Belgian Big Brother Awards 2015 go to surveillance measures in schools and privacy-invasive apps

By EDRi · October 15, 2015


On 15 October, the Big Brother Awards 2015 took place in Brussels. The Awards are presented annually to “reward” the leading privacy violators.

The jury of experts awarded their prize with the clear signal to raise awareness, and highlighted the privacy invasive nature of systematic screenings of pupils by their schools. These surveillance measures are aimed at the identification of first signs of radicalisation in schools.

“Today, we see that existing technologies – which are generally approved by society – are abused in a manner which cross the limits of what is acceptable. Moreover, the end does not justify the means. This type of sceening creates a serious breach of trust between the school and the student,” the jury stated. “It’s a good example of how a school can go too far in a given climate. If you create fear and suspicion, the risk exists that children will adopt these as a fundamental values.”

During one month, people were able to vote for their “favourite villain” via the website In this 5th edition of the Big Brother Awards, the public elected as winner the privacy-intrusive data apps. The Flemish Law Society (OVB), who supported the nomination, criticised the generalised data collection of apps, and their often unclear privacy policies.

“Apps know you better than you know yourself, and they constantly know where you are. The privacy policies are often less than transparent about the reasons and the way in which the personal information is collected and used. And consumers are not sufficiently aware of this, or simply don’t take it seriously,” said OVB.


The Big Brother Awards was organised by the Liga voor Mensenrechten, in cooperation with European Digital Rights, Kinderrechtencoalitie, Orde van Vlaamse Balies, Vlaamse Vereniging van Journalisten, Ligue des Droits de l’Homme,, Mediawijsheid and the Koninklijke Vlaamse Stadsschouwburg.