Sarah Spiekermann of the Vienna University of Economics and Business held an unscripted keynote at the Big Brother Awards 2018. This is her pre-written abstract.
BigBrotherAward winners 2018
The company “Soma Analytics” receives the BigBrotherAward 2018 in the “Workplace” category for their efforts to propagate their health app “Kelaa” and the “Kelaa Dashboard” among the human resources departments of companies. The app monitors several parameters (such as excitement in the voice during phone calls) to spy on the users’ vital functions, in order to give employers indications of their employees’ mental state.
The BigBrotherAward 2018 in the “PR and Marketing” Category goes to the idea of a “Smart City”. The advertising concept of a “Smart City” is used by tech companies to try to sell the idea of a “safe city” to municipal administrations: A city, covered in sensors, under total surveillance, remote-controlled and commercialised. “Smart Cities” reduce their citizens to mere consumers, change consumers into data sources and our democracy into a privatised service.
Microsoft Germany, represented by Sabine Bendiek, Chairwoman of the Management Board, receives the BigBrotherAward 2018 in the Technology category for implanting telemetry (i.e. the transmission of diagnostic data) in Windows 10 that is almost impossible to deactivate. Even skilled users will hardly be able to stop this data from being transmitted.
The BigBrotherAward 2018 in the “Administration” Category goes to Cevisio Software und Systeme GmbH & Co. KG in Torgau, Germany, for their software Cevisio Quartiermanagement (QMM), which is used in refugee shelters. This software can be used to register and store movements to the shelter, movements within the shelter, the handing out of meals, medical checks such as X-rays, blood and stool tests, family relationships, religious affiliation and ethnicity and many other details. The collected data facilitate a total control of the refugees.
Amazon receives the BigBrotherAward 2018 in the “Consumer Protection” category for its nosy, impertinent, all-too clever and gossipy bugging operation in a can by the name of Alexa. It is well known that Alexa’s speech recordings are processed in the Cloud. What is award-worthy is the fact that these recordings are also stored in the Cloud and that they can be played back even months later. That makes it possible to monitor everyone present in the home, and it is unclear who else is given access to the recordings.
The parliamentary groups for the Christian-Democratic and the Green parties in the state parliament of Hesse receive the BigBrotherAward 2018 in the Politics category for their plans for a new domestic intelligence law. The draft by the “black-green coalition” contains an accumulation of grave surveillance powers that facilitate severe interferences with fundamental rights: So-called state trojans are to be used to secretly infect and investigate “suspect” computers, employees of projects to further democratic society are to be screened by intelligence agencies and, in a legal novelty, criminal undercover agents are to be exempted from persecution. All in all, this is a severe attack on democracy, on the rule of law, and on fundamental rights.
In our new venue we continued the tradition of asking our audience which award they had found particularly “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.
The Jury 2018
Rena Tangens & padeluun (Digitalcourage)
Thilo Weichert (Deutsche Vereinigung für Datenschutz and Netzwerk Datenschutzexpertise)
Frank Rosengart (Chaos Computer Club)
Prof. Dr. Peter Wedde (Institut für Datenschutz, Arbeitsrecht und Technologieberatung)
Dr. Rolf Gössner ( )