BigBrotherAwards 2007Up one level
The Novartis Pharma GmbH receives the Big Brother Award in the “Workplace” category for spying on sales personnel by detectives and deliberately breaching promises of anonymity in employee surveys.
The Big Brother Award in the “Regional” category goes to the Municipal Authority for Education and Sports of the City of Hamburg, represented by Ms Alexandra Dinges-Dierig, Senator for Education and Sports, for introducing a central register for all pupils and students with the (further) purpose of finding foreign families without a residence permit.
The BigBrotherAward 2007 in the “Business” category goes to Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways PLC), represented by its CEO, Hartmut Mehdorn, for their systematic endeavours to make anonymous travelling practically impossible: abandoning ticket counters, ticket machines not accepting cash, personalised ticket selling on the internet, birth date and photo as mandatory items for buying the discount pass (BahnCard), ubiquitous video surveillance, an RFID chip in the all-inclusive one-year ticket (BahnCard 100) without customers being informed, and much more.
The Big Brother Award 2007 in the “Consumer Protection” category goes to the international hotel chains in Germany, Marriott, Hyatt and Intercontinental (representing many others), for their collection and centralised storing of critical personal information of customers without their knowledge. This includes drinking and eating habits, use of pay TV, allergies, all private and professional addresses, credit card data, complaints, all kinds of preferences – everything is kept.
The Big Brother Award 2007 in the “Technology” category goes to PTV Planung Transport Verkehr AG, represented by Dr Hans Hubschneider, for their system for individual rating of car insurances with the so-called “pay-as-you-drive” technology, i.e. a device that records routes and driving behaviour in a car and transmits these data to the insurance company.
The BigBrotherAward in the “Politics” category goes to the Federal Minister of Finance, Mr Peer Steinbrück, for introducing a life-long Tax ID number for all taxable persons, which bears an eerie resemblance to the unconstitutional concept of a personal code number.
With more than 500 nominations, the BigBrotherAwards jury has had to manage a record workload this year – a kind of data mining for data protection and civic rights. It is therefore all the more important to point out that “below” the laureates, there are many cases of illegal activities, data greed, but also sheer impudence and carelessness. To make sure that they don’t go completely scot-free, we briefly introduce some of the “unlucky losers” that didn’t quite make it to the “podium of shame”.
The BigBrotherAwards highlight individual cases – but often it is easy to see common phenomena or themes. The jury has been asking itself which themes are “on the rise” currently. Here is one where we fear exactly that to be happening.
The Big Brother Award in the “Communication” category goes to the Federal Minister of Justice, Ms Brigitte Zypries, for a bill that will introduce the retention of all telecommunications connection data in Germany. With this bill, the Minister is deliberately ignoring jurisdiction by the Federal Constitutional Court, which had ruled in 1983 in its census verdict that the collection of non-anonymised data for undetermined or not-yet-determined purposes is unconstitutional.
Not a winner in 2007: the Federal Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble.
The BigBrotherAward in the “Government and Administration” category goes to Germany’s Federal Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwältin), Monika Harms. She receives the BigBrotherAward for her anti-terror measures against opponents of the G8 summit in May this year, particularly for systematic postal surveillance in Hamburg and for her instructions to collect and preserve body scent samples from G8 opponents suspected of militancy.
For the second time at the German Big Brother Awards, the audience was asked to decide which of the winners should receive the audience award.
Find photos from the awards ceremony here. (Titles and captions only available in German.)