Joint civil society statement: People across Europe challenge biometric mass surveillance as #ReclaimYourFace movement launches

Thursday 12 October 2020


News

Civil society across Europe slams biometric mass surveillance in a series of successful actions, protecting the dignity of people in the public space. Human rights groups Hermes Center (Italy), Homo Digitalis (Greece), Bits of Freedom (The Netherlands), Iuridicum Remedium (Czechia), SHARE Foundation (Serbia), Access Now and European Digital Rights (EDRi) today announce the launch of a broad European public campaign – Reclaim Your Face: Ban Biometric Mass Surveillance.

In past months, these civil society groups have already successfully mobilised their communities. This has culminated in stopping the use of facial recognition technology in French schools; calling for the Data Protection Authority’s investigations against the use of facial recognition by the Hellenic police; celebrating the City of Prague for refusing the introduction of facial recognition technologies in public; stopping an unlawful deployment of biometric surveillance in the Italian city of Como; as well as crowdsourcing a comprehensive mapping of all live facial recognition cameras in the city of Belgrade, Serbia. The newly-launched “Reclaim Your Face” coalition therefore calls on local and national authorities to reveal the risks and reject the use of biometric surveillance in public spaces.

“Public spaces and organised dissent are crucial for all major political progress in Serbia, as we strive for democracy. Biometric mass surveillance threatens our freedoms and ability to organise – we have to stop it.”

Filip Milošević, SHARE Foundation, Serbia

This civil society call to ban biometric mass surveillance comes in reaction to the rapid and secretive roll out of invasive and unlawful technologies by police forces and local authorities in many European countries. The European Commission is currently considering all options for protecting people from harmful uses of biometric surveillance technology, including a ban. We urge them to take the need for a ban seriously and put an end to this enormous threat to our rights and freedoms.

“Biometric surveillance dehumanises us into lifeless bits of data, stripping our autonomy and ability to express who we are. It forces us into an unaccountable, automated system in which we are unfairly categorised. Only a ban on biometric mass surveillance can ensure strong, joyful and organised communities can thrive.”

Laura Carrer, Hermes Center, Italy

Other organisations involved in the campaign coalition include Privacy International, ARTICLE 19, Chaos Computer Club (Germany), Panoptykon Foundation (Poland) and La Quadrature du Net (France).

Get in touch: info@reclaimyourface.eu

#ReclaimYourFace Launched in November 2020, #ReclaimYourFace is a European movement that brings people’s voices into the democratic debate about the use of our biometric data. The coalition challenges the use of this sensitive data in public spaces and its impact on our freedoms. Our coalition is made up of 12 European civil society organisations united to protect fundamental rights in the digital environment. SIGN UP TO THE CAMPAIGNS MAILING LIST



Access Now ARTICLE19 Bits of Freedom CCC EDRi Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights Homo Digitalis IuRe La Quadrature du Net Panoptykon Foundation Privacy International SHARE Foundation