Big Brother Awards Germany 2011

By EDRi · April 6, 2011

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Deutsch: [Big Brother Awards Deutschland 2011 |]

The eleventh German Big Brother Awards were bestowed on Friday 1 April
2011 in Bielefeld, Germany. Organized by EDRi member FoeBuD, the
ceremony featured eight negative awards in various categories.

In the “Communication” category, Facebook was one winner for
“systematically poking its nose into people and their relationships,
behind the friendly façade of an ostensibly free service”. In the awards
speech, Facebook was described as a “gated community” on the Internet,
comparing it, in several aspects, to the closed housing estates found in
an increasing number of places across the world.

Another “Communication” award went to Apple for virtually “blackmailing”
its customers into accepting a dubious privacy policy as part of a terms
and conditions document that, when displayed on the iPhone, takes up 117
pages. Consent to the privacy conditions should be voluntary, according
to Germany’s data protection law, but without consent, the iPhone’s
functions are reduced to telephony. With consent, Apple and partners
receive excessive amounts of data, including the device’s location.

One winner in the “Workplace” category was German car maker Daimler, one
of several employers that demand blood tests from their employees, which,
in most cases, was not required by industrial law – in the words of the
award speech, a form of modern-day vampirism.

Another “Workplace” award went to the German Customs authority, for
promoting a certification named “Authorized Economic Operator” (AEO) to
companies with international business relationships. The certification
involves checking each employee against EU or US anti-terror lists. This
use of personal data has no legal foundation, meaning that German
Customs encourage companies to use their employees’ personal data in an
illegal way.

In the “Technology” category, the fashion brand Peuterey was cited for
introducing RFID in clothing, not as theft-prevention attachments but
sewn into jackets under a label saying “do not remove this label”.

The “Consumer Protection” award went to a publishing house called
“Knowledge and Innovation” (Verlag für Wissen und Innovation) that
doesn’t actually produce and trade its own books but asks schools to
distribute book coupons which can only be redeemed if names and
addresses of the pupil and at least one parent are supplied. A blogger’s
investigation uncovered that the “publisher’s”s business model was mainly
a partnership with financial investment advisers and with a manufacturer
of vitamin pills. Those that accepted and used the coupons were offered a
telephone “interview” on the subject of “learning, health, and future”.

One award was actually collected by its winner (only the third time that
this has happened in eleven years): Gert Wagner, head of the “census
commission” that promotes this year’s German census, defended the
project against the accusation that it collects excessive and dangerous
amounts of data, with too little information and without legal recourse.
Mr Wagner’s courage was appreciated, but when he attempted to put down
his critics as “living in a parallel universe” and stressed that the
census was justified by the mere fact that it had proper legal
foundation, it did not win him many friends in the audience.

The winner in the “Politics” category was the Interior Minister in the
state of Lower Saxony, Uwe Schünemann, for the first known use of a
police drone for clandestine monitoring of a public gathering during
protests against a nuclear waste transport to Germany’s main storage
facility at Gorleben in the Wendland region.

The audience award for the most “impressive, surprising, shocking, or
outrageous” winner went to Facebook, on just over a third of the votes.
Nominations for the next Big Brother Awards are open until the end of
this year.

BigBrotherAwards Germany 2011 (1.04.2011)

(Contribution by Sebastian Lisken – EDRi-member FoeBuD)