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Livingstone and Blair scoop Big Brother awards

London's congestion charge has won Ken Livingstone an award - but possibly not one he might have expected
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has been awarded the dubious honour of 'Worst Public Servant' at the annual Big Brother awards for his leading roll in the implementation of the London congestion charge scheme and the surveillance system underpinning it.

The controversial congestion charge aims to reduce traffic in London and encourage more people to use public transport but privacy groups claim the intrusion of surveillance technology, which monitors drivers entering the charge zone in central London, is a breach of civil liberties.

At the same ceremony, Tony Blair was named 'Lifetime Menace' for his part in spearheading what organisers Privacy International called the "government's attack on civil liberties".

At the heart of the government's policy is proposed legislation that would force ISPs and telecoms companies to retain all electronic communication data -- such as emails and Web pages visited -- for 12 months.

Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, identified the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, as being a major factor in increased levels of surveillance.

Davies said in a statement: "The judges were overwhelmed this year with a vast number of malodorous nominations. Many politicians and companies since the 11 September attacks jumped onto the security bandwagon without any justification."

Other awards went to Capita -- the company behind London's congestion charging scheme, among other projects -- which scooped 'Most Invasive Company', while The Association of Chief Police Officers walked away with 'Most Heinous Government Organisation'.

A posthumous Winston -- the organiser's award recognising individual efforts to protect people's privacy -- went to computer pioneer and Cambridge professor Dr Roger Needham. Teri Dowty won plaudits for coordinating the Children's Rights Alliance for England and Wales. Marion Chester, legal director, Association of Community Health Councils of England and Wales, STAND, Richard Norton-Taylor and Stuart Millar of The Guardian, and Undercurrents were all also awarded a Winston.

Who's watching you? Get the latest on spy networks such as Echelon and Carnivore, as well as privacy issues for companies and individuals alike, at ZDNet UK's Privacy News Section.

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