawyer who is "one of the few persons" who has had a firm sentence passed against him for "serious crimes against privacy" in 2002, for accessing telephone company records, and unduly using them for his personal gain. Fortunato was recently voted in as a member of the Autorità Garante della Privacy (the Italian privacy ombudsman's authority) by a commission, a majority of whose members are from the Italian government coalition.

The winner of the "worst public company" award was Laziomatica, a company that provides services to the Lazio regional council which accessed Rome city council's anagrafe (register of residents) to obtain the details of the signatories of Alessandra Mussolini's electoral list (see Statewatch news online, March 2005). The company official who admitted doing this, Mirko Maceri, is accused of illegally accessing the Rome anagrafe's IT system and of contravening Italian privacy legislation. The "worst public body" award was won jointly by the Italian interior ministry, in relation to the introduction of the electronic ID card, and the ministry for education, university and research (MIUR). In the case of the ID card, there have been reports that citizens requesting the card are being required to submit their fingerprints to obtain it, whereas relevant legislation decrees that fingerprints can only be included on request from the applicant, and that the entire print is being recorded, whereas only the template of the fingerprints should be recorded, according to the law. For MIUR, the award is the result of a questionnaire it has given primary and secondary school students to assess their education in which they are required to identify themselves, including by providing "sensitive personal details" whose processing is illegal (ie. disabilities). Microsoft won the award for the "most invasive technology" as a result of its lack of concern for users' privacy, most notably with regards to cache management, the licensing process for the XP operative system, and the implementation DRM technology on Windows Media Player. The positive "Emmanuel Goldstein - privacy champion" award was won, almost unanimously, by former privacy ombudsman Stefano Rodotà, who was deemed to have been the "embodiment" of what a privacy ombudsman should be, and who was praised for his "autonomy" and "integrity" while carrying out this function.

On 30 October 2004, in the third edition of Spanish Big Brother Awards, held in Seville and organised by the Spanish branch of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), awards for the negative consequences of their actions on privacy were given to Telefónica (Spain's leading, formerly public, telephone service provider) in the private sector, Zara (a manufacter and retailer in the fashion sector) for the "most intrusive technology" and the Sociedad General de Autores Española (SGAE, the Spanish Authors' Association) by popular vote. The award for the private sector was won by the government (whose identity is unclear) which ordered the seizure of Indymedia's servers in London (see Statewatch news online, October 2004. Among other concerns, Telefónica received a €420,000 fine for illegally making customer data available and because of the lack of protection of customer data on its website in June 2004. The award given to Zara was a result of its use of identification chips using RFID technology in some of its products. The "Mariana Pineda" award for "defenders of civil liberties and privacy in the digital field" was awarded to José Manuel Gómez and his website Kriptopolis (

Big Brother Awards Italy 2005: official results:
Big Brother Awards Spain 2004: unofficial report by Arturo Quirantes:



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