Image description: ATOS logo superimposed over Dr. Nick, the quack doctor from the Simpsons, with a speech bubble saying ‘Time for your assessment!’
The image above is our entry in the ATOS logo redesign competition. If you haven’t heard of ATOS, they are a French company which was contracted by the government to carry out assessments of disabled people to determine whether they qualify for Employment and Support Allowance (which replaces the old Disability Benefit). This is part of a general shift towards contracting out government services to private companies because it’s apparently ‘more efficient’. But it turns out that, shock! horror! ATOS hasn’t been doing such a good job at assessing whether people are fit for work. In fact they’ve done such a bad job at it that lots of people went online to compain about the way they were being treated. In a situation like this any responsible company would take the criticism seriously and attempt to open up a dialogue with disabled folks in order to address their concerns. That’s not what happened. Instead ATOS sent threatening letters to the Internet Service Providers that hosted the websites, and the ISPs shut the websites down.
The websites that were shut down did not contain any illegal content. In fact they were engaging in exactly the kind of free speech and debate that is necessary for a functioning democracy. However libel lawsuits are so costly that only the rich can afford to defend a libel lawsuit in court. Ordinary people simply do not have the money to hire a lawyer to defend a libel suit, even if the suit is blatantly unfounded, and so even the threat of a lawsuit is enough to get a website shut down.
However the Internet is fighting back. ATOS wants to silence legitimate criticism of them, but disabled people, activists, and bloggers are responding by turning the criticism up several notches. If you’re artistically inclined, or just like playing with Photoshop or the GIMP, why not join in the fun create your own redesigned ATOS logo? Here’s the original logo to start with.