Helsinki, January 31, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Electronic Frontier Finland – Effi ry
On Saturday, January 31, Electronic Frontier Finland (Effi) presented the Finnish Big Brother Awards 2015. The Awards are based on a concept created by Privacy International in the UK. The tradition started in 1998 in London. Awards are given in about a dozen countries annually. The purpose of the Awards is to draw attention to violations of privacy. The recipients of the Awards of 2015 were chosen by the Board of Effi.
This year’s Big Brother awards and Winston Smith painting were designed by Anu Raatikainen.
The award in the Corporate category went to Microsoft for efficient cooperation with NSA and other authorities to monitor the emails and Skype calls of innocent people. The contenders were Lehtipiste, whose attempts to censor Charlie Hebdo from reaching Finns were finally thwarted, and Sports Tracking Technologies Ltd, who have efficiently refrained from using the possibilities for breaching the privacy that their technology would allow.
The award in the public organisation category was given to the National Police Board for collecting information related to innocent people in their suspects file without regard to legal or other limitations. The data acquisition working group of the Ministry of Defence came in a close second for demanding the right to comprehensive online surveillance for the defence forces and the Finnish Security Intelligence Service. A good effort was also seen from the Criminal Sanctions Agency for supporting their guards in their hobby of spying on prisoners.
There was no question that the award for individuals had to be given to National Police Commissioner Mr Mikko Paatero for his persistent work to turn Finland into a police state. Paatero has adopted an unusually clear stance: the police are good, everybody else is more or less bad, so the police simply must have access to all information related to all people, and on the other hand, the police should not be unduly bothered with suspicions of abusing their powers or anything such. This time, we were forced to leave Mr Ilkka Salmi, Director of the Intelligence Analysis Centre of the European Union, without an award despite his genial claim that the whole Big Brother concept itself is misguided, as well as the Minister of Defence, Mr Carl Haglund, whose efforts to obtain online surveillance rights for the defence forces were seen as rather half-hearted.
“Despite the slightly disappointing performances of the awardees it can be said that Finland is well on its way to becoming a Big Brother society. Who knows, maybe the year will come that Effi, too, will have to admit to simply loving the Big Brother”, said Mr Tapani Tarvainen, vice president of Effi.
The positive Winston Smith award was given to MP Oras Tynkkynen for his long-standing and consistent work for the rights of Internet users. Mr Tynkkynen commented on the matter thus:
“I am honoured and surprised by the award. I have attempted to defend the right to privacy and other essential rights of the information society in my work. What I have done is however rather modest compared to the work of the late Ville Oksanen, or Jyrki Kasvi.” Tynkkynen goes on: “The concern for security has led to many demanding restrictions to the basic rights of citizens. One should keep a cool head now: the foundations of the free society must not be undermined hastily and on insufficient grounds. Decisionmakers must reject the bill proposing mass surveillance and instead take actions to develop Finland into a safe harbour for digital rights.”
The chairman of Effi, Mr Timo Karjalainen, reminds us all that this spring, Finns have once again the possibility to elect decisionmakers who would steer Finland away from becoming a Big Brother society. Effi urges all citizens to question their parliamentary candidates on topics related to mass surveillance.
President, Electronic Frontier Finland – Effi ry
+358 50 590 3763
Vice president, Electronic Frontier Finland – Effi ry
+358 40 729 3479
Electronic Frontier Finland ry has been founded to defend the digital rights of citizens. These include for example the right to uncensored communications, reasonable use rights on purchased digital content, and the right to develop and publish open source computer programs. The association raises discussion and aims to influence, among others, legislation regarding freedom of speech and copyright in Finland and in Europe. We think privacy must not be violated, spam should be forbidden, and software idea patents cause more trouble than benefits. The assocation has approximately 1500 members. More information on Effi’s web pages at www.effi.org.