Global civil society and experts statement: Stop facial recognition surveillance now
198 civil society groups and eminent experts are calling on governments to stop the use of facial recognition surveillance by police, authorities and private companies.
Facial recognition, and other forms of biometric surveillance, have the potential to eviscerate our rights and freedoms in public spaces. From the tracking of emotions and supposedly ‘suspicious behaviours’ in Europe, to the suppression of protesters in Hong Kong, to the violent false arrests of black men in the US, facial recognition has been turning us into walking barcodes across the world.
Today, 26 September, a coalition of civil society groups representing a broad range of human and digital rights, anti-racism, migration and social justice causes are joined by eminent individuals to call on governments around the world to put a stop to these dangerous practices. As groups and individuals working on the front-lines to tackle and contest the harms caused by AI-based surveillance, we are acutely aware of just how dangerous and undemocratic these systems are.
We demand that our governments take all measures possible – from ceasing existing pilot programmes to passing and enforcing strong policies and laws – to protect us from these systems. That’s why we are part of the call of 198 civil society actors demanding police, authorities and private companies stop facial recognition now.
In Europe, the EDRi-led Reclaim Your Face campaign – a civil society movement supported by over 250,000 people across the continent – has demanded a ban on all biometric mass surveillance practices since 2020. Lawmakers in the European Parliament heard our call and in summer 2023, adopted a position which would ban the majority of such practices.
However, EU governments are pushing back in the final negotiations on the AI Act, claiming – without evidence – that we need these systems for safety and security. To the contrary, we are here to remind them that when our every moves are tracked and analysed without due cause, none of us are safer.
Read the statement in Dutch here, with gratitude to Vrijbut for the translation, here.
Read the statement in Japanese, with gratitude to JCA-NET for the translation, here.
This letter remains open for additional individual and organisation signatures. To add your signature, please contact .