Amazon had the double “pleasure“ of receiving two awards this year. They really lead the way, in a negative way of course, regarding workers’ rights. Another award went to the “Hello Barbie” by Mattel and Toytalk. It was high time for Germany’s Foreign Intelligence Agency and for the Health Ministry to be recognised with their respective awards. The current Interior Minister and his predecessor were awarded by guest jury member Max Schrems for sabotaging the EU project for a common Data Protection regulation.
Images of the Gala
Not yet available.
Videos of the Gala
Not yet available.
The Jury 2015
Rena Tangens & padeluun Digitalcourage e.V., Sönke Hilbrans , Frank Rosengart & Linus Neumann , Prof. Dr. Peter Wedde, Dr. Rolf Gössner
“Hello Barbie”, represented by the involved manufacturers Mattel and Toytalk, receives the BigBrotherAward in the Technology category. This doll is equipped with a microphone and Wi-Fi. It uses this to record conversations, sends these into the cloud for analysis and comes up with a more or less appropriate response. The dreams and sorrows of young consumers are thus collected on centralised servers. This acoustic surveillance system in the children’s room even sends a daily report to “helicopter parents”. “Hello Barbie” is not (yet) available in Germany.
The BigBrotherAward 2015 in the category Administration is awarded to the Federal Intelligence Agency (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND), because of its intimate entanglement with the NSA’s surveillance network, which is contrary to human rights. The BND collects millions of telecommunications data records every day and transfers massive amounts of such records to the NSA and its associates, including constitutionally protected data of German citizens. Despite these excesses and the brazen cover-up of its illegal practices, the agency is not reined in by the legislator, but continues to be digitally upgraded.
The crowd-working platforms Amazon Mechanical Turk and Elance-oDesk receive the BigBrotherAward 2015 in the Economy category for realising digital day-labourship. A trend which will not only turn our working environment inside-out. Job nibbles without minimum wages, without health insurance, without vacation entitlement and without solidarity are sold as “freedom”, “flexibility”, and “flat hierarchies”. Elance-oDesk uses a “Team App” to constantly watch keystrokes and mouse movements on the contractor's computer and sends regular screenshots to the client. This is what Elance-oDesk's German CEO Nicolas Dittberner calls “creation of trust”.
The Amazon subsidiaries in Bad Hersfeld and Koblenz receive the BigBrotherAward 2015 in the “Workplace” category for conditions in their employment contracts that violate employees’ personal rights. The companies demand that employees consent to processing of their personal data, including health data, in the US. Amazon also reserves the right to determine their employees’ state of health at practically any time, and to do so using doctors nominated by the company.
As an example for incessant attempts to foist telecommunications data retention on the public, the term “securing digital evidence” (“digitale Spurensicherung”) is given the Newspeak award. It is just one of many neologisms intended to disguise the collection of all communications data without suspicion. But it is a clear sign how its proponents wilfully try to conceal its true nature.
The Federal Ministry of Health, represented by the current minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe, receives the BigBrotherAward 2015 in the “Consumer Protection” category. With its “e‑health” projects, the ministry has severely threatened and jolted patient–physician confidentiality. At the same time, billions of Euros are being redistributed from the health sector into the pockets of listed corporations. It is not patients but the financial sector that is getting healed. The electronic health card, which received a BigBrotherAward in 2004, was only a part of this scheme.
Federal Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, and former Federal Minister of the Interior, Hans-Peter Friedrich receive the BigBrotherAward in the Politics category for systematically and fundamentally sabotaging EU plans for a General Data Protection Regulation. Instead of taking Germany’s high level of protections into the EU negotiations, as they vowed to do, both Interior Ministers oversaw their ministry’s civil servants perverting European data protection into the opposite, and to do so in close cooperation with lobbyists. Past achievements such as data minimisation, informed consent, and limiting data use to specific purposes, are set to be practically abolished.
We asked our audience again in 2015 which of our “winners” they found especially “impressive, surprising, shocking, or outrageous”.
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.