Human rights watchdog Privacy International has launched a quest to find the World's Most Stupid Security Measure.
The global competition will identify what the group describes as the most "pointless, intrusive, annoying and self-serving" security measures.
The "Stupid Security" award aims to highlight the absurdities of the security industry. Privacy International's director, Simon Davies, said his group has taken the initiative because of "innumerable" security initiatives around the world that had absolutely no genuine security benefit.
"The situation has become ridiculous," said Mr Davies. "Security has become the smokescreen for incompetent and robotic managers the world over".
"I have stood for ages in a security line at an inconsequential office building and grilled relentlessly only to be given a security pass that a high school student could have faked. And I resent being forced to take off my shoes at an airport that can't even screen its luggage", he said.
Even before 9/11 a whole army of bumbling amateurs has taken it upon themselves to figure out pointless, annoying, intrusive, illusory and just plain stupid measures to "protect" our security.
Privacy International reckons jobsworths have become a global menace. "From the nightclub in Berlin that demands the home address of its patrons, to the phone company in Britain that won't let anyone pay more than twenty pounds a month from a bank account, the world has become infested with bumptious administrators competing to hinder or harass us," it reports.
There are real concerns about security, of course. Privacy International argues that unworkable security laws and illusory security measures do nothing to help issues of real public concern. They only hinder the public and intrude unnecessary into our private lives, the organisation believes.
Privacy International, the outfit behind the Big Brother awards, is calling for nominations on the candidates for the silliest security measures. Nomination should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org March 15.
Nominations should be as specific as possible, mentioning the name of the guilty parties, and wherever possible, including evidence and references.
Any government or private sector initiative or action can be nominated. Legislation and technology can also be nominated.
The judges welcome nominations in the form of narratives and anecdotes.
The competition is to be judged by a panel of well-known security experts, public policy specialists, privacy advocates and journalists.
"Winners" will be announced at the thirteenth Computers, Freedom & Privacy conference in New York on April 3. ®