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Monday, January 29, 2007

Gongs of another kind - Privacy Foundation Awards

The Australian Privacy Foundation has announced winners of its 2006 Big Brother Awards.

It was another sorry year for privacy, but perhaps we should take some comfort from the fact that the Foundation decided not to award the Lifetime Menace Award ("for a privacy invader with a long record of profound disregard for privacy") this year.

Australian banks collectively won the Greatest Corporate Invader Award for continuing to send personal information to the SWIFT messaging service in Belgium, even after confirmation that it was being provided to US national security agencies; Federal Justice Minister, Chris Ellison won the Worst Public Agency for Official Award for introducing legislation to counter money laundering and terrorism financing, while rejecting 66 of 96 recommendations in a Privacy Impact Assessment; Federal Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey (since promoted to Workplace Relations), won the People's Choice Award for what one judge described as a "relentless campaign of disinformation and doublespeak surrounding the Access Card project"; and NSW Department of Health won the Most Invasive Technology Award for the introduction of HealtheLink electronic health record system with only an opt out for patients - the initial trials are with children and the elderly, the least likely to be in a position to object.

On a higher note: the Award for Best Privacy Guardian went to Lex Lasry QC and other Defense lawyers for refusing to submit to stringent personal security clearances by ASIO when representing terrorist suspects, and a Victorian public servant, Brent Carey of the Department of Justice, received an Honourable Mention as a result of a nomination by several public service colleagues for enthusiasm and dedication above and beyond the call of duty, in his role as whole-of-government privacy co-ordinator.

I haven't seen much Australian media coverage but of course it was picked up by the incredible monitors of privacy developments around the world at PogoWasRight as a result of this report in a Dutch technology publication.


  1. Is it my imagination or wasn't there much more AU coverage of these awards last year, Peter? There are a few AU news sites I check daily, but as you noted, I didn't find it on an AU site originally -- it was a Dutch site that covered the story. Given all the media coverage about the Access Card project, I would have thought that these awards would have been covered, but even a search of Google News today shows only two real articles -- the AU one you found and the original coverage I found.

    So what do you make of the lack of coverage, Peter?

  2. A mystery of life?
    All pre occupied with the Australian Open Tennis ?
    Simply high summer in Australia?
    Or rather pathetic apathy about privacy despite good grounds for widespread concern?
    I'm afraid it's all or some of the above

  3. Well, keep fighting the good fight to increase awareness of privacy issues, Peter. I did find another story today about the awards in
    Australian IT.

    Also, I've added a new RSS feed to my site that's strictly for the non-U.S. news headlines. Hope it's useful to you.