On the occasion of 28 January – Data Protection Day launched by the Council of Europe, the Metamorphosis Foundation for Internet and Society announces its joining in the international movement “Reclaim Your Face”. “Reclaim Your Face” is a movement started by members of EDRi – European Digital Rights Initiative, in order to limit the use of systems for mass surveillance of citizens through the use of their biometric personal data. Biometric personal data includes data on physical appearance and behavior of people, fingerprints, palm prints, face recognition, DNA, iris and retina, voice, movement. Biometric surveillance is any monitoring and processing of biometric data of persons or groups of persons in a non-selective manner.
More and more private companies are focusing on technological innovations that will enable them to obtain as much information as possible about the identity of citizens through their biometric data, and countries are introducing systems for biometric surveillance of citizens such as video surveillance of public areas and the use of collection systems of fingerprints. This trend isn’t stopping, even though the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and national laws are strict regarding the processing of biometric personal data and require special analysis of the justification for the use of biometric surveillance systems on the basis of which it is assessed whether such monitoring will be allowed at all. Even in cases where a biometric mass surveillance system is allowed, the principle of transparency must be respected. Citizens must be informed in a clear and comprehensible manner about whom, in what way and for what purpose processes their biometric personal data and the right to consent, where applicable.
The movement calls for: 1. Transparency – the only way to conduct a democratic and transparent debate is to discover the tools used for biometrics mass surveillance and to explain and justify the motives for their use. 2. Setting boundaries – biometric mass surveillance of citizens is illegal in the European Union, and biometric personal data is sensitive personal data, so many ways of using biometric data cannot be justified by law. Boundaries must exist to avoid discriminatory treatment of citizens. 3. Respect for people and their privacy – behind the justification that surveillance will help in safety and quality of life, a culture of suspicion in citizens, their behavior, habits and movement is created. The existence of a dignified life is impossible with no respect for free will and free choice.