Newsletter: Migrant Digital Justice


Welcome to the May edition of the Migrant Digital Justice Programme newsletter.

News round-up

It’s been a busy couple of months! We’ve continued to raise awareness of the likely impact of the Government’s proposals to reform the UK’s data protection regime. Last week, the Data Reform Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech. The Bill has serious implications for our privacy and freedom of expression. Our Legal and Policy Officer, Mariano delli Santi, featured in this video made by The Citizens to explain how plans to slash data regulations will pave the way for our data to be sold to the highest bidder and gut basic privacy laws that protect against data discrimination. 

Our offer to organise several initial meetings between a wide range of civil society organisations (CSOs) including migrants’ rights organisations and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to discuss the impact the proposals are likely to have on those in vulnerable and marginalised situations was declined. The refusal of the government to meet with CSOs during their consultation stands to deny potentially seriously impacted people to have their voices heard.

We’ve drafted an open letter to DCMS reiterating our concerns with regard to the proposals and urging them to reconsider their decision. We can’t miss this opportunity to make our voices heard, and ensure that our feedback is given due weight.

In addition to our Stop Data Discrimination Campaign, we’ve also been taking action with regard to data-sharing practices around the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme and the UK-Rwanda asylum plan.

Homes for Ukraine scheme

Our Investigator, Paul May, and I have spoken to a number of you to better understand the concerns raised by migrants’ rights and anti-trafficking organisations about the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, amidst fears that dubious Facebook pages are endangering women and children.

On the suggestion of Leigh Day Solicitors (who we met with last month), Open Rights Group and our coalition of migrants’ rights and anti-trafficking organisations have written to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the Home Office. The letter expresses our serious concerns regarding the data practices involved in the Homes for Ukraine scheme. We’re still collecting signatures for this open letter so please do let me know if you’d like to include your organisation’s name in both letters-the more the merrier!

We reached out to Stephen Timms MP about this issue and he was successful in getting an oral question tabled at the DLUHC Committee which took place on Monday afternoon. Stephen asked Michael Gove, Secretary of State for DLUHC what assessment his department has made of potential data protection risks for applicants to the Homes for Ukraine scheme. We noted that in the Government’s response they said that DLUHC is undertaking a DPIA. We’ll be sure to keep you updated with regard to our next steps. 

Thank you very much for you time and contributions so far to this important piece of work.

Migrant Digital Justice Toolkit

Next month, we’ll be launching our Migrant Digital Justice Toolkit. We’re excited to launch the toolkit during the Week of Action to End the Hostile Environment (13-19 June) organised by the Solidarity Knows No Borders Network. More information can be found here


Together with Foxglove, we’ve joined other organisations launching legal challenges against the Government’s plan to send people seeking asylum-who’ve been deemed to enter the UK unlawfully-to Rwanda, where their application will be processed. Our specific concerns relate to how the plan violates data protection rules.

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. We’re keen to add to our resource hub – if you have any resources you think might be helpful to our community, please send them to us!

Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants | Digital Technology, Policing and Migration – What does it mean for undocumented migrants?

Migrants’ Rights Network | Right to Work Checks: A Guide for Trade Unions Reps

CITYA.M. | From Calais, with love: CCTV funding rows capture our migration challenge

Data, Tech & Black communities | AI legislation is coming – what does it mean for Black and marginalised communities?

Migrants’ Rights Network | March 2022 Newsletter – Data Rights

Open Rights Group | ORG response to “Data: a new direction”

Migrants’ Rights Network | Know Your Rights Guide 2020

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

Lastly, if data and digital technologies issues are arising in your work and you’d like support to address them or you’re looking to better understand and engage with these issues, please do get in touch with us. We can also signpost you to individuals and organisations who’ll be able to help you.

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.