Privacy group throws book at Amazon

Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, told the audience at this year’s Big Brother awards on Monday that Amazon has admitted it cannot provide customers with copies of their data files, as required by the Act. “We’ve asked that’s systems be shut down until it can comply with the law,” he said.

Davies and MI5 whistleblower David Shayler gave Big Brother awards – presented to those judged to have made the grossest invasion of the public’s privacy – to the National DNA Database, and the NHS Executive for its lack of safeguards on patient information such as Aids test results.

Envision Licensing, which has been criticised for aggressive tactics in collecting television licence fees, was also a winner, along with Xavier Solana, secretary general of the Council of the European Union (EU). Over the summer, Solana introduced new rules banning public access to many EU documents.

Caspar Bowden, director of think tank the Foundation for Information Policy Research, and Conservative peer Lord Cope of Berkeley were awarded ‘Winstons’ for opposing the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act, which empowers UK bugging of the internet. Work by Bowden and Lord Cope resulted in extra safeguards against abuse of the Act’s powers.

Winstons and Big Brothers are named after the hero and the dictatorial national figurehead in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-four, in which Britain is ruled by ruthless control freaks who keep the proletariat under constant surveillance.

Home Secretary Jack Straw scooped the special award for Lifetime Menace, partly for supporting the RIP Act.

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