Data & Immigration update – February newsletter

Welcome to the second edition of Immigration, Data and Technology! We hope that you found our first newsletter engaging and informative. As many of you know, we are currently having our legal appeal to remove the UK government’s controversial immigration exemption from the Data Protection Act 2018 heard by the Court of Appeal. We have received good luck messages and interest from many of you as to how the appeal is going-thank you! We won’t hear the outcome of our appeal for months but we will of course let you know when we do. In other news, this month we held our first event for the migrants’ rights sector – a briefing on the immigration exemption. We were pleased with how it went and hope to hold more events in the future.

National Data Strategy

Earlier this month, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) updated all those who responded to its consultation on the National Data Strategy on what’s next. Although we were pleased that a wide range of organisations were represented in the consultation and the importance of collaboration with the third sector was acknowledged we will be keeping a keen eye on further developments. We are still awaiting a response to the concerns we raised in our open letter to Oliver Dowden that was signed by many of you. In the meantime, DCMS have written a blog reflecting on the consultation which you can read here.

Ada Lovelace Institute and Health Foundation Advisory Board

We recently accepted an invitation from the Ada Lovelace Institute to join the advisory board for the Ada Lovelace Institute and Health Foundation’s research partnership on tackling health and social inequalities engendered by data-driven systems. We are excited to be able to contribute to building the evidence base and engaging the public on how data-driven systems and health and social inequalities have interacted during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be highlighting the particular impact these systems have on migrants’ rights.

Get Involved

This week Privacy International launched their campaign #StopSpyingOnAsylumSeekers and are encouraging you to get involved.

The ‘Aspen Card’ is a debit payment card given to UK asylum seekers by the Home Office. It provides basic subsistence, but the Home Office can also use Aspen Cards to track exactly what asylum seekers are buying, and where and when they’re making their purchases. But it doesn’t just stop at surveillance. The Home Office can cut off asylum seekers’ access to money if their spending patterns don’t adhere to invisible rules.
 Listen to people’s stories and join the campaign here

Tools, Publications and Resources

We’ve compiled some resources to help those working for migrants’ rights and their clients better understand data, privacy and technology issues. Some of these have been created by ORG, some by other privacy rights organisations and others in collaboration with migrants’ rights organisations. | Immigration exemption in data protection law faces further legal challenge

Privacy International | The UK’s Privatised Migration Surveillance Regime: A rough guide for civil society

Migrants’ Rights Network | Know Your Rights Guide 2020

Open Rights Group | Immigration, Data and Technology: Needs and Capacities of the Immigration Sector

Thanks for reading! And please do share with others who may want to know more about the impact of data and technology on migrants’ rights.

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