Ban Biometric Surveillance

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.

Other Ways to Get Involved


Spread the word and invite your community to join you in taking action to #BanBS:


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!


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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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


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  • 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].