EC registers ECI for a ban on biometric mass surveillance practices

The use of such systems have resulted in violations of EU data protection law and unduly restricted people‘s rights, organisers say

On Thursday, the European Commission decided to register a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) entitled ‘Civil society initiative for a ban on biometric mass surveillance practices'. The organisers of the ECI urge the Commission to propose a legal act to permanently end indiscriminate and arbitrarily-targeted uses of biometric data in ways which can lead to mass surveillance or any undue interference with fundamental rights.

“Evidence shows that uses of biometric mass surveillance in Member States and by EU agencies have resulted in violations of EU data protection law, and unduly restricted people‘s rights including their privacy, right to free speech, right to protest and not to be discriminated against. The widespread use of biometric surveillance, profiling and prediction is a threat to the rule of law and our most basic freedoms,” the organisers of the initiative wrote.

The EU executive considers that the ECI is legally admissible, as it meets the necessary conditions, and therefore decided to register it. The Commission has not analysed the substance of the ECI at this stage.

Following this registration of the ECI, the organisers can start, within the next 6 months, the process of collection of signatures of support.

Should the ECI receive one million statements of support within one year from at least 7 different Member States, the Commission will have to react within 6 months. The Commission could decide either to follow the request, or not, and in both instances would be required to explain its reasoning.

Since the beginning of the ECI, the Commission has registered in total 76 Citizens' Initiatives and refused 26 as they did not satisfy the conditions. 


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