Today the organizers of the Austrian Big Brother Awards have released their nominations for this year's awards for "Data Leeches" and curtailers of people's privacy. Who among those shortlisted will finally be crowned with the inverted laurels will be determined on October 25. A winner of one of the rarely bestowed positive prizes however has already been named: The European Parliament is to receive the "Defensor Libertatis" Award. The Parliament as a whole was being honored "for its commitment to important issues and the courage its parliamentarians have shown in risking conflict on their account with the Council of Ministers and the EU Commission," the organizers declare. By, for instance, rejecting the "Directive on the Patentability of Computer-implemented Inventions" the members of parliament had proved that they were prepared to listen to the arguments of the European Union's citizens. "In the face of lobbying by major players such as DaimlerChrysler, Philips, Siemens and other hardware manufacturing groups, which moreover maintain Europe's largest software houses, as well as by the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament nonetheless rejected this directive on the patentability of software," the organizers note.
In the matter of the passing on of passenger-related data the EU Parliament had also been able to resist international pressure, the organizer's eulogy goes on to say. Austrian members of the EU Parliament of four different parliamentary groups had all played especially prominent roles in the defense of citizens' basic rights, they point out. Now the Big Brother jury was hoping "that this autumn the parliamentarians will also successfully withstand the immense pressure exerted by those proponents from various political camps currently advocating a European Surveillance Union in the Council of Ministers." What is alluded to here is the current talks on the issue of the retention of telephone call and Internet traffic data.
Twenty-seven institutions and persons assigned to the categories "Business and Finance," "Politics," "Authorities and Administrations" and "Communication" have been nominated for the Big Brother Awards Austria. In addition a Lifetime Achievement Award will be conferred. Among the nominees are to be found Austria's Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, the drugstore chain Schlecker, Google and Amazon. Despite the nomination phase having already come to an end, the " People's Choice" vote will go on until October 25. At the end of the month Big Brother Awards will be handed out in a number of countries: In Austria in Vienna on the above-mentioned date of October 25, followed by Germany (Bielefeld, October 28), the Czech Republic (Prague, October 28) and Switzerland (Zurich, October 29). In the United States the Big Brother Awards were already bestowed in April within the framework of the conference Computers, Freedom & Privacy (CFP).
Robert W. Smith
Heise Online, Hannover, 18. Oktober 2005