Amsterdam hosted four big privacy conferences in October 2015: the Amsterdam Privacy Conference and the Privacy Law Scholars Conference, both for academia, the International Privacy Conference for regulators, and the Dutch Big Brother Awards, organised by EDRi member Bits of Freedom on 29 October in Stadsschouwburg.
The winner of the Big Brother Audience Award is Dutch Minister of the Interior, Ronald Plasterk, for his plans for the most far-reaching surveillance measures for secret services the Netherlands ever had, while ignoring the broad societal criticism. Everyone was encouraged to propose nominations for the Audience Award through the website bigbrotherawards.nl. The three candidates that were mentioned most frequently were automatically shortlisted to the final vote. Ronald Plasterk won with 57 percent of the total votes. The other nominees were the insurer Achmea, for undermining the solidarity (on which insurance is normally based) in exchange for big data, and Microsoft, for the privacy infringements in Windows 10.
The National Police Force won the Expert Award for its engagement in ”Predictive Policing” based on big data. This should, they believe, predict criminal acts, but a more probable consequence will be that instead of criminal behavior, non-standard behavior will be will be identified by the system. For the Expert Award, Bits of Freedom had asked several privacy experts to propose candidates that might have had less media attention, but still deserve a nomination. Besides the National Police, the nominees were the Van der Valk hotel in Hengelo, the Netherlands, for systematically and voluntarily handing over guest registrations to the police, and again Ronald Plasterk, for his proposal for a new Intelligence and Security Services Act.
The positive Award, the Felipe Rodriguez Award, was presented to Max Schrems for his outstanding contribution to privacy. Through the different court cases he put both Facebook and the American secret services in the spotlight. Previously the Positive Privacy Award was named after Winston, the protagonist of Orwell’s novel “1984”. This year, it was renamed to honor Felipe Rodriguez, one of the founders of XS4ALL, which is one of the first Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the Netherlands, and of De Digitale Stad, the first Dutch Freenet. His work was essential to both Bits of Freedom and to the Dutch digital civil rights movement. Felipe passed away on 6 October, but his life story shows how much difference an individual can make. By renaming the Award, Bits of Freedom hopes others will be inspired by his work for privacy and freedom on the Internet. Max Schrems was the first to receive the Felipe Rodriguez Award. Schrems is the founder of “Europe vs. Facebook” and the initiator of the “Safe Harbor” case, in which the European Court of Justice (CJEU) concluded that the European Commission’s eponymous agreement with the United States failed on both a procedural and practical level to protect Europeans’ privacy rights.
Dutch Big Brother Awards
Big Brother Awards 2015 (video)
Amsterdam Privacy Conference
Privacy Law Scholars Conference
International Privacy Conference
(Contribution by Daphne van der Kroft, EDRi member Bits of Freedom, The Netherlands)