A good portion of HN users don't care at all about privacy, or at least not when they could be the ones protecting it. I read this board every day and every time I am floored by the fascination for cloud services, the (relative) savings from it and monitoring software. As long as they are glossy and beautiful, that's it, sold.
Anyway I was shocked by the last one with Brita and that's great that EFF is publicly calling these companies and their actions.
Thanks for reminding us that we must remain vigilant.
Conflating privacy where privacy is needed with privacy for privacy's sake is a waste of time and dilutes real privacy concerns with a bunch of "Wolf!" cries.
So, google knows about me even when I don't use it. Even when I am explicitly avoiding it, and use DuckDuckGo instead (I do, by the way). Your "benign blog" which uses this service is hurting my privacy big time. I'm okay with you knowing that my computer is visiting your web site. I'm not okay with third parties such as Google, Facebook ("like" buttons, anyone?) or some advertiser automatically knowing that as well.
Same problem with Gmail. They look at and analyse your emails to send you those targeted ads, remember? You pay with your privacy to use it. Which may be fine. But you also pay with my privacy, each time you send me an e-mail, and each time I send one back. That is definitely not fine.
Personally, my heuristic for privacy is this: By default, don't sacrifice your privacy. Think twice before you do. And never ever sacrifice others' privacy without their explicit, informed consent.
We're quite far from that.
I suspect facebook is a close second with the tracking of outbound links from FB and "like" buttons all over...
 There are plenty of examples like that floating around. Large companies that were once the kings of their tech field now seem to focus on patents as a source of income.
 We kinda had a sneak preview of what a change like that can do when Schmidt handed over the torch.
I wise boss I had one time told me "Don't worry about the banks and US government and your privacy, they don't have the ability to actually do anything with it. You should worry about Google getting your information."
Or go read up on your history. The Spanish Inquisition. The Holocaust. The House Unamerican Activities Committee. Soviet Russia. The Lives of Others. Just to name a few.
One oddly eloquent argument for the value of anonymity comes from ... Google: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2011/02/freedom-to-be...
Even though the EFF singles out The Cloud for an award they only highlight risk #2 of my list. I'd like to hear why you are singling out the cloud (I'm not trying to be combative, I'm truly interested). I see very similar problems with cloud architecture as I do with VPS or even single owner servers.
In my opinion the real privacy risks (controllable ones anyway) have to do with services sharing information with third parties, not information security risks.
I use an old Brita jug with cheap third-party refills, about 1/2 the price. You can also re-use old cartridges and refill them with activated carbon (google for it, there should be plenty of hits). Not quite as good as a new cartridge, but good enough to remove chlorine and bad tastes.
An alternative is reverse-osmosis filtration. Marine aquarists use them as a matter of course as the chemistry, especially water quality, of a home marine aquarium needs to be tightly controlled. You should find that you can get a reverse-osmosis kit aimed at marine aquarists set up for a couple of hundred dollars, much cheaper than a consumer kitchen set up.
With respect, I am disgusted to learn apparently your company is responsible for forcing schoolchildren to use RFID chipped water bottles that need to be 'scanned' whenever they want to refresh themselves of surely a basic human resource, drinking water. I sincerely hope the following 'award' goes someway to you recognising how disgusting your conduct appears to the general public:
I hope that you are a good company with well intentioned people working who has been misinformed or conned by some marketing clown, and that this is just a misjudgment on the part of bad management. Please ensure this programme is stopped as soon as possible, I have been a Brita user for years but this is unconscionable.
There is a real mania underway for registering and identifying users of even humdrum activities like using public transport, for instance. Increasingly, you can not get services, at least not at the best price, without registering all your details and being issued with some silly card to identify you. Yes, there are 'discounts' offered but this just proves the point that there is real pressure to identify everyone at every transaction. In practice, it means in fact a hike in price for those refusing to conform.
The Brita example of children not being allowed to drink water without identifying themselves is just the tip of an iceberg.
A lot has changed since those days and, I would argue, not for the better in this respect.
As for balance sheets, that's why you don't assess company values based on their balance sheets alone. It's better to have a somewhat negative balance sheet and strong income potential than a zero balance sheet and 1/10th the future income. We complain a lot here in the US about how terrible things are, but we still have something like 10X the per-cap GDP of much of the world.
Another example is I was registered with them in one country and now moved to another country - they won't change my country status unless I give them a copy of my passport (or similar ID) and a physical copy of a utility bill.
Just who do they think they are?
Plus, aside from the entire real name forums stupidity last year, which would be a valid criticism of Blizzard, but is not named here, the only functionality the RealID system gives is social: cross-game chat and the ability to group up with friends on a different server.
There are so many legitimate problems in privacy, but these are not them.
I'm on the fence about this award for Blizzard - on the one hand, there are worse offenders, but on the other hand, Blizz do tend to make some remarkably dubious privacy calls.