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2005 Nominations Open!

1 September 2005:  The Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) today announced the opening of the third annual Australian Big Brother Awards for privacy intruders, affectionately known as ‘The Orwells. This page provides background.

There are two pages to help you submit a nomination for this satirical award:

Nominations close 1 October 2005, so don't delay!

See also our media releases:

The 2005 Australian Big Brother Awards (a.k.a 'The Orwells'):
Who’s Attacking Privacy in these Fearful Times?

In 2005, our politicians and corporations look set to follow the dubious lead of the US and UK, instinctively attacking privacy in these fearful times instead of looking for more balanced solutions to protecting our way of life (and their revenues). This is one of the themes of this year's Awards.

We’re calling on all Australians to really get behind this event. Dob in your favourite politician, government department or corporation by nominating their outstanding achievements in invading privacy.

Last year, the both the Liberal and Labor parties received awards for exempting themselves from privacy and anti-spamming laws. Prime Minister John Howard won a special mention for hiring the company Net Harbour to spam constituents, and for calling home telephones to leave a recorded message in the lead up to the federal election.

Also winning awards last year were the new biometric passports, drivers licences that can be used to store information that has nothing to do with driving a car, and other government actions which put ordinary Australians under greater surveillance as they go about their normal lives.

The protection of privacy is serious. Respect for people’s personal information and their private space is an essential part of the free, law-abiding and democratic way of life we cherish.

But the Orwells allow the Privacy Foundation to show the lighter side of human rights work, while also highlighting the need for more public debate about initiatives which have negative privacy impacts.

About the Big Brother Awards

Since 1998, over 50 Big Brother Awards ceremonies have been held in 16 countries. They are presented around the world by the national members and affiliated organisations of Privacy International to corporations, public officials and governments that have shown a blatant disregard for privacy, those who have done the most to threaten personal privacy in their countries. The awards also feature categories for individuals and organisations who have made a major positive contribution to protecting the privacy of Australians.

The Australian Big Brother Awards, hosted by the Australian Privacy Foundation, were established in 2003.

(The Australian Big Brother Awards have no relationship to the recent TEN Network TV programme with a similar name.)

The Nature of the Awards

The awards are in the nature of a spoof "Oscars" (the Big Brother Awards have become affectionately known as the "Orwells", after George Orwell, the author of 1984, in which Big Brother first appeared). They should be good fun, incorporating humour, popular participation, and audio visual support.

Award winners will be presented with an award certificate to commemorate their achievement upon request.

Among the many award categories for bad deeds, below, there are also two positive awards for good works in the service of protection of privacy called the "Smith".

Winners may also be eligible for special nomination to the international 'Stupid Security Award'.

The Award Categories

The Big Brother Awards for privacy abusers

The categories of privacy abuser for which nominations are sought:
  1. Lifetime Menace – for a privacy invader with a long record of profound disregard for privacy.
  2. Greatest Corporate Invader – for a corporation that has shown a blatant disregard of privacy.
  3. Worst Public Agency or Official – for a government agency or official that has shown a blatant disregard of privacy.
  4. Most Invasive Technology – for a technology that is particularly privacy invasive.
  5. Boot in the Mouth – for the ‘best’ (most appalling!) quote on a privacy-related topic.
  6. People’s Choice – this is decided by popular vote, and given to the individual or organisation most frequently nominated by the public.

The ‘Smith’ Awards for Privacy Defenders

Nominations are also sought for two awards to be given to champions of privacy, those who have done exemplary work to protect and enhance this elusive right. These will be called ‘the Smiths’ after Orwell's rebellious hero, Winston Smith, who struggled against the nightmarish regime of Big Brother. Their name also recalls Ewart Smith, the man who stopped the Australia Card. And there's more! Their name acknowledges the common use of the name ‘Smith’ as a pseudonym, a practical step towards the right to anonymity acknowledged in privacy principles.
  1. Best Privacy Guardian – for a meritorious act of privacy protection or defence.
  2. Lifetime Achievement – for provision of outstanding services to privacy protection.

How to Make a Nomination

Nominations for the awards are solicited from the public, and are received either by mail or email.

You can send in nominations for your favourite privacy abuser using the Nomination Form on the Nomination page at

What happens next?

Nominations are forwarded to our panel of judges who will identify winners in each category above, including tallying the ‘People's Choice’, the one with the most nominations.

The judges have absolute discretion, and are not confined to the nominations received by members of the public.

The Australian Privacy Foundation may post the most popular current nominations on this site.

The winners are announced on November 8 in Melbourne.


The 2004 Australian Big Brother Awards ('The Orwells')

Here are the winners of the 2004 Australian Big Brother Awards for privacy intrusion, hosted by the Australian Privacy Foundation. (See also the Media Release for more detail.)

  • Lifetime Menace: Carl Scully, NSW Minister for Roads
  • People's choice: Queensland Smartcard Drivers Licence
  • Greatest corporate invader: Major political parties, for abuses around elections
  • Worst Public Agency or Official: Bob Debus, NSW Attorney-General
  • Most invasive technology: Biometric passports
And, awards on the side of privacy protectors ('The Smiths' , after Orwell's Winston Smith):
  • Best Privacy Guardian : John Pane, Australia Post's Chief Privacy Officer

The 2003 AustralianBig Brother Awards

The first Australian BBA awards in September 2003 were held in conjunction with related events including the 25th International Privacy Commissioners' conference, the "Surveillance and Privacy 2003: Terrorist and Watchdogs" conference, and the formation of the Asia-Pacific Privacy Charter Council.

The winners were Attorney General Darryl Williams (lifetime menace), the Internet Industry Association (greatest corporate invader), the TICA Default Tenancy Control (most invasive technology) and Senator Chris Ellison (worst public official).

Australia was also a winner in the related 2003 international competition for the Most Egregiously Stupid Security Measure.

BBA around the world

The Privacy International awards are staged as an annual event in countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Belgium and France. Each BBA event is held at a national level, with judges and nominees drawn from the relevant country.

Since 1998, over 50 ceremonies have been held in 16 countries.

The first BBA was held in London, England, on October 26, 1998. This inaugural UK event attracted an audience of around 250 civil rights activists, privacy advocates, academics and media. A full report is available at the BBA homepage.

The inaugural US awards were staged in Washington DC on April 7, 1999, during the 9th Computers Freedom and Privacy (CFP) conference. Around 500 people attended the event, which was extensively reported by media. Since then, the awards have become a much-loved feature of this annual conference.

Media Contacts

David Vaile – 0414 731 249
Vice-chair and acting Spokesperson
(from 7 September - 28 September 2005)

Anna Johnston – 0400 432 241 or (02) 9432 0320
Spokesperson and chair
Australian Privacy Foundation
Phone: 0400 432 241 or (02) 9432 0320 (+61 400 432 241 international)