Andreas Wildfang | Friday October 9th, 2009
The 10th annual »Oscars for Surveillance « (Le Monde) were presented during a gala event on Friday, October 16 in Bielefeld at the Hechelei in Ravensberger Park.
This was the latest in a series of Big Brother Award ceremonies that began in 2000 as a way to call attention to the German companies, organizations, state institutions and private persons that commit invasions of privacy, breaches in data protection, and violations of the right of individuals to control their personal information. The Big Brother Awards is an internationally active project: in 19 different countries, odious surveillance measures and their initiators are presented with this anti-award. The purpose of the event is to draw critical attention to problematic developments in our modern information-age society, especially the enormous potential for the control and surveillance of the public possessed by the state and private industry.
The name of the Big Brother Awards is taken from George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984″. Written in the late 1940’s, the author created an eerie vision of a totalitarian society subjected to pervasive surveillance. The award sculpture was designed by Peter Sommer and shows a figure bound at the feet with leaden bands and severed down the middle by a glass plate printed with a passage from the book.
The Big Brother Awards were one of the first initiatives in Germany to call attention to the alarming developments regarding invasion of privacy. The initiative has had success in campaigns to make consumers aware of the dangers of the consumer profiling inherent in customer or so-called ‘payback’ cards and it also pointed out the spying risks associated with radio frequency identification chips. Long before the surveillance scandals at the Lidl supermarket chain, German Telekom, German Rail etc., these firms were winners of the Big Brother Award – for the invasive controlling and monitoring of its employees and customers.
And it almost goes without saying that the former Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily, won an award for his “Otto Catalog” (escalating anti-terror laws that restrict freedom of movement ). Other federal ministers and Germany’s Public Prosecutor Monika Harms (terror dragnet, odor sampling) for restricting civil rights and data protection. The Conference of Interior Ministers was awarded a prize for their “anti-terror files”, diverse (”Antiterrordatei”), various interior ministers of German states received awards for toughening police laws, for allowing prophylactic telecommunications surveillance and video monitoring in public places. The German Criminal Police Office was awarded a prize for collecting data about potential violent criminals and for creating the Central Register of Foreigners and the EU Council of Ministers received an award for its list of potential terrorist threats.
The Big Brother Award Jury and speakers in 2009:
• Alvar C. H. Freude, Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft e.V. [Fitug]
• Dr. Rolf Gössner, Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte [ www.ilmr.de ]
• Werner Hülsmann, Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung e.V. [FIfF]
• Prof. Dr. Fredrik Roggan, Humanistische Union e.V. [HU]
• Frank Rosengart, Chaos Computer Club e.V. [CCC]
• Karin Schuler, Deutsche Vereinigung für Datenschutz e.V. [DVD]
• Rena Tangens, padeluun, Verein zur Förderung des öffentlichen bewegten und unbewegten Datenverkehrs e.V. [FoeBuD]
For inquiries or more information: www.bigbrotheraward.de FoeBuD, Marktststr. 18, 33602 Bielefeld, T. 0521-175254, F. 0521-61172, email@example.com Kontakt: firstname.lastname@example.org