"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Barbie & NSA win big in “Big Brother” awards for privacy abuses

"Speak up, I can't hear you."

(From Quartz)  -  Germans by and large are wary of surveillance in all its forms, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the Big Brother Awards, which awards “prizes” to organizations and individuals around the world making especially egregious use of Germans’ private personal data.

Organized by advocacy nonprofit Digitalcourage, the 15th annual BBAs were announced Friday night in Bielefeld, Germany, a northwestern city of about 330,000. The tech prize was awarded to Hello Barbie, a “smart” version of the toymaker Mattel’s iconic doll, that records everything its owner says and allows parents to review the sound clips.

Probably the most timely award was in the category of Newspeak (as inspired by 1984’s totalitarian language): Digitale Spurensicherung—roughly, digital evidence security. Just days before, German justice minister Heiko Maas had proposed requiring all telecoms (link in German) to keep user metadata for up to 10 weeks under the guise of national security, and altogether, three Big Brother Awards awards went to the German federal government:
  • to the Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service) for its collaboration with the NSA and its monitoring of German citizens’ online activities
  • to the current and former Interior Ministers for “systematic and fundamental sabotage” of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which includes the right to be forgotten
  • and to the Ministry of Health, for the eHealth program, which BBA said puts doctor-patient confidentiality at risk.
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