Pace of EU live biometric surveillance regulation prompts Reclaim Your Face movement

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Dozens of allied European civil society groups, incredulous that few of the continent’s governments have, in their eyes, been able to properly regulate government use of facial recognition systems, are finished waiting.

They are calling for a total ban on indiscriminate, live biometric surveillance now.

The organization, European Digital Rights (EDRi), says that governments individually and as a bloc in the European Union regulate even children’s toys for their impact on people’s well-being.

But no one seems able to set a surveillance standard acceptable to most EU residents for mass biometric tracking — something that the EDRi says affects the well-being of all people regardless of age.

EDRi comprises 44 non-governmental organizations focused on civil and human rights organizations throughout Europe. This week, it kicked off a campaign called Reclaim Your Face to end biometric mass surveillance.

Members have noted that local and state governments across the continent are racing to create blankets of powerful hardware and software covering population centers. In some cases, the networks have been studied, approved and deliberately deployed in secrecy.

They go so far as to say the arbitrary use of biometrics is illegal under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.

EDRi members say those and other rights documents “guarantee that the people of the EU can live without fear of arbitrary treatment or abuse of power.”

Where discussion about biometric surveillance is occurring, officials typically mention that fever-spotting biometrics in public areas could help control the coronavirus. But COVID-19 produces fevers in somewhere between 20 and 33 percent of cases, according to research.

Among the member organizations are the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Homo Digitalis and Privacy International.

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