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Friday, April 11, 2003
      ( 9:21 AM )
An Awards Show We Can All Appreciate

Gone unnoticed for the most part this week, Privacy International held it's 5th Annual Big Brother Awards - given to the worst abusers of privacy. Check out all the winners....On the short list:

MOST INVASIVE PROPOSAL: Total Information Awareness - The office is headed by Admiral (retired) John Poindexter who is responsible for conceiving the project. The project calls for the development of "revolutionary technology for ultra-large all-source information repositories," which would contain information from multiple sources to create a "virtual, centralized, grand database."

GREATEST CORPORATE INVADER - Delta Airlines--Delta is the "partner" of the Transportation Security Administration in administration of a CAPPS II pilot in three cities in the U.S. CAPPS II is the Enhanced Computer Assisted Passenger Profiling System, a program designed to draw from over 100 sources to evaluate whether a passenger is "rooted in the community," and therefore not a flight risk.

WORST PUBLIC OFFICIAL - Viet Dinh--Viet Dinh is Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy. Dinh was the architect of the PATRIOT Act and of the Attorney General's Guidelines, which now allow the FBI to engage in searches and monitoring of chat rooms, bulletin boards, and websites without evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Additionally, agents are permitted to visit public places and events to monitor individuals' activities with no predicate of criminal suspicion. These powers are not limited to terrorism investigations.

THE ADMIRAL JOHN M. POINDEXTER LIFETIME MENACE AWARD - Osama Bin Laden--For giving Attorney General Ashcroft the excuse he needed to pass the USA PATRIOT Act and the Homeland Security Act, and the gall necessary to formulate PATRIOT II, new draft legislation designed to push police power even further.

And on the other side of things, the Brandeis awards (named after Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who said privacy was "the right to be left alone"), my favorite was

Joyce Meskis--Joyce Meskis is the owner of the Denver-based Tattered Cover bookstore. She led an important battle for book buyer privacy. In Tattered Cover v. City of Thornton, she successfully challenged a law enforcement request for book purchaser records. The decision, which recognizes an individual right to anonymity in book purchasing, also requires that a hearing be held before customer records can be released.

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