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Biometric data are bits of data that are unique to our bodies and behaviours, which divulge sensitive information about who we are. For example, our faces can be used for facial recognition to make a prediction or assessment about us – and so can our eyes, veins, voices, the way we walk or type on a keyboard, and much more.
Governments, police forces and corporations use recording devices (like CCTV cameras) and facial recognition software to gather our biometric data. This means they can track us from one place to another using our unique characteristics to permanently identify each of us. This blanket capture of every person’s biometric data in public spaces like streets, parks, train stations, shops or sports venues simply for trying to live our lives is biometric mass surveillance. It treats us all as walking barcodes.