Communications Data and state surveillance dominate the shortlists for this year’s Internet Hero and Internet Villain awards at the 2013 ISPAs, with two cabinet ministers nominated along with the whistle-blower behind the PRISM surveillance programme.

The on-going surveillance debate has been a leading issue for the internet industry over the last year, with ISPA and many others publicly criticising the Communications Data Bill, the so called ‘snooper’s charter’. Alongside this, there have been other allegations of state spying and mass surveillance from the US and elsewhere.

The Internet Hero Award is given to an individual or organisation that has done the most good for the internet over the last year, whilst Internet Villain goes  to the finalist ISPA Council feels has done the most damage. The shortlist was compiled by suggestions from ISPA members, ISPA Council and members of the public. ISPA is governed by a council  of industry representatives and they decide the shortlist and the eventual winner, to be unveiled at the ceremony on 11 July alongside 13 other categories.

The Deputy Prime Minister Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP is nominated for hero for openly stating there wouldn’t be a Communications Data Bill under his watch. His fellow Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert joins him on the shortlist for his role on the Joint Committee and for publicly leading the political opposition to the Bill.  ISPA Council also felt Julian is one of the few MPs that fully understands the internet and deserves recognition. The final  individual nominated is Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on the US government’s PRISM surveillance programme, which required internet companies to hand over details of their users without consent. Now in exile, he faces prosecution back in America. Finally, Spamhaus is rightly nominated for fighting off a significant global DDoS attack in the spring.

The shortlist for Internet Villain is equally distinguished. Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May MP has pushed on with the Communications Data Bill,  despite the concerns and implications over its many flaws and is nominated as a result. The American PRISM programme is nominated too, for the sheer size and scale of the alleged surveillance of internet users, combined with a total lack of transparency. Bluecoat are nominated  for selling Deep Packet Inspection and other surveillance equipment  to unfavourable regimes, representing several other firms who have done the same. The final villain, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan makes the shortlist for not understanding the internet, calling social media a ‘menace to society’ during recent social unrest. Given Turkey’s role as a regional leader, council felt they should be role models for other regimes in the region, embracing social media and the internet as an integral part of modern democracy.

ISPA Secretary General Nicholas Lansman said “the Hero and Villain Awards are the two most anticipated categories at the ISPAs. Given what has happened in the last year, it is no surprise that surveillance dominates this year’s shortlists. Thank you to members of the public for their suggestions and I look forward to finding out who wins on the night. The awards are a fantastic night to celebrate the best of the British internet industry, and whilst Hero & Villain cover serious issues, they are light hearted in nature. The  2013 awards are the 15th ISPAs, showing how resilient and successful the sector has been.”

The ISPA Awards are taking place on Thursday 11th July are at the Park Lane Sheraton. A full shortlist of all 15 categories can be seen here. Tickets are on sale here or for more information please contact the ISPA press office on 0203 397 3308, or for more information.


Internet Hero finalists

  • Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP - For preventing the Communications Data Bill.
  • Julian Huppert MP- For leading political opposition against the Communications Data Bill.
  • Edward Snowdon - For exposing the PRISM surveillance project being run by the US government and calling for a debate around surveillance in the digital age.
  • Spamhaus - For fending off a significant global cyber-attack in the spring.


Internet Villain finalists

  • Bluecoat et al- For selling surveillance technologies and equipment to unfavourable regimes.
  • Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Erdogan-  For condemning social media as a ‘menace to society’, when he should recognise the value of the internet in a democracy.
  • Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May MP- For pushing ahead with the Communications Data Bill, despite criticism from industry.
  • The PRISM Project - For running a surveillance programme that appears to have operated without proper safeguards and little transparency.




About the ISPA Awards


The 2013 ISPA Awards are the internet industry awards and this will be the 15th ISPA Awards. To reflect the latest industry developments we have introduced Best Superfast and Best Fixed Wireless, both categories that have seen important growth in the last year. Superfast take up is a key priority for the government, and Fixed Wireless presents a good solution for getting broadband to rural parts of the UK.


The awards ceremony will be on 11th July 2013 in the Park Lane Sheraton hotel in London and full information about the awards can be found at There are several sponsorship opportunities available. Bill Thompson will be giving a keynote speech.


We are very happy to announce that the Internet Telephony Award is sponsored by Magrathea and the Best Internet Hero and Internet Villain Awards are sponsored by internet fulfilment experts  NetLynk Direct.


For further information please contact the ISPA Press Office (020 3397 3308).