© Umbrella-Rosenblum Films
Who's playing fast and loose with your data? The Big Brother Awards
, billed as the "Oscars for data leeches" by the hackers and privacy advocates who hand out the prizes, shine a high-intensity spotlight on companies and individuals with poor privacy track records. Since 1998, Privacy International
and a host of affiliated organizations have singled out the worst privacy violators in various countries including the UK, Austria, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S. The title evokes the totalitarian cult personality featured in George Orwell's 1984
, set in a dystopic world of mass surveillance.
In Germany, privacy advocates held their annual edition of the Big Brother Awards in April. The panel of judges was made up of representatives from privacy advocate FoeBuD
and other organizations campaigning for data protection and human rights. Curious to know who made Germany's list of privacy offenders? Here's the rundown.
Markus Ulbig, Saxon Minister of the Interior
, Saxon Minister of the Interior, snagged a Big Brother Award in the category "Government and Administration" for presiding over a veritable data tsunami that swept up mobile phone data belonging to hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens. Police filed data requests with cell phone service providers for connection logs over a 12-hour period in Dresden, resulting in the staggering release of more than a million phone records associated with some 55,000 identified subscribers. The requests were filed in the wake of a February 2011 mass demonstration against a Dresden Nazi parade. The police were targeting the anti-Nazi protesters.