Introducing Sara Alsherif

Hello everyone, 

My name is Sara Alsherif, and I am excited to introduce myself as the new Programme Manager for the Migrant Digital Justice Programme. I am a human rights defender and digital rights researcher with a master’s degree in digital media from the University of Sussex. My studies focused primarily on digital rights intersecting with human rights and gender studies. I was part of the Tech for Democracy initiative that drafted the Copenhagen Pledge to serve as a valuable framework commitment by governments, the tech sector and civil society to make technology work for democracy and human rights. I also volunteer with charity organisations working with refugees; this experience, which in addition to my personal experiences, gives me insights into the legal framework around immigration policies and the surveillance mechanism that the Home Office uses to impose surveillance and control over refugees.

I am passionate about using technology and data to advance the rights of marginalized communities, and I believe that the Migrant Digital Justice Program is doing essential work in this area.

About the Migrant Digital Justice Programme

A part of my role is to support the migrants’ rights communities and grass-roots movements and work together to address the challenges and threats the UK Government presents regarding migrants’ digital rights and working on ending the digital hostile environment surrounding them. 

The program achieved significant successes, including a recent victory for migrants’ rights as a judge ruled and agreed with the3million and ORG that the immigration exemption is incompatible with GDPR. This decision means migrants’ data will now be subject to the same data protection laws as everyone else, providing them with greater privacy and security. This victory came after a long battle in court since 2018. 

However, the fight for digital justice for migrants is far from over. The digital hostile environment against migrants is a pressing challenge we must urgently address. The hostile environment refers to the government’s policies and practices that make it harder for migrants to access essential services, such as healthcare, housing, and employment. These policies significantly impact migrants’ lives, and the digital component of the hostile environment is no exception.

Migrants often face barriers to accessing digital services, such as limited internet access, language barriers, and a lack of digital skills. Furthermore, data sharing between government departments can cause serious harms, such as migrant women being too afraid to report abuse or access healthcare, due to fears of deportation. This issue was highlighted in a recent report by the Open Rights Group, which calls for urgent action to address data sharing and ensure that migrant women can access essential services without fear.

What’s Next?

Currently, we are working with the Migrant’s Rights Network and Migrants at Work on a crucial project, the “Challenge the Checks” campaign. The project aims to challenge digital systems that enforce the government’s hostile environment policies, such as the digital visa check system. This system requires landlords, employers, and healthcare providers to check the immigration status of their tenants, employees, and patients using a digital platform.

The platform has been criticized for being error-prone and discriminatory, leading to cases of wrongful evictions, dismissals, and denial of healthcare. The “Challenge the Checks” project is working to expose the harms caused by this system and advocating for its abolition. 

I am proud to be part of this project, and I believe that our collective efforts can make a difference in the lives of migrants negatively impacted by the digital hostile environment.

As the new Programme Manager for the Migrant Digital Justice Programme, I am committed to addressing these challenges and working towards a future where migrants have equal access to digital services, and their data is protected. I look forward to collaborating with our partners and supporters to achieve these goals and make a difference in the lives of migrants.

Thank you for being so supportive. 

You can reach me for any ideas, inquiries and suggestions at: 

Migrant Digital Justice Programme

We work in partnership with organisations supporting all categories of migrants and refugees to address digital rights and privacy issues

Find out more