Big Brother Awards presented across Europe

By EDRi · November 5, 2003

Privacy and civil liberty activists across Europe have presented their Big
Brother Awards to governments, companies and persons that have excelled in
violating the right to privacy. In a weeks period Award ceremonies were
held in Germany (24 October), Spain (25 October), Austria (26 October) and
Switzerland (1 November).

In Germany prices went to German Post-Shop, part of the Post Office, for
pressing their workers to agree that there is no confidentiality between
the worker and their doctor when they report sick from work. The German
cash-and-carry chain Metro deserved an Award for introducing RFIDs in some
of their shops and Berlins Senator of the Interior K├Ârting got one for
sending ‘silent’ SMS messages over the mobile telephony network in order
to track and trace GSM users, a practice referred to as ‘pinging’.

In Spain Awards were given to the Ministry of Science and Technology for
introducing the first mandatory data retention law in Europe. The
PriceWaterhouseCoopers lawyer Ribas was honoured with two Awards, both
from the jury and the public, for threatening to sue all peer-to-peer
users in Spain. Microsoft was awarded for developing Palladium, their
future DRM-based operating system.

The Austrian Big Brother Awards were equally divided between domestic and
European price winners. Some of the winners are the European Commission
for their draft Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive and the
European Patent Bureau for awarding patents to ideas and methods in
information technology. Just as in Germany the Post was awarded, here for
selling addresses to direct marketing firms from people that request
forwarding of their post after changing their residential address.

One of the Swiss Awards went to examining magistrate Treccani from
Lausanne who ordered mobile telephony companies to hand over all traffic
data from specific base stations. Another was given to the Swiss Ministry
of Defence for asking recruits privacy sensitive questions such as their
sexual preference.

In Switzerland and Spain defenders of privacy were honoured with a
positive award. In Switzerland Rebekka Salome, a customer of the insurance
company Winterthur, was awarded for revealing the existence of a secret
customers database and activist Daniel Costantino for making public the
privacy invading recruit question lists of the Swiss Defence Ministry. In
Spain a positive Award went to Proinnova, a group opposing the EU patent
directive.

Since Privacy International presented the first Big Brother Awards in
1998, an international tradition has begun. By now, more than 45
ceremonies have taken place in 15 different countries.

Big Brother Awards Germany
http://www.big-brother-award.de/en/2003/

Big Brother Awards Spain
http://www.bigbrotherawards-es.org/

Big Brother Awards Austria
http://www.bigbrotherawards.at/2003/nominees/winners_2003.php

Big Brother Awards Switzerland
http://www.bigbrotherawards.ch/