Some surveillance technologies are so dangerous that they inevitably cause far more problems than they solve. The use of facial recognition and remote biometric technologies in publicly accessible spaces enables mass surveillance and discriminatory targeted surveillance. In such cases, the potential for abuse is too great, and the consequences too severe.

We must ban such practices once and for all. More than 175 civil society organizations, activists, technologists, and other experts around the world have already joined together to sign the open letter below calling on decision makers to stand up against rights-abusing uses of biometric surveillance technologies. Will you join us to #BanBS?

Open letter calling for a global ban on biometric recognition technologies that enable mass and discriminatory surveillance

We, the undersigned, call for an outright ban on uses of facial recognition and remote biometric recognition technologies that enable mass surveillance and discriminatory targeted surveillance. These tools have the capacity to identify, follow, single out, and track people everywhere they go, undermining our human rights and civil liberties — including the rights to privacy and data protection, the right to free assembly and association, freedom of expression, and the rights to equality and non-discrimination. 

These uses of facial and remote biometric recognition technologies, by design, threaten people’s rights and have already caused significant harm. No technical or legal safeguards could ever fully eliminate the threat they pose, and we therefore believe they should never be allowed in public or publicly accessible spaces, either by governments or the private sector.

Sign the Letter & Get Updates

We ask civil society, activists, academics, and other stakeholders from across the globe to sign on to this letter. Join the fight to ensure that the use of these technologies in publicly accessible spaces is banned — now and forever — and can no longer undermine human rights and civil liberties.

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Other Ways to Get Involved

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We are continuously working to make this open letter available in additional languages. Contact [email protected] if you would like to help with a translation!

Campaign

This campaign is designed to support advocates fighting biometric surveillance at every level, from their city council to the UN, and we want to work with you! Contact [email protected] to discuss campaign collaboration opportunities.

Related Campaigns

Signers

This statement was drafted by Access Now, Amnesty International, European Digital Rights (EDRi),
Human Rights Watch, Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), and Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do
Consumidor (IDEC).

Organizations

Aapti Institute (India)
Access Now (Global)
AI for the People (US)
AI Now (US)
AlgorithmWatch (Germany)
AlgorithmWatch (Switzerland)
All India Network of Individuals and NGOs working with National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI) (India)
All Out (Global)
Alternative Informatics Association (Turkey)
ALTSEAN-Burma (Myanmar)
Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (Jordan)
Article 21 Trust
Amnesty International (Global)
ApTI (Romania)
Article 21 Trust (India)
ARTICLE19 (Global)
The Bachchao Project
Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC) (Argentina)
Associação Data Privacy Brasil de Pesquisa (Brazil)
Association for Progressive Communications (APC) (Global)
Big Brother Watch (UK)
Bits of Freedom (The Netherlands)
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (US)
Canadian Civil Liberties Association (Canada)
CESeC – Centro de Estudos de Segurança e Cidadania (Brazil)
Carla Veira, Co-founder, perifaCode (Brazil)
Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU (US)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) (Argentina)
Centro de Estudos de Segurança e Cidadania (CESeC) (Brazil)
Chaos Computer Club (Luxembourg)
Citizen D (Slovenia)
Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Europe)
Código Sur (Latin America)
Coding Rights (Brazil)
Coletivo Digital (Brazil)
Conexão Malunga (Brazil)
Cooperativa Sulá Batsú (Costa Rica)
Cross Culutral Foundation (CrCF) (Thailand)
Digital Empowerment Foundation
D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (Portugal)
D64 – Zentrum für digitalen Fortschritt (Germany)
Data Labe (Brazil)
Data Privacy Brazil Research (Brazil)
Derechos Digitales, América Latina (Latin America)
Deutsche Vereinigung für Datenschutz e.V. (DVD) (Germany)
Digital Empowerment Foundation (India)
Digital Rights Foundation (Pakistan)
Digital Rights Kashmir (Kashmir)
Digitalcourage (Germany)
Digitale Gesellschaft (Germany)
DITSHWANELO (The Botswana Centre for Human Rights) (Botswana)
Doctors with Disabilities: Agents of Change (India)
ECNL (Europe)
Electronic Frontier (Finland)

Electronic Frontier (Norway)
Electronic Privacy Information Center (US)
Epicenter.works (Austria)
Equal Asia Foundation (Thailand)
Espacio Público (Venezuela)
Ethics in Tech (US)
European Digital Rights (EDRi) (Europe)
FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights (Global)
Fight for the Future (US)
Fitug e.V. (Germany)
Fundación Acceso (Costa Rica)
Fundación Huaira (Ecuador)
Hasgeek India
Fundación InternetBolivia.org (Bolivia)
Fundación Karisma (Colombia)
Health, Ethics, and Law Institute of Forum for Medical Ethics Society India
Gong (Croatia)
Harm Reduction International (Global)
Hasgeek (India)
Health, Ethics and Law Institute of Forum for Medical Ethics Society (India)
Hiperderecho (Peru)
Homo Digitalis (Eleftherios) (Greece)
Human Constanta (Belarus)
Human Rights Defenders’ Alert (India)
Human Rights Watch (Global)
Idec – Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection (Brazil)
iLaw (Thailand)
Immigrant Defence Project (US)
Indian Kanoon (India)
Indigenous Friends Association (US)
info.nodes (Italy)
Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) (Indonesia)
IPANDETEC Panamá
Instituto Alana (Brazil)
Instituto de Pesquisa em Direito e Tecnologia do Recife (IP.rec) (Brazil)
Instituto para la Sociedad de la Información y Cuarta Revolución Industrial (Peru)
International Legal Initiative (Kazakhstan)
Internet Freedom Foundation (India)
Internet Protection Society Russia
InternetLab (Brazil)
Intervozes – Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social (Brazil)
IPANDETEC (Panama)
Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM) (Iraq)
Irish Council for Civil Liberties (Ireland)
IT-Pol (Denmark)
Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) (Czechia)
Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Mumbai (India)
Jordan Open Source Association (JOSA) (Jordan)
Justice for Iran (UK)
Kenya Human Rights Commission (Kenya)
La Ligue des Droits Humains (Belgium)
La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (France)
La Quadrature du Net (France)
Laboratório de Políticas Públicas e Internet (Brazil)
Latin American Network of Studies on Surveillance, Technology and Society (Latin America)
Masaar-Technology and Law Community
Lawyers’ Rights Watch (Canada)
Liberty (UK)

Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens (The Netherlands)
LOAD e.V. (Germany)
Manushya Foundation (Thailand)
Masaar-Technology and Law Community (Egypt)
Mawjoudin for Equality (Tunisia)
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (India)
Media Alliance (US)
MediaJustice (US)
Ministry of Privacy (Belgium)
Movimento Mulheres Negras Decidem (Brazil)
National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (India)
Net Freedoms (Russia)
O Panóptico (Brazil)
Observatory of Journalistic Ethics (OBJETHOS) (Brazil)
Open Media (UK)
Open MIC (Open Media and Information Companies Initiative) (US)
Panoptykon (Poland)
PDX Privacy (US)
PEN (Myanmar)
People’s Watch (India)
Privacy International (UK)
Privacy Network (Italy)
Progetto Winston Smith (Italy)
Public Citizen (US)
Punjab Women Collective (India)
Quintessenz (Austria)
Ranking Digital Rights (US)
Rede latino-americana de estudos sobre vigilância, tecnologia e sociedade – LAVITS (Brazil)
Roskomsvoboda (Russia)
S.T.O.P. – The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (US)
#SeguridadDigital (Mexico)
Selbstbestimmt.Digital e.V. (Germany)
Share Foudnation (Serbia)
Simply Secure (US)
Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) (Indonesia)
Statewatch (UK)
Stop Wapenhandel (The Netherlands)
Strali (Italy)
Sursiendo, Comunicación y Cultura Digital (Mexico)
Swathanthra Malayalam Computing (SMC) (India)
Swathanthra Malayalam Foundation (India)
Taiwan Association for Human Rights (Taiwan)
TEDIC (Paraguay)
Teplitsa (Technologies for Social Good) (Russia)
The Bachchao Project (India)
The Good Lobby (Italy)
The Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (Italy)
UNI Global Union (Global)
Usuarios Digitales (Ecuador)
Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) (France)
Vrijschrift.org (The Netherlands)
Xnet (Spain)

Individuals

Abeba Birhane, PhD student, University College Dublin
Evan Selinger, Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology

Joy Buolamwini, Founder, Algorithmic Justice League
Sasha Costanza-Chock, Scholar and Designer

Tarcízio Silva, Curator, Desvelar
Woodrow Hartzog, Professor, Northeastern University

Ana Carolina da Hora, Computer Scientist; Anivar Aravind, Technologist; Bárbara Paes, Co-founder, Minas Programam; Bruno Sousa, Researcher, Centro de Estudos de Segurança e Cidadania, Daiene Mendes, Coordinator, PAJOR-RSF, Fernanda Carrera, Professor, UFRJ; Gabriela de Almeida Pereira, Master’s Student, UnB; Gracie; Bradley, Interim Director, Liberty Human Rights; Luke Stark, Assistant Professor, Western FIMS; Maricarmen Sequera, Co-founder, TEDICpy; Os Keyes, PhD student, University of Washington; Pablo Nunes, Assistant Coordinator, Center for Studies in Public Security and Citizen; Paolo Cirio, Artist and Cultural Critic

…and more

This letter was facilitated by Access Now, an international nonprofit organization that works to defend and extend the rights of users at risk across the globe. Contact us at [email protected] to learn more about our work to prevent harmful biometric surveillance and other threats to human rights in the digital age. For media inquiries, contact [email protected].