Big Brother Awards
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Date: 2001-11-28

Ungarn: Big Brother Awards 2001

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Die ersten Awards auf dem Boden des dunnemaligen
"Sozialismus" gingen heute Abend über die Bühne. Eine
quintessenzielle Delegation aus AT hat den Staats-Besuch der
Delegation aus HU-Land vom 26. Oktober erwidert. Wie es
0perator, Telehans und Helmut W. alldort ergangen ist, wird,
sobald die um 23:47 per Funktelefon im Überlandwagen kurz
contactirten Herrschaften wieder schreiben können, asap hierorts

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The Big Brother Awards (BBA) founded by Privacy International
were handed out first time in Hungary on the 28th of November. The
Hungarian award is the first occasion when it has been distributed
in a former Socialist country.

The Big Brother Award takes its name from George Orwell's
famous phrase, "The Big Brother is Watching You," and the it is
given to those government organizations, private individuals and
companies that have violated human rights and abused their power
of access to information in the most appalling way. This award will
be henceforth-after the United Kingdom, the United States of
America, Austria, Germany, France and Switzerland-granted each
year in Hungary in five categories. The jury consisting of public
personalities, lawyers, computer experts and artists took its
decision on the 21st of November. Following are the results of the
Hungarian vote:

Category of companies:

In the category of companies of the Hungarian Big Brother Awards,
one of the hypermarkets of Tesco has been awarded because it
had built a camera system for surveillance of its employees without
any prior notification to them. Moreover, data stemming from the
surveillance were preserved and used later even against the
dismissed employees. In the Budaörs hypermarket of Tesco-Global
Corporation, if any fired employee walked in as customer, security
guards would spring up immediately out of the blue to escort
him/her all over the store in a discriminative fashion.

The jury also nominated for the award Microsoft Hungary Ltd. for
the Passport function of the Hungarian version of Windows XP that
was recently launched in Hungary. Among those nominated was a
Hungarian enterprise (Suli Info kft.) as well, which would send-with
the help of a computer system (via sms) - to the parents the marks
received by their children in the classroom. This initiative stirred up
serious indignation in the society at large, and it was discussed in
articles in the Hungarian press.

Government category:

In the government category, the Ministry of Justice received the
negative award because of the new draft Act on the protection of
personal data and openness of data of public interest. This draft
means that the private life of citizens would become more
transparent and the activities of the State would be more
enigmatic. This draft would-among other things-introduce the
possibility of setting up surveillance by cameras in educational
institutions and workplaces.

The jury has also nominated in the government category the
Central Office of the Ministry of Interior for Data Processing,
Inventory and Elections (BM), because it handed over illegally the
citizen's data to another government institution: the Department of
Country Image (OK). This center started mailing out the
government's publication "Országjáró" (Country Traveler) by name
to every Hungarian citizen. OK is not entitled to use the data in this
manner. The Ministry of Interior received another nomination since
it has been putting up for sale the citizen's data as a business
venture to those firms that are willing to pay for them. It has a
lawful empowerment to do so, however-in the opinion of Hungarian
e-privacy protectors-this is a violation of general interests of the
society, since it allows many firms to use even the particulars of
children in business purposes. In this way acted, for example,
Hasbro, when it bought the list of addresses of Hungarian children
from the Ministry of Interior.

Personal Award:

The award of BBA to private individuals goes to Member of
Parliament Mr. Róbert Répássy for a draft amendment to a law that
was finally not adopted because of constitutional objections by
President Ferenc Mádl. According to this draft, Hungarian
journalists would be fined for breach of public interest if they
caused offense to any person in their columns, and if any court of
law made a final verdict on that point.

Award by the Public's Choice:

The BBA awarded by the public was given on the basis of votes by
internet users, by a large margin (39.4%), to the Department of
Country Image for mailing out the 'Country Traveler' news sheet
described above. This Center was able to achieve the misgivings of
the public by its activities, since-although it was entitled by law to
deliver any paper containing some data of public interest-it needed
a precise legal authorization to use the names and addresses of
the citizens.

Positive E-privacy Award:

The affirmative version of BBA was given to ex Parliamentary
Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information Dr.
László Majtényi to honor his pioneer's work in the field of Hungarian

People were able to vote and/or nominate from 14th through 20th of
November on the website and (hosted by the Big Brother Austria) and
the jury took these votes also into consideration when taking its
decisions. Naturally, once a proposal got into the list of
candidates, this would not mean that the given company, private
individual or government agency had committed anything illegal.
The award demonstrates in essence how the public judges the
candidates morally and sociologically for their activities in the field
of e-privacy.

Presenting the awards in Budapest was attended by Dr. László
Majtényi delivery of the award took (in the positive e-privacy
category). The rest of the "awards" remained unaccepted.

In the course of delivery of the Hungarian Big Brother Award, the
organizers acted in full accordance with international practice.

"...the kind of totalitarian state George Orwell envisaged doesn't
spring up overnight. It is more likely creep into egzistence through
the erosion of small freedoms and small rights to privacy." (New
Scientist Editorial, 2001. 05. 05.)

Budapest, 28.11.2001. Technology for People Foundation

More information:

Website: Press release:

Contact persons: Zoltan Galantai or Csaba Miskolczy E-mail:
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edited by Harkank
published on: 2001-11-28
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