Big Brother Award for Dutch immigration minister

By EDRi · February 2, 2006

Dutch Minister Rita Verdonk for Integration and Immigration won a negative
Big Brother Award during the Dutch awards ceremony on 28 January 2006 in De
Melkweg in Amsterdam.

Minister Verdonk was awarded the price for having handed-over the status of
asylum seeker of rejected applicants to their country of origin, for having
denied it repeatedly in parliament and for having later minimised the impact
of this information.

The jury considered that the gravity of the privacy violation was
underexposed. The information about the applicants’ attempt to seek asylum
might be life threatening for them in their country of origin.

The nominees beaten by minister Verdonk were Dutch minister of Finance Mr.
Zalm and crime reporter Peter R. de Vries. Mr. Zalm was nominated for his
recent proposal to give banks and other financial service providers access
to the population register data behind the new ‘citizen service number’,
even before the law introducing this number is passed by both houses of
parliament. The crime reporter Peter R. de Vries was nominated for having
proposed a database with DNA cell-material of all inhabitants of the

Sony BMG won the award in the category Companies. The company installed
spyware on 2.6 million audio CDs, intended as copyright protection. When the
rootkit was discovered, the company issued a patch. But that made matters
even worse. People interested in the patch had to provide many personal
details and after the installation the patch secretly set up encrypted
communication with Sony BMG.

In the category government institutions, the Flevo hospital earned an award
with very poor security of personal data about patients. The hospital
embarked on a project to disclose appointments with patients via the
Internet, but failed to put adequate access control into place.

In the category ‘proposals’, the winner was the government idea to put a
central database into place with biometric data that would be soon required
from every Dutchman requiring a new passport. Starting with August 2006 a
picture will be included on the chip and later on fingerprints of both index
fingers will be added. The jury was deeply concerned about the surveillance
possibilities of such a central database.

For the first time in the 4 years that BBAs have been organised in the
Netherlands, the jury decided to present a positive award, the Winston
Award, named after the protagonist of Orwell’s 1984. The award was given to
Prof. Hans Franken, professor in Law and Information Science at the
University of Leiden and member of the Senate for the Christian-democrat
party for his consistent resistance in the Senate against mandatory data

The ceremony was organised by Bits of Freedom, a Dutch NGO devoted to the
defence of digital civil rights. The Dutch ceremony is part of a large
international network that started with a ceremony in 1998 in the UK.

Big Brother Award for Dutch immigration minister (28.01.2006)

(Contribution by Sjoera Nas, EDRi-member Bits of Freedom – Netherlands)