Minister Hanke Bruins Slot of the Interior and European Commissioner Ylva Johansson were declared the biggest privacy violators on Monday. They received a Big Brother Award from the civil rights organization Bits of Freedom. The European Commissioner received the most votes from the public, while a jury chose the minister.
Bruins Slot was nominated because, as minister, she is responsible for the intelligence service AIVD. According to Bits of Freedom, she helps “facilitate the boundless data hunger of the secret services and break down the supervision of those same services.” Bruins Slot will receive the prize later this week and then respond to the election.
European Commissioner Johansson is working on measures against the online sexual abuse of children. For example, commonly used services could be instructed to search for child abuse on their platforms, a so-called ‘detection order’. They should report anything they find. Such an order ‘completely misses the mark’, says Bits of Freedom. Only artificial intelligence is able to perform such massive scans and it cannot assess the context of a photo, according to the organization. “The proposal from Brussels will lead to many innocent chats, photos and videos being criminalized. It also means that many people will be wrongly accused of child sexual abuse.”
The coincidentally birthday Johansson does not want to “refuse a birthday present” because “that would be rude,” she said after the ceremony. But she doesn’t deserve the prize, she thinks. Her plans should prevent that it is no longer possible to search for child pornography online. The investigation would be subject to strict rules and conditions and would only take place ‘if absolutely necessary’. She therefore does not hesitate to withdraw the bill, as Bits of Freedom advocates. “We have to protect our children. At least as good as our devices.”
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The Big Brother Awards are presented for the seventeenth time. For the first time, the ‘prize’ goes to a representative of the European Union. The two other nominees were Minister Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius (Justice and Security) and Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam.
Bits of Freedom also awarded a positive award on Monday, for someone who is committed to privacy. That award, the Felipe Rodriguez Award, goes to an anonymous whistleblower who warned last year about the way municipalities deal with privacy.
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