No faces left to hack: #ReclaimYourFace Now!
We cannot let power-hungry and profit-orientated technologies manipulate our future, take away our dignity and treat us like walking, breathing barcodes. We have the right to exercise our autonomy and self-determination free from abusive practices undermining our agency. The Reclaim Your Face’s ECI empowers Europeans to move and shape the public debate on the use of these AI-powered biometric technologies. The EU has the chance to show that people sit at the center of its values, by taking the lead to ban biometric mass surveillance that endangers our freedoms, democracies and futures.
The new law that the European Commission is preparing on Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fast approaching. However, we are concerned that a key driver of the process so far has been the powerful lobby of big businesses, which in an attempt to protect their profit, are aggressively urging for weak EU laws on biometrics. Last week, we called on Justice Commissioner Reynders to ensure that people’s fundamental rights are put first in this new law.
The current lack of public debate and awareness on the topic of biometrics is highly problematic as, in our democracy, it must be people that make decisions about their lives, not states or corporations. This is especially true when it comes to the roll-out of new technologies like creepy public facial recognition which can have such a huge impact on all of our day-to-day lives. Now is the moment when European citizens can show that they are in control of their future and stand against these intrusive practices that are continuously extracting sensitive data about our bodies for profit and power.
In February, the ReclaimYour Face campaign launched a uniquely powerful approach, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), to influence the Commission to propose a new law that protects our rights to privacy, data protection, freedom and non-discrimination by banning biometric mass surveillance practices. Over 41.000 people have already signed the official petition voicing their demand for a future in which our bodies belong to us, in which we are not discriminated against based on who we are, how we look, how much money we have, or where we are from, and in which we have equity and justice over our life opportunities.
We cannot let power-hungry and profit-orientated technologies manipulate our future, take away our dignity and treat us like walking, breathing barcodes. We have the right to exercise our autonomy and self-determination free from abusive practices undermining our agency. The Reclaim Your Face’s ECI empowers Europeans to move and shape the public debate on the use of these AI-powered biometric technologies. The movement, actively supported by EDRi, has united the efforts of 52 organisation from across Europe who are daily challenging intrusive biometric mass surveillance practices like facial recognition, discriminatory algorithmic processing and illegal biometric monitoring.
To have the Commission officially respond to our call for a ban on biometric mass surveillance, we need to get 1 million signatures. We cannot do this alone: we rely on amazing supporters like you to help us reach our goal and amplify our voices, so those in power hear what we have to say. You can join the fight by signing the ECI, spreading the word, and mobilising your friends and family to reclaim their faces and public spaces.
You can tell them about the most recent example of how biometric mass surveillance threatens our privacy and makes us feel unsafe in our own spaces. Hackers broke into one of the most popular surveillance and facial recognition camera companies, Verkada, to show the terrifying scope of facial recognition-based technology in the places we visit every day – work, bars, schools, stores, churches, pharmacies and more.
The company provides its services to over 24.000 clients around the world, allowing them to identify particular people across time based on their faces, gender, the colour of their clothes, and other attributes. Having accessed the live feeds of thousands of cameras in Europe and beyond, the hackers’ group showed that mass surveillance can never be safe. We cannot trust profit-chasing corporations or power-wanting governments to prioritise our privacy and security, which is one of the many reasons why the mass surveillance and collection of our biometric data should never be allowed in the first place.
The EU has the chance to show that people sit at the center of its values, by taking the lead to ban biometric mass surveillance that endangers our freedoms, democracies and futures. Now more than ever, we need a united Europe which demonstrates to the rest of the word that choices are made by people and for people. We’re counting on you to help hold our leaders to account by calling on them to ban biometric mass surveillance.