"Oscars for Data Leeches" – German Big Brother Awards 2007

By EDRi · October 24, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The 2007 Ceremony for the German Big Brother Awards called “Oscars for Data
Leeches” took place on 12 October in Bielefeld when the jury had the
difficult task of choosing from more than 500 nominations.
The negative Big Brother Awards Germany, which have started in 2000, are
organised by EDRI-member, FoeBuD Association.

For the category Workplace, the winner of this year award was Novartis
Pharma GmbH company for having spied on its employees. Although the company
has joined the “FairCompany Initiative”, has committed itself to the
“Voluntary Self-control For The Pharmaceutical Industry” code of conduct and
boasts on its respect for fair work conditions and human rights, at the same
time it sends detectives to follow its sales people to take notes on their
visits to pharmacies and GPs. Following these “reports” the company sends
appraisals to the employees through its HR department.

Hamburg Municipal Education and Sports Authority won the award for the
Regional Category for having introduced a Central Register of Pupils for all
pupils and students, which is permanently compared with the Register of
Residents in order to find children and parents without a residence permit.
The Alien Registration Office has access to these files. Due to this
register, parents are taking their children out of school because they risk
to be found and therefore they may be deported. Thus, Hamburg acts against
the right of access to education which applies to all children with or
without a residence permit.

For the Business category, Deutsche Bahn AG (the German Railways PLC) was
declared winner. The company has introduced as many measures as possible to
identify its travellers, from personalised online ticket selling, to the
mandatory provision of photo and date of birth for discount passes, video
surveillance and up to a RFID chip for the all-inclusive one-year ticket
without its customers’ knowledge and without any guarantees of personal
data protection.

The award for the Consumer Protection category went to Marriott, Hyatt and
Intercontinental hotel chains in Germany for keeping personal information on
their customers from their eating or drinking preferences, to their credit
card data, address, telephone number, hobbies, and even medical type
information. What is the most frightening thing is that the customers have
no idea all their personal information is stored in the hotel computers and
probably in the servers located in the US.

The Technology category was won by PTV Planung Transport Verkehr AG, for
their individual rating system of car insurances that uses the
“pay-as-you-drive” technology. A piece of equipment is used to record the
driving routes and behaviours and then to send the information to the
insurance company.

The award for Politics category was received by the Federal Minister of
Finance, for the introduction of a permanent Tax ID number for all taxable
persons, something like a personal code number which is unconstitutional in
Germany. The data is gathered by all the registration authorities in the
country and sent to the Federal Central Tax Authority which assigns the
unique Tax ID and sends the number back to the registration authorities. “It
would be incompatible with the constitutional value of human dignity if the
state were to assume the power of compulsive registration and cataloguing of
the individual with their complete personality” is the decision given in
1969 by the Federal Constitutional Court, the highest court in Germany.

The Federal Minister of Justice received the award in the Communication
category for a bill that goes against the Federal Constitutional Court
ruling of 1983 that states as constitutional the collection of
non-anonymised data for undetermined or not-yet-determined purposes. The
bill of the Ministry of Justice will introduce the retention of all
telecommunications connection data in Germany, in agreement of the European
directive 2006/24/EC according to which member states have to oblige
providers and public communication network operators to retain traffic data.
However this directive comes into conflict with the Federal Constitutional
Court ruling.

The Government and Administration category was won by Monika Harms,
Germany’s Federal Prosecutor, for the anti-terror measures against opponents
of the G8 summit in May this year, for her decision to collect and preserve
body scent samples from G8 opponents and especially for the postal
surveillance in Hamburg in search of letters from militant G8 opponents
which was a clear violation of the privacy of correspondence and of the
professional confidentiality, as stipulated by the German Constitution.

Besides the individual awards on categories, the Jury of the Big Brother
Awards also established the most worrying trend at the moment in Germany
which is that of the increase in registration of biometric data, by both
public and private institutions.

An audience award was attributed for the second time at the German Big
Brother Awards and the winner designated by the audience was Monika Harms
for the anti-terror measures against opponents of the G8 summit.

German Big Brother Awards 2007 (12.10.2007)