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The #PaperBagSociety challenge

The #PaperBagSociety is a social media challenge part of the #ReclaimYourFace campaign that invites everyone to share online the impact of living life with a paperbag on the head. With it, we aim to raise awareness of how ridiculous is to avoid facial recognition technologies in public spaces and why we need to build an alternative future, free from biometric mass surveillance.

In the past months, we’ve raised awareness of the dangers of biometric mass surveillance. Part of the process was also understanding how complex the systems that rely on biometric data are. We tried to find different ways to trick them, looking at facial recognition surveillance technologies deployed in our public spaces. The results are clear: as an individual, it is terribly difficult to trick biometric mass surveillance.

This is the reason why, at some point, one of the campaign organisers joked:

“Let’s just put a paper bag on our head and we’ll be safe from facial recognition surveillance”.

We ask: what would it be like to go about our daily lives with the paper bag on our head? Do we need to use a paper bag to protect our faces from creepy recognition technologies? Is this the society we want to live in? In a world that remains dominated by ableism, it could be challenging to love, to cross the street, to merely interact.

Collectively, a #PaperBagSociety becomes a dystopian reality, a metaphor for the way biometric mass surveillance suppresses our choices, our speech and our freedoms. We realised this could be a great imagination exercise for anyone wanting to understand better why we need a world free from intrusive technologies that track our bodies and behaviour.

This is how the #PaperBagSociety challenge was born.

The #PaperBagSociety is a social media challenge part of the #ReclaimYourFace campaign. The challenge invites everyone to share on social media the impact of living life with a paperbag on the head.

Illustration and design: Valentina Carrasco https://www.lamismailustra.com/

Using absurd comedy, this action aims to draw attention to why the heavy burden of avoiding creepy biometric surveillance technologies in public spaces should not fall on us, the people.

Instead, the action emphasises that an alternative future is possible. There are solutions to prevent a paper bag society: we must ban biometric mass surveillance across the EU and beyond.

Be part of the #PaperBagSociety challenge!

1. Go for a stroll in a publicly accessible space (public square, on the street, in a train station, a supermarket, a cafe, a stadium, shopping mall etc).

2. Put a paper bag on and try to live in the public space.

3. Take a video or a photo of the experience and share it on social media.

4. Make sure to tag #ReclaimYourFace & #PaperBagSociety and explain to your friends why we must ban biometric mass surveillance.

P.S. First and above all: make sure you don’t put yourself or others in danger. Keep it cool.

P.S.2: Are you lucky enough to be a citizen in an EU country? VOTE to BAN biometric mass surveillance !



ReclaimYourFace is a movement led by civil society organisations across Europe:

Access Now ARTICLE19 Bits of Freedom CCC Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D3) Digitalcourage Digitale Gesellschaft CH Digitale Gesellschaft DE Državljan D EDRi Electronic Frontier Finland epicenter.works Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights Homo Digitalis IT-Political Association of Denmark IuRe La Quadrature du Net Liberties Metamorphosis Foundation Panoptykon Foundation Privacy International SHARE Foundation
In collaboration with our campaign partners:

AlgorithmWatch AlgorithmWatch/CH All Out Amnesty International Aquilenet Associazione Luca Coscioni Ban Facial Recognition Europe Big Brother Watch Certi Diritti Chaos Computer Club Lëtzebuerg (C3L) CILD Digitale Freiheit D64 Datapanik Electronic Frontier Norway European Center for Not-for-profit Law (ECNL) European Digital Society Eumans Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung Germanwatch Gesellschaft Fur Informatik (German Informatics Society) Hellenic Association of Data Protection and Privacy Hellenic League for Human Rights info.nodes Kameras Stoppen Ligue des droits de L'Homme (FR) Ligue des Droits Humains (BE) LOAD e.V. Ministry of Privacy Privacy Network Projetto Winston Smith Reporters United Science for Democracy Selbstbestimmt.Digital STRALI Stop Wapenhandel The Good Lobby Italia UNI-Europa Xnet


Reclaim Your Face is also supported by:

Jusos Pirátská Strana

MEP Patrick Breyer, Germany, Greens/EFA
MEP Marcel Kolaja, Czechia, Greens/EFA
MEP Anne-Sophie Pelletier, France, The Left
MEP Kateřina Konečná, Czechia, The Left



Should your organisation be here, too?
Here's how you can get involved.
If you're an individual rather than an organisation, or your organisation type isn't covered in the partnering document, please get in touch with us directly.