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 200 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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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.

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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).

Last Update: December 21, 2021

Organizations

#SeguridadDigital (Mexico)
7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media (Palestine)
Aapti Institute (India)
Ação Educativa (Brazil)
Access Now (Global)
AI for the People (US)
AI Now (US)
AlgorithmWatch (Germany)
AlgorithmWatch (Switzerland)
All Out (Global)
Alternative Informatics Association (Turkey)
ALTSEAN-Burma (Myanmar)
ApTI (Romania)
AqualtuneLab (Brazil)
Article 21 Trust (India)
Artists Against the Occupation (Global)
Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC) (Argentina)
Associação Data Privacy Brasil de Pesquisa (Brazil)
Association of Nordic Engineers (Denmark)
ATTAC (Japan)
BDS Tokyo (Japan)
Big Brother Watch (UK)
Blueprint for Free Speech (Australia)
Boycott Citoyen (France)
Brazilian Bar Association, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Bringing Back Peace and Love to Childrens’ Education (Japan)
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (US)
Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU (US)
Centre for Free Expression, Ryerson University (Canada)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) (Argentina)
Centro de Estudos de Segurança e Cidadania (CESeC) (Brazil)
Chaos Computer Club (Europe)
Chaos Computer Club (Luxembourg)
Citizen D (Slovenia)
CIVICUS/INSPIRIT Creatives NGO (Global)
Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Europe)
Civil Pole for Development and Human Rights (Tunisia)
Codamos (Brazil)
Código Sur (Latin America)
Coding Rights (Brazil)
Coletivo Digital (Brazil)
Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines (Colombia)
Conexão Malunga (Brazil)
Cooperativa Sulá Batsú (Costa Rica)
Cosmopolitan Affirming Community (Kenya)
Cryptoparty Ann Arbor (US)
D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (Portugal)
Data Labe (Brazil)
Data Privacy Brazil Research (Brazil)
Dataful (Bangladesh)
Derechos Digitales, América Latina (Latin America)
DesignIT International aka KnowledgeHouseAfrica (Nigeria)
Digital Empowerment Foundation (India)
Digital Rights Foundation (Pakistan)
Digital Rights Kashmir (Kashmir)
Digital Rights Nepal (Nepal)
Digital Rights Watch (Australia)
Digitalcourage (Germany)
Digitale Gesellschaft (Germany)
Digitale Gesellschaft (Switzerland)
DITSHWANELO (The Botswana Centre for Human Rights) (Botswana)
Doctors with Disabilities: Agents of Change (India)

DUKINGIRE ISI YACU (Burundi)
EchoEchanges (France)
Electronic Frontier (Finland)
Electronic Frontier (Norway)
Electronic Privacy Information Center (US)
Empowering Freedom Defenders in East & Southeast Asia (Regional)
Equal Asia Foundation (Thailand)
Espacio Público (Venezuela)
Ethics in Tech (US)
Eurasian Digital Foundation (Regional)
European Centre for Non-Profit Law (Europe)
European Public Service Union (Europe)
Extinction Rebellion (Philippines)
FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights (Global)
Fight for the Future (US)
Fitug e.V. (Germany)
Foundation For Liberating Minds (US)
FTDES (Tunisia)
Fundación Acceso (Costa Rica)
Fundación InternetBolivia.org (Bolivia)
Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung (Germany)
Harm Reduction International (Global)
Hasgeek (India)
Health, Ethics and Law Institute of Forum for Medical Ethics Society (India)
Hiperderecho (Peru)
Hivos (Global)
Homo Digitalis (Greece)
Human Constanta (Belarus)
Human Rights Defenders’ Alert (India)
Human Rights Watch (Global)
Idec – Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection (Brazil)
iDEFEND (Philipppines)
iLaw (Thailand)
Immigrant Defence Project (US)
Indian Kanoon (India)
Indigenous Friends Association (US)
industriAll European Trade Union (Belgium)
info.nodes (Italy)
Instituto Alana (Brazil)
Instituto Beta: Internet & Democracia (Brazil)
Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas (Brazil)
Instituto de Pesquisa em Direito e Tecnologia do Recife (IP.rec) (Brazil)
Instituto Marielle Franco (Brazil)
Instituto para la Sociedad de la Información y Cuarta Revolución Industrial (Peru)
International Legal Initiative (Kazakhstan)
Internet das Pessoas (Brazil)
Internet Freedom Foundation (India)
Internet Protection Society Russia (Russia)
InternetLab (Brazil)
Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms (Tunisia)
Intervozes – Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social (Brazil)
IPANDETEC (Panama)
Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM) (Iraq)
Irish Council for Civil Liberties (Ireland)
Istanbul Legal Hackers (Turkey)
Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) (Czech Republic)
Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Mumbai (India)
JCA-NET (Japan)
JCLU (Japan Civil Liberties Union) (Japan)
JoopeA Foundation (Netherlands)
Justice for Iran (UK)
Justice for Kids (Japan)
Kenya Human Rights Commission (Kenya)
Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet (South Korea)
La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (France)
La Quadrature du Net (France)
Lab404 – FACOM-UFBA (Brazil)
Laboratório de Políticas Públicas e Internet (Brazil)

Lady Lawyer Foundation (Italy)
LaLibre.net Tecnologías Comunitarias (Ecuador)
Lawyers’ Rights Watch (Canada)
Liberty (UK)
Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens (The Netherlands)
Masaar-Technology and Law Community (Egypt)
Mawjoudin for Equality (Tunisia)
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (India)
Media Alliance (US)
MediaJustice (US)
MediaLab UFRJ (Brazil)
Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (Canada)
Movimento Mulheres Negras Decidem (Brazil)
National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (India)
nemox.net (Austria)
Net Freedoms (Russia)
Observatory of Journalistic Ethics (OBJETHOS) (Brazil)
Ong AFRICANDO (Regional)
Open Media (UK)
OS KOVO DRAEGER (Czech Republic)
Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea (South Korea)
PDX Privacy (US)
PEN (Myanmar)
People’s Watch (India)
Pirate Party (Switzerland)
Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (Europe)
Povod Institute (Slovenia)
Privacy International (UK)
Privacy Network (Italy)
Progetto Winston Smith (Italy)
Public Citizen (US)
Punjab Women Collective (India)
Quintessenz (Austria)
Rebelión o Extinción (Global)
Red Line for Gulf (UK)
Rede latino-americana de estudos sobre vigilância, tecnologia e sociedade – LAVITS (Brazil)
Roskomsvoboda (Russia)
Selbstbestimmt.Digital e.V. (Germany)
Setor W (Brazil)
Share Foundation (Serbia)
Simply Secure (US)
Skyline International for Human Rights (MENA)
Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) (Indonesia)
Statewatch (UK)
Stop Wapenhandel (The Netherlands)
Strali (Italy)
SumOfUS (Global)
Sursiendo, Comunicación y Cultura Digital (Mexico)
Swathanthra Malayalam Foundation (India)
Taiwan Association for Human Rights (Taiwan)
Taraaz (US)
Teplitsa (Technologies for Social Good) (Russia)
The Bachchao Project (India)
The Good Lobby (Italy)
The Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (Italy)
The Public Sphere Project (US)
Usuarios Digitales (Ecuador)
Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) (France)
Vrijschrift.org (The Netherlands)
WeYouth Organization (Tunisia)
World Ethical Data Foundation (Global)
Zeitschrift Bürgerrechte & Polizei (CILIP) (Germany)

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; Arturo Di Corinto, La Repubblica (newspaper) (Italy); 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, Carla Veira, Co-founder, perifaCode, Rebecca Williams, Researcher/Writer; Edson Prestes, Professor, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul; Sanghyun Cho, SNU AI Policy Initiative; Sandra Avila Professor, Institute of Computing / Unicamp; Isabel Ferreira, University of Lisbon; Toby Walsh, UNSW Sydney; Birgit Schippers, St Mary’s University College Belfast; Andrew McStay, Bangor University, Emotional AI Lab

…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].