Big Brother Award
Watching the Watchman Worldwide

The Big Brother Award was created in order to increase the public's and the award winners' awareness of the basic right to data protection and privacy and of the growing risk of its violation.

Privacy International and a growing number of other organizations present the Big Brother Award once every year to companies, public authorities and individuals responsible for particularly flagrant and insistent intrusions into personal privacy or for making personal data available to third parties.

The Award was first presented in 1998 in the UK. In 1999 Austria and the US followed the British example und assembled their own jury. In 2000, the Big Brother Award was also presented in Switzerland and Germany at the same time as in Austria. The first French presentation of the award is scheduled for December 16th in Paris.

"A Global Information Infrastructure - potentially the greatest force since the birth of the automobile - is being forged. Mass surveillance is developing from Argentina to Zambia not merely through video cameras, DNA profiling, satellite surveillance, police systems and credit-reporting agencies, but through a vast range of computer-based surveillance mechanisms. Even now, mobile phones and bank machines create a real-time geographical tracking mechanism. Search engines on the Internet present a detailed picture of people's activities and interests. Data matching allows authorities to link computers from different areas of the public and private sector. And the advent of this surveillance society will bring with it a new era of social control. The two have always existed hand in hand. " says Simon Davies, the General Director of Privacy International.

Big Brother Award Austria 2000

An international jury of experts confers the award to candidates grouped into five categories: business and finance, politics, public administration, communication, and lifetime achievement.

The category business and finance this year went to the electronics retailer "Saturn". When paying with their banking card, Saturn customers automatically agree (by "entering the PIN code" and "confirming the transaction by pushing the OK button") to their data being irrevocably forwarded to third parties.

Austrian Siemens PSG won the communication category for its collaboration with the European Working Group SEC LI (lawful interception) of the ETSI (European Telecom Standards Institute). Together with the police and international intelligence agencies, the working group is optimizing the design of interception interfaces of digital networks in order to integrate, amongst others, the Internet protocol into their surveillance designs.


"Whenever people must assume that their data is being collected and stored, without knowing which data is gathered and how long it is stored for, it has to be assumed that their behavior in society will be increasingly conformist. However, when people behave in a conformist manner and no longer share their individuality with the community, the public weal, too, is endangered." (The German Constitutional Court in its ruling on the national census, 1984)