Resisting Surveillance in Public Spaces

Mozilla Festival

By Mozilla Festival | Feb. 11, 2021 | Mozilla Festival

The use of AI systems that monitor and identify us while we are walking on the streets, out protesting, or playing in the park, might have felt like a distant future but is slowly turning into reality. At the moment real estate developers are experimenting with the use of facial recognition systems to monitor those who walk past their property in central London. Drones are used in Brussels to help enforce the Covid 19 lockdown, or in some countries drones even read our body temperature using thermal imaging while walking to the shops.

The question is not how but if these technologies should be implemented into society to begin with. Yet, to resist and challenge surveillance in public spaces we first have to make it tangible. We created the 'low tech canvas against high tech surveillance' explorer guide that allows people to take an urban safari to uncover and resist the use of facial recognition, thermal imaging, and wifi tracking in public spaces. The challenge: see your neighborhood in a new light by making the 'invisible' visible and start a discussion at MozFest on the use of AI in public space.

An image of white canvas with black spots in front of a green background with the text "data wear. ‘Low Tech Canvas Against High Tech Surveillance’"

‘Low Tech Canvas Against High Tech Surveillance’ Session at MozFest

We encourage everyone to try out the low tech canvas against high tech surveillance for yourself by becoming a digital explorer of your own city or neighborhood and playing around with the low tech camouflage techniques and engage with practices of resistance. The session at MozFest will be a place to discuss all of your experiences, brainstorming ideas for improvement and ways to localize the guides for your local context.

To participate, the first-come, first-serve number of early birds ticket holders who register for this session will get the 'low tech canvas against high tech surveillance' kit sent to their homes (address provided upon session registration). If you are an early bird ticket holder, you will receive an email to register. The kit consists of all the materials you need to go on an urban safari, from our explorer guides, to emergency blankets that protect your body temperature from thermal cameras and LED light to break facial recognition algorithms. If you don’t get a kit - not to worry! Closer to the session timing, you can still download a kit and use items you have at home to participate in the session.

An image of materials laid out on a table - includes paper, canvas, tape, and a black marker

Join us for this fun and interactive workshop at MozFest! (Date and time will be released with the schedule mid-February.) You can also try out our guides in the lead up to MozFest by downloading the kit and locally purchasing the materials. We can’t wait for you to bring your experience, observations, and comments to improve our product – all while resisting AI in public spaces.

About The Author

Fieke Jansen is a PhD candidate at the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University and a Mozilla Fellow. She is interested in demystifying data and technology, by re-politicizing it in its historical, social, cultural and political context. For Fieke, resistance is a way that we can engage with pressing social and political questions around technology. Prior to starting her PhD, Fieke worked at several civil society organizations.

MozFest is part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world. To learn more, visit www.mozillafestival.org.

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