The Big Brother Awards recognize "the government and private sector organizations ... which have done the most to threaten personal privacy". They are named after the George Orwell character Big Brother from the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. They are awarded yearly to authorities, companies, organisations, and persons that have been acting particularly and consistently to threaten or violate people's privacy, or disclosed people's personal data to third parties.
The United States most recently hosted The Big Brother Awards on April 14th of 2005 in Seattle, WA. They had previously been hosted in Berkeley, CA on the 21st of April, 2004; New York, NY on the 3rd of April, 2003; San Francisco, CA on the 18th of April, 2002; and Cambridge on the 7th of March, 2001.
The first annual US "Big Brother Awards" were made at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday 7 April 1999, the 50th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.  The awards were made by Simon Davies, managing director  of the London-based Privacy International to recognize "the government and private sector organizations which have done the most to invade personal privacy in the United States."  The awards, otherwise known as Orwells, were given in five categories: Greatest Corporate Invader, Lifetime Menace, Most Invasive Program, People's Choice, and Worst Public Official.