Spying on couriers and AdTech using data from operators. We know the winners of the Czech Big Brother Awards

For the seventeenth time has the Czech NGO and EDRi member Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) awarded Big Brother Awards to those who have been snooping the most into our privacy in the past year.

By Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) (guest author) · April 6, 2022

All the winners were selected from proposals of the public by a panel of experts in new technologies, lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists. “Surprisingly, nominations related to anti-covid measures didn’t appear this year. However, there were nominations related to the covid period, for example, the use of technology in monitoring of employees in delivery services,” describes Jan Vobořil, an IuRe lawyer.

Snooper Company

The Snooper Company award was given to Rohlik.cz who monitored their employees. According to the jury, the company deserves the award for its constant monitoring of couriers’ performance. Their location is being monitored using gyroscopes and GPS; the car temperature is also being monitored and customer evaluation is observed constantly. In its statement, the jury observed that this “algorithmic control” which is common in digital logistics companies is, fortunately, becoming more and more regulated.

Official Snooper

 The Czech jury awarded the Polish government with the Official Snooper Award for its abuse of the Pegasus espionage system against its political opposition. This software, developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, has been used in many countries to track journalists and activists. The software allows its user to monitor keystrokes and cell phone communications, and it can be used for call tapping and location tracking.

Long-term Accomplice

A surprise shooked the Long-term Snooper category: this year the organizers of the competition renamed it the Long-term Accomplice. According to the jury, this is precisely what the Czech Constitutional Court is doing, as for the last four years it did not comment on the legal regulation of the use of genetic data by police, which was challenged by the Municipal Court in Prague at the beginning of 2018. According to the jury, these delays at the Constitutional Court paralyse the possibilities of resolving the problem with the vague and non-transparent legal regulation soon.

Big Brother‘s Statement

The last of the anti-awards was won by MetroZoom CEO Dana Svobodová for her statement on how data from the mobile operator O2 is used for targeted advertising in the Prague metro. Thanks to this data, advertisers know exactly when and where most people who fit in their target group go based on their gender, age, interests and socioeconomic group. In the jury‘s view, such increasingly precise data analysis makes it difficult for customers to make free and responsible choices.

Edward Snowden Award

Like every year, in addition to the four anti-awards, there is a positive award. This year, the Edward Snowden award was won by children‘s website Alík.cz, which has been around on the Czech internet in various forms since 2000. There, users can communicate with each other, play games, publish texts or get support with their problems in the counselling centre.

What caught the jury‘s attention in particular on Alík.cz is its emphasis on the protection of children’s privacy, even at the cost of rejecting potential revenues from the mining of children’s personal data and its use for targeted advertising.

Jan Vobořil from IuRe adds that there were more positive nominations this year. “For example, the Austrian non-profit company noyb, which has long focused on the problem of unauthorized data transfers to the USA, appeared among them. Other nominations included the Czech initiative NoLog, which provides a wide range of free services from shared directories to video calls while emphasising the protection of users’ privacy. “

Read in Czech.

(Contirbution by: EDRi member Iuridicum Remedium )