Czech Republic bestowed Big Brother Awards for the second time

By EDRi · November 8, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

On 30 October 2006 in Prague the Big Brother Awards for the most
egregious data privacy transgressions in the Czech Republic were bestowed
for the second time. The event organised by the NGO Iuridicum Remedium was
quite a big success reported by many national media. The chief of the Czech
data protection office as well as other officials and foreign guests –
Meryem Marzouki from EDRi, padeluun from German FoeBud, Alexander Kashamov,
of AIP organising BBA event in Bulgaria together with dozens of people
enjoyed the evening show.

Thus, for retaining indefinitely the data of its former customers and even
of people who have merely made an inquiry with the institution, the
“Komercní banka” (which freely translates as “Commercial Bank”) will
henceforth be allowed to bear the title of “Worst Commercial Intruder.”

The title of “Biggest State Intruder,” on the other hand, the jury thought
fit to bestow upon the country’s Minister of Finance Vlastimil Tlustý .
Anyone who wants to do small business in the Czech Republic must apply for a
taxpayer reference number. This number is to certain extend identical to the
identity number that every Czech national receives and retains throughout
his or her life. This way, identity numbers of a great part of the Czech
citizens are available in the database accessible by public.

The International Award went to the United States for surreptitiously
gathering financial transactions data supplied by the transaction services
provider SWIFT as well as for the country’s controversial flight passenger
data collection scheme that applies to all passengers flying to the United

The jury found the most dangerous new technology from a data-privacy
protection angle to be that introduced by the Czech Federal Railway Company.
The company is banking on “In-Karta,” an RFID-based ticket that makes it
possible to track the movement of passengers. The title Big Brother law of
the year went to the Law on electronic communications which introduces
Data Retention Directive. The law has been in force in the Czech Republic
since last autumn.

The winner of the award for the “most ridiculous argument against data
protection” was Milos Titz, the erstwhile deputy chairman of the
Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security. Six months ago Mr. Titz
came out in public with the following statement: “If I don’t do anything bad
I have nothing to fear of phonetapping.” Alas, the Social Democratic Member
of Parliament is not alone in adopting this attitude toward data privacy
protection. A virtually identical statement helped the Czech Police
Commissioner Jirí Kolár bag last year’s Big Brother award.

Positive prize for protection of the privacy was given to EDRi represented
in Prague by its chairwomen Meryem Marzouki. EDRi was awarded the prize for
its electronic biweekly EDRigram which becomes the most important source of
information on privacy protection in Europe and for the coordination of the
campaign against Data retention last year.

Big Brother Awards 2006 – Czech Republic

(Contribution by Filip Pospisil – EDRI-member Iuridicum Remedium – Czech