Eschewing notorious botnets, crime hubs and black-hat hackers, the Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA) used a gala dinner on 14 March to hand Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) the 'Internet Villain' of the year award for 2007.

The ISPA cited HMRC "for failing to take the protection of peoples' personal data seriously and highlighting bad practice in protecting data by loosing [sic] computer disks [sic] containing confidential details of 25 million child benefit recipients".

ISPA is referring, of course, to the HMRC’s darkest moment of recent times, November’s mislaying of several CDs containing UK child benefit records, including the names and addresses of every single child in the country.

Debacle it undoubtedly was, but the HMRC will be disappointed to have won the unwanted accolade against such tough opposition, including BT ("for changing the whole engineering plan for 21CN only six months before the launch date") and French President, Nicolas Sarkozy ("for his proposed new tax on internet access and mobile phone use to fund France's two public television channels, which would be free of advertising").

Although the ISPA’s members are made up of UK internet service providers, the judges were drawn from a narrower body of industry analysts and journalists.

Oddly, the ISPA’s finalists in the ‘Internet Hero’ category included social-networking site Facebook, which has itself heavily divided opinion as to its security-worthiness. The full list of awards and winners can be found here. PC Advisor's Broadband Report for 2007 can be found here.

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