A society free of surveillance
Since the year 2000, the German BigBrotherAwards are presented to companies, institutions and persons who act in a prominent and sustained way to invade people's privacy, sell personal data or use it in ways that violate the original limitation of purpose. The BigBrotherAwards are an international project. In 19 countries so far, these awards have highlighted schemings that threaten people and democracy.
The German BigBrotherAwards are organised by Digitalcourage.
Exposing data leeches in public
The BigBrotherAwards put the enemies of privacy where they don’t like to be: in the spotlight of public attention. They are concrete examples of how the other side thinks, works, and conceals. The BigBrotherAwards have guaranteed them media exposure and headlines in a way they surely do not like.
The name was taken from George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”, which as early as in the late 1940s put forward the author's vision of a future society under total surveillance. The sculpture for the German BigBrotherAwards was designed for the first ceremony by Peter Sommer, an artist and sculptor from Oerlinghausen (near Bielefeld). The sculpture shows a figure tied by a lead band and bisected by a glass pane which is inscribed with a hexadecimal encoding of a passage from Huxley's “Brave New World”.
BigBrotherAwards have been effective: The raised awareness about privacy problems in customer loyalty cards and showed the risks of RFID technology. Long before large German companies such as Lidl, Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Bahn etc. had privacy scandals, they received their BigBrotherAwards for surveillance of their employees and customers. Two weeks after fashion chain H&M were featured in our gala, they received a 35 million Euro fine. In 2020 we unleashed broad resistance against plans of the then Education Minister in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, Susanne Eisenmann. The minister wanted to incorporate Microsoft 365 into the state’s online education platform. The plan was stopped.
Find more information on the effects of the BigBrotherAwards on our page “Success Story”.
Impressions of the BigBrotherAwards
For our 20th anniversary gala in 2020, we put together a collection of special moments from 20 years of BigBrotherAwards in a (German) video.