Swiss Big Brother Award for secret drones

By EDRi · October 20, 2004

The winners of the fifth Swiss Big Brother Awards were announced on Saturday 16 October, during the awards ceremony in the impressive old Steeltec industrial hall in Emmenbr├╝cke (Lucerne). Half of the 52 public nominations were sent in for the ‘State’ category. The master of ceremony, the actor Ernst Jenni, said he was pleased to see that government was finally learning from corporate marketing practices, and were starting to take their customers more serious. The winner was the commander in chief of the Swiss Air Force, corps commander Hansruedi Fehrlin, for deploying unmanned surveillance drones of the type ‘ADS 95 Range’, to closely monitor cars, buildings and citizens from an invisible and inaudible height of 1.500 meters. This secret surveillance measure became public when the Luzern police arrested 2 men who had driven into a forest near Emmen to smoke a joint. It turned out their behaviour was registered by the highly sensitive thermal camera’s on board of the drone, and the incident reported by the military observers to the Luzern police.

2 more trophies were presented to the biggest snoopers in the categories ‘Business’ and ‘Workspace’. In the business category, the price could hardly escape Santesuisse, the alliance of Swiss health insurers, for its successful implementation of the new tariff system ‘Tarmed’. According to this regulation, general practitioners have to include a detailed code on all bills since 1 January 2004. Health insurers thereby gain access to particularly sensitive patient information. When the Master of Ceremony explained some of these codes to mean for example ‘amputation of the penis – completely’, the public became painfully aware of the implications of the codes. In the category ‘Workspace’ the Zurich municipal police out-performed the other seven competitors. Their management had secretly monitored the e-mail communication of several employees. Jury member Jacqueline Chopard, an attorney from Luzern, said the police especially deserved the price for not telling why they were secretly monitoring some of their staff. This was especially incredible given the ‘mission statement’ of the Zurich police: “We operate tactfully, with understanding, and ready to help, and we act appropriately and consequently, with consideration.

Additionally, a lifetime award was awarded for particularly insistent, life-long snitching to to the Lucerne-based farmer and national councillor (CVP) Josef Leu. As an MP he has been advocating a strengthening of the armed forces and the police since 1991. Apart from these four negative prizes, the positive Winkelried Award was granted to the Bern lawyer and city-council member Daniele Jenni, who regularly defends marginalized individuals, which are frequently expelled from the Bern inner City by municipal police.

Swiss Big Brother Awards – English press release (16.10.2004)

Extensive information on all the nominations (in German)