Tech & Rights

#ReclaimYourFace - Here Is Why We Joined The Campaign To Ban Mass Surveillance

Activists and citizens can now push the European Commission to protect them against facial recognition technologies.

by Israel Butler & Nikolett Aszodi

We believe that the future belongs to us. We get to decide who we’re going to be, where we’re going to go, what we’re going to do, and who we’re going to share it all with.

Corporations chasing a fast buck are pushing technologies like facial recognition onto governments. Politicians are happy to buy these devices. Why? Because they think it’s cheaper than hiring police officers, so the government spends less. And because it allows them to tell voters that they’re doing something to reduce crime.

These are devices that record everything about your body. Not just who you hang out with and where you go. But what you wear, how you walk and even your facial expressions and emotions. That’s why we call it ‘biometric’ surveillance.

Authorities are placing these devices in our town centres, streets and public buildings. It’s being used against all of us. That’s why we call it ‘mass’ surveillance.

Corporations and our governments collect this information and feed it to algorithms that use it to make predictions about us. They will use this to decide what kinds of jobs we should get, what things we should buy, where we should travel, whether we should be given a loan, what would make us vote for a particular politician.

It doesn’t have to be this way. By banning biometric mass surveillance, we can remain in charge of our own futures. We can make our own choices about who to vote for free from manipulation. We can rely on employers offering us a job based on our actual experience and performance. We can be free to explore what’s out there and make up our own minds about who we become and what we care about.

European Citizens' Initiative: Here is how you can reclaim your face

This is why Civil Liberties Union for Europe is joining the ReclaimYourFace campaign to ban biometric mass surveillance. We’re coming together with a movement of activists and concerned citizens across Europe to protect our rights and freedoms.

The movement was initiated by European Digital Rights (EDRi) and now counts Liberties among the core partners. In a few days, the movement will be launching a European Citizens' Initiative demanding that the EU bans biometric mass surveillance. A European Citizens' Initiative is a special type of petition that the European Commission has to act on, if we can collect one million signatures.

If you agree that we should get to decide what we do, think and want in our lives, here’s how you can help:

1) Sign the petition to ban biometric mass surveillance.

2) Get involved with the movement – as an organiser, an investigator, programmer, networker, or by translating and editing videos and other materials we’re using to spread the word.

Together, we can keep our choices about our futures in our hands.

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