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FoeBuD receives Theodor-Heuss Medal

For its extraordinary civil rights engagement in the field of information privacy the FoeBuD association, located in Bielefeld, Germany, has been awarded the 2008 Theodor-Heuss Medal. The ceremony for this prestigious award took place in Stuttgart on April 12, 2008. The Theodor-Heuss Prize and the four equivalent Medals stood under the common motto „To Strengthen Security – To Secure Civil Rights”.

FoeBuD receives Theodor-Heuss Medal

The Theodor-Heuss Medal

The 2008 Theodor-Heuss Prize was awarded to the former German Federal Minister of the Interior, Gerhart Baum, who has consistently denounced the erosion of basic rights. He is well known for popular constitutional complaints such as the ones against the “The Big Eavesdropping Attack” (Großer Lauschangriff) and against the on-line search of private computers. As early as 1970, he demanded that “In the information era, the constitutional law must prohibit the citizen from becoming a simple information object delivering a constant stream of data for any and all types of data-processing.” This visionary statement emphasizes why two of this year’s Theodor-Heuss Medals went to FoeBuD as the organizer of the German BigBrotherAwards (; and to the group that publishes the “Basic Rights Report on the State of Civil and Human Rights in Germany” (

Verleihung der Theodor-Heuss-Medaille kleinThe FoeBuD association has committed itself to acting as an untiring protector of personal liberty rights. Its emphasis lies not so much on the legal framework as on creating such living conditions in our information era that will remain worth while living in the future. The group of volunteers behind the artists Rena Tangens and padeluun advocate technologies and communication policies that are compatible with a modern democratic society. FoeBuD raises public awareness of the issues at hand not only through information politics but also through charming sometimes even drastic activities designed to expose the omnipresent danger associated with the misuse of personal or private data.

What happens when basic rights and personal liberty rights are undermined and abused was made clear by the report of Boris Reitschuster, the Moscow correspondent of the German journal Fokus ( He received the Medal for his candid reports from Russia during the 1990’s, often made at considerable personal risks, on his experiences and interpretations of every-day life in Russia. The fourth Medal went to the youth learning project in Dresden, Fanprojekt Dresden e.V. (, whose members focus on a different type of security: they help prevent violence by promoting self-confidence and self-respect in young persons and thereby avoid personal rights infringements.

The Theodor-Heuss Prize has a long tradition. Since 1965, its board of trustees has selected every year one issue of political or social interest and has honored persons who have exhibited extraordinary civil courage and public commitment to the benefit of society. The theme selected for 2008, “To Strengthen Security – To Secure Civil Rights” paraphrases the continual tension between the poles of public security and individual rights to privacy and freedom. As stated by Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger in her closing note, the selection of this theme represents “a warning signal, that as a result of public and government reaction to real or alleged dangers, the rights of individuals are at risk of being compromised, diluted, and abused.”

Teilnehmer der Verleihung der Theodor-Heuss-Medaille kleinThe presence of Richard von Weizsäcker, Gesine Schwan, Spiros Simitis, Burkhard Hirsch, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Peter Schaar und Hartmut von Hentig at the award ceremony underlines the significance of the Theodor-Heuss Prize 2008. The significance of the award’s theme itself was made loud and clear by the informative and clear opening statements from Ludwig Theodor Heuss, the inspirational eulogy by Spiros Simitis and the brilliant and entertaining thank-you speech by prize winner Gerhard Baum. The brief round table discussion with the award winners, splendidly moderated by Beatrice von Weizsäcker, manifested once again the broad spectrum of aspects resulting from the competing interests of security and freedom.

Those who were fortunate enough to attend the six hour colloquium on the previous day, attended by many visitors and top experts, were well prepared for the award ceremony. The colloquium was moderated with much charm and wit by Rupprecht Podszun. It included a motivating introduction by Gerhart Baum and four short incentive speeches about different aspects of this year’s topic theme each replied to by one of the award winners. The interest and focus of all participants was so intensive, that hardly any break was taken during the six hour colloquium. Certainly, this year’s event by the Theodor-Heuss Foundation has left a lasting impression with all its participants.

P.S.: The FoeBuD association greatly appreciates this public recognition of our work. However, we do not receive any public funds. If you wish to support our work in the interest of public rights, you could do so most effectively by a financial contribution. Any donation is much appreciated. klick

Wording of the Theodor-Heuss Certificate

A Theodor-Heuss Medal for the year 2008 is awarded to the FoeBuD association as the organizer of the German BigBrotherAwards for its persevering and competent commitment to information freedom and privacy as well as for the protection of civil rights.

The FoeBuD association founded in 1987 by a group of volunteers behind the artists Rena Tangens and padeluun advocates technologies and communication policies that are compatible with a modern democratic society.

FoeBuD presents the German BigBrotherAwards to companies, institutions and individuals that bluntly offend against basic principles of informational self-determination. In so doing FoeBuD has again and again drawn public attention to privacy infringements. Whether it be the “spychips” in Payback customer cards, the toll-charge system TollCollect, the implementation of a central “Anti-Terrorism File”, or the planned introduction of lifelong identification numbers for school children: FoeBuD has exposed the dangerous side of such data pools and has effectively warned in public against the threats of excessive monitoring, manipulation, and the misuse of private data. Currently, FoeBuD is fighting against the law on “telecommunications data retention” (Vorratsdatenspeicherung) adopted by the Federal Government and supports campaigns as well as a constitutional complaint against the general retention of telecommunication data.

Time and again FoeBuD has focused on raising public awareness of the ubiquitous danger emanating from the misuse of personal and private data. The FoeBuD association has been and continues to be responsible for many a success in the battle against increasing data collection and data misuse by companies and the government. FoeBuD has committed itself exemplary to this particularly vulnerable area of public rights within any democracy. For this we owe FoeBuD our gratitude and our respect.

Stuttgart on April 12, 2008

Ludwig Theodor Heuss

President of the Board of the Foundation

Jutta Limbach

President of the Board of Trustees

2008-07-14 11:39