Helsinki 25.10.2008 (translation 05.11.2008)
Electronic Frontier Finland – Effi ry
Today, EFFI (Electronic Frontier Finland) gave out Big Brother Awards for the fifth time in a ceremony held at Helsinki Book Fair. This year, Big Brother Awards were given to companies and public servants who had done most to promote an Orwellian surveillance society in Finland.
The recipients were selected by a board of experts, this year composed of political researcher Iivi Masso, professor Tere Vadén and EFFI’s vice chairman Ville Oksanen.
Chief Inspector Lars Henriksson from the National Bureau of Investigation swept the individual series with his speedy censorship of “bad stuff” on the Internet with little or no regard for facts and the attitude of “never mind the innocents as long as we grab some guilty ones”.
State prosecutor Mika Illman came second in the individual series. He was credited with persistent efforts to limit the freedom of speech in the Internet while paying scant attention to the principles of democracy, his own judicial status as a state prosecutor and the technological limitations governing the medium.
The community series award was hotly contested between the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Transport and Communications. This year the overall winner was Ministry of Justice with their aggressive promotion of “don’t worry about your vote, we’ll take care of it” electronic voting system and the rapid erosion of privacy and personal information protections.
The business series was swept by TietoEnator. Not only was their newly developed e-voting system immune to the usual security concerns associated with voting but also their auditing process was undermined by having auditors from the Ministry of Justice sign NDAs preventing them from disclosing their findings in public. Extra points were awarded for various failed information technology projects for the government that have contributed to employment in the information technology sector in Finland.
On the other hand, there were also plenty of nominees for the more positive Winston Smith Award. In the end, hacker Harri Hursti won the award for his defence of democracy and free elections by studying and exposing various flaws and problems in electronic voting machines.
Other nominees for this award included anti-Internet-censorship activist Matti Nikki, data protection ombudsman Reijo Aarnio and Euro-MP Pia-Noora Kauppi.
Big Brother galas have previously been held in Finland in years 2007, 2005, 2003 and 2002. Previous winners include Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen for efforts to suppress public debate in 2007 and YTV, Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council, in 2003 for a travel card system enabling better monitoring of the movement of citizens.
The tradition was first started in London in 1998 and Big Brother Awards are now awarded annually in about a dozen countries. This year, German award went to the European Union Minister Council (they won the Finnish award in 2005) and the winner of the Austrian award will be declared today.
Previous Big Brother awards (Finnish only):
Tapani Tarvainen, President, Effi ry
+358 40 729 3479
Ville Oksanen, Vice-president, Effi ry
+ 358 40 536 8583