Dutch Cabinet wins audience award and Focum wins expert award Big Brother Awards 2017
11 december 2017
The Dutch cabinet wins the audience award of the 2017 Big Brother Awards. Profile-broker Focum is the winner of this year’s expert award.This year’s positive privacy award, the Felipe Rodriquez Award, goes to Kashmir Hill.
Audience Award: Dutch Cabinet pushes through new Intelligence and Security Services Act
With 47% of the votes, the Dutch cabinet is the convincing winner of the public award of the Big Brother Awards. The cabinet was nominated for pushing through the Intelligence and Security Services Act. A big portion of the public very much resents the introduction of a so-called dragnet for the intelligence services. The previous cabinet ignored the overwhelming criticism of citizens, advisory bodies, and public organizations. Now, the current cabinet wants the legislation to become effective as soon as possible, in spite of the outcome of the referendum. Therefore, the contributors feel that the cabinet deserves the award for ‘pushing through the dragnet surveillance law.’
Everyone was able to nominate candidates and subsequently vote on the top-three candidates. The other candidates were chairman of the CDA Buma because of his disdainful attitude towards the referendum and GGZ Nederland, for undermining medical professional confidentiality for the purpose of improving health care.
Expert Award: Focum deals in data without taking responsibility
The Netherlands’ largest data broker in credit profiles, Focum, was nominated for their profiling practices. Parties like Focum advise organizations about the credit rating of their customers. In practice, those credit profiles turn out to have great consequences, because the advice it contains is practically always adopted by their customers. Meanwhile, it is unclear for citizens which data is used to create these profiles and how the advice based on these profiles came about.
The consequences for citizens can be far-reaching. These profiles are used to decide whether you are admitted to an insurance programme and the height of the insurance premium you have to pay, for example. To use Dennis Broeders’, professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, words: “as these profiles are used more often in daily life by banks, employers, insurance companies, and the government, they influence citizens’ chances in life.”
Focum benefits from the position they occupy and must be aware of the far-reaching consequences for society resulting from the credit profiles and advice they provide to their customers. However, they do not take the responsibility that comes along with their position. Therefore, Focum is the winner of the expert award.
The other two candidates were the Dutch tax authorities and Translink. The Dutch tax authorities were nominated for structurally violating the privacy rules by their Data & Analytics-department. Translink was nominated because it transferred sensitive personal data way too easily to DUO and other organizations in their fight against fraud.
Felipe Rodriquez Award: Kashmir Hill brings privacy issues in the spotlight
The positive privacy award, the Felipe Rodriquez Award, has been awarded to Kashmir Hill. She is an American journalist who, in an unmatched way, knows how to bring privacy issues in the spotlight. Concerns about privacy are often abstract, but she has a gift to make the importance of privacy concrete and to give those affected by privacy violations a voice. With her unique approach she succeeds in reaching a large audience.
Felipe Rodriquez was one of the founders of XS4ALL and De Digitale Stad, one of the cornerstones of Bits of Freedom and founder of the digital human rights movement in the Netherlands. Felipe passed away in 2015, but his personal story shows how much of a difference one individual can make. With this award, XS4ALL and Bits of Freedom hope that he inspires others to dedicate themselves to privacy and Internet freedom.