Facial recognition technology is having a moment of reckoning. While governments, law enforcement and security agencies are rushing to deploy it, we’ve seen increasing backlash from activists and civil society, and in communities where people are being targeted with facial recognition surveillance — and for good reason.
Facial recognition surveillance and other remote biometric recognition technologies that can identify, single out, and track us everywhere we go are fundamentally incompatible with our human rights and civil liberties, and we have to put a stop to it.
We’ve seen these tools used for a litany of abuses both here in Europe and around the world — from surveillance of protestors and civilians in Russia and India, to wrongful arrests of innocent individuals in the United States and Argentina, to surveillance of ethnic and religious minorities in China.
And despite the European Union’s strong data protection laws and its claims to promote ‘trustworthy AI,’ we’re seeing a worrying rise in both the development and use of facial recognition technology — in grocery stores, airports, soccer stadiums, city streets, and beyond — with little transparency or oversight.
Right now is an essential moment to stop these invasive practices in their tracks, before our rights are eroded for good. That’s why Access Now, EDRi, and many of our civil society partners across Europe have come together to launch the Reclaim Your Face campaign to stop biometric mass surveillance, and you can join our movement. As part of that campaign, we launched a European Citizens’ Initiative calling on the European Commission to introduce a new law banning biometric mass surveillance and to open a debate among the Members of the European Parliament. If we reach one million signatures, the Commission is required to respond to our demands.
Facial recognition and other forms of biometric surveillance are not fixable, and we will not sit back and wait for a tech solution that will never come. It is not — and will never be — compatible with our rights and freedoms. But its spread is not inevitable, and we can still turn this situation around. Let’s make sure biometric mass surveillance is banned now and forever.