An annual award for the greatest abusers of data protection and privacy infringement is highlighting those, considered by some, to be German privacy's public enemies. This is one award that no one wants to receive.
Awards go to those who are considered to excel in the violation of privacy
The Big Brother Awards 2009 wrapped up in Germany on Friday, handing out recognition to politicians and corporations with records of data and privacy infingement.
The big "winners" of Friday's Big Brother Awards were Germany's Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble along with a slew of companies.
These so-called "Oscars for data leeches" have been awarded each year since 2000 by the FoeBuD association which was formed in 1987 for the Promotion of Mobile and Immobile Public Data Traffic.
Watching the watchmen
Called "Zensursula," or Censorsula, by the awards' organizers, Ursula von der Leyen won for her initiatives to block access to child pornography websites. This, according to the award's justification, created "a system for advanced content control on the internet, which could evolve into Orwellian proportions."
The organizers warn of "Orwellian proportions" as in the famous novel "1984"
However, the issue seemed moot as, the day before the awards ceremony, new measures were announced by the Christian Democrats and Free Liberal parties, that child pornography sites would be deleted at the source, rather than try to limit internet access.
Interior Minister Schaeuble's prize was one of recognition of lifetime achievement for his "obsessive ambition for turning the constitutional democracy into a preventatively authoritarian police-state," according to FoeBuD.
Rewarding the many, as well as the few
Also honored with an award was the International Association of Athletics Federations, which organized the World Championships in Berlin in August, for its invasively in-depth background checks on journalists in order to be permitted to cover the event.
Other awards went to German firms Lidl, KiK Textiles, HDI Gerling, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Post and Deutsche Telekom, as well as the farming company Claas GmbH, which was highlighted for placing a GPS tracking device in its combine harvesters to ensure no deviations were made by the vehicle during harvesting.
Upcoming Big Brother awards are in Zurich, Switzerland on 24 October and Vienna, Austria on 25 October.
Editor: Andreas Illmer