Migration, Data and Digital Rights


It’s been a couple of months since you last heard from us as we decided to pause the newsletter over the summer and then to change things up a bit. We’ve renamed the newsletter ‘Migration, Data and Digital Rights’ and it will now arrive in your inbox at the start of the month. We know that the work never stops but we do hope that you were able to take some time off during the summer to relax and recharge and do some of the things you enjoy.

Over the summer, The Independent revealed that the Home Office had created a fake website to deter migrants and refugees from using irregular migration routes to the UK, such as crossing the Channel. We immediately made a data protection complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office-the data watchdog. We also published two blogs exploring the ethical issues raised by the site and also how the site is an unfortunate example of how government policies against migration, as well as digital rights, are rapidly converging.

Just before the summer, we joined with Privacy InternationaI, Liberty, Defend Digital Me and Big Brother Watch to respond to the College of Policing’s public consultation on the Police use of live facial recognition technology. In early September, Privacy International, DefendDigitalMe and ourselves met with the College of Policing to discuss our concerns with the use of live facial recognition technology in public spaces. Open Rights Group also responded to a consultation on proposed alterations to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.


Last month, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a public consultation, ‘Data: a new direction’. The proposed changes are enormous and will lead to data discrimination and undermine equal opportunities. They will also make it harder to hold government to account.

We’re currently working on our response to the consultation and want to encourage and support migrants’ rights groups/ organisations to understand how the proposals would harm migrants and to respond to the consultation. Last week, we published a briefing document on our website explaining how the proposals will impact different communities including migrants. Later this month, we’ll be holding an event (see below) for Parliamentarians and migrants’ rights groups/ organisations to find out more about the proposals and what can be done to challenge them.

Save the date!

On Wednesday 27 October, Open Rights Group will be holding an online event with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Immigration Law and Policy to discuss the changes proposed in the DCMS consultation ‘Data: a new direction.’ The event will bring together Parliamentarians and migrants rights’ groups/ organisations. Our panel of speakers will explain the main issues with the consultation proposals and how the proposals are likely to impact migrants’ rights. We’ll also be explaining how you can act and respond to the consultation and there will be an opportunity for migrants’ rights groups/ organisation to ask questions. We’ll be sharing more details shortly so please do keep an eye out.

Tools, Publications and Resources

We’ve compiled some resources to help those working to defend and protect migrants’ rights and their clients better understand data, privacy and technology issues. Some of these have been created by Open Rights Group, some by other privacy rights organisations and others in collaboration with migrants’ rights groups/ organisations.

Security Flows | Datafication technologies, counter-power and resistance at the EU borders

Open Rights Group | How GDPR Stops Discrimination and Protects Equalities

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrant, Foxglove and Liberty | Briefing: Resisting the Digital Hostile Environment

Open Rights Group | Afghans Targeted by Fake Home Office Website

Open Rights Group | Digital Deception and Disinformation Used to Deter Migrants

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 and/ 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 will be able to help you.

Thanks for reading! And please do share with others who may be interested in finding out more about the impact of data and technology on migrants’ rights.

We hope to see you at our event later this month!

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