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GCHQ and NSA earn ‘Internet Villain’ gong in UK broadband providers industry bash

The 2014 ISPA Awards ceremony has handed its ‘Internet Villain’ award to both GCHQ and NSA for secretly surveilling citizens across the world keeping us safe at night. 

While no Government official was on hand to pick up the golden raspberry, it was accepted by privacy pressure group Big Brother Watch on behalf of GCHQ. 

The UK ISPs’ industry bash, now in its 16th year, handed out its Internet Hero award to the Guardian for its reporting on PRISM, Five Eyes and other international operations leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. 

GCHQ's iconic Cheltenham building with the Google colours cheekily added. What could it possibly mean?
GCHQ’s iconic Cheltenham building with the Google colours cheekily added. What could it possibly mean?

While surveillance, privacy and governmental control of the Internet dominated proceedings – as it has done in the past – awards were also handed out to Hyperoptic for being the best superfast ISP and online community engagement. 

Sky also picked up an award for its Broadband Shield parental control software. Lyssa McGowan, Director of Sky Broadband said: “We’re delighted to be recognised at the ISPA Awards for our Internet safety product – Sky Broadband Shield, as it’s something we take extremely seriously. 

“Since its launch earlier this year, many Sky Broadband customers have opted in to use the tool that lets you choose which websites can be seen in your home and block the unwelcome ones.”

ISPA Secretary General Nick Lansman said “Congratulations to all last night’s winners, the ISPA Awards are hugely diverse and highlight how diverse the UK internet industry is and the vital role it plays in the British economy.”

Last year, ISPA gave its Internet Villain award to Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his heavy-handed censorship of the internet in Turkey, which included attempts to block Twitter and Facebook. 

Last year’s winner was Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert, for his opposition to the Communications Data Bill, which proposed to give security services access to data on internet subscribers without a warrant.  

Huppert has been making headlines again recently, after coming out in support of the emergency Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill. The laws, which expire in 2016, essentially force ISPs to continue to store data on subscribers for 12 months and to make this data available to security forces with a warrant. The idea is that the temporary measure allows security forces to continue to work as normal while more robust and long-term laws. 

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