Finnish Big Brother Award goes to intrusive loyalty card programme

By EDRi · September 7, 2016

On 2 September, EDRi member Electronic Frontier Finland (Effi) presented the 2016 Big Brother Awards. The Awards are given to individuals or organisations who have during the past year remarkably undermined citizens’ privacy and data protection. The goal is to draw attention to violations of privacy.

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The award in the corporate category was given to the S Group, a Finnish retailing cooperative organisation, for unilaterally announcing in July 2016 that all the future purchases done using the group’s loyalty card will be registered, detailing the products that were purchased. Even if the S Group, after significant pressure was put on it, gave its clients the possibility to decide whether or not their data will be collected, Effi considered it necessary to raise awareness on the issue. Various customer loyalty programmes are likely to include problems from a privacy perspective, and only few of these issues have been disclosed.

The award for individuals went to former Minister of the Interior Petteri Orpo, who has actively promoted giving the police extensive authority to conduct online surveillance, building on the fear raised by the Paris attacks to drive a political agenda. Orpo deserves the award also thanks to his clichéd statements: “A regular citizen has nothing at all to worry for.”

The award in the public organisation category was granted to the Market Court for handing over the personal data of thousands of individuals to law firms used by collecting societies and rightsholders. The Market Court has served as a rubber stamp in proceedings in which letters are sent to effectively “blackmail” those suspected for copyright infringements, with weak evidence.

“With the current uncertainties in the world, it’s easy to argue these violations of privacy are necessary. They, however, rarely foster citizens’ security, but are only contributing to the deterioration of data protection,” said Timo Karjalainen, the chairman of Effi.

We should now stay rational and demand our privacy and protection of our personal data to be preserved, rather than destroyed.

The positive Winston Smith award was given to Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer of F-Secure, a Finnish cyber security and privacy company, for his persistent work for data protection, and against the surveillance and hacking conducted by cybercriminals and states.

The Big Brother Awards are based on a concept created by Privacy International in the UK. The tradition started in 1998 in London, and the awards are given in about a dozen countries annually. The decisions on the 2016 awards were made by Effi’s board, and the trophies and the Winston Smith award painting were created by Noora Jantunen.

Press Release: Effi’s Big Brother Awards to Petteri Orpo, S Group, and the Market Court – positive awards to Mikko Hyppönen (only in Finnish, 02.09.2016)

EDRi: Finland: New surveillance law threatens fundamental rights (06.10.2015)

Finnish BB Awards to Commissioner Paatero, Police Board and Microsoft (11.02.2015)

(Contribution by EDRi member Effi, Finland)