“Google must be broken up” was the key message in 2013. A clear call in the “global data acquisition” laudation by Rena Tangens and padeluun, it did not receive a wide response at first, but was echoed by top-level politicians in 2014. Apple was also featured in an award. Other “happy winners” were Deutsche Post and the minister-presidents of the 16 German Federal States.
The BigBrotherAward 2013 in the Category „Global Data Acquisition“ goes to Google Inc., Mountain View, USA.
Under the guise of a search engine and other free-of-charge services, such as Maps, Docs and YouTube, the advertising company Google collects real-time data about everything and everyone, wherever they go, and classifies people for its own profit. Google disregards European law and uses its monopoly to advance the technocratic ideology of an all-knowing supercomputer, which has a better idea of what people want than the people themselves.
The BigBrotherAward 2013 in the “Workplace” category goes to Apple Retail GmbH in Munich, for their comprehensive video surveillance of employees. The company operates the Apple Stores in Germany. Inside sources say that not only sales rooms and stockrooms in these stores have been monitored across the whole area and at all times, but social rooms as well. This form of total control of employees would be forbidden in Germany. The company is certainly taking an intransigent stance: It took arduous negociations with data protection commissioners until information signs about video surveillance were moved from “dog’s eye” to waist level.
The BigBrotherAward 2013 in the Economics category goes to Deutsche Post Adress GmbH & Co KG. Millions of people in Germany each year supply data about their addresses and house moves to Deutsche Post, in thousands of post offices and via the Internet. On this basis, Deutsche Postadress GmbH can keep its address data recent, and it sells its nationwide local knowledge to paying customers. People that do not ask for their mail to be redirected are still pursued by our winner’s address investigations if this is in the interest of the advertising industry or debt collectors – and if necessary, this includes being pursued over the phone.
The BigBrotherAward 2013 in the category “Government and Administration” goes to the Federal Police, represented by its president Dieter Romann, for police identity checks in which people are singled out of crowds on the basis of appearance (complexion or other biological attributes, ethnic origin, national background, religion, language) for identity verification and searches. This widespread screening practice is called “racial” or “ethnic profiling”; suspicious behaviour or objective evidence are not used as a basis for these checks.
The BigBrotherAward in the category Politics goes to the Minister-Presidents of the 16 German Federal States for establishing the Joint Licence Fee Service of [Germany’s public broadcasters] ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio (Gemeinsamer Beitragsservice von ARD, ZDF und Deutschlandradio) as successors to the GEZ (Gebühreneinzugszentrale, Fee Collecting Centre). As of 1 January 2013, the licence fee is no longer based on devices but on households. But the authors of the Inter-State Agreement on Media Services have missed the opportunity to develop clear rules that do not depend on individuals. During a transition period of several years, the new Licence Fee Service will even process much more data than the GEZ previously did. The legal foundation is this processing is dubious according to legal experts.
There were some “lucky losers” that didn’t make it to a full award speech, but which should not be left out completely. We also take a look at the current state of things of an award winner from 2011, Facebook.
The BigBrotherAwards highlight privacy and data protection offenders in business and politics, they have consequently been called “Oscars for data leeches” by the French paper Le Monde. BigBrotherAwards are an international project. 19 countries have so far given these awards for dubious practices.
The German awards are organised and held by ► Digitalcourage. Among the co-organisers are the German Association for Data Protection (Deutsche Vereinigung für Datenschutz, DVD), International League for Human Rights and the Chaos Computer Club.