The annual "Big Brother" anti-awards presented in Bulgaria
13 April 2005

Access to Information Programme Foundation and Internet Society Bulgaria presented the annual "Big Brother" anti-awards for the violation of the right to privacy and the protection of personal data at an official ceremony in the "The Red House—Center for Culture and Debate" on 13 April 2005.

The award "Big Brother" was founded by Privacy International - a human rights group working for the protection of privacy. "Big Brother" awards are bestowed to these institutions, which directly or by establishing requirements and rules, seriously violate people's privacy and the right to protection of personal data. The symbol of the anti-award is a military boot smashing a human head.

In Bulgaria, three anti-awards were bestowed in the following categories:

State institution that seriously violates the right of the citizens to personal data protection
The Council of Ministers received the negative prize in the category for the draft amendments of the Personal Data Protection Act. The motives of the jury to distinguish the institution as the winner were that the draft brought by the Vice-premier Plamen Panayotov would set restrictions to the right to freedom of information and would give exclusive power to the so called 'force' institutions to uncontrollably use personal data. The amendments would:

     - Bring to the reposition of the provision that allows disclosure of information about public figures;
     - Restrict the collection and distribution of information related to crimes and administrative offences to the control of the respective competent authorities;
     - Give permission to the employers to collect the so called "sensitive personal data", i.e. data that show racial or ethnic origin, religious or philosophical belonging, political bias, as well as data related to the health and sexual life of the citizens.

Public figure

The General Prosecutor Nikola Filchev was awarded for the overall activity of the Prosecutor's Office, particularly for a series of actions that pose a threat to the freedom of information and the protection of personal data:

     - The indictment against the journalists from the BBC television because of their documentary "Buying the Games." The movie exhibited the corruption of some of the members of the International Olympic Committee;

     - The indictment against the Rumanian journalist George Buhnich for his findings about breaches at the border shops at the Danube Bridge. He used intercept devices;

     - The order of the Plovdiv Appealing Prosecutor's Office to collect personal data from all customers of computer internet clubs at the town, as well as the time of using the computer.

Private company

The negative prize was given to the advertising company "SIA Advertising" for misusing the data of 15,000 applicants for participation in the reality show "Big Brother." The company used the information, contained in the questionnaires that the applicants had filled during the casting process. These data should have been destroyed after the closing of the casting. In the meantime, it turned out that the company used the data for other purposes, an act that contradicts the Personal Data Protection Act.

Complete information about the 2004 annual awards, as well as the nominations are accessible at: