Apple up for internet hero of the year, Donald Trump for villain

There is no shortage of villains in the ISP Association's shortlist of the best and worse actors on the internet.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Donald Trump earned his Internet Villain nomination for a "complete lack of understanding of how the web works".

Image: Fox News/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

If you undermined security, helped expand surveillance, or trolled the internet over the past year, there's a chance you will become this year's Internet Villain at the ISP Association's upcoming awards night.

Last year's villain of the year award went to UK home secretary Theresa May for pushing through the UK's so-called "snoopers' charter", officially known as the Investigatory Powers Bill.

While last year's villains shortlist was chiefly made up of UK politicians, this year's are dominated by non-UK actors. Among those who've made the cut are presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump; the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers leak, Mossack Fonseca; the FBI; and copyright enforcer, TCYK LLP.

Meanwhile, Apple has been nominated along with four others for this year's Internet Hero of 2016.

The nominees are selected by the ISP Association's 10-member council, based on "crowdsourced suggestions from the public". As with last year, key themes driving suggested nominations are privacy and surveillance.

The ISP Association has over a 100 members, including giant broadband providers, as well Google and Microsoft from the tech world.

According to ISPA, Trump earned his nomination for a "complete lack of understanding of how the web works" when he suggested the US could "close down parts of the internet" to contain ISIS.

Mossack Fonseca meanwhile is nominated for poor security. However, without its poor security, the world might still be in the dark about billionaires' tax-dodging strategies.

The FBI's villain status and Apple's hero nomination are two sides of the same coin, related to their fight over the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

According to ISPA, the FBI was nominated "for attempting to undermine security by compelling technology companies to bypass existing security features".

Apple's hero nomination was "for defending the fundamental principles of encryption and customer privacy".

TCYK LLP, a company set up to pursue infringers of the movie The Company You Keep, is nominated for its "heavy-handed 'speculative invoicing' campaign aimed at alleged copyright infringers". The company last year sent an 83-year-old grandmother a letter demanding £600 for allegedly pirating the film.

Other nominees for the 2016 Internet Hero award include MPs who have dissected the UK's snoopers' charter. These include MP Nicola Blackwood, who led a committee that produced a report with sensible recommendations in response to the bill, as well as Jo Cherry QC MP and Sir Keir Starmer QC MP for scrutinizing the legislation.

Two other potential heroes this year are Andrew Ferguson, editor of broadband information resource ThinkBroadband, and the Sir Tim Berners-Lee's Web Foundation for its efforts to expand connectivity.

"These nominations, many from the public, reflect the importance of privacy, cybersecurity and great broadband and the work many MPs have done scrutinizing the Investigatory Powers Bill," ISPA secretary general Nicholas Lansman said.

"These awards are light-hearted in nature, but do contain a serious point, and I look forward to finding out who won in July," he added.

The awards will be presented on July 7 at the 18th UK Internet Industry Awards in London.

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