By Guest author

On 4 June, EDRi member Liga voor Mensenrechten granted the Belgian Big Brother Awards. The public voted for the former public prosecutor Yves Liégeois for his views on DNA databases for newborn babies. The second prize, the professional jury’s prize, went to the “smartphone”, our ever-present pocket-size spy, and the third prize, the Lifetime Achievement Award, was given to the NSA for its tireless efforts to create a ubiquitous surveillance infrastructure.

The main goal of the Big Brother Awards is to create awareness of an endangered fundamental right: our right to privacy. Big Brother is everywhere. These days, there’s no domain of your daily life left where you’re not registered, spied upon or analysed for security or commercial reasons. IIt may happen with or without your consent, in return for a few discounts or “free” services that are paid for by  the creation and use of psychological profiles of the end-user.

The public voted Antwerp’s former public prosecutor Yves Liégeois as the winner of Big Brother Award. Liégeois became well-known in 2013 for his controversial statements regarding the introduction of DNA databases for babies.

“Mr. Liégeois should know how important his words are. Within his official function he is supposed to defend our fundamental rights, including our right to privacy,”

said Caroline de Geest, spokesperson for the Liga voor Mensenrechten.

A jury of experts awarded the jury prize to the “smartphone”. They clarified the reasons behind their choice by stating:

“The smartphone is in fact a pocket-size spy that registers who and where we are, what we do and with whom we’re doing it. The average smartphone user is partly to blame for his or her vulnerability because of their apathy towards their own privacy. As long as IT developers will keep showering us with greedy data collecting apps smartphone users seem to accept, we will keep overlooking the fact that using these apps is not risk-free. These days, the norm for data collection seems to be based on the adage “the more, the merrier”.

The American intelligence service NSA was awarded with a special prize. The NSA became known worldwide during the events set in motion due to Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA’s snooping scandals in 2013. The NSA was hailed as the biggest Big Brother of all times, because of its espionage and surveillance practices. The organisation was rewarded for its role with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Big Brother Awards 2014: And the winners are… (only in Dutch, 04.06.2014)
http://www.mensenrechten.be/index.php/site/nieuwsberichten/big_brother_awards_2014_en_de_winnaars_zijn

(Contribution by Caroline De Geest, EDRi member Liga voor Mensenrechten, Belgium)