Big Brother Awards Germany

By EDRi · October 25, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The 2006 German Big Brother awards ceremony took place last week in
Bielefeld and it was preceded by the demonstration “Freedom instead of Fear”
(Freiheit statt Angst) against Security and Surveillance Delusion, where
about 300 people protested against the growth of pervasive surveillance in

For the first time at the German Big Brother Awards, the audience was asked
to decide which of the winners should receive the audience award. After the
count of the votes, with thirty-two percent of the polls, the prize went to
the winner in the Consumer Protection category, the Association of German
Insurers, for its “warnings and indications” database, which insurance
companies use to exchange substantial amounts of data about millions of
citizens – with undisclosed criteria, without sufficient legal foundation,
and unknown to the people affected.

In the Politic section the jury decided to award two prizes. The first prize
went to the members of the Fourth Parliament of the State of
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania for legislation that allows eavesdropping and
sound recording in public spaces, even when no crime has happened yet. The
Interior Ministers Conference received the second award for its resolution
of 4 September 2006 to establish a joint anti-terror database, which is to
be supplied to and used by all German police forces and all 19 intelligence
services at the national and federal state level.

The obvious winner in the Economy section was SWIFT (Society for Worldwide
Interbank Financial Telecommunication) for sharing bank transfer data with
US authorities. The price was given to the German members of the SWIFT
supervisory board, Roland Böff (Senior Vice President, Bayerische Hypo- und
Vereinsbank) and Wolfgang Gaertner (CIO, Deutsche Bank AG).

Philips company received the “Technology” Big Brother Award 2006 for the
specification that CD burners write their unique serial number on the CD and
thus facilitate tracking of the storage medium to the burner. With this
serial number the entertainment industry hopes to trace “bootlegged” copies
of music and other copyrighted CDs, i.e. unlicensed duplications of storage
media, in order to be able to prosecute the bootleggers. In fact, the
burnt-in code leaves a data trace that might give all CD creators a
difficult time of explaining themselves. The user of a burner is not warned
of this and burner producers are not forthcoming in declaring which devices
write such a code on the media.

The Federal Conference of Ministers for Education was the performer in the
Authorities & Administration section for plans to introduce life-long
student IDs, and a central education database, without binding the
individual educational data to a defined purpose, nor guarding them against
misuse and unauthorized access.

Big Brother Awards Germany 2006

Demonstration “Freedom instead of Fear” (20.10.2006)