The Sixth Annual Gibbs Golden Turkey Awards

Once again, the spotlight is on those who would make things just that little bit crappier for everyone in pursuit of some agenda only a crazy person would want.

As is my wont at this time of the year, I am taking the opportunity to point out those individuals, companies or entities that don't, won't or can't come to grips with reality, maturity, ethical behavior or social responsibility because of their blindness, self-imposed ignorance, thinly veiled political agenda, rapaciousness and greed, or their blatant desire to return us to the Dark Ages.

Last year I lambasted American Express for its "heady combination of really bad data management strategy, awful customer service and terrible internal communications" because it managed to really annoy me.

This year, I have a selection of contenders for the Golden Turkey (Or "Dinde D'Or" as the French would have it … I rather like the sound of that).

First up: Heartland Payment Systems, which I wrote about earlier this year. According to the Open Security Foundation's excellent DatalossDB Web site, Heartland's loss of some 130 million consumer records in January to a hacker who was apprehended in August still stands as the all-time record. I nominate Heartland for lousy security.

The runner-up in this category is IBM and the UK Rural Payments Agency (RPA). According to the RPA, IBM managed to lose two backup tapes containing detailed personal data such as bank details, addresses and passwords on 100,000 farmers in England in May. A total of 39 tapes originally went AWOL, although eventually all but two were found. That was bad enough, but then the RPA neglected to tell the farmers about the loss. IBM and the RPA are nominated for gross negligence.

In February I discussed the behavior of the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ), which instigated the passage of Sections 92A and C of New Zealand's Copyright Amendment Act 2008. These sections establish a "guilt upon accusation" principle in the case of suspected music piracy. Quite obviously the RIANZ and the New Zealand parliament are nominated for willful infringement of people's right to due process and very suspicious politics.

Since then France, which was considering similar legislation, sold its soul by enacting a law that Boing-Boing summarized as a "law that lets entertainment goons take your family off the net if one member is accused (without evidence) of violating copyright." France is nominated for a Dinde D'Or for apparently forgetting the meaning of its own state motto: "Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité".

Apple deserves to be nominated for its indefensible capriciousness in rejecting applications from the iPhone App Store, especially where apps such as Google Voice are concerned. Apple Vice President Catherine Novelli claimed it was taking a long time to evaluate Google Voice "because the Voice service might be too confusing for iPhone users". I'd suggest that if iPhone users are smart enough to deal with AT&T they can use Google Voice without having their heads explode. Apple gets nominated for being random and pathetically devious.

Next up: Rupert Murdoch for being even more devious than Apple. Murdoch is making a huge fuss about Google indexing his content, by which I mean the content of News Corp.

Murdoch contends that Google is stealing, but here's the odd thing: Either Murdoch's organization is profoundly ignorant and has never heard of the robot exclusion protocol, or more likely, Murdoch wants to have his cake and eat it. If he can get Google to index his content for a few hours until it crosses over into history and then have them purge it he can monetize the archives while ensuring that his current content is part of all Internet searches. Murdoch is nominated for transparent and shameless deviousness.

Other nominees include Forrester Research for suggesting that paid-for blogging is OK; all companies pretending to be green;  Senators John Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe for pushing the ridiculous Cybersecurity Act of 2009; Microsoft for its even more ridiculous Windows 7 launch parties; All Nippon Airways for trying to reduce its carbon footprint by having passengers relieve themselves before boarding; and all of the ISPs so fiercely lobbying against network neutrality.

So here, ladies and gentlemen, is this year's winner (or loser, depending on your point of view): And the winner is … Judge Michael Davis for awarding our old friends, the Recording Industry Association of America, the insane amount of $1.92 million in damages in the case of a single mother accused of pirating songs. Thank you for reading and we'll be back next year

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