By Guest author

On 25 October, Austrian EDRi member q/uintessenz organised the annual Big Brother Awards Gala. It was held in Vienna at the Rabenhof Theatre, with over 300 people attending to “honour” the biggest privacy invaders of this year. Organised annually since 1999, this was the 17th time the Gala was held. It was broadcast via national radio and TV networks, the Internet and even one TV station in Germany.

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This year’s guest was Werner Boote, a film director well known for his documentary “Plastic planet”. His most recent movie “Alles unter Kontrolle” is about surveillance, Big Data and the loss of privacy.

Max Schrems was the second guest. He is famous for the initiative Europe vs. Facebook, which led to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruling that declared the Safe Harbor agreement between the EU and the US invalid. Schrems was honoured with the positive Award, “Defensor Libertatis”, in 2011.

In preparation for the event, an independent jury choses three candidates from the submitted nominations in each of the five categories, and then elected a winner. In addition, the winners for the categories of a negative lifetime Award and a positive Award was chosen. The public was invited to vote for their most hated villain during the “People’s choice”. The public voting starts typically one month before the Gala.

The list of candidates for each category can be found on the website bigbrotherawards.at. The winners are:

  • “Communications and marketing”: Mattel’s Hello Barbie – for recording private conversations in the nurseries, and threatening our children’s privacy
  • “Business and finance”: Uniqa Safeline – for abusing the solidarity principle of a insurance by trying to set up a car insurance tariff based on telematics
  • “Agency and administration”: Smart Meter (Linz AG) – for redefining the term “opt-out” by forcing customers to accept a smart meter
  • “Politics”: Federal minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner – for trying to pass a new intelligence services act “Staatsschutzgesetz” which circumvents the separation of powers
  • “Worldwide datagreed”: Facebook – for its patent on credit rating based on users’ Facebook friends
  • “Lifetime Achievement Award“ for lifetime menace: Cabinet minister Rudolf Hundsdorfer – for failing to live up to responsibility of his office to protect the unemployed, the poor and consumers
  • “People’s choice”: Cabinet minister Ms Mikl-Leitner’s new intelligence services act “Staatsschutzgesetz”

This time none of the winners showed up at the Gala, but q/uintessenz has received some responses from them, and hopes to initiate a change for a better.

Austrian Big Brother Awards (only in German)
http://www.bigbrotherawards.at

q/uintessenz
http://quintessenz.at

Film: Alles unter Kontrolle
http://www.wernerboote.com/cms/wernerboote/index.php?idcatside=48

Facebook vs. Europe
http://europe-v-facebook.org/EN/en.html

(Contribution by Isabella Damböck, EDRi member q/uintessenz, Austria)

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