I am truly delighted to have this opportunity to say a few words about this year's Big Brother Awards.
Before I continue, I want to offer my warmest congratulations to the organisers and supporters of the Awards. Austria, Germany and Switzerland have worked in close co-operation to create events of outstanding quality. Their initiative and motivation has been inspiring. October 26th will most definitely be a sobering day for many privacy invaders, as well as being a wonderful day of celebration for the friends of privacy.
The Awards have become an outstanding success. Since 1998 they have spread from the UK, the US and Austria, through to Germany, Switzerland and France, and very soon to Hungary, Denmark and the Netherlands. Even more countries are planning to establish awards in the near future.
The need for the Big Brother Awards has never been so pressing. Ever since the tragic events of September 11th, the invasion of our privacy has accelerated beyond our worst fears. National leaders in both hemispheres have proclaimed that the common pursuit of a safer society must prompt a "reassessment" of individual liberties and privacy. In other words, authorities intend to engineer a substantial increase in the right of the state to place controls on all citizens, and to create comprehensive surveillance over as many people as possible.
A few of the surveillance initiatives proposed in recent weeks may have some benefit, but most are little more than opportunistic attempts to reintroduce bad proposals that failed to secure support in the past.
Some policy makers have already started to take aim at privacy, inferring that this core right has aided the activities of terrorists, and will continue to compromise the efforts of law enforcement.
This trend has been taking shape for some years, and has characterised the legislative agenda of many countries. Concerns over increased civil disobedience have prompted a curtailment of the right of freedom of movement and freedom of assembly. Anxiety over lawlessness on the Internet has nurtured sweeping new powers of communications interception by the state. Fear of crime has galvanised a government-sponsored push for CCTV surveillance. In the wake of such actions, free societies can easily become surveillance societies.
With each new wave of public anxiety over crime and insecurity, the delicate gyroscope of state power and individual rights is realigned. Sadly, the realignment invariably occurs without either public consultation or rational assessment. Threats are rarely quantified. Outcomes rarely projected. Alternatives seldom considered. The recent events in the US can only have the effect of triggering a further schism in civil society.
The Big Brother Awards on October 26th will be instrumental in alerting the public to the current privacy crisis. The Awards will put privacy invaders on notice that the watchers are being watched. And most important of all, the events will galvanise the many supporters and protectors of privacy.
Once again I offer my warmest congratulations to all those involved in the awards. I look forward with excitement to an exciting and important evening.
Founder and Director
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of Stop1984 I would like to say thank you for this price. Being called "defenders of freedom and privacy at the Internet" does make me proud. And it tells me that initiatives like Stop1984 are important and can make a difference.
Here, on the first Spanish "Big Brother Awards" we can see that privacy is endangered in Spain, as well as it is anywhere.
Organisations like Mienten, Villanos and Kriptopolis in Spain have shown that this fact - privacy endangered - is something that makes people realize how much privacy is worth fighting for.
All around the world organisations try to create awareness for the problems of surveillance in society, try to make people see what is going on. This is most important in a world where the dangers of a lost privacy are often underestimated and where a lot of people is lost in a helpless struggle against becoming the "digital citizen".
I regret that I can not be here tonight to show you how much this price means to me and Stop1984. But I want to take this opportunity to ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen, for support.
Not for Stop1984 alone, but for all the organisations, for all the data security officers and for all the citizens who want to keep their privacy. Please help us to keep privacy alive.