Big Brother Awards

The Big Brother Award was created in 1998 in the UK 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 in countries such as the US, Austria, Germany, Spain, Belgium, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands 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 first Netherlands Big Brother Awards, held on February 15, 2002, in Amsterdam, announced the following winners: the National Institute of Public Health and Environment for storing identifiable blood samples of 1,4 million children without parent consent, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) for the development of the Automatic Aggression Detection video processing software, State Secretary of Transport, Public Works and Water Management Monique de Vries for promoting data retention at the EU and the Commission Mevis for proposing far-reaching demands on banks, insurance companies and telecommunication companies to track, store and disclose customer data to law enforcement.

"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.